This letter was written by Cary E. McCann, the son of David Mathews McCann (1813-1860) and Amy Ann (McCain) Bell (1821-1894). Cary’s father was a physician in Martinsburg, Knox County, Ohio, when the family was enumerated by the census taker in 1850. Dr. McCann had died sometime just prior to the 1860 census, however, when the family was enumerated in Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio. Cary’s younger (surviving) siblings included: Mary Elizabeth McCann (1844-1920) and Elmore W. McCann (1850-1929).
Carey was a 20 year-old school teacher when he enlisted on 13 December 1861 to serve in Co. I, 68th Ohio Infantry. He rose in rank from a private to a hospital steward to a 2d Lieutenant before ending his service in January 1865.
After the war, Cary married Rebecca P. Steedman (b. 1846) and settled in Antwerp, Paulding county, Ohio, where he became a druggist. His brother Elmore became a physician.
Cary wrote this particular letter from Decatur, Alabama, as the 68th Ohio Infantry began its move into northwestern Georgia at the start of the Atlanta Campaign. He makes reference to Grant’s recent success in fleshing Lee out of the Wilderness.
May 27th 1864
I wrote you at Huntsville. Nothing very mysterious has happened me since then or the regiment. I came here yesterday morning with orders to get some medical supplies for the regiment that were estimated for at H. The health of myself and regiment is very good with the exceptions of the recruits. They mostly complain of sore feet & diarrhea.
This place is on the Tennessee river and a very miserable place it is too, for it is all shattered to pieces by the soldiery & etc. I think it looks more natural than those you have. Did you get those large photos?
We leave here in a few minutes for Rome, Georgia, & our communications will not be kept up in our rear — only probably by our scouts. I am told this fine, sunny morning that Gen’l. Grant has defeated Gen’l. Lee, and that latter came out from his works and made an assault on the former position. I am in hopes that it is true, yet rumors are hard to believe without something official.
Who did you send those photographs to that you kept? I want to know so that I will know who to send mine to.
“Over the River” does not get any more favor from me, this you can rely upon. “Everything is lovely when the Goose hangs high.”
I think that we will get to Rome or Kingston in ten or twelve days with a little fighting thrown in, yet we may not because it is said down here that Secesh do not like to mix too closely with “Samuel’s Blue Coats.” It will be some time before I can write again. I have not had any mail from home yet from anyone, but anxiously look for forty “Iay” over by next return mail.
How does Elmore perform now since he has been home so long? You must try & do the best you can until I come home which time may be next winter or spring. The general supposition is that the Southern Con-fed-a-ra-cy is about used up or nearly so.
How is my B. S., L. D., and Mollie H. They have my P___b [picture book?] or will have when you get mine. I will write soon if we open communications with any mail route. I will sometime or other get yours if you will only write. To Ma.
When I write home you must write me if I do direct to Ma, because I write family letters to one and all.
I am “bully up” this morning sitting out in the hot sun on a Knapsack & writing on a box for my desk. When traveling, I march until tired, then I ride in the waggon. I am in a desperate hurry. Write all the fun & etc. & oblige your brother, — Cary E. McCann