Letter written by Surgeon William B. Wall of the 33rd MS Infantry, to his wife, from Atlanta, GA. Wall begins by reporting the deaths of several of his comrades followed by the well-being of several of their acquaintances and family members. He remarks on the high price of goods in the area, and hopes that his family is getting enough to eat, though if they aren’t he is unsure of where they could get more money. Despite the low pay and rations, Wall remarks that the army is still in good spirits. They believe Confederate General Joe Johnston will whip Union General William T. Sherman. He writes that all the men are “getting miserably tired of the long siege.” Wall remarks that he loves his country, but he loves his wife and children more. He is afraid if the Union wins, their lands and homes will be taken away and given to strangers.
Atlanta Ga July 11th 1864
My Dear Wife
I have not written You now for several days. There has not been any news to write. Thos M Murphy and A J Turpin each members of Comp “I” 33rd Miss were killed on the 4th July A G Beal & M M Gist Comp “I” have died at Hospt: from wounds recvd May 31st. I was at the Regt this morning, every thing perfectly quiet I dont know precisely where the enemy is or where or when he will make his next demonstration. Lt Brown is well & was well pleased as he had just gotten a long letter from his wife Our command is in much better health than it was a few weeks ago All of your acquaintance are well I will inform you of every one who may be so unfortunate as to be killed or wounded. I have not seen Pryor yet & will probably not until this campaign is over. I wrote you that I had gotten a note from him in reply to mine that he was well. I shall inquire after him & if he is hurt let you know. You cant tell how anxious I get to hear from you, but I am not disposed to complain, for I fell certain it is the fault of the mails & not yours – the last letter I had from
you was written the 13th & 15th June nearly a month ago at that time the most of you were more or less sick, Mary had just been taken down worse – I would like to know how she had gotten. I advise you to take her to Grenada if she didnt improve as you proposed to do. If she is not well or nearly so, by the time you get this you had better take her to Hughs – I am always anxious for your health could I feel satisfied that you were well many an unhappy moment would be escaped. My health is most excellent. Visit Aunt Nan & Give her my kindest regards – write me how her health is getting – Henry Johnson has heard from Cousin Addie through a Mr Allen just from there, he will write to her or rather has written. I could not see the gentleman, he is a disabled soldier. the family were all well, heard nothing from Sallie – Had a letter from Col Johnson a few days ago, his family were all well. Said Aunt Laura was always uneasy about Henry, her health better than it used to be every thing is high here we pay $2.50 pound for bacon at the commissaries – for Mutton in the country from $2.00 to 2.50 pound – Irish potatoes $20.00 to $25.00 bushel other articles in the same ratio – I hope you will make enough to eat & wear at home; if you don’t I can’t see where
you will get money to buy with – The government pays eighty cents pound for beef – Officers are issued one ration you know for which they are not charged but that is not enough for him & a negro & then we are compelled to have some vegetables occasionally & they are so miserably high it takes a large portion of our pay to keep up. The army is still in good spirits, the men think that Gen Johnston will fight Sherman after a while & that he will whip him whenever he does, & so do I – we are all getting miserably tired of the long siege (as it may be called) though entirely willing to let Gen Johnston say when I expect to see you sometime during the Summer the time looks long, but we must be patient. Give my love to Mrs Oliver. Is Miss Bettie in good health now? Kind regards to all acquaintances. Much love to Laura & Mamie kiss them for me. did they get the little letters I sent them? Howdy & Respects to the Servants, tell them I wish them all well. Tell Same & Henry they must let me hear from their crop & stock – I think this will be the last year of the war & I know you hope it may be – Our Separation seems to me almost like a little life time. I sigh & long for the times to come when we may again be permited to live together again. I feel bound to do my country service as long as it is invaded by a relentless foe & your health & condition will permit. I love my country
though I love you & my children more. You must try & be reconciled at our separation. Our enemys -at least some of them- are even now proposing to dispossess us of all we have & give our homes & lands to strangers – This of course can never be done. Well I have just finished my supper. it was first rate. I had corn bread, bacon, irish potatoes, ocre [okra] & irish potato soup& genuine coffee I think I hear you laugh at the idea of soup for supper – you may laugh if you like, it was good any how – we have a way of our own in the army so far as cooking wha tlittle we have – the army is getting plenty of meat & bread We had a nice rain yesterday. the weather is pretty warm – We have just gotten this news from Va, which we regard as pretty good – Love & a thousand kisses to the children – I will stop for the present Remember me in all your prayers – Your ever devoted husband.
W B Wall