On March 25, 1862, the Democratic Banner began running a series of letters from someone with the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the regiment which had spent much of the winter camped and training at the Knox County Fairgrounds.
The first letter was actually addressed to the editor of the Ohio State Journal and signed with the pen name “Tanianti.” The letter the next week was addressed to the Banner and signed with the initials “I.N.H.” They could easily have been the same person sending the same letter to each paper.
The 43rd had apparently been the target of some criticism for its long stay in Ohio, as the first letter begins:
“A few weeks ago some of the Ohio journals were virtuously indignant that the 43rd Regiment, encamped at Mt. Vernon, was permitted to enjoy the luxuries of camp duty at home while other regiments were in the field. Were those fastidious journalists with us now-a-days, they would probably learn that the 43rd remained in camp during the winter for some purpose, and that it is not so material when or how a regiment takes the field in its influence upon the fortunes of a campaign. I have had good opportunities of observing and, without disparagement to other regiments, must needs pronounce the 43rd Ohio the best drilled, best equipped regiment that has left the state during the campaign.”
The letter, which is more than a column long, recounts the history of the regiment leaving Mount Vernon and arriving in Missouri, where it was placed in a brigade in the Army of the Mississippi under Gen. John Pope. The writer described where they were in Missouri, the frightful condition of the roads as the army advanced on New Madrid, and encounters with Confederates under Gen. Jeff Thompson.
At New Madrid, the regiment engaged in some skirmishing, incurring no serious casualties. However, he said, “One of Col. Smith’s (J.L. Kirby Smith, the regimental commander) mounted orderlies had an arm knocked off. It is really astonishing what an amount of powder and ball it takes to kill a man.”
The correspondent also noted the confidence the men had in Smith, “whom they regard with enthusiastic fondness. His coolness, non-chalance and bravery in battle, and his well demonstrated ability, military knowledge and skill, render him the beau ideal of the boys.”