This post is the final in the series presenting the timeline for events in the life of Oliver Cromwell Case and the 8th CVI. This brings us to the point where we started on his letters for November 1861. I will return to the timeline on the next post for May 1862 as we move toward the hills of Sharpsburg in September 182.
10 Nov 1861 (continued)
It is possible that Oliver attended the services of the Asbury United Methodist Church. At the time, it was Annapolis’ oldest African-American congregation dating back to the original meeting house built in 1804 when it operated as the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. They would later change the name of the church to the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church in 1838 as a new building replaced the previous meeting house. It is likely that this is the church Oliver attended since he describes the churches in the city in the paragraph following his description of the church service.
There are four [obviously he intended to write “three”] churches besides the colored one in the place, one Catholic, one Methodist, and one Presbyterian.[emphasis added]
During the time period Oliver would have attended the service, the Presiding Elder and possible preacher that day would have been the Reverend Henry Price. The Rev. Price was obviously a highly respected man in the city of Annapolis as evidenced by his 1863 obituary.
In the city of Annapolis, on the 20th instant, the Rev. Henry Price, in the 71st year of his age. He departed this life in great peace and joy; he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church at the early age of seventeen years, and for forty-five years has been an acceptable minister in this place, and has borne the greatest and best character. On Sunday afternoon, the 22d instant, his remains were moved from his late residence on Main street to the Church, where his funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. J. H. Brice, (from the 14th chapter of Job, 14th verse: “If a man die shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait tiil my change come;”) assisted by the Rev. J. F. Gane and G. Pinkney, and at 5 o’clock he was moved to his grave, where he now sleeps and rests in peace. Not withstanding the inclemency of the weather, and the snow falling fast, the Church was utterly crowded with both white and colored to witness the last of our beloved brother in the Gospel of Christ.
13 Nov 1861
Oliver writes his letter to Abbie by gaslight in the building occupied by the guard force in downtown Annapolis. In addition to sharing the news of his attendance at the African-American church service on the previous Sunday night, Oliver also describes the city for his sister. From the tone of his letter, it’s clear that Oliver has visited each of the three major churches and the courthouse.
The Catholic is a new church commenced two years since. It is splendid upon the inside, the roof being composed of three arches each one being supported by many pillars. Around the altar it is furnished in extravagant style, but the body of the church is not yet finished. It has a chime of bells, the first I ever heard. The Methodist is a nice church commenced two years since but is not done off upon the inside. The Episcopal looks like an old one with a new wing, but looks very neat and pretty upon the inside. The Court House is furnished in fine style upon the inside but is rather of an ancient looking building upon the outside.
Oliver and his fellow soldiers on guard duty in Annapolis soon learn that the city design is centered on the state capital building.
Every principal street (if any call be called principal) centers at the state house and it is nothing uncommon for a soldier or officer to inquire the way of the patrols saying wherever the[y] go they always come to the state house.
Map of downtown Annapolis (Maryland State Archives 1878)
As soldiers have done for centuries, Oliver and his crew find ways to overcome the boredom of the patrol duty. The drunken soldiers and citizens of Annapolis which are the objects of interest for the guards also provide some humorous relief.
We have fun occasionally with some drunken soldier or some tight Secessionist for I can assure you no sober man will talk in that way.
Providing further evidence of his scholarly orientation, in this letter of November 13, 1861, we see Oliver the veracious reader. As he does in many of his other 31 letters to Abbie, Oliver is concerned about keeping his supply of newspapers flowing to him in camp.
About papers: I receive papers everyday or two from Ariel, now as long as I receive them from him of course I shall not want any, but you should make an arrangement to send a paper regularly, I should like the “Weekly Press” as well as any, as it contains the local news as well as the other… I came from camp last Friday and have received six letters and six papers in that time so you see I am kept quite well posted about things in “Old Conn”, but do not on that account stop writing, but excuse if I sometimes delay writing in answer.
Oliver Case, the scholar, is also Oliver Case, the agrarian. In the very same paragraphs, he shows his concern for the farm back on Terry’s Plain. Oliver asks Abbie, “Has Father got his crops all in?”
In the closing paragraph of his letter, Oliver returns to news of the army and his assessment of future operations.
The brigade will probably leave in the course of a week whether with or without our regiment we know not, and probably shall not until the day they leave. The war news is cheering and our boys will feel slighted if they do not go south with the brigade and share in their glory. I have not been to camp for three days. The boys of your acquaintance were all well then and I presume that they are now. Give my love to all inquiring friends. Excuse my writing as I can’t follow the lines by gas light. We have cartridges given out but cannot load yet.
 Baltimore Clipper (Baltimore) February 27, 1863 (accessed from Maryland Obituaries:
Documenting Maryland’s Historic Cemeteries, http://marylandobits.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/rev-henry-price-2/)
 Case Letters