Letter written by Mary Chalmers Ferguson to her husband, Sergeant William A. Ferguson of the 8th Confederate Cavalry, from their home in Pickensville, AL. Mary comments on the different soldiers who brought her husband’s last few letters to her, including an African American. She has received a bag full of her husband’s winter clothes, as well as a pistol and a horse’s shoe. She writes about their daughter, and tells William how the ladies of the village made shirts for wounded and sick soldiers at Columbus, with fabric supplied by the Soldier’s Aid Society. They are also planning on sending a wagon of goods and food. Mary mentions an engagement at Richmond, VA known as the Battle of Seven Pines, and lists the casualties of what she calls the “Pickensville Blues” regiment. She has hopes that William’s army will come near enough to home that she may get to see him.
Home Friday evening
June 13. 1862.
My own dear William: –
The last letter I received from you was brought by Mr Cockrell to Columbus – and mailed at that place. Since then I have heard from you several times – by Capt Mc Caa’s company – coming through this place, first by one of the Capt’s negro’s – who considers himself a member of the company – says – “our company” – “our boys” &c. Willie Herrean has also come back- and took tea with us – tells me you are in fine health. I got the carpet bag containing your winter cloths. I felt like I had met an old friend, when I saw your little pistol. I shall keep it by me and if necessary, defend
myself. Among the other things in the carpet bag I came across “a horses’ shoe” – now – do tell me what horse has worn this shoe – that you think enough of it to send it home? One of Dr Carpenters negroes came through Pickensville yesterday and tells me that he saw you last Monday – says you are in fine health and fine spirits. I am glad to hear from you this way – but how much I should like to have a late letter. I hear that Beauregard’s army are not permitted to write any letters at all. If I cannot have the pleasure of reading a few lines from your pen occasionally I can still write to you and tell you how we are all getting along at home. The pet of the household – that sweet little girl of ours – or yours as you will have
it – is so sweet. She can almost sit alone – and has learned to pull her Granfather’s beard to perfection. He plays with her frequently and loves her very much. You cannot imagine how much company she is for me. I play with her every day – besides bathing her all over every morning – and dressing her every morning – and undressing her every evening. She sleeps with me and gives me a sweet smile as soon as she opens her peepers in the morning. I give her a kiss in return. I wish you could see her eating black-berries – with her little mouth and nose all blacked. Whenever Sarah brings me berries – or plums (of which we have an abundance) she daps her little hands in the midst of them and scatters them all over the floor, at the risk of a make believe
scolding from her Grandmother.
She loves to play with the children and gives every one a sweet smile who speaks to her
But if I tell you so many nice things about the baby – poor little I will be forgotten – if such is not already my fate – (thought of as among “the things that were“)
Last week the ladies of our quiet little village were busily plying the needle for the wounded and sick soldiers at Columbus.
We made up into shirts – three bolts of domestic – sent down by the “Soldiers’ Aid Society” at that place. To morrow evening we are going to form a society at this place – in order to do more work for those noble spirits who have suffered and are now suffering so much for our cause. We are going to send up to them to morrow
a wagon load of vegitables – potatoes, dried fruits – milk butter – eggs- chickens &c. We are not near enough the poor sufferers to wait upon them but want to administer to their wants in some way.
You have probably heard of the engagement near Richmond – call it the “The Battle of the Seven pines.” Papers received to day – say that “Gen Rhode’s brigade – consisting of the 5th, 6th, 12th Ala and 12th Miss is admitted to have eminently distinguished itself. They bore the brunt of the battle for some hours. The casualties of the “Pickensville Blues” are as follows – Killed John T. Vargaut, John L Taylor, John Works, Thomas R. Peeks, Horace Stansel. Total 5. Wounded. Sergeant M. F. Wakefield
J. E. Addington, A. A. Ball, Joseph Coleman, J. R. Donaldson, B. Y. Franklin, James Free, R. J. Tunsley – J. S. Gordon D.W. Goodwin. J. P. Harper. G. W. Hines. A. Johnson. H. B. Johnson – N. G. Jones. W. W. Peterson. Jessie Tall – W. C. Taylor. E. W. Vernon. Wm Kall – Jas Wright, G. B. Petty, G. W. Prew. M. P. Stedman. H. W. Story. J. D. Wheelbright. W. A. Burgin. Total 27. You probably know a great many of the above list. I have a letter from cousin Willie of the fourth of June – in which he says – he is sorry he was not in the fight – having a situation in the pass-port office in Richmond at the time of the engagement – and that he intends to join the comapny immediately in order to be with them in the
next engagement – which he thinks will soon take place. I think he had better stay where he is. Henry when last seen was crossing the Chickahominy bridge – going towards the enemy’s lines.
Mr Shaffer and Miss Boggs from Columbus took dinner with us to day – They tell us that the fortifications at Columbus were commenced last Monday. I[t] was rumored in that place that Gen Beauregard was visiting that place – but nothing definite was known. If Gen Beauregard sees fit to fall as far back as Columbus – you will probably visit us – perhaps on a foraging expedition. I must confess – that I would like to see you very much but the army to which you belong is just about as close as I would like to have it – especially if the
enemy are following you as closely as is reported. I expect secrecy is the best policy on the part of our army – but I find that curiosity is at the highest pitch to learn the movements of those three Generals – Beauregard – Bragg – and Price.
Brother Willie starts to school Monday morning to Mr Garthright at Summerville. Col Talbinds regiments are suffering severely from measles – pneumonia, fever. Mr Wm Fort’s remains were brought home Wednesday and deposited at the Garden church yard. Mr Horton has had the measles. But I must close as ai Have exhausted my paper – perhapse your patience.
If you cannot write – send me a message by every opportunity
A kiss and much love from
Your own dear Mary.
William A. Ferguson, from Pickensville AL, enrolled in Captain McCaa’s Company A of the Alabama Cavalry in October 1861, aged 29. He was mustered into Baskerville’s 4th MS Cavalry Battalion on November 14, 1861. Baskerville’s Battalion patrolled the Tennessee River prior to the battle of Shiloh and and participated in the battle itself. The Battalion was consolidated to form the 8th CS Cavalry Regiment. Ferguson was promoted to lieutenant and again to captain. He was captured in the autumn of 1863 and incarcerated at Johnson’s Island Prison, near Sandusky, OH. He was exchanged and rejoined the fighting in Atlanta. He served with his unit until its surrender at Greensboro, NC in 1865. After the war he became a farmer and had at least 3 children with his wife Mary before passing away on January 21, 1902. He is buried in East Hill Cemetery in Salem City, VA.