October 27, 2011

'J.H.S.' Letter: The Battle of Camp Wildcat

Location: Camp Wildcat, near London, KY, USA
J. Hale Sypher
(Library of Congress)
I've mentioned that I hope to post not only letters from the 79th Pennsylvania on this website, but also letters from others in the Civil War's western theater who wrote to Lancaster newspapers.  It is from one of those other soldiers that the Daily Evening Express published its first letter with a first-hand description of combat.

The author was Lieut. Jacob Hale Sypher, commanding one section (two of the six cannon) of Battery B, 1st Ohio Light Artillery.  He penned his account on October 27, 1861, of the Battle of Camp Wildcat, Kentucky, that took place a week earlier.  Total casualties numbered less than 100 in this minor action that was considered a Union victory.  J. Hale Sypher's connection to Lancaster was his brother, Josiah R. Sypher, whom I've mentioned in other posts and who was about to take over as the Daily Evening Express's local news editor.

Flag of Battery B, 1st O.V.L.A. (Source)
At a future date we'll hear more of J. Hale Sypher when his artillery section went on a small expedition with the 79th Pennsylvania.  J. Hale Sypher also had an interesting career later in the war and during Reconstruction.  He would go on to be Colonel of the 11th United States Colored Heavy Artillery.  Sypher moved to Louisiana after the war where he bought a plantation, studied law, and was elected to Congress as a Republican.

From the November 4, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

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