October 20, 2011

The Voyage Down the Ohio, Part II: 'E.H.W." and F.J. Bender Letters

Location: North Bend, OH 45052, USA
"Passage Down the Ohio River, of General James S. Negley's Brigade" (FLI 10/14/1861)

On October 20, 1861, Gen. Negley's Brigade continued on its journey down the Ohio River toward Louisville, Kentucky.  Soldier-correspondents E. H. Witmer and F. J. Bender documented that portion of a journey whose sights left a deep impression upon the six steamboats' passengers for readers of the Daily Evening Express and Church Advocate, respectively.

Their letters give a sense that they had finally left home and were in the process of determining who they were going to be as soldiers.  A false alarm, although rather unrealistic in retrospective, gave the men of the 77th and 79th Pennsylvania at least the chance to think about combat.  Also, since October 20 was a Sunday--the first Sunday for which attending church was not a possibility--both Witmer and Bender naturally turned to the soldiers' religious world and what faith would look like privately and publicly in the army.

From the October 29, 1861, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

From the November 14, 1861, Church Advocate, noting that the October 30 dateline is a typo that should read October 20: (alternate link)

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