George Sandoe was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1821. As an adult, the Missions of the Church of God sent him west to establish churches in Illinois. He continued this work until 1861 when he enlisted as a private in Company G of the 123rd Illinois. This regiment became part of John T. WIlder's famous Lightning Brigade.
The 2012 book Morning to Midnight in the Saddle, edited by Christopher D. McManus, Thomas H. Inglis, and Otho J. Hicks, is full of letters sent home by Lt. Otho J. McManus of Sandoe's company. It includes some of the letters written by Sandoe to his brother Thomas.
Excerpts from two of George Sandoe's letters:
IN CAMP NEAR MUNFORDVILLE, KY
Oct 27, 1862
I have but little faith in the loyalty of many men in old Ky., who have claimed to be Union men from the beginning. My impression is and observation confirms me in it. Kentuckians generally love their slaves more than their government or than the government of Christ. There is, no doubt, many noble exceptions to the above assertion, but it is true in the main, even from G.P. Prentice, of the Louisville Journal, down to the owner of a single slave.
I can have no kind of respect for Prentice or his paper. He is doing harm, in my opinion, with many in Kentucky.
How blinding is the effect of slavery? It closes the eyes to the plainest matter of fact. There have been but few improvements, excepting in towns and cities for several years past. This so far as we have travelled. You meet almost everywhere decaying houses run down, deserted farms. In short, it looks nothing like a Free State, where all is noise and bustle in making improvements. Poor men and boys are the most indolent fellows with most of the free negroes. The poor Union white and black have the most get up about them and of course do the most work. And yet for all this, and a thousand other evils that follow in the wake of slaves, Kentuckians will not see the plain indication of heaven's combination of their abdominal institution, but go in buying and selling, and whipping and hanging their fellows.
O God, how long is this state of things to last. Brethren, everywhere, pray to heaven to put a stop to slavery and the war. Pray for me.
March 14, 1863
Many refugees have come and are still coming within our lines. They tell a sad tale of suffering amongst the loyal people of this State. We have ruined the country around Murfreesboro for miles. Nothing can be raised the coming season. The hard earnings of years are thus destroyed in a few months. The wicked news of this Rebellion will only be seen in all its hideous forms by property. There is but little honor, little justice in our midst. I am heartily tired of trusting most officers in any of the promises they make!
Profanity prevails to an alarming extent amongst officers and men. Often I am made to cry out. Great God, what will we yet come to? When can we look for an end of our troubles? To die for ones country is not a very hard matter, but to die in the midst of such confusion and depravity is trying to the most patriotic man, who reverences the name of his God.
Slavery is the very thing to drive and keep away a laboring white class. Hence, slavery is the very thing we do not need in our land. Let the leading men of Tennessee demolish, and open their borders to the white emigrant, and a few years of peace will astonish the world at the result.
Your brother in Christ,
Christopher D. McManus, Thomas H. Inglis, and Otho J. Hicks. Morning to Midnight in the Saddle. Xlibris, Corp., 2012.
Order the book HERE.
Sandoe was promoted to sergeant on August 14, 1862 and then to Chaplain on January 11, 1865. After the war he returned to Clark County, Illinois and continued his ministry.
Otho McManus was killed at the Battle of Selma on April 2, 1865. His brother later married his widow.