Letters written by Jacob Poling and Levi and Francis Proudfoot, Union soldiers, while on their way to Camp Chase, Ohio, where they were detained as prisoners of war, having been captured by General Albert J. Jenkins, of the Confederate army, when Spencer was surrendered by Major Rathbone:
September 15th 1862
Dear wife: (Edith Poling)
It is with pleasure that I take this opportunity to inform you that I am well at present, hoping these lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. It is about eight o'clock at night. Myself and Levi and Francis thought we would let you know where we are. We are in Parkersburg tonight but have orders to start for Camp Chase in the morning. I want you to do the best you can. I would like to have come home and to have seen you and given you some money. I regret that I can't. I drew $78.00, and if it is the Lord's Will I will come home again as soon as I get the opportunity. The Rebels treated us very well and would not let the Rangers interrupt us in going to Parkersburg. The Rangers were thick in Mill Creek. There were 200 on Mill Creek where we stayed all night. Jenkins told them that he would kill them all if they interrupted us. They did not disturb us.
/s/ Jacob Poling
To one and all:
A few lines. The boys are all well and we are both well and hope if these lines come to hand they will find you all enjoying the same good blessing. We would like to come home very well but are not permitted to come now, nor do I know when we will because we are ordered to Camp Chase until exchanged, and whether we will get a furlough or not, I cannot tell. We would have written sooner but thought that we would get to come home. We want you to write and let us know how you are and how things are there, and the state of things are here, so no more at present. Farewell and write as soon as these lines come to hand. Direct your letters to Camp Chase, Ohio.
/s/ Levi and Francis Proudfoot
Source: Original letters in possession of Buster Boone, Russet, West Virginia.
Note: Levi Proudfoot died June 25, 1864, at Meadow Bluffs, Nicholas County, of exposure, age twenty-four. Francis Proudfoot died at Richmond. Virginia, August 12, 1865, of wounds received in the war, age twenty.
Rufus Knotts's letter from Camp Chase, Ohio:
Camp Chase, Ohio
August 20, 1864
Your very kind and welcome letter of the instant was received yesterday and I was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you were well. I am enjoying tolerable good health. The other boys here of Calhoun are all so well. Henry Wain died here the other day of the fever.
I heard from Papa Hensley yesterday. He is well and hearty. He says he has not heard from home for a long time, and says he is very anxious to be released that he may return home. I hope he may soon be released. Dr. Job McMar has not come here yet with his petition, but I hope he may come soon. I think he will then be released.
If I had a petition from Union men, certified by a Clerk of a Court, that they were Union men and approved by the Governor of West Virginia, I could be released. I still hear from my family. Tip was not very well when I heard from them last. I know they see very hard times, and I hardly know what they will do without assistance as everything is so scarce and high. I hope I may soon be permitted to return to them.
What are William and Jim doing? I received a letter from George Lynch. It is all I have received from any of them. I think they have all forgotten me. I wrote to William to send me some money as I needed it very much but he has not as much as written to me. They do not know what it is to be cast off in prison from their families and their friends.
Write to me soon and often and I hope if we never meet on earth we may meet in heaven. I often think of the kind advice and admonition you have often gave me. Give my love to Mima Lynch and all inquiring friends and write soon and tell me how Prudy and her children are doing.
/s/ Rufus Knotts
Source: Original letter in possession of Irene Booher Lynch, Arnoldsburg, West Virginia.
Spencer, Roane County
April 1st 1860
To: The Commander of the Post at Charleston, Kanawha county
I understand that the Squad of Cavalry which passed through this county two or three weeks since, took from Mr. Wm Starcher of Calhoun County one three-year-old horse, and another from Jacob Starcher, both of whom I think ought to have their horses returned to them, for although they were at first Seccessionists, since they took the oath, have demeaned themselves as good and loyal citizens, and have to my certain knowledge given important information to this post for to aid us in capturing Rangers. I therefore hope that you will see fit to deliver to the bearer of this, the said horses as it will in my opinion have a tendency to allay excitement and quiet the country.
/s/ F. D. Chapman
Source: Letter in possession of Vera Hickman Bailey, Arnoldsburg, West Virginia.
Fort Leavinworth, Kansas
James P. McDonald, esq.
Your favor of the 28th of last month is at hand and I was truly glad to hear from you.
Since writing to you I have had a hell of a time (to use a plain expression) been in jail, tried for mutiny and everything else that was mean, but thank God I am on my pegs once more. I suppose you have heard that the 6th Va mutinied and was all to be shot and that sort of stuff. Well we was ordered to cross the plains but we did not go, was arrested and put in prison, charged with mutiny, a court of inquiry was held, but the charges could not be proven. We are released and in camp but we are not all here, part of the men went but I do not know how many there is of them. They was 400 miles from here the 18th of this month but I am of the opinion that they are on their way back here.
I do not know whether they intend to discharge us or not. There is some talk of making us walk to the men that went. If they undertake to do that I do not think that they will get many to go. About 150 have deserted since we came to this state.
This is a slashing fine country. The climate is about the same as West Va and I think that the country is healthy. The most fault that I have against the country is the society. They don't think nothing of killing a man here, robberies are of daily occurrence but the time is not far distant when this will be among the richest of states.
The soil is from 3 to 5 feet deep and of the richest quality. There is plenty of limestone here but not much coal. I have seen plenty of Indians but they are civilized.
You ought to come out and see the country. The trip will pay I know you cannot help liking the country. For my part I never expect to live in Va. Money is plenty, wages is high. a common hand can get $45. a month, a good mechanic can make from 75. to $100 per month.
Well when you get this you must answer it immediately and give me the news.
This leaves me in good health and spirits, hoping it may find you all enjoying the same. Give my respects to my enquiring friends. No more but remain very Respectfully yours.
/s/ J. (Jacob) Morgan
Source: Original letter in possession of Judy Morris, Calhoun County, West Virginia.
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