Letter fragment written by an unidentified Southern citizen, possibly written in early 1866, from near New Orleans, LA. The writer mentions friends who died in the war, though he has never been in the army himself as he has no military aspirations. Though previously a captain in a militia, he chose instead to stay home with his wife while others volunteered. He writes that the Union troops took hold of the Parish before the conscripts were ordered out. He writes that the war ruined him, as he is now in debt due to a loss of his crop from a flood the previous year. He sees no good in focusing on the past, and instead chooses to look to the future. He begins to write favorably of his wife when the letter ends.
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school friends in the war that I [???] to hear from you. Ell & Clint Lewis were both killed in the army. I received a very sad letter from Ell’s widow a few days ago, telling of their death. El died in Georgia & Clint in Virginia.
I have never been in the army. I had no taste for camp life and no aspirations for military fame. and I had a young wife consequently I stayed at home while the volunteering was going on, and before the conscripts were ordered out in this Parish, the Yankees took possession of us and have held us ever since. I had one month’s experience in the tented field as Captain of Militia and I assure you I am completely satisfied especially with the Militia.
The war has completely ruined me, I still own a fine tract of land, but unfortunately I own more that it is worth. You will probably be astonished that I haven’t made money as I have been inside of the Yankee
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and the water came three feet deep on my highest land so I lost that crop, and 66- found me without money.
I was in New Orleans yesterday & made an arrangement with a man to work my place this year, he furnishes the money, I furnish land and mules& we divide the crop
I have great fears of another overflow this year, but I risk nothing by this arrangement and if we are not over flowed I will make something.
I do not repine over what I have lost. I can see no good in grieving, “Let the dead past bury its dead” I look into the future and feel confident that I can support my family I feel that I have a great deal to be thankful for, and so long as God spares me my wife and children I can be happy in their affections My wife is not an extraordinary woman but she is a kind affectionate & loving wife we have been married four years and I believe I can truly say that we love each other
Letter written by Private Erastus Gregory of Company C, 114th NY Infantry, to his brother, from Port Hudson, LA. Gregory gives a day-to-day account of the battle fought at Port Hudson. Gregory’s regiment worked on building breastworks while being shelled by the Confederates. Despite being under continuous fire, Union forces suffered few losses. He mentions Major General Franklin Gardner going to Major General Nathaniel P. Banks to settle the fight with a trade of men and artillery for the fort, but Banks refused. Gregory writes that the ideas one may have about what it is like in battle fall short of the reality, and praises the bravery of the soldiers going into the field. He calls those who cry for peace cowards. He disputes that the Union is fighting for the rights of enslaved peoples, but rather is fighting to crush the rebellion, though hegoes on to say that he hopes when, “resurrection morning shall dawn upon us I may be accounted worthy to sit down near the throne of God with as black a man as ever trod the soil of old africa.” This was written the day before he was killed in action.
Port Hudson on the Mississippi 204 miles above New Orleans
June 13th 1863
Dear Brother and all I will begin a letter for you today but cannot send it out until this battle is decided for they do not allow any mail to leave here until then we started from the old railroad on friday the 29th of may and went to New Orleans by railroad we took a steamer from there and came up the river and arrived five miles below here on Saturday we stayed all night and on Sunday the 31st we marched onto the Battle ground we were brought up for reinforcements & so we were sent right to work they had been fighting 7 days when we got here, and I am going to keep an account of every day until the battle is decided last night Sunday night our men were sent out to put up some breastworks and worked till 12 o clock & then slept what we could the rest the time until morning the rebs shelling us by spells through the night Monday june 1st this day opens upon us very pleasant the men are fighting with a will on both sides the rebs have been throwing up new works during the night and our men have been shelling them all the forenoon and have finally succeeded in knocking them down the rebs had a big gun behind it (the works) and our men have just dismounted it with one of our big guns so they have only 2 more big guns left that they can use against us the
infantry fighting continues brisk all day) Tuesday june 2nd the rebs shelled us by spells all night last night the infantry fighting was also kept up most all night and they are fighting like tigers today the reb shells have done us no hurt yet except to scare us pretty bad and one man (in Co. K) probably being a little more scart than some of the rest started to run to get out of the way when his foot slipped he fell some way so his gun went off the ball passed through his foot in such a manner that it had to be cut off but during surgical operations he sudenly passed into eternity and that with the exception of killing a few mules is all the hurt they have done yet that is to our regiment but they have killed about (1000) men here since the fight began and probably wounded 3 times as many more) Wednesday June 3d is a pleasant day we are fighting with a will with cannons as well as muskets The old rebel reneral [Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner] has been out today to see gen Banks [Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks] for the purpose of settling the fight he told Gen. Banks if he (Banks) would let him have the men and 50 pieces artillery and his own life and be permitted to go he would surrender the fort to us but good old gen B told him (No) he wanted him, his men, artillery, & the fort besides) this old rebel general is the man that used to be United States paymaster and ran away with a pile of money that he was sent to pay troops and joined the rebs & being a smart man, they made a general of him but if we get him he will never be general any more for any buddy) thursday June 4th fighting commenced at daylight fight all day) friday June 5th fighting again today like tigers the rebs began to shell us again last night as usual but our men had been fixing for them and when they opened on us our men opened on them and ere the morning light they had dismounted the rebels two last guns and according to the statement of a negro that got away from them and came to us we killed a
good many men the negro said that we slaughtered them terribly) Saturday June 6th we are fighting today as eager as if it were the first day of the battle our men shelled the rebs through the night and they did not answer to our fire poor fellows had nothing to answer with) an Irishman has come over from them today and gave himself up he says we have almost give them enough he says two regiments of them have laid down their arms and took an oath that they will fight no more against their country) Sunday June 7th this is a lovely day full as pleasant as it is holy I am not fighting today but some of our regiment are the rebs opened upon us this morning with a gun that they had got mounted they made out to shoot once before our men got one of our old long toms in range and that is the last I have heard from the old gun today) this was an awful stronghold but we must soon have it I think) the fort or port is 7 miles around it and we have four lines of soldiers clear around) we have 30 miles of soldiers here, when they stand four abreast Monday June 8th fighting continues all day there was cannonading by spells all night by our men the rebs not answering to it but two or three times) I suppose you have an idea of what takes place in a fight like this but your ideas fall short of the reality) when I get home I will try and tell you so you will know something about it but I have not time to write it. But I tell you it is nothing that anyone would crave after) to see a regiment of brave boys go proudly into the field where shot and shell fly thickly around them perhaps before the first round is fired a piece of shell or musket ball hits a man on the head and he is carried from the field in an expiring condition another perhaps has his leg or arm shot off by a canon ball or grape shot while another is shot in the breast in such a manner that you can see right inside of him) and I tell you it is not very often that one word of complaint is heard from these brave men so eager are they to save their country from ruin) yet strange to
say we have men in the north that do us a great deal of harm by their cowardly cries of peace peace when there is no peace it dampens the faith of many an unthinking soldier and at the same time gives great courage to the traitors or rebels but I would say to such men as they are go on say all and do all you can we have taken the job to put down this unholy rebellion and with the help of almighty God we will see that it is done and done handsomely too if it takes ten long years to do it but for my part I dare not come home and tell my neighbor that I gave in my voice (to have peace on any terms) after the rebels had killed over two hundred thousand of the brave boys) I dare not come home and take my old gray headed father & mother by the hand & tell them their gray hairs must go down in sorrow to the grave because I had given in my voice to have peace on any terms, and therefore give the rebels all they demanded in the first place) I dare not come home where my wife and children are and take them by the hand and pat the little children on the head and tell them that I had brought a curse upon them and their children for generation and generations to come by giving in my voice towards having a peace which would be more ruinous than defeat itself) I dare come home and look my brothers & sisters in the face and take them by the hand and tell them I had signed away their peace the remainder of their lives by giving in my cowardly voice for peace) and back out at this critical juncture after more than two hundred and fifty thousand of our brave and noble young men had been buried beneath the Southern sod) I dare not do it I say) No I had rather brave the storm of iron and lead a spell longer) but enough of that) you will begin to think I am getting to be a union man if I do not stop) Albert D. is here he makes a good soldier and one that is pretty well calculated to pick a reb at pretty near every shot) we have cowards but they did not come from Mt Upton [NY] you see) tuesday June 9th infantry fighting continues brisk all day the cannons also keep up a tremendous roar all day Wednesday June 10th the rebs threw 5 shells at us last night but they were soon hushed up by our guns for our men shelled them all night infantry fighting all day today
thursday June 11th this is a rainy wet morning) our regiment were sent out last night for the purpose of removing some trees and rubbish that were in our way between our guns and accouterments ½ mile back and went to work like tigers to get our job done before daylight and we were progressing finely) when we had got within a few rods of their breastworks they probably knowing that we had not got our guns a large party of them sprang up from behind some brush and fired into our men of course we dropped everything and run and run we did it up & run in any manner for it but I should say we took a faster gait than a run) But strange to say there was only 3 or 4 wounded in the whole regt and only one in our company and he received his wound by falling down on his axe and cutting himself) not very bad) heavy cannonading by our men all night) the rebs not answering our fire except with musketry) we are having a terrible fight here to get this port but nothing daunted we press forward with a will not forgeting however to ask the blessings of almighty god to rest uppon us and the aid of his strong arm to guide and direct us and then we do not fear anything that can be devised by southern rebels or northern traitors) there is only one thing that I regret and that is I am sorry they are not all here together so we could fight them all at the same time not that I have any hatred toward them in any other way than to hate their actions (all I want is to bring them to terms that is bring them to an unconditional surrender and then with as much joy as the father experienced at the return of the prodigal I will receive them back and call them brothers again) those northern traitors get up the miserable story that we are fighting for the (****** as they term it) I suppose they think that if they get up that miserable yarn that we will not fight so hard but I will tell them now for all that we have come down here to whip these rebels and crush out their wicked rebellion and negro or not negro) (******
or not ******) we are bound to subdue them the cost be what it will) And then after the rebs are completely whipped then I say we shall have time enough to talk about the negro and then if I see anything in them or about them worthy of fighting for I will enlist and fight on the rite side) But until then I shall not bother my brains much concerning the negro some seem to think that because the negro has a black skin he ought to be a servant or slave and be bought and sold and whipped and kicked and abused in any way that a cruel master or overseer might see fit punish them) some even go so far as to say the negro has no soul but I believe when God created the negro He put as a baby [illegible due to fold] his man and I hope when the resurrection morning shall dawn upon us I may be accounted worthy to sit down near the throne of God with as black a man as ever trod the soil of old africa) If my sentence is no worse than that would be I shall be satisfied) one word more about Northern traitors and I will close this subject) tell them for me that I say, they had better come down here and help their rebel brothers for we are getting them in a tight place and they need their help very much but if they cannot or dare not come tell them to keep on and do all the hurt they can where they are) and tell them to hurry up for we shall be home some day and then it will be very strange if they do not [illegible due to fold] days they have all day sit about as if the rebels fight as well as they did the first day I am sitting here behind a tree in the edge of the woods writing this letter the balls fly around me like hail but I hardly notice it I have got so used to it) the cannons keep up a tremendous roar on our side but the rebs do not answer only with muskets) I thought I would not send out any letters until this battle was decided but I can and I think I shall send this tomorrow (Saturday) I received a couple of letters from you yesterday and was more than glad to hear that you were all well I am hearty and stout as a bear I think you did not enjoy your ride from Sanford very much the letters that I received were dated
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April 25th and May 10th give my respects to all tell Amelia and the children I have not forgotten them and I shall be glad when the war is over and then I can come home and see them all I will close for the present.
Erastus Gregory enlisted at the age of 28 in Guilford, NY on August 9 of 1862. He served as a private in Company C of the114th NY Infantry. He was killed in action June 14, 1863 at Port Hudson, LA. According to family lore, Gregory was killed when a bullet passed through the bible he carried in his pocket.
Letter supposedly written by Captain Given Campbell, to his wife Susan Elizabeth, from New Orleans, LA. Campbell gives his wife an account of his daily life in the city. He describes a visit to a church where the sermon lasted for over an hour, which he thought was much too long. He writes of various friends and acquaintances he has seen in New Orleans. He also mentions that New Orleans is an “ungodly city,” and that as he sits writing he can hear a brass band playing as part of a large parade. He writes that “unless there is more religion here we will never prosper.”
New Orleans Sunday afternoon Jany 21.72
My Sweet Wife
I mailed a letter to you this morning, and then went to hear Mr M. I was invited to [???] woods to dine but declined. Well Mr M preached a sermon one hour & 5 minutes in length to Christians about keeping separate from the world and he gave his ideas about theatres operas cardplaying, Billiards, Horse races and round dances in extenso: and in the service I thought he was right and reasonable, but there was more too much of it for one time, Aunt Em and Will were at Church in my pew, and Belle Watts from Southland was also there, after church I walked to Uncle Gus’ to see Belle home, and was most pressingly invited by Uncle Gus to stay to dine, but I declined because I wanted to go to the mail which is
open only between 1 & 2 oclock on Sunday, and I dint know whether they will feel complemented by this preference of mine to get a letter from you to dining with them or not. but at any rate it was so, and I did go to the P.O. and much to my intense disgust the mail was an hour and a half behind time, so I will not get the letter of today till tomorrow morning. These mails are so horribly irregular that they disgust me often. I have set my heart on a letter from you today, for I always enjoy getting your letters more on Sundays. I suppose it is because I have no work to do on that day and have my mind free from business and then it naturally reverts to what it most prominently thinks of and you know who that is.
We had a right good Congregation and I saw some strangers, i did not see Mr Alison, But Mrs Moore & Miss Carrie & Mr W. were each there, and there
also was Mrs Richardson, and she was not very well dressed I am afraid poor Frank is feeling some of the dullness of the times. Aunt Eve looked well and said she was well and Will is very fat, and his face is as broad a face as a mans ought to be, he was very nicely dressed in a new suit of cloth I suppose his sister must have given it to him for Poor old Mac, does not do much now I never see him have a case and it is strange to me how he gets along. I have not seen any thing of Mary for some time she is disposed to forget me, and as I do not think her recollections as of any advantage to me I wont trouble her by jogging her memory by any visit to her–. I am boarding at Moreau’s on Canal but St. Charles & [Carondelet?], about two doors further out than Giguel’s, and have very fine eating there, and enjoy what I eat much more than at the Hotel, though it is a solitary sort of a life to site and eat your meals at a table by yourself, but as it agrees
with my appetite then, I think I shall continue it for a few days longer – there it is about $3 per week higher that at the Hotel. This is a very ungodly city. for just as I am waiting here goes a brass band and a procession with banners parading the street. I am afraid unless there is more religion here it will never prosper, well my darling I will now go to dinner and stop this letter here and finish it tomorrow, and mail it then.
You may always know that no one can describe how much I love you, G.
Monday, well darling another beautiful morning has dawned upon us. I am very well this morning. I went to my room on yesterday after dinner and read some chapters in my testaments. I then staid in my room til Church [???] and went to Dr Palmers to the annual meeting of the Bible Society and there was an immense crowd & the church was very close and one man farted & fell from his seat and several ladies had to leave Rev Wm Tudor delivered the address, and his address
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Given Campbell was a lawyer practicing in St. Louis, MO who enlisted in the 2nd MO Volunteer Militia. In 1861 he was captured with over 600 other militia members by the Union Army and taken prisoner. He was paroled and then went to Kentucky where he joined the 15th KY Cavalry. He was promoted to captain of the company. Following the surrender atAppomattox, Campbell was selected by Jefferson Davis to lead his escape – they were captured at Irwinsville, GA. After the war, Campbell moved to New Orleans where he continued to practice law until 1873, when he moved back to St. Louis. He died in 1906.
General Orders No. 18, issued from the Union Headquarters in New Orleans, allowing soldiers to retain their arms after the war’s end if they pay for them.
Soldiers allowed to retain their arms
GENERAL ORDERS, HEADQUARTERS,
No. 18. DEPARTMENT OF LOUISIANA AND TEXAS
New Orleans, La., July 31, 1865
I. In accordance with instructions from the War Department, all soldiers honorably mustered out of the service, who desire to take advantage of General Orders, No. 101, War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, current series, authorizing them to retain their arms and accouterments on paying therefor their value, must signify their intention before leaving the filed, that it may be entered and charged on their muster-out rolls. The prices fixed by the Ordnance Department are as follows:
Muskets (all kinds, with or without accouterments) Six Dollars.
Spencer Carbines, (with or without accouterments) Ten Dollars.
All other Carbines and Revolvers, (with or without accouterments,) Eight Dollars.
Sabres and Swords, (with or without belts,) Three Dollars.
II. In order that no delay may be occasioned in the payment of mustered out troops, when they arrive at their respective places of enlistment, proper remarks will be made on the muster-out rolls of balance of clothing account, and traveling distance from the State rendezvous where they were mustered out, to place of enlistment.
Company officers, Commissaries and Assistant Commissaries of Musters will be held responsible that the proper remarks are made on the muster-out rolls as directed in the above order.
Letter written by Corporal Amos Kibbee of the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry, to his cousin Hattie, from Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. Kibbee describes his transfer from the 29th IL Regiment to the 4th IL Cavalry after the battle of Shiloh. He describes what it is like for a soldier in battle, and the overwhelming feeling to completely destroy the enemy that comes as a means of self-preservation. Kibbee writes that Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, and Memphis are all in Union possession, and does not see how the Confederates could at this point hope for success. He is anxious for the war to end as he feels he is not suited to a soldier’s life – his main goal is for the war to end rather than to be promoted in the military. He requests that his cousin be available when he visits home so that they may spend time together, and that he will likely move back to Illinois.
Pittsburgh Landing, Tenn. May 11th, 62
Dear Cousin Hattie
Yours of April 20 came to hand yesterday and I avail myself of the time given me today on account of being on guard all night to answer it, although perhaps I should do it better if I were not so sleepy and tired. I think I forgot to tell you in my last that we have been transferred from the 29th Reg. of Infantry to the first battalion of the 4th Cavalry, commanded by Col. Dickey. We have been attached to this since directly after the battle of the 6th and 7th of April. The division to which I belong (the first, Gen. McClernand’s) was very badly cut up in the fight and they have many sick, and I think this may be the reason why we are held in reserve, and it is very probable we shall not participate in the coming struggle which is hourly expected, and which, indeed, is now already being fought, but more the fashion of a siege than an assault. We have heard cannonading in the direction of Corinth this morning, which implies that “somebody is being hurt.” I have shared the fortunes of this division of the army ever since its organization at Cairo. I was with it at Forts Henry and Donelson, and at Shiloh. It is unnecessary to tell you that the army met with little opposition at Fort Henry, but we had several cavalry skirmishes with their mounted scouts, shotgun cavalry.
So I have been in two regular pitched battles. Although I have seen blood enough spilt, yet I can hardly content myself to be a noncombatant in the present impending battle. Yet I think you will hardly demonstrate this “bloodthirstiness,” but a desire for a speedy peace, which can only be accomplished through their utter and complete overthrow, and to endure this I am willing, yes, anxious to “brave the leaden storm” once more. There is much to plead in extenuation for the soldier who is so often accused of forgetting the feelings of this better nature. There is a wide difference between experiencing the wild and terrible excitement on the battlefield, and contemplating it from afar. It is utterly useless for anyone to attempt to describe such feelings in language, but this much I can say. It is an utter forgetfulness of everything but a desire to destroy your enemy in the quickest way possible. I think perhaps it is self preservation more than anything else that prompts this feeling. But in all my experience I have never seen a soldier offer the least indignity to a dead or wounded enemy. No truly brave man would do this. Only cowards are capable of it, and I think, Hattie, you would find more than one here to dispute the word of anyone who would call me a coward, or accuse me of inhumanity to a suffering friend or foe. Well, the battle of Yorktown, or rather the siege, has been brought
to a successful issue, and the Rebels are in full retreat towards Richmond, and I hope it may have the influence upon the destiny of this war that all have presaged for it. With Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond, and Memphis in our possession, their armies defeated on every field and side, what can induce them to hope for ultimate success? It is nothing but reckless foolhardiness to protract the struggle longer. But if they will carry it on to the bitter end, the consequences must rest upon their own heads, and nothing but destruction, almost annihilation, awaits them with its horrors enhanced a hundred fold if we adopt Gen. Hunter’s last resort, which ere long will be done. I am anxious that this war should close for many reasons. First, a soldier’s life does not suit me very well, and next, you must know that it is time nearly thrown away from a pecuniary point of view. You know of course that the wages are small, and it is very little we can lay up out of it, and I wish to be doing something for myself. For it is useless to deny it. I am growing old fast. The misfortunes and hardships of a few years have done the work of many. God heed the day of peace. Well, I am going to write something now which perhaps I never should. If I had not seen that little “my” in parenthesis in connection with Lieutenant Leek. I protest against your doing so again will tell you why. Since we have entered
upon the scenes that have tried mens’ souls we have had many trying times of danger, where officers especially have been watched by jealous eyes, and I regret to say it, but he has greatly fallen from the estimation in which he was held at first by the men under his command who think the feather in his heart a little whiter than the big black one in his hat. They think he is troubled with a disease popularly demonstrated “the bighead.” But this is too common a failing among army officers. You wished to know what kind of a looking man our captain is. He is a man about my height, not so heavy built, will weigh about 150 pounds, light complexion, sandy hair, tolerably good looking, is about 38 years old, has a wife and several children at home. As his temperament would indicate, he is passionate and impulsive, and if he is lacking in anything it is in cool discrimination in times of peril. He is liked by some, and disliked by some, but he is a very good officer. My ambition consists more in wishing to bring this war to a successful termination than for official promotion, and I would rather hear of peace today than be assured of a brigadier generalship in six months more of war. I cannot see the necessity for your keeping to the school room so steadily. Surely you might consult your own wishes and feelings for this season, anyhow, or at least a part of it, for I am going to stay perhaps a month when I come, and shall want you at liberty then while I stay, or I shall be lonesome. I expect to go back to Illinois to live after visiting all my relatives there. Yours truly,
Ame to Hatt
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Tell your mother that I thank her very much for her good wishes, and should be as glad to see her as she would me, I’ll warrant. And “Sister Lizzie” the same. I can imagine the pretty things she said; “tell” me. Tell Madison I am coming to see him and stay a whole week. And if I should conclude to take my horse with me, perhaps we won’t have some madcap races. My black [horse] is not in as good condition as he was. He has had awful hard usage and poor feed. The roads are too bad to haul forage, but he will improve as soon as we get plenty again. You may look for me about the first of August; a year from [my] time of entry [in the army].
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We are encamped about half way between Pittsburg and Corinth. [We] shall move up a little closer tomorrow. A.K. to H.
Amos Kibbee, from Metropolis, IL, enlisted on August 7, 1861 as a corporal in an independent company of Illinois cavalry, designed to be attached to an infantry regiment as an adjunct unit. His company was assigned to the 29th IL Infantry during the battle of Shiloh, but was transferred to the 1st Battalion, 4th IL Cavalry immediately thereafter. In the spring of 1863 various independent companies were re-organized to form the 15th IL Cavalry, and Kibbee was assigned to Company B. He was promoted to sergeant (no date recorded). Kibbee was mustered out of the army on August 25, 1864, at the expiration of his three years’ enlistment.