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Do They Miss Me at Home?

The Civil War Letters of William McKnight, Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Donald C. Maness

Publication Year: 2010

William McKnight was a member of the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry from September 1862 until his death in June of 1864. During his time of service, McKnight penned dozens of emotion-filled letters, primarily to his wife, Samaria, revealing the struggles of an entire family both before and during the war. This collection of more than one hundred letters provides in-depth accounts of several battles in Kentucky and Tennessee, such as the Cumberland Gap and Knoxville campaigns that were pivotal events in the Western Theater. The letters also vividly respond to General John Hunt Morgan’s raid through Ohio and correct claims previously published that McKnight was part of the forces chasing Morgan. By all accounts Morgan did stay for a period of time at McKnight’s home in Langsville during his raid through Ohio, much to McKnight’s horror and humiliation, but McKnight was in Kentucky at the time. Tragically, McKnight was killed in action nearly a year later during an engagement with Morgan’s men near Cynthiana, Kentucky.

Published by: Ohio University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Editorial Comments

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p. xv

The collection was transcribed in McKnight’s words. For instance, misspelled words were not corrected, and capitalized words within sentences remained as such, although the first word of each sentence was capitalized. Slight punctuation, however, was required to maintain consistent flow. Periods were sparingly used...

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pp. 1-17

During the Civil War, letters were among the few connections to home that soldiers had; their importance increased as the war advanced and troops found themselves farther from family and friends.1 Soldiers constantly complained of not receiving “enough letters,” and one soldier wrote, “You can have no idea what a blessing letters...

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1. Preparing for War (September 1862–January 1, 1863)

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pp. 18-34

Most of McKnight’s early letters discuss routine issues that many soldiers faced during the war. For example, a letter dated December 9, 1862, describes in detail the first half of a typical day in camp: “I have to detail every day at day light I have the Roll to cal...

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2. Life as a Soldier and Divided Kentucky (January 8, 1863–July 8, 1863)

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pp. 35-106

After leaving Ohio, McKnight first arrived at Camp Ella Bishop near Lexington, Kentucky, in January 1863. From that point, McKnight traversed much of central and southern Kentucky and camped at several places—Danville, Harrodsburg, Monticello, Stanford, and Somerset...

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3. The Fourth of July Presents and John Hunt Morgan’s Raid (July 11, 1863–August 20, 1863)

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pp. 107-120

July and August 1863 are central to the McKnight story. During this brief, two-month period, McKnight learned that Samaria had given birth to twins—Martha and Myrtha—on July 4 and that Confederate general...

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4. Going for Dixie (August 25, 1863–March 28, 1864)

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pp. 121-166

Up until this point, McKnight and the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry were organizing and preparing for battle, seeing only limited action in Kentucky. During the fall of 1863 and the following winter, however, McKnight’s unit would be “going for Dixie.” Although McKnight refers to this region...

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5. The Final Months (April 1, 1864–June 21, 1864)

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pp. 167-189

Unlike the previous chapters, this chapter includes an array of letters from William’s family. McKnight may have been killed in action before the letters reached him, or he may not have had time to destroy the correspondence before his death. In the only known existing letter...

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pp. 190-194

Immediately following McKnight’s death and the fighting at Cynthiana, the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry pursued a retreating John Hunt Morgan through rugged terrain in eastern Kentucky. Morgan eventually escaped, but the Seventh was able to release several hundred of General Hobson’s men, who had been captured...

Appendix A

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pp. 195-196

Appendix B

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pp. 197-199

Appendix C

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p. 200

Appendix D

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pp. 201-208

Appendix E

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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-258


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pp. 259-266


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pp. 267-271

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821419144

Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 794698914
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Do They Miss Me at Home?

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Subject Headings

  • McKnight, William, -- 1832-1864 -- Correspondence.
  • Soldiers -- Ohio -- Correspondence.
  • United States. Army. Ohio Cavalry Regiment, 7th (1862-1865).
  • Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Ohio -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories
  • Langsville (Ohio) -- Biography.
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