These three letters were written by James Monroe Maitland (1815-1864) of Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio. He was active in the Democratic party of Ohio. He took part in Stephen A. Douglas’s campaign, and served as a one-time representative of his district in the state legislature. His wife, Ann Mast, was the daughter of Daniel Mast, a leader in the Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. They had three children: Joseph M. Maitland, William Grier Maitland, and a daughter who died in infancy. Ann Mast’s brother, Elhanan, served as a lieutenant colonel in the Thirteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
James wrote the letters to his oldest son, Joseph Mast Maitland (1838-1918) who enlisted on 8 August 1862 as a private in Company G, 95th Ohio Infantry. He rose to the rank of sergeant before being mustered out of the service. After the war he was married to Arabella Wharton (1844-1916).
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Addressed to Mr. Joseph M. Maitland, Company G, 95th Reg. O.V.I., 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps near Vicksburg, Mississippi, In care of Capt. Warnock
Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio
July 3rd 1863, Friday Eve
My Dear Son,
Yours of the 24th of June came to hand today and we were truly gratified to hear that your health still continues good. We have great cause of thankfulness that notwithstanding thousands of soldiers are sick, your health has been preserved thus far, and we hope and pray that God in his infinite Mercy will still continue his blessings — both spiritual and temporal. We are still in our usual health and the health of our friends is very good. We have not much of interest to write as we write so often.
We have had the past week very warm weather attended with frequent showers of rain — at the present writing raining moderately. The recent showers have helped the corn very much and from present appearance we will have abundant crops of corn. The coming week will be a very busy one. The farmers generally will commence cutting wheat although there is not much over half as much on the ground as last year. What straw there is very well filled.
Mr. J. S. Petty is still with us and intends remaining until Monday when he designs going to his friends near Columbus. He expects to start for the Regiment about the 15th inst. and intends visiting you if you are near Vicksburg.
We all think of attending the celebration of the Fourth [of July] on tomorrow in Urbana. They have made extensive preparation for a grand old time. My only fears that if there is any speaking it will be turned into an abolition tirade which is the order of the day at almost every gathering of the people.
We received a letter from [your Uncle] Elhanan [Mast] today. He was still at Murfreesboro but expected to march in the course of an hour. There had been considerable fighting in the front, done principally by Tom Crittendon’s Corps. Rosancrans [William S. Rosecrans] had gotten as far as Tullahoma. The news from Pennsylvania today brings word of a hard fought battle near Gettysburg with a part of the Army of the Potomac. The Rebel Divisions — Hill’s and Longstreet’s — were the opposing elements. It is said our forces were the victors at the expense of the death of Maj. Gen. [John F.] Reynolds and Brig. Gen. [Gabriel Rene] Paul. There has been another change of the Generals of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker has been relieved and a Division Gen. of the name of [George Gordon] Mead[e] appointed in his place. They never will get a man to fill the place equal to Gen. McClellan.
Pennsylvania is in a very critical condition. When the Rebels came upon them, they were in a helpless condition — not a soldier in the state. But the States of New York & New Jersey came to their rescue and sent troops from their states. Notwithstanding, the Governors of those states were called Copperheads, Butternuts, &c. Yet they were the first to send troops to aid the Pennsylvanians while Pennsylvania and Ohio lagged in the work of raising troops.
Johnny Brough, the Union Candidate [for Ohio Governor], made another speech at Cleveland recently and he reiterated the same idea in regard to slavery — that we could never stop the war until slavery was eradicated from the land [and] that there could be no compromise for the day of compromise was past. If this is to be the policy of the Government, it will be a long time before the Rebellion will be put down. All my hope in a speedy termination of the war is to conscript a sufficient number to put a much larger force in the field.
Saturday morning, 4th. Still indication of rain which will disappoint the expectations of many. ¹ We are all well this morning. Your mother, Grier, and Mary Frances send their love to you and the boys. Yours affectionately, — James M. Maitland
Lt. Col. Elhanan M. Mast, 13th Ohio Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 September 1863.
¹ We know that James M. Maitland attended the 4th of July Celebration in Urbana, Ohio, for he wrote of it to his brother-in-law, Elhanon Mast, on 5 July 1863. Referring to the celebration, he wrote: “the orator of the day was Hon. West of Belfontaine. I heard part of the oration, when a shower of rain coming up dispersed the assemblage for awhile. He was amplifying on the negro and beginning to get into the merits of the sable race. I did not go back to hear the remainder — reason why, did not think it would pay.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Mr. Joseph M. Maitland, Company G, 95th Reg. O. V. I., 1st Brigade, 3rd Division. 15th Army Corps, rear of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Care of Capt. Warnock
Kingston, Champaign County, Ohio
Sunday Evening, July 5th 1863
My Dear Son,
I wrote you on Friday Evening but as it has been my custom to write you every Sunday Evening since you left, I thought I would keep up the custom. I would say through divine Grace we enjoyed our usual health for which desire to feel thankful to our Heavenly Father, and hope and pray when this reaches you that health and prosperity may be yours. Writing so often it is pretty hard to gather enough up to make a letter any way interesting but we will try and do the best we can.
The Friends are all well & the Friends of your companions in arms are well. No sickness in the community that I know of.
Hon. William H. West of Bellefontaine was the Orator of the Day at the 4th of July Celebration in Champaign County, Ohio in 1863.
On yesterday, we (that is, Mr. Petty, Grier, Mary Frances, in one buggy, and I with Lydia & Mary Coleman) attended the Celebration of the Fourth. There was a large concourse of people in attendance — nearly as many as commonly attend the fair. The Young America, Fire Company, and one Fore Company from Dayton were out in procession and made rather an imposing appearance. The Orator of the Day was the Hon. [William Henry] West of Bellefontaine. I heard only a part of his oration. a shower of rain coming up when he was partly through dispersed the crowd and when the rain ceased, I did not return to hear the balance as he had got so far along when I left to dilate on the Negro and making that the burthen of his speech. I saw a number of Concord Friends among the number. Mr. Barger and Maley McFarland and they appeared anxious to hear of your welfare. Also the Father & Mother of your fellow soldier [Corporal Henry L.] Toomiers, having heard that he was sick, were very anxious to hear from him. They requested that you write the particulars about him in your next.
On tomorrow, Mr. [J. S.] Petty intends leaving us for his Friends near Columbus and about the 15th expects to return to his regiment, and if it should be that he can any way get to you, he intends visiting you. Poor fellow, he feels sorry to leave. He has many warm friends in our parts and if you had been here, his cup of pleasure would have been full.
We had quite a number of young folks here this afternoon — all of Coleman’s girls, George & wife, Betty Stonebraker, Miller’s girls, and Row Ann Chance and Mary F., and Annie. They had a good time singing. While they were singing, I just thought if you & Coleman’s boys could have been with us, what a great pleasure it would have been to us all.
On yesterday, Charlie Harris came in and was quite a welcome visitor to Lydia. This evening he and the two Miss Coulsen’s take tea with her. I think it quite likely that eventually that it will make a match. As respects Mary Frances & Liza Long, there are no ones that pay particular attention to them. Young Cheney does not wait on Mary much now. Charlie Fox on Liza &c.
This morning Charlie Bowers was arrested by the Provost Marshal and taken off before breakfast. He had been around a few days it is said. I had not seen him but his friends said he had a furlough but I suppose that was not so.
There has been a very hard battle between the Army of the Potomac and the Rebel forces under Lee near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They commenced the fight on Wednesday and the latest account we had was to Friday morning at 8 o’clock and still were fighting. But our forces repulsed them at every point but with great sacrifice of life. Maj. Gen. Reynolds was killed the first day of the fight. Our forces captured 6,000 prisoners. These were the reports yesterday. I hope they may prove true if such be the fact and Gen. Couch, commander of the Pennsylvania forces, should bring his forces also to bear on the Rebels. I think they ought to cripple it that they will never get back to Virginia.
We expect to commence harvesting tomorrow — that is, we are going to help Joseph Mast and he will cut ours. The report is that your friend Simeon Taylor has some serious notion of entering into the meshes of matrimony with Miss S. A. Ward. I will close this evening and if I should have time, I will add a line in the morning. Your Mother Grier and Mr. Petty send their love to you.
Yours affectionately, — James M. Maitland
This morning July 6th we all well and from appearances will have a arm morning. I now bid you goodbye, trusting that God in His mercy will keep and preserve you. — Your Father
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Addressed to Mr. Joseph M. Maitland, Company G, 95th Reg. O. V. I. , In the rear of Vicksburg, Miss.
Kingston. Champaign County, Ohio
October 23rd 1863, Friday Evening
Grier ¹ write you day before yesterday by Lieut. Stover so I concluded that I would write you a short epistle this evening. In the first place we through the good ness of our Heavenly Father are in our usual health. Your Mother’s health I think is better than when you were at home. She is getting over the shock to her nerves occasioned by the news of Elhanon’s ² death. Every doubt is now removed of his melancholy fate, by seeing in the Daily of Thursday an account of a meeting of the officers of the regiment at Chattanooga where they passed resolutions eulogizing him for his bravery and social qualities. Also, the bar in Urbana met and passed some resolutions of the highest order. Poor fellow. My heart aches whenever I think of him and that is very often.
The papers of day before yesterday brought some startling news of the removal of Rosecrans from the Army of the Cumberland. Some days prior it was announced that [T. L.] Crittenden and [A. McD.] McCook had been relieved of their commands and ordered to Indianapolis to a Court of Inquiry. Today’s paper give the charges against Rosecrans that on the day of battle, he left the field and never stopped until he got to Chattanooga & then he became insensible from the use of opium. The 2nd charge by the government was that he disobeyed orders in going further than Chattanooga. And 3rd, that in last June when Bragg’s army was supposed to be weakened by sending some of his force to Johnson’s assistance, he (Rosecrans) was ordered by the government to march on to Bragg and disobeyed those instructions. If such be the case, he is deserving of severe censure although I had formed rather a high estimate of his abilities as a general.
I hope that your late General Grant will [be] successful in his new field of labor as he has been heretofore. Yesterday’s Daily brought us the President’s call for 300,000 more men to be recruited between this and the 5th of January and if not obtained by volunteering by that time, a resort to the draft will take place. Now I am in favor of the call but think they ought to be drafted right off. The late elections have decided in favor of [John] Brough [as governor of Ohio] and the war policy and I think there should be no hesitancy on the part of his supporters but come right up to the mark and volunteer. But it won’t be done for those that are no noisy on the subject will be the last to aid the cause by volunteering.
Grier, I believe, is getting along finely at school and gets through his studies without much trouble and likes it very well. We had very fine weather for some days until today, which was quite cool, it having rained last night. I don’t know of much more to write this evening but will add a line or two in the morning.
Saturday the 24th
I wil add a few lines by saying we have just arisen from breakfast and Oh! how glad we would be to have you with us to partake. Rather a heavy frost this morning. We threshed on Wednesday and our wheat turned out only middling. The wheat was very good in quality but not as many bushels.
You will write often and give us all the information about your situation. The Friends of the boys are all well. I must close by wishing you health and prosperity. Your Mother, Grier, and Mary Frances send their love to you.
Yours affectionately, — James M. Maitland
¹ William Grier Maitland was born in 1846. After his education, he entered the railroad service and became connected with the Pennsylvania railroad lines west of Pittsburgh. In 1866 he relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska where he became the secretary and treasurer of the Nebraska Plaining Mill Company. He married Agnes Dreher of Indianapolis in 1873.
² Elhanan M. Mast was Joseph M. Maitland’s uncle. He was Lt. Col. of the 13th Ohio Infantry and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 September 1863.