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Caley Family Correspondence

Identifier: MSN/CW 5024

Scope and Contents

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). 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).


  • Creation: 1862-1892
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1862-1865


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

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.


.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



A collection consisting primarily of 29 Civil War manuscript letters written by Union private Charles C. Caley, during his service in Co. F, 105th Ohio Infantry.


Items are arranged chronologically, typically one per folder.

Caley Family Correspondence
George Rugg
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556