The May 21, 1861, Mount Vernon Democratic Banner contains three letters written by men at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, where the Fourth Ohio Infantry was in training. They provide an interesting contrast.
In a letter dated May 9, John W.A. Gillespie wrote: “At present we have nothing to complain of. We get plenty of bread, meat, beans, rice, sugar and coffee, and have our meals all prepared in good style by our own cooks. We should be very much pleased to have some of the Mount Vernon folks come down, and board with us a few days. If any should conclude to pay us a visit, I hope they will not forget to bring with them a few pounds of good butter.”
On May 7, William Welch wrote: “We are in messes, 17 men each, and each mess eat and sleep together. Our rations are drawn every day at 9 o’clock. We have ham, fresh beef, pickled pork, white beans, vinegar, rice, coffee, salt and sugar, also soap. All these are of good quality, and I tell you the truth, that never in my life have I relished my victuals better, and feel well all of the time, and ready for my rations all the time, as the saying is. Calvin Glaze does the cooking for our mess, and I think he can excel all in this line. I think he can beat any man, woman or child making coffee, and doing the other cooking. He is nice and clean as polished steel. We do our own washing and mending. You ask how we do it? Well, we do it the same as other soldiers do, which is done in fine style.”