Marcus and Charles Gray
The following letters were written by Charles and Marcus Gray, brothers who enlisted as privates in the 45th OVI on July 11, 1862 and mustered into Company K on August 19. Charles, then 19, had served previously, enlisting in the New York 65th Infantry, known as the First U.S. Chausseurs, on August 3, 1861. He was discharged for disability on June 9, 1862 at Washington, D.C. and returned home to Republic, Seneca County, Ohio. One month later he re-enlisted in the 45th together with Marcus, then 21, who was joining the army for the first time.
Neither brother survived the war: Marcus died after a brief illness at Lexington, Kentucky on December 30, 1862. Charles was taken prisoner at Philadelphia, Tennessee on October 20, 1863 and died in Richmond on December 27, 1863.
Apr. the 1st, '62
I take this opportunity to let you know that I am well at present and in hope that this may find you all the same. I received your letter night before last and was very glad to hear from you and to find that you were all well. I have not heard from Charles for about three weeks. the last I heard from him he was well and on duty. he was at Washington when he last rote but he had good care taken of him. he had the pluracy. he laid about two weeks and was not expected to live but now he says he feels better than ever and was on duty when he last wrote. he is in the 1st U.S. Chasseurs Regt. this Regt. is different from any other, they are volunteers for three years. they are not to be in a regular battle. I believe I do not know how they are fixed.
he was not in that fight at winchester, he was at Washington at that time. they have moved now down the river, I believe they calculate to fight down there some where. Charles calculates to come home before long if he can. I should like to see him better than any body else I know of now.
John Smith and me we have taken fathers farm. John has moved in our house and I board with him. I pay ten Shillings a week for my board and washing and mending. I have a first rate home. he married Mary Cummings, she makes a good housekeeper. we have taken the farm for three years, we give father one third. I think we can make something if we have no bad
luck. the wheat looks better this spring than it has for a number of years. we have had a very wet spring so far, the folks has not sown many oats yet, the ground <?> is covered with water now.
fathers health has ben very good this winter. he is living at Madisons. Edson is a going to work for Lew this summer, he gets six dollars a month. he has a very good place and he likes it first rate and I hope he will stay there as long as he can. father got a letter from uncle Shermans a few days ago. they were all well. they wrote about the same that you wrote about them
only they have taken Mary to keep until she is of age. grandfather has given up all control over her. I am glad that she has a good home. I think they will bring her up right if any body will. Lewises folks are well and the neighbors are all well. now <illegible> close. write as often as you can and tell Curtis to write to. I shall calculate to hear from you before long. as quick as I get a letter from Charles I will write again. So good by.
Aunt Mary Ransbury
from Marcus L. Gray
Aug. 15th, 1862
It has been so long since I wrote to you that I hardly know how to commence. The folks are all well here. Mark received a letter from you about a week or two ago and we were very glad to hear that you were all well. i thought of coming out to see you this fall but i hardly think i will get there now for Marcus and i have joined the army. We were enrolled the 11th of this month at Bucyrus in capt. Marshes company of the 45th Regt. O.V.I. Lasarus boys enlisted in the same company and come out here to see us. Mac said if we had any notion of enlisting they wanted us to go with them so we enlisted. We start for Camp Chase the 20th at columbus.
The boys are all a going around here rather than be drafted. They could not draft me for i have a full discharge from the army but for my part i would a great deal rather be in the army than here but if i get sick i will show my discharge and come home again.
i was examined at Bucyrus and sworn in but i have not passed the U.S. mustering officer yet. he may turn me off if he finds out i have been discharged once but i guess he will not find it out i served nine months in the 1st U.S. Chasseurs and i never enjoyed myself so well as i did there nor never enjoyed as good health here before i was taken sick but i had a pretty
hard spell of sickness. i was sick about 1 months and a half. the hair all come out of my head and my toe nails and finger nails all come off but soon after i got home i got well again and went to work. i have done a full days work every day since. we have had a long tedious harvest but the most of it is done with us. i have worked about six weeks in haying and harvesting
and earned 40 dollars. marcus has not been able to do much this harvest on account of his arm which he hurt falling out of a cherry tree.
mark got a letter from hanna day before yesterday. the folks were all well and charles Stryker has enlisted . i cant think of any thing more at present to write. i will write again when i get in camp. i think i shall write to Phoebe Lane to day. mark talks of writing before long. excuse my mistakes and poor writing.
from your affectionate nephew
P.S. i have been staying at Browns since i come back from war and i like the folks first rate. C. Gray
I take this opportunity to write you a few lines to let you know that i am well and hope you are the same. i have not received a letter from you since i have been in the service. That was when we were at paris and we retreated from there soon after and if you write and directed there the letter was lost as the paris mail was all lost after we retreated from there. We retreated from there to our regiment at cynthiana and when we got there our regt. got on the same train we were and we went to falmouth station and staid there a couple days and went back to cynthiana and staid there a couple hours and the regiment took the cars for falmouth again and left me and our second Lieut. and a couple corporals behind.
While we were out on a scout we saw the rebels come in on the Lexington pike to attack our regt. There was 3 regts. and two batteries of them. They halted about 40 rods from where we laid hid. They got in a couple corn fields and hid themselves to wait for night then surround us but the regiment left in time to save itself but we were in a pickle. There was an old man come to us and told us that the regiment had left and we would have to try pretty sharp to get away from the rebels as they were scouring the country to see if there was not some left behind, so we put back toward our old camp and put down the railroad after night, as that would be the safest route for cavilry could not travil the r.road.
When we got on the road we traveled to falmouth before we stoped, 28 miles in eight hours with knapsacks and gun and equipment. We found our regt. there.
We staid there a couple of days when the rebels came on us again in force again when we were forced to retreat to covington. We staid there about 4 weeks and in that time i was detailed to go on the gun boats as Sharpshooter. i staid in there when we were ordered to report to gen. Lew Wallace at cyncinnati and he sent us back to our regiment where i staid and calculate to stay as long as i can. We left covington last wednesday and we are now about twenty miles from there on the Ky. central railroad making a bridge that the rebels burned on their retreat. We will get it done today, then we will go on to the next one which is eight miles from here. We calculate to repair the railroad clear through which will take our regt. about a month longer. We have about ten more bridges got to build. The bridges are all very large. They cross the licking riv. The one at paris is not burned yet but it will be before we get there.
It is pretty near time for me to go on guard and i will have to stop scribbling. i got a letter from edson a few days ago and he was well. i have not heard from n.g. for a good while. Tell curtis to write me a letter, so i will close by send my best respects to all. Good Bye.
Direct to C. Gray Co. K. 45th Regt. O.V.I.
Via Covington Ky.
Camp Ella Bishop
Nov. the 28th 1862
I take this pleasant opportunity to address you a few few lines to let you know that I am well at present and hope that this may find you all the same same state of health and enjoyment. I never have enjoyed myself any better in my life as I have since I have been in the service. Charles is well and harty. He is well contented it seems, as though we were both calculated for soldiers. We are camped near Lexington in their fairground. It is beutiful to camp, plenty of good water to drink and to cook with. We have plenty to eat such as fresh bakers bread, fresh beef, hams or shoulders, beens, potatoes, rice, hominoney, sugar, coffee and molasses. We have plenty of good clothes to wear, we are comfortable in every way, we are just getting
fat and a laying here in camp. We have been here a four weeks. It is a very nice country through here the folks are mostly secesh and rich. They have plenty of slaves to do their work for them. You ask one of their slaves where their master is, he will say he is a damn sesesh. Once a while one will say say he is a union man.
We have had very nice weather since since we have ben in Ky. with the exception of one snow storm the 26th of Oct. It snowed four inches deep and we had three days rain. The weath is a little cool, just cold enough to make us feel good and have a good apetite for beans. We have good comfortable tents with a stove in each tent. In short we have every thing as comfortable as any one need to ask for.
I have no news to write of any importance. Charles received a letter from you a few days ago and have and have answered it. I received a letter from Phebe, Jane and Mary a short time ago. They were well & the folks were all well. They both spoke of hearing from uncle Clary often and that he was well and that he would come some this fall if it of not ben for the war.
Charles got a letter from father to night. He is enjoying good health this fall. He has ben to work all fall teaming wood to Republic. It has ready sale. We have not drawn our our monthly wages. We sent our bounty near all home and our first month pay. We have four months pay behind a coming to us. We are all out of money now. You requested my sending my postcard to you . I neglected getting it, take a while. I had <illegible> the first <illegible>. I have I had it taken and send it to you . I shall have to close, there is so much confusion here in the tent I hardly know what I am writing. So I will close by bidding you all good by.
Marcus L. Gray
P.S. Direct your letter to
Marcus L. Gray
Co. K. 45th Regt. O.V.I.
or to follow the Regt.
Lexington Ky. Jan. 11th '63
I take this opportunity to direct you a few lines to let you know that I am well & hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. But poor Mark is dead, he died before I wrote the last letter to you, but little did I think such a thing then or I never would have been there. The Doctor said that he knew that Marcus would lie a week before he died & ever time I went to see him he said he was getting along fine & would soon be well & I thought it so or I never would have went on the march but the Doctor knew he would not live over two days & knew that our camp would go along on that march & never said a word & Mark died two days afterwards & they had no chance to send me word nor they did not know where we were at the time. But I'll remember the doctor. I had a good talk with him since we came back & talked a little to plain to suit him & liked to have got in the guard house but I will have a settlement if we both live till this war is over.
If I had been here I would have tried & had his body sent home or have his father come after it but it was to late after I got back. I think father might have come & got him, I would have willingly have paid the expenses & had him buried in the grave yard where Mother & Sisters Mary & Elizabeth were buried but it is to late now. He is buried here in the cemetery. They say he died very easy. I feel very lonesome here since he died. I know that nobody feels his loss as much as I do. Little did I think when I waiting on him when he was sick that he would leave me so soon but also he is gone & peace be to his remains. He will not see any more of the hardships of war.
I believe you have not heard of our leaving here. I have been a speaking about it in my letter. We left this camp & started after old Morgan two weeks ago to day at 6 A.M. with 4 companies out of our Regt. & 2 pieces of artillery. We marched to Versailles & made a division of our small force & half of them with Col. Hill & captain Stanley took command of us & he marched us to Clifton to destroy a ferry there. We staid there 8 days to guard it & destroy the boats & started again on the fourth day in morning & marched to Versailles again & staid there a little while until Col. Hill came up with his detachment when we started for frankfurt & got there about sundown after marching 28 miles, lacking 2 miles of being as far as our first days march.
We took our camping ground on a high hill. We spent our new years on this hill on half ration. It was not much, like hence <?> there living on a cup of coffee and one hard cracker a meal. We staid there until sunday morning when we were ordered to march again & only had one cracker in our haversack for our days rations & we had to march to Lexington, distance 30
miles and it was raining pitchforks. We got started at 6 A.M., got through to our old camp at 7 P.M. pretty tired & our poor feet how they suffered, marching on the hard stone pike all the way. My feet were covered with blisters. It is getting late & I am getting to the end of my paper so i will have to close. So Good Bye. My love to all.
Aunt A. Ransburg