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Introduction to the Caley Family Correspondence
By George Rugg
Charles C. Caley was born on 10 January 1839, the son of John and Jane Hampton Caley of Madison Township, Lake County, Ohio. John Caley was a farmer, who had emigrated with his wife from the Isle of Man in the 1830s. In the 1860 Census Charles Caley and his older brother John (b. c1830) were enumerated in the Painesville Township household of Deron Pike, a Lake County farmer by whom the brothers were presumably employed. On 1 August 1862 Charles Caley was married to Juliaette Carpenter (1840-1884), of Willoughby, Lake County. Five days later he enlisted in the Union army, and on 21 August was mustered in a private to Company F, 105th Ohio Infantry, for three years service.
The 105th Ohio was initially assigned to Buell's Army of the Ohio, and fought with that army's I Corps (33rd Brigade, 10th Division) at the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, 8 October 1862. There, the all but untrained regiment fared terribly, suffering more than 200 casualties; Caley himself was wounded in the right shoulder and hospitalized for two to three months, ultimately at New Albany, Indiana. While Caley was hors de combat Buell was replaced by William Rosecrans, commanding what was now designated XIV Corps, Army of the Cumberland; the regiment would remain with XIV Corps for the remainder of the war. Shortly after his return to active duty at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Caley was captured by the Confederates, when a forage train to which he was detailed was surprised by elements of Morgan's cavalry (21 January 1863). The 130-odd prisoners were soon released on parole. Many of the men who were returned to the regiment were reluctant to bear arms until formally exchanged for Confederate prisoners; Caley himself remained off active duty until mid-April. He went on to serve in that summer's Tullahoma campaign and fought with the regiment at Chickamauga, where he sustained a wound to the right foot. As a consequence, he was detailed to special duty in Battery I, 4th U.S. Light Artillery (26 September 1863). Caley remained with that unit through the battles for Chattanooga and on into the winter — until, at least, February of 1864. He was back with the 105th Ohio (now attached to 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, XIV Corps) for Sherman's Atlanta campaign (May-September 1864). After spending October and early November tracking Hood in northwest Georgia, the regiment and XIV Corps returned to Atlanta and at once set out for Savannah, on the famous March to the Sea (November-December 1864). Caley's war concluded with Sherman's march through the Carolinas (February-April 1865). He was mustered out with the regiment on 3 June 1865.
The Caley correspondence includes 29 wartime letters written by Charles Caley to his wife Juliaette, who for the greater part of the war lived at Mentor, in Lake County. The letters span Caley's period of service but provide only an intermittent account of it. Two letters (August-September 1862) were written from Lexington, Kentucky, shortly after the 105th Ohio left the state. Another two (December 1862) were written from New Albany, Indiana, while Caley was recovering from the wound suffered at Perryville. The next nine letters (March to June 1863) came from encampments at Murfreesboro, during the Army of the Cumberland's long respite from campaigning after the battle of Stones River. There is one letter (July 1863) written from Dechard, Tennessee, after the Tullahoma campaign, and one (September 1863) from Chattanooga, describing the battle of Chickamauga. Seven more letters (November 1863 to February 1864) were written during the winter occupation of Chattanooga, after the battles that broke the Confederate siege. Two letters (June-July 1864) survive from the Atlanta campaign; one (October 1864) from XIV Corps' pursuit of Bragg in northwest Georgia; and one (December 1864) from occupied Savannah, after the March to the Sea. The final three letters (February to April 1865) were written during the Carolinas campaign. Absent from the surviving letters' narrative is any account of the battle of Perryville, or of Caley's capture at Murfreesboro.
Typically, individual letters occupy the four pages of a single octavo-sized folded sheet. Several are longer, including eight-page letters describing Chickamauga (dated 24 September 1863), Kennesaw Mountain (1-2 July 1864), and the Savannah campaign (18 December 1864). With one probable exception, all the letters are complete, though few of the original envelopes have survived. There is one additional manuscript in Caley's hand: two sheets filled with what are probably copies of diary entries, for 16 February to 14 March 1865. This manuscript was presumably sent home to Juliaette as an enclosure in a letter. The collection also includes four letters written by other members of the family: one (19 July 1863) to Charles from his sister-in-law Sarah Caley, describing the death, at Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio, of Charles's brother William (b. c1833); one (26 February 1865) to Juliaette from her sister Mary Thomas (Mary and her husband, the soldier William Thomas, are often mentioned in Caley's letters); and two postwar letters to Charles from his brother John, who had moved to Iowa in the early 1860s.
Among other things, Caley's letters to Juliaette are fragments of an epistolary dialogue between a husband and wife who, as it happened, scarcely saw one another during their first three years of marriage. Unfortunately, the letters do not permit a very ample reconstruction of Juliaette's life during the war. There was, it would seem, no household or farm to maintain, and the couple's first child was born only in 1866. On several occasions Juliaette seems to have communicated her interest in earning a wage, possibly as a teacher — a proposition that Caley only mildly endorses. But the letters do suggest that Juliaette's war was a trying one, emotionally if not necessarily materially. Caley often pauses to address specific concerns or anxieties related by Juliaette in her own letters — concerns that seem to have ranged from fears for his safety to indecision about affairs at home to doubts about the sincerity of his conjugal feelings:
my dear Juliaett you want to no if I married you against my will I will answer it as plain as I can never was it against my wil and I am glad to have it to Say that if ever I get home again that thair is one thair that I think mor of than I do of my own life how Such misunderstanding can be is more than I can tell when I was at fishers him and I was talking and I told him that it was hard to go away to leave you since I had got to loving you as wel as I did and that if I had never got to now you or love you that I could go without thinking it hard but as you was the only one that I card about it was hard to leave you how he ever told that Miss Hul So is a mystery to me nor do I believe that he did I think thair is some mistake about it somewhere (4 May 1863).
Though Caley repeatedly writes of the possibility of a furlough, nothing in the letters indicates that he was successful in gaining one, or that he returned to Lake County at all until the close of the war. Unlike many in the regiment, he chose not to reenlist in the winter of 1863-64, thereby forgoing the 30-day pass granted those who offered three more years of their services. In time Caley came to be somewhat philosophical about the situation:
wel Juliaett you Say you want to See me I dar Say you do and I want to See you but if I cant get a chance to go home I must get along as wel as I can the rest of my time and that wil be half out next Saturday any way and if I have my health that wil Soon pass (31 January 1864).
A recurring topic of the Murfreesboro letters of March-April 1863 is Caley's status as a paroled but unexchanged prisoner-of-war. He and most of the other enlisted men taken on 21 January had been escorted to the Federal lines on the Cumberland River and released, after a captivity of about a week; all had signed a parole swearing "not to bear arms against the Confederate States during the present war until regularly exchanged, under penalty of death" (Tourgée, p. 186). Some of the men, at least, made their way to Louisville, from which point they seem to have been ordered back to their regiments, having never been exchanged for Confederate prisoners. What followed, according to Caley, was a battle of wills between officers and men. The ex-prisoners were disinclined to bear arms, even in drill, viewing this as a violation of their paroles and fearful of the consequences should they again fall into Confederate hands. The army, for its part, seems to have pressured the men to return to duty without punishing them if they failed to do so:
I am Staying in camp and have nothing to do unless I have a mind to I sometimes help about geting wood and water and Somtimes I go up to the depo to help load rations Col Tolles (our col) orderd us out to drill the other day we did not no what he wanted of us at first So we went out onto the drill grounds and when we found that he wanted us to dril we just told him to Show us the [exchange] papers and we would dril and not before the old chap did not like it much at first he talked to us about one our and finely told us to do as we pleased he had nothing to do with us he has not botherd us any Since then (4 April 1863).
By the winter of 1862-63 the parole and exchange system had become a matter of great concern to the army, which had come to recognize that a great many men — not least in the Army of the Cumberland — were exploiting the system by allowing themselves to fall into enemy hands, or by forging their own parole certificates. As a means of curtailing such abuses, the army began to insist that the only valid paroles were those held by prisoners who had been "delivered" by the enemy to agreed-upon exchange points — as was in fact stipulated in Article 7 of the Dix-Hill Cartel of July 1862, which still governed prisoner-of-war protocol. As early as 20 January 1863 Rosecrans had issued a general order to this effect (Official Records, Series II, Volume 5, p. 198), but only on 16 April was each individual parolee specifically ordered back to duty, "having been captured by the enemy, paroled and set at liberty without the delivery required by the Cartel. . . ." Caley writes:
juliaett dont you think that we have ben made to take up arms without being exchanged yesterday the the order came to us all Seperatly ordering us to duty and it was rite from Gen Roscranc we all took guns this morning and drilled this fore noon it Seems rather hard to take up arms without being exchanged but I cant See how we could get rid of it as we are forced to do it (18 April 1863).
Caley's most harrowing experience of combat, after the debacle at Perryville, probably occurred at Chickamauga, where the 105th Ohio (attached to Col. Edward King's brigade of John J. Reynolds' division) saw significant action on both days of the battle, 19 and 20 September 1863. Especially memorable was a charge conducted by the regiment amidst the chaos of the great Confederate breakthrough on the 20th — an event specifically mentioned by Maj. Gen. Reynolds in his battle report (Official Records, Series I, Volume 30, Part 1, p. 441). Caley provides an account in his letter of 24 September — and if the affair may or may not have been "one of the hardest beyonet charges ever made", there is a good deal of truth to his statement that "the 105th is all that Saved the fourth division this time". Close to midday King's brigade, located just east of the Poe house along the La Fayette Road, found itself about to be taken in the right flank by H. L. Benning's brigade of Hood's division, moving up from the south through the break in the Union lines. In an attempt to buy time and save the rest of the brigade, Reynolds sent the 250-300 men of the 105th Ohio off through the woods against Benning's own flank, bayonets fixed. This ostensible delaying tactic proved unexpectedly successful when Benning's Georgians fled, perhaps thinking that the 105th represented the spearhead of a more significant attack. Reynolds was able to withdraw King's remaining regiments northwards — but the 105th was effectively lost behind enemy lines, and encountered several additional bodies of Confederate troops before escaping to the west and, at dusk, rejoining the division. The fullest and most considered first-hand description of the episode appears in the regimental history by Albion Tourgée (pp. 222-27); Caley's much briefer narrative is rather more heroic in tone, and his claim that the 105th captured Confederate Brig. Gen. Daniel Adams during the charge is mistaken. Still, his letter provides a noteworthy account of what was clearly a remarkable incident.
Elsewhere in the letters, Caley's descriptions of military life seem not at all embroidered. His reply to a question of Juliaette's about his prowess as a marksman rings true, and probably would have sufficed for a majority of his peers:
you wanted to know if I thaught I had ever killed a reb that is one question I cannot answer but I have Shot at them a good maney times and Some times when prety clost and I tried to kil them as hard as I could I have taken as good aim Some times as ift I was Shooting at a Squirrel. (1-2 July 1864).
In the great majority of combat situations, the infantryman in formation simply could not determine the effectiveness of his fire. That effectiveness was, in fact, substantially lower than one might imagine; recent estimates of the casualty rates inflicted by Civil war rifle fire typically range between .5 and 1.5 per cent — meaning anywhere from 67 to 200 shots were expended for each opposing soldier actually struck.
During the later stages of the war Caley began providing Juliaette with day-by-day accounts of his regiment's "fighting and mooving", to supplement the personal news. This information was drawn from a diary, which he specifically mentions in the letter of 18 December 1864 ("I find I have lost some leaves out of my diary for which I am very Sorey and can give you no more account until the first of Dec."). The periods covered by these "entries" in the extant manuscripts are: 26 June to 2 July 1864 (letter of 1-2 July 1864); 12 to 19 November and 1 to 3 December 1864 (letter of 18 December 1864); and 16 February to 14 March 1865 (in an undated manuscript, probably written out in March). The first of these periods begins some eight weeks into the Atlanta campaign; it found the regiment (now attached to Absalom Baird's division of XIV Corps) at the base of Kennesaw Mountain, where it lay to the right rear of Davis's division as the latter made its calamitous assault on 27 June. The entries of November-December 1864 describe two distinct stages of the march on Savannah, including the outset of the campaign and the army's passage through a burning Atlanta. The final block of entries covers about a month of the Carolinas campaign, from the Edisto River near Columbia, South Carolina to the capture of Fayetteville.
Caley remained with the regiment through the long marches of 1864-65, though his old wounds remained bothersome:
you Spoke of my lame foot it got rather of a bad Strain the day we crossed the river that is nearly Six weeks ago and every time we march I get it hurt so that I am lame all the time but not So bad but that I have don my duty every day marching inn the dark and inn the woods over brush and logs is hard on it and that is just the time we do the most of our mooveing or marching night before last when coming here I hurt it and it is Swolen up So that I have not had my Shoe on Since yesterday morning but I guess it wil get wel inn a day or two So I can wear my Shoe at least my Shoulder is well or not lame any now at least when I get wet or catch coald it is very apt to be lame for a day or two it is a good deal like the rheumatism (1-2 July 1864).
He continued to count down the days until the expiration of his three-year period of enlistment — ultimately serving two years, nine months, and thirteen days, from muster-in to muster-out. In 1867 he applied for an invalid pension, citing "a musket ball which entered & still remains in his shoulder, disabling him to a considerable extent from performing hard labor." He and Juliaette lived at Mentor until 1868, when they moved to a farm in the vicinity of Quincy, Branch County, Michigan (valued at $2000 in the 1870 Census). Five children were born before Juliaette's death in 1884. Caley himself died on 7 March 1901.
Provenance note: The Caley letters were acquired by Leon S. Demarest of Battle Creek, Michigan in the late 1950s, and remained in Mr. Demarest's family until their purchase by the University Libraries in 2004.
Bibliographic note: The regimental history of the 105th Ohio is Albion Tourgée, The Story of a Thousand, Buffalo NY, 1896. The book is very useful, both for its appendices (which include a regimental roster, among other features) and for its narrative. Tourgée, a lieutenant in the 105th in 1862-63, became a notable man of letters in postbellum America, and an outspoken advocate of blacks' civil and political rights. See also his wartime diary: Dean H. Keller, ed., "A Civil War Diary of Albion W. Tourgée," Ohio History, 74, no 2 (Spring 1964), 99-131. For the movements of the regiment and of Company F, see the itinerary in Tourgée as well as Janet B. Hewitt, ed., Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Wilmington NC, 1996, Part II, Vol. 55, pp. 106-118, 142-146. For the 105th Ohio at Chickamauga, see Peter Cozzens, This Terrible Sound, Urbana and Chicago, 1992, pp. 232-34, 410-11. For a summary of parole and exchange under the Dix-Hill Cartel, see William Best Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons, New York, 1964, pp. 69-113.
Index of Letters
|MSN CW 5024-01||Letter||August 26, 1862||Lexington, Kentucky||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-02||Letter||September 18, 1862||Louisville, Kentucky||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-03||Letter||December 3, 1862||New Albany, Indiana||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-04||Letter||December 9, 1862||New Albany, Indiana||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-05||Letter||March 8, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-06||Letter||March 20, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-07||Letter||April 4, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-08||Letter||April 14, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-09||Letter||April 18, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-10||Letter||May 4, 1863||Camp Near Murfreesboro||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-11||Letter||May 17, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-12||Letter||June 3, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-13||Letter||June 23, 1863||Murfreesboro, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-14||Letter||July 19, 1863||Chardon, Ohio||Sarah O. Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-15||Letter||July 27, 1863||Camp near Decherd, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-16||Letter||September 24, 1863||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-17||Letter||November 27, 1863||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-18||Letter||December 1, 1863||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-19||Letter||December 25, 1863||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-20||Letter||January 12-13, 1864||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-21||Letter||January 26-28, 1864||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-22||Letter||January 31, 1864||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-23||Letter||February 7, 1864||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-24||Letter||[Late June 1864]||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-25||Letter||July 1-2, 1864||Camp near Marietta, Georgia||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-26||Letter||October 31, 1864||Rome, Georgia||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-27||Letter||December 18, 1864||Camp near Savannah, Georgia||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-28||Letter||February 2, 1865||Sisters Ferry, Georgia||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-29||Letter||February 26, 1865||Warrensville, Ohio||Mary Carpenter Thomas|
|MSN CW 5024-30||Diary entries||[March 1865]||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-31||Letter||April 9, 1865||Gatesboro, North Carolina||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-32||Letter||April 27, 1865||Camp ||Charles Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-33||Letter||December 18, 1865||Washington Township, Iowa||John Caley|
|MSN CW 5024-34||Letter||May 31, 1867||Janesville, Iowa||John Caley and Mary Caley|