Letter from Milton O.P. McConnell to his Father, Abraham Berry McConnell
The 48th Virginia had seen no action to this point of the war. According to John Chapla's history of the regiment, the 48th had suffered its first death. First Sergeant Charles Hagan of Company C died of disease in August. By late in the month, the 48th had joined the rest of Robert E. Lee's forces and were encamped at Big Spring, near Elk Mountain.
Mid September found the 48th participating in the unsuccessful attempt on Union forces under George B. McClellan at Cheat Mountain. This campaign helped earn Lee several unflattering nicknames - "Evacuating Lee" and "Granny Lee".
Milton O.P. McConnell joined his Uncle Henry M. McConnell's company, the Nickelsville Spartan Band, on July 2, 1861. He had been born in 1842, to Abraham Berry McConnell and Lucy Dougherty McConnell. His paternal grandparents, the Rev. George McConnell and Mary Compton McConnell had been two of the original settlers of what is now Scott Co., Virginia. They had immigrated from Pennsylvania.
Chapla's roster shows that McConnell was listed as sick on 8/31/61. His letter mentions a "spell of the measles."
Milton O.P. McConnell died on Culp's Hill, Gettysburg.
Thanks to Cousin Barnett McConnell for this letter from my half third cousin, three times removed.to his father.
Big Spring Pochahontas Co. Va. Sept. 4th 1861
Dear Father I received yuor letter last Sunday bearing date August the 19th which gave much satisfaction to hear from you all. For nothing gives greater satisfaction to us than to hear from home & friends. For our boys are always looking for something to come from home & when they receive any thing from home it seems to revive them greatly & when I receive a letter from you the boys are all anxious to see it in fact they hardly give me time to read the letter myself before they must read. I can only say that my health is tolerable good at this time. I have had a spell of the measles but I think I am almost well now at least so I can begin to go about again & I suppose feel as well as could be expected. George W. Strong has had the measles but is about well again. S.H. McClelland is very bad with the same at this time in fact they seem to go very hard with him & William Hooker has been very bad off with something like unto the flux but he is getting some better in fact almost every one of the boys that has not had the measles in our company have & has had the measles but I think they will all recover again by proper attention. You said you wanted to know something about our fair -- I will tell you something about it. For 62 men we get 45 lbs. bacon per day or 77 lbs. beef but we only get bacon once a week & beef the balance of the time, 67 lbs flour 6 lbs rice 3 and on-half lbs coffee 7 lbs sugar 1 quart salt is about our rations & then we get some soap & candles & occasionally some vinegar. You said you wanted to know something about or commanders. We are not attached to any Brigade as yet but are under command at this time of General Loring & the officers of the Regiment. I don't know that I can tell you much about them not knowing. There is only 66 men present at this time including the officers that is the commissioned officers & there is 8 men absent including officers & privates. But S.P. McConnell being appointed Comissary clerk & J.W. Gillispie being appointed Comissary Sergeant leaves our company 2 men less in drilling but they are still kept up on our roll which makes our company 76 strong that is 76 in number when all here _______ but if you will direct your letters in the propper maner they will come so do not fail to write & write as often as you can. I will expect to write every possible chance. A few words to Martha & Polly I want you to be good girls & do the very best you can it is true that we are along ways apart at this time But remember my heart is with you & I hope & trust that we will be permitted to see each other again. I want you to pray for me & all who have left their homes & friends in defense of their country. So give my best wishes to all the children. I would say something more but G.W. Strong wants to say a few things to you So I will close but still Remain your friend and son until death