JOSEPH M. MAITLAND was mustered
into G Co. of the Ohio 95th Infantry on August 19, 1862 and was
mustered out on May 31, 1865. Maitland was promoted to Corporal on August 19,
1862, and to Sergeant on December 5, 1862.
Maitland writes a 4 pp, 6 ¾” x 8 ½” letter from Camp near Memphis, Tennessee, May 22, 1864, to his sweetheart Bell Wharton of Urbana, Ohio. The letter is filled with details of a soldier’s life but the highlight is his description of a Negro funeral service and the death of General Buckland’s daughter.
“…I expect you will think that I have nothing else to do but to write letters, but such is not the case. When not on duty, I employ most of my time in writing to my friends and in reading while others spend their time in playing cards, etc. Just now while I am seated under the shade of a big tree, there are two groups near me employed in playing euchre and it fairly makes my hair stand on end to hear the horrible oaths falling from their lips. I often wonder at the goodness & mercy of God, when I hear men calling on God to ‘Damn their souls to Hell.’ There are a great many things about soldiering that are very repulsive & unpleasant to me never being used to such society & such things at home, but I try to keep as much as possible out of the wretchedness & vice with which I am surrounded and still trust in the strong ‘Arm of Him’ who is able to keep me from the evils surrounding me. Pray for me Bell for I need the prayers of all God’s people.
“…Nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear that you are still leading a Christian life…There is a pleasure in living the life of a Christian, which the ‘world’ knows not of a pleasure that is lasting and real.
“…I shouldn’t wonder if people did talk and were of the opinion that we would one day be united. I think we gave them pretty good reasons to talk last winter. Don’t you? I thought too that picture of Dan Coleman looked some like old Johnny Brough, but there is not quite enough of him. ‘Soldier’s rations’ certainly do agree with him better than they do with me, but I guess it is just as a person is raised…
“You say that you had an introduction to Miss Cogille. I would like to know whether Tom went with the N.G.’s please let me know the next time you write whether he went, and if so what position he got. We heard here that the Regt. was fired into by Guerillas near Parkersburg [West Virginia] and that there were 12 killed & 50 wounded, please let me know if this is so.
“My health still continues very good with the exception that at nights I have the rheumatism in my shoulders very badly.
“The news from the armies of VA is still rather favorable although Genl. Grant’s advance on Richmond is rather slow and at great loss of life but I still think he will be successful in the end. I suppose you noticed those lines in the ‘citizen’ composed in Cable are on seeing the N.G.’s leave for Urbana. I think the person who wrote them must have been nearly out of employment, don’t you?
“…Six o’clock p.m. I will now finish my epistle. I went to Nigger meeting this afternoon near our camp and heard a funeral Sermon preached. It was very good of the kind. I tried to feel solemn during the exercises but it was all I could do to keep from laughing at some of the remarks made. Unless you have been to a Nigger meeting & heard these real southern Niggers preach you can form but little idea of the style & language used. I don’t think it is right to go for the purpose of making fun because they are very ignorant people and they do the very best they can (enough of the Nigger). It has become very fashionable for the Officers in our Regt. to have their wives to come and see them since we have been here and even some of the Privates have their wives here also. I wonder if I hadn’t better send home for my wife? What do you think? Today one of our boys from Woodstock that shot himself through the foot last fall returned to the Regt. He is still unfit for duty.
“Yesterday, Genl. Buckland’s daughter age about 16 yrs. Died of congestive chills in Memphis. This afternoon, the Gen. & Lady started for Ohio with her remains. She had only been sick two days. How uncertain is life, although surrounded with friends & the comforts of life, the rich as well as the poor all fall by the same hand…
“I remain as ever yours,
“Co. ‘G’ 95th Ohio Infty. Vols.
Folds. Excellent condition with the cover included.
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