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    Jack C. Barton of the 23rd Ohio Regiment Archive. A small archive of at least 20 letters from Corporal Jack Barton to his family, along with a few letters from others. Barton enlisted at the age of 22 in May 1861, and was soon mustered into Company C, 23rd Ohio Infantry. After only a few months, he was promoted to Corporal in July 1861. The 23rd Ohio participated in numerous key battles such as the Battle of Antietam, Morgan's Raid, Lynchburg, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. The unit is also notable due to the numerous persons of import who served with it, including future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Thomas Stanley Matthews, and owner of the Los Angeles Times Harrison Gray Otis.

    For a sizeable portion of his service, Barton was stationed in the Medical Department and thus was spared from being wounded. However, during the early days of his service, Barton was met with a serious injury while out on picket duty. Barton had been out on guard when he was attacked by a number of deserters. His letter dated June 29, 1861, from Camp Chase details the encounter, in part: "I should have written to you before this but I was not able. I have had my head all cut to pieces, but it is getting better now. I was stationed on picket guard about four miles from camp for the purpose of catching and bringing back Deserters. About 3 oclock in the morning I stopped four when they pitched into me with timbers and stones. I know no more until next day when I found myself in camp and well cared for. I have three long gashes in my head that you could lay your finger in but they are getting better fast." [Four pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8.25".]

    By the following year, Barton had been assigned to the Medical Department and had settled into his daily routine. He outlined his regular schedule in a letter to his family, dated June 2, 1862, in part: "Perhaps you would like to know how I pass away time so I tell you. I get up in the morning about 8 oclock and after washing I eat my breakfast. I then smoke a sigar [sic] and go up to the Hospital and put up medicine about an hour. Then go back to the tent and read until I get to sleep get up for dinner and after dinner take a ride get back about five get supper smoke again and then either go up here to a neighbors and spank his gal or else play poker until 18 oclock then go to bed. I never enjoyed better health in my life and they say I'm the biggest Devil in the Regt. I am in the Medical Department and probably shall be until I come home." [Four pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 12.25".]

    After months of training, the regiment was moved into West Virginia, where they served for several months. While there, they provided support to that section of Virginia who sought to return to the Union. Writing from Camp Green Meadows on July 25, 1862, Barton wrote of the dangerous territory they were about to enter. Sadly, his hopes of seeing a quick end to the war were not to be. In part: "Being on the eve of Departure from here for a few days and not knowing what may transpire before I return I thought I would drop a line home. 400 of us start for Peterstown on a volunteer scout and expect a fight ere we return for it is full of Secesh and a live Yankee never trop upon its sacred soil but if I am not mistaken I will be there tomorrow night. I have borrowed a good Enfield Rifle and have a brace of revolvers, so that I consider myself a small regiment alone...I think we will leave here before a great while and fall back to Fayettsville but I only judge from appearances. Write often and tell me all the news and Pa I should think you might seat yourself some Sunday and write me a good long letter and tell me just how you are getting along and if you have any money making project in your head perhaps I can help you start it. I have no idea of coming home until the close of the war. It will cost a good many dollars and benefit no one...do not let Bruce volunteer and if he is Drafted be sure and have him be sent to Co. C 23rd Regt and I will take care of him." [Three pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8".]

    On September 17, 1862, the 23rd Ohio was engaged with the rebels at the Battle of Antietam. The regiment fought under General Burnside on the extreme left of the battlefield. They successfully crossed Antietam Creek and held their position until the end of the day. The battle seems to have had a great effect on Barton as he once again wrote home to urge his brother to stay out of the war. His letter written on October 20, 1862 reads in part: "I am glad that we have returned to our mountain home and I never want to see the Grand Army of the Potomac again...was very happy to learn that those at home were enjoying good health, and also to learn that you had escaped the Draft. Now Bruce take my advice and stay at home for as a Private you would not live 3 months. If I had been in the Ranks I should have been dead long ago. You remain where you are and you can get good wages and live like a white man. My health is not very good at present I have been troubled with the Diarrhea for some time but am able to be around as usual. I think we will do no more fighting this winter for the Rebs are as afraid of our Regt as they be of the Devil...I wish you would send me a Medina Paper with a list of those drafted in the county so that I can tell where the boys are." [Four pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8".]

    The following month, the 23rd joined with the Kanawha Brigade under General Jacob D. Cox, becoming what would be known as the IX Corps. On November 19, 1862, Barton wrote home of his looking forward in making Winter Quarters, as it would mean a halt in fighting so that he could focus on his studies. The letter reads, in part: "We are now stationed at the Great Kanawha Falls situated 2 miles below Gauley Bridge. We arrived here night before last and are making preparations for building winter quarters, which will consist of Log Cabins 20 feet long & 16 wide each to contain 24 men. I cannot tell in what form our quarters for the Medical Department will be but I am confident they will be of the best. We are now in Genl Scammonds Division and are known as the 2nd Kanawha Division. Genl Cost [sic] having command of the whole Western Virginia force. Our camp is of the most romantic nature being situated on the banks of the river just below the falls, while either way as far as the eye can penetrate is one vast chain of mountains...There is no enemy within 20 miles of us and in this Division there will be little fighting this winter...when we get into winter quarters I will be perfectly contented, for I shall have nothing to do but study medical works in which I take a deep interest. I have no had a gun or equipment since my visit home last winter & probably shall not should I remain ten years. [Four pages of a bifolium, 5.25" x 8.25".]

    Despite being unable to fight because he was stationed in the Medical Department hospital, Barton's passion for the cause of the Union was not dampened. On numerous occasions, he wrote of his belief in the strength of the army and of his distaste for those who were not loyal to the Union. First he wrote January 18, 1863, "...how long we will remain here I cannot tell for I fear we are destined to see more bloodshed before spring for the enemy are assembling a larger force than ours at Princeton with the intention of making us evacuate the valley, a thing that we will never do as long as fifty men remain alive we will resist them." [Three pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8".] A few months later, on March 24, 1863, he wrote of his anger at those who deserted. In part: "Brother I wish you would write no more to me on the Political subjects for in times like these I wish to hear nothing but true Loyalty to the Old Flag & constitution you say that there is a great many Diserters [sic] and coming home. Such men as those are of but little account here or any other place for they have violated their sacred oath, Deserted their commands when they were most needed, and lost all manly principals. If I cannot come home honorably I shall never come and as long as our Noble Banner needs protection I shall rally around her standard." [Four pages, 4.75" x 7.75".] In addition, on April 24, 1863, Barton turned his anger towards those who did not fully back the Union cause, in part: "Give my kind regards to all who are true to the Old Flag but I have no sympathy for Northern Traitors. I hate them more than I do the Enemy who are in arms before us for they are sowing the seed of Rebellion in our Rear." [Four pages, 4.75" x 7.75".]

    It is believed that Jack Barton survived the war, although we can find no further record of him. Also accompanying his letters are a handful from others, relating to Barton and/or the war. This is a small, yet incredible archive of war dated letters that provide an interesting perspective of a soldier's life during the Civil War.

    Condition: Letters have usual mail folds and wear, with varying toning and soiling. Some letters have some separations where weakness occurred at the folds. Overall good condition.


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