This letter was written by Eli H. McFeely (1839-1923) who enlisted as a private on 16 April 1861 in Co. H (“the Steubenville Guards”), 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) — a three-month organization. He was discharged on 31 July 1861 after participating in the Battle of Bull Run. He re-enlisted in Co. G, 2nd OVI — a three-year organization — on 16 August 1862 and was later transferred to Co. E, 18th OVI. He was discharged from the service on 10 June 1865 at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
During the 21 July 1861 Battle of Bull Run, the 1st and 2nd Ohio Infantry regiments fought side by side in Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck’s brigade, though they were outclassed by Cump Sherman’s brigade in pushing across the stone bridge and into the fray below Henry Hill. Eli was married to Catherine Annie “Kate” Long (1844-1926) on 24 December 1861.
After his discharge from the service, Eli returned to Ohio and lived with his wife until 23 May 1880 when he kissed his wife goodbye never to return. According to his wife, the couple had a friendly relationship but Eli’s grief from the loss of a child made him impossible to live with. The 1900 census shows wife Catherine living with some of her children and grandchildren but Eli had already left by this time. Records show that he had been in Arkansas, and Kansas and ended up in the National Military Home for Disabled Veterans in Leavenworth, Kansas where he died in 1923.
One of Eli’s daughters — Nellie McFeely — married Victor Hebron, the son of John L. Hebron of Steubenville who also served in the 2nd OVI.
¹ Camp Upton was six miles northwest of Alexandria, Va. It was on Riley’s Hill, near Taylor’s Tavern, on the Leesburg & Alexandria Turnpike. The 2nd OVI arrived at Camp Upton in the evening of Tuesday, 18 June 1861. They remained at that location until 16 July 1861.
² The Washington papers reported on 21 June 1861 that, “Col. Hardee is at or near Fairfax with batteries and 400 cavalry.” This report proved to be a false rumor. Confederate Brig. Gen. William J. Hardee served in the Western Theatre of the war; not in Virginia.
³ Col. Lewis Wilson (1830-1892) resigned from the 2nd Ohio Infantry on 20 June 1861 to accept a commision as captain in the 19th U.S. Infantry. After Wilson resigned, Lt. Col. Rodney Mason took over the regiment and was in command during the Battle of Bull Run.