CIVIL WAR LETTERSMiss. Celia Ann Shrock
Transcribed by Glynda Black (Celia's g-g niece)
June 27 1862
I received your letter on the 26 and was glad to hear from
you as far reports about this battalion you need not lissen to any
that you hear far the bigest half are fales
true they are some reports in camps now but they have no foundation
so we are perfectly ignorant as to exxatly where we wil go
I rather think we wil go to ark in about 10 days that is if the reports now in camps are true
I have been a little [sick] for the last few day but I feel better
today and I am in hopes that I will contenue to feel so
we are camped at a nice place if we had good water but unfortuneately
we have bad water and it spoiles all so that I cant discribe the
--gave it justice so I wil not try.
I wil say that we dont have to steel beef
gave my love to all
tel sally to write and you must do the same
Billy says you must write him soon
*******************************Camp Lubbock, Near Houston
March 28th 1863
Miss C A Shrock
sister I will write you a few lines to inform you how we are situated
we are hear at camps near Houston where one man forms the Cort Marshal
Judg Juryand lowers
he will take up a man punish him any way he pleases he has three men tied up by the thumbs at present
I do not know what will become of us but they have never bothered any of our men yet
There is more dissadisfaction in our Co than ever was before
they sit around in squads and talk about the oficers
they are all most desparat
if things dont change I would not vouch for moselys Co
I never saw negroes treated as bad as they do the conscrips
I had rather be a prisnor in the federal army than be a conscrip heare
there are agrat deal of sickness hear
nearly half the Co [i]s sick and the othere half are grunting
those that grunting are grumbles so you can guess how times are in Camp
I am so out of sorts I cant write a sinse letter so I will close
W. D. T. Shrock
[On the other-side of this letter, William Burkhart wrote a letter to Miss Celia also.]
Cany Whorton Co
I am glad to hear from you, and exstremely proud that you have got in a
good humor with me, Celia ann
you ort not to get mad at me for nothing,
you must confess that it was for nothing
you would not send and get the poney
why becaus you was mad
what was you mad for becaus I did want you to send for those flooting
irons and told you that I would make an other pr
Cely ann we will let the past be the past and be friends again
I love you as much as er brother loved a sister
you are perfectly welcom to any thing I have infact all my relations are
the pony is here and if you want him write me word and I wil send him up
next summer. I have refused $125 for him because I though[t] you wanted
him I am about trading for a place near Columbus sixteen miles
if I can make the traid I shal settle for life
if not I dont know where I will go
Henry Cayce has settled with me
Mr Day is not exspected to live
Mr Milton Calaway has mooved to la Red River La
Mr H Cayce has mooved back to Cany
Wm Hargroves has sold out and has bough[t] near Columbus
Dinby and Oaks has sold out and going out west
L P Prewet is going to be married soon
the Freed man is not wouth two
I under stand that Dr Bell is trying to get a place on cany
I hav not seen any of them since you left
Mrs Surman says that Wm Carrow wil be out soon to see about the Haden
there has been some few cases of colory here lately none has died yet
drect your leters in car of Dock and I will get them
give my love to all family and tel them if there is another war they wil
here of me in Washington Citty as I am not sadisfied yet with our
Your contrary brother
Dear Miss Celia
You will, I know be somewhat surprised to get a letter from me, at this
place, as I am a little surprised myself at so sudden a move, from
"Camp Benjamin". Our brigade was ordered here on last Wednesday,
where we arrived at the end of the 3rd day, a distance of nearly 400
miles. Corinth is a small town situated in the north est corner of
Mississippi, 5 miles from the Tenn. line, and at the cross roads of
the Mobile and Ohio and Memphis and Nashville railroads, and just 16
miles from the Tenn. River.
Our company had the misfortune of getting their baggage, "all" burned
up while running from Grand Junction Tenn., here, caused by the car
catching fire and burning up. Everything was lost, even down to guns
and knapsacks. Fortunately, I lost nothing but my tent and blankets.
We have made a requesition for a new supply of everything that was
lost, and will get them, I hope, in a few days. All is bustle and
excitement here in our camp, caused from the fact that the yankees
are within 20 miles of us, and it is very probable that we may be
ordered out in line of battle at any moment, to meet the invaders of
our soil in deadly strife and such a knowledge is an excuse for the
excitement which prevails in our camp. The yankees, in large
numbers, are trying to make their way down the Tenn. River and it is
thought they intend to lend their forces and march out and take
possession of Corinth, railroads, telegraph and thence march to Grand
Junction and take possession of all the public property there.
Our forces are concentrating here as fast as thought necessary, by our
General. The malitia is ordered out in Miss, and will be in camps in
a very few days. We are all determined to fight until we die,
rather than let them whip us at this point. We are also expecting an
attack on Nashville every hour and in case they do a lively time is
expected. General Beauregard was here a few days ago.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sam at Grand Junction as we were coming
down. Sam has re-enlisted for the war, got a bounty of fifty dollars and
a furlough for 60 days and expenses paid, home and back. He is
in fine health. He has been on detached service, shoeing mules and
horses for the brigade, for some, for which he is paid extra at the rate
of 45 cents per day, making in all $24.00 per month.
Our company has been guarding the town of Corinth for a day or two. I
have arrested two yankee spies and have them safe, under guard. Every
train that passes, is loaded with "soldiers" going home, from Va.
on furlough. A great many ladies and children pass here on
their way from Nashville to various quarters, seeking safety. All
thats pertaining to military is exersized to the utmost extent here.
Should I be so fortunate as not to get killed, and peace is once more
declared, I will retire to provate life, consoling myself with the
belief that I have graduated in Military.
Miss Celia, you must excuse my letter for I write in a big hurry and
on my knee at that. Give my regards to Mrs Pierce and family and all
who may inquire after me.
My best respects and love to all.
Give me all the news
Yours with much respect
The drum is beating and I must go with my flag.
************************************Camp 19th La Reg Company 4
Near Tupilo Miss
June 24th 1862
Dear Miss Celia
Your very kind and highly esteemed letter of May the 19th came
duly to hand this morning, bringing the good news of you continued good
health, and that of all the family and this is the 1st letter that I
have read from you in a long time and I have wrote you several times
since the Battle of Shiloh, but the mails are so uncertain and the
Post Masters very often fail to discharge their duty, therefore you
have not got my letters, and you have ample room to grumble, I have
no-doubt-but if you will forgive the past I will promise you that I
will try and communicate to you all the news at least once a month,
or at least every opertunity in the future. You have heard ere this
time through the papers of the evacuation of Corinth by our forces,
and all the causes pertaining thereto. Our army commenced the
evacuation about the 25th of May that is commenced moving all the
Commissary stores, bagage, tents, ammunition, extra guns and to
various depots in our rear. We are now encamped on the Mobile
railroad near Tupilo Miss and abou[t] 60 miles from Corinth and about
200 from Mobile. We have been hard at work ever since our arrival
here, cleaning parade ground, digging wells, and drilling in company
drill, battalion and skirmish, it is thought by a good many in our
Reg. that we will be ordered to some point very soon, as every thing
is indicative of a move at present. Various are the rumors as to
where we will go, but upon the wh[ole] I am not able to even predict,
as all signs fail here in the army. The yankees are in possession of
Holly Springs, Miss. about 75 miles distance, Gen. Breckenridge has
gone down with the division and his intention is to give the yankees
fits. Gen Beauguard has gone to Richmond, Gen Prince, Van Dorn,
Anderson and other Genls are here with their respective commands and
awaiting for orders to move.
Our Regiment reorganized a few weeks ago, accourding to the conscript
laws and as a natural consequence a great many of the old officers
were thrown out and new ones elected to fill their places, also a
committee of examiners were appointed to examine all the new
officers, and several from our regiment were deemed unfit for the
positions. Two from our company was rejected and I received the
appointment to fill one of their places, as 3rd Lient. commencing on
the 20th of June. I have stood my examination and came out all right
and have been assigned to duty. I rec'd a letter from home last
week--all was well and in good health, good crops and every letter I
get from home is full of complaint of me not writing and I am sure
that I write more letters than all of them put together, I have not
heard from the Texas Rangers in some time, but when I .heard from,
them last they were at Chattanooga. I have often thought of Shilo
since the Battle and the many horrowable scenes I saw upon the
I was in many close places and run many narrow escapes, which I can
only thank my God for, and not my own good luck--for I never was
lucky at anything yet. Should a chance ever present itself I can
tell you a great deal more of what I saw and done than I could
possible describe to you on paper, so I will not trouble further your
patience at present, but will conclude by saying that I went through
the ordeal and still find myself alive and ready for another
facsimili, for Corinth and was ordered to retrace their steps and
take another start for Arizona was much mortified. You are doubtless
aware of .what is going on in the army, as you get the news through
the papers which is more than we get here--I am not at all posted of
what is going on any farther than our own regiment, consequently you
cant expect any army news from me at present.
Father wrote me that he got a letter from Billy a short time ago, and
that he wrote that he had bought a buggy and was going to start home
soon. I was glad to hear of your sisters whereabouts, also sister
Susan, I will write to them the 1st opertunity. I would write now,
but I have to commence making out our company pay rolls, which will
take me about 4 days.
I am now tired of the war and hope a speedy and honorable peace may
soon be concluded--however the prospect is very gollmy at present.
Should I be so fortuna[te] as to get a furlough during this summer or
fall I shall visit Caney once more. You wrote me that Mr Shrock had
taken a Government Contract for carrying cotton into Mexico and
exchange for salt peter--I hope the contract may be a profitable one
and wish I was only out of the army so that I could be with him--
Give my love and respects to all of the family and tell Sallie that
she must not think hard of me for not writing to her, for I have so
much to do here, and so much to think about that I am forced to
neglect a good many of my best friends, this must answer for a family
letter for all--
Write me soon as I am glad always to hear from my Caney friends. My
regards to all enquiring friends if there be any and ever believe me
June 27, 1862
I've for several days previous promised myself to write you a fiew lines
but will put it off no longer althoe--have not a word of interest to
write but I'll remind you of curtailing your corespondance
I think from what I saw from a letter you wrote to B.S and
B.H.B--they are very sad to-day
I hop a letter from you will not mak me as sad as what they apper to
be, you must have hit them a dedly blow in regard to som of there
B.S. told me wat you was giving him jipe about. You should not try to
prevent him from writing to the young lady's for that is all a young
man's sattisfaction when he is in Camp's.
Miss Celia I've nothing in camp's new to writ a bout anything. Oh
i'm veary much frighten a bout the measles
They are in Camp's and I'm ready to run at any-moment. ---So I hop
the next time boy's get a letter from you they will not have there
mouths stuck out so long. In the outlet of my letter I said I would
write you a line or so and if I dont stop I think it will be a line
So give all the family my kind regards all enquiring friends.
Billy tell me that he want to send you som p-stamps so I enclose you 4
Write me soon
*******************************************Camp Near Liverpool
July 28 1862
Esteemed friend Miss Celia
I am under many oblgations to you for not writing you before this but
wating for som news of importance to write. But I dont think I
would get any
news if I was to wat for 6 month hence.
We have a little camp news . On yesterday two of our boys got
the Col. and walked out and taken a ring fight. It was James Davis
McDinstery-Davis came out Victery's. Poor boys have bin wating for
so long that thy have given out all hope and taking it with them
We have a party here every week but I'll confess that I cannot give
description of it with my pen, the world never witnessed the lik. We
go and dance
all night and laugh all day at the old loping Dutch girls it is very
dance with them and by the way they ar ( a good potin of them)
G F DuBose got to camps 2 days previous and tells me that Eli was
with the measels--but was improoving when he left--tell him to tak
good car of him
self and drink warm teas ? and he will soon be up. I was truly glad
to hear of
you living in good health.
Give all the family my regards and kiss the baby and Mary for me.
Please you and sister bell write me soon and let me-know how Eli is.
The health of the Battalian is at this tim veary good. Spud has a
The bugle now calls me to drill so I must close.
I hop to her from you soon-
to Miss C. A Shrock
Levi P. Prewett
You must excuse my bad writing for I have a log to write on and a
stick to write with.
Tell every body
to write to me!
Levi P. Prewett
The envelope and contents are before me, and if I were not entirely overcome with delightful emotions on account of the receipt thereof, I should return many thanks in an elegant and eloquent manner, but my present situation renders it altogether impossible for me to express my gratitude, or convey the slightest idea of the unspeakable happiness which I now enjoy. Suffice it to say, that I feel as if heaven had been showering upon me, the choicest blessings, while angels viewed the sight and ——————— made faces at me.
Yours very affectionately
To Miss C.
Not being able at this moment to correct and return the note, as requested, I must ask your patience.
*******************************************Matagorda, Nov. 16th, 1861
Dear Miss Celia,
Here I am solitary and alone, occupying Brother Alex's room, he having gone to the wars. All is night, and darkness overshadows the land. Naught is heard by me, save the occasional bark of the watch dog, the dropping rain, the rustling wind, and the moving of my pen. Now and then, a harmless musketo notifies me, by his buzzing, of his whereabouts. In this loneliness and silence I raise my pen to write a line or so, to a worthy friend. Not a friend, in the general acceptation of the term, but one that will stand the test of the closest analysis. I do not write because there are matters of interest to write about, for the war is the principal matter, and about that, we can gather sufficient from the papers. I write because I believe that friend will receive my writing with a good will.
Since my departure from this place, two deaths have occurred here. One that of Jimmy Freeman's daughter, Sergeant Perry's sister-in-law, the other, Mrs. Davis, mother to Joe Walker. The poor creatures could do no good on the sublunary sphere, and were called hence by our Heavenly Father, "who doeth all things well."
Life is a delicious possession but when I contemplate its realities, I cannot imagine why some people cling to it so tenaciously. The blind, the lame, the deaf and dumb, all, all cling with mighty power! Yet what a destruction of it, is caused by this awful war! God grant that a change of spirit may take hold of the people and that the county may be restored to peace, prosperity and happiness.
I have about concluded to enter the service. A strong sense of duty, presses itself upon me, and I can no longer resist. My country demands my services. I have been raised upon her soil, I might almost say, born, and upon the same, I intend to live and die. Shall I not raise my hand to strike a blow against an invading and hired foe? I am able to do so, and unless obstacles which I do not anticipate, prevent, I shall be ready on the field, if nothing more. I do not believe Texas will be invaded, still I must act in accordance with my own feelings, and go forth. Should I enter the service, I am determined to act the part of a good soldier and true gentleman. I look for an early settlement of these difficulties, when we can return home, with a conscience light and happy in having discharged the duties of a patriot and soldier. But O the grief that must overwhelm the relations and lovers of those laid low in death! We turn our thoughts from this sad subject, and offer a prayer to God that he will soothe the distressed, and be a balm for every affliction.
Should I go, I shall incur for the present, great pecuniary loss, but I verily believe I shall be the gainer in the end. Be this as it may, duty, or rather a sense of duty, dictates to me this course, and I cannot but follow. I think I shall join Capt. Moseley's Company. But wherever I may go, you shall ever be remembered, naught can errace you from the tablet of my memory, and around my heart shall ever cling the warmest feelings of friendship. It is my intention to call [on] you, on my way.
I have just written a long and affectionate letter to Mary. I set forth my reasons for wishing to go. I believe she will duly appreciate them. No one but myself, Dear friend, knows how much I love Mary, and the more I think of her, the more I think I love her. I have made every effort in the world to convince her of this fact, and trust I have entirely succeeded. I have opened my whole heart to you. You know everything, and as much is contained in this letter, do be careful of it.
I know my parting will give Mary pain, but she would overcome her feelings if she would consider the mortification that would follow me, if I were to refuse my country, my services, and the satisfaction which would be mine and hers also, by my rendering them.
There are some rumors afloat in regard to matrimony, but as they are generally erroneous, I shall pass them over without notice. Should anything more definite manifest itself, I shall duly notify you. Report even has it that Mary and I are engaged! Did you ever hear the like! I am resolved in discountenance Madam Rumor, until she reforms her life, and becomes more addicted to telling the truth.
I shall necessarily be detained here, for some days, and shall therefore expect an early response. It has been, "lo! these many days," since I saw a letter from your hand, and I shall give one a hearty welcome on this account, also. Let me ask you not to apply the scourge of criticism to this letter. You will readily perceive how great a hurry I must have been in while writing. You are generous, noble and brave, and will not exult over the misfortunes of others:———therefore, give this a kind reception, however unworthy of your consideration, it may be. I shall endeavor to improve in the future. Remember me to all, and give my love to M.A.G.
Jany 1st, 1861
My Dear Girls:
I shall avail myself of the privilege, rejoice in the honor, and glory in the ability of writing to you, my first letter [f]or the year 1861, and although I am not so vain as to indulge in the flattering and empty belief that I shall interest you, I, nevertheless, shall show you, that though distance separate us, you are still as fresh in my memory as when present, and that my feelings of interest in your welfare, have not been abated by the late severity and disagreeableness of the weather.
My office is rendered very comfortable by the fine fires I now have, and while working, the drawing of the stove, falls like delicious music on my enchanted ear, but this, however, does not relax the stiffness of my fingers, as I should like, and consequently I cannot give you a fine specimen of penmanship, and must therefore content myself with making this legible.
Had I followed my own inclinations, I should have written you, long ere this, but the intensity of my feelings in your behalf, was so great, that I could not write down, fast enough, my rapid ideas, and therefore thought best to defer the same until some other time, when my heart and mind might become more controllable. I have labored zealously to bring both into subjection, and not withstanding I have but poorly succeeded, I shall proceed with this prosy, and to me, unsatisfactory letter.
In summing up the many important events that have transpired in our quiet village, since your departure, I shall endeavor to be as brief as possible, but still correct and in connection with the merry events, we should not forget that all joys must cease, and that death will finally prevail.
The scenes that have been witnessed among us, of late, have been, indeed, serious, and strongly contrasted. On the one hand, we have beheld weddings and great rejoicings, listened to delightful strains of music, gazed with pleasure upon manifestations of joy from hopeful hearts, full of buoyancy and flattering expectations, free from worldly cares and anxieties, and in anticipation of earthly careers of unbroken happiness. On turning we behold our fellow men lying in helplessness, on beds of sickness, with shriveled skins and broken limbs, depressed with sadness, and passing through time, with heavy hearts. To them, the future presents a dark and foreboding picture, and their spirits sink in its contemplation. The brightness of the past is obliterated by the miseries of the present, and the present is pleasure, in comparison with the probabilities of the future. We change our attention to one whose spirit has just taken its final leave. No more does that heart throb. Its pulsation has been stayed by the fell destroyer, and he who was, until recently, possessed of manly vigor and youthful hopes, lies hushed in the cold embrace of death. We turn away, over burdened with grief and thought and exclaim, "all is vanity!" Truly the life of man, is checkered. Whatever we are or may be, we should never forget that the cold and silent grave is our last earthly inheritance, preparatory to entering upon one in eternity.
You may think this a strange letter, dear girls, for one not a preacher, but such are my thoughts thrown together as they arose in my mind. I shall now proceed, (which I promised before, to do) to inform you of some of the events that have been taking place here of late. I shall first write of marriages. I shall not dwell at length on the subject, for you have heard of such things, before, and these have afforded nothing strange nor amusing. Within the past two weeks, the two marriages to which I alluded in that note, have been solemnized: to wit; --Mr William Sterling and Miss Eliza Jane Dunbar, and Mr Ernest Jambois and Miss Rebecca Sterling. Also Mr William Brown and Miss Caroline Shulz, and Mr B B Brown and Miss Mary Scanlan. The last came off, this morning. I might extend this letter to a great length, commenting on the above events, but I am for brevity, and I shall conclude this part, by wishing for the new adventurers, all the happiness that is vouchsafed to mortal man. Can I say more?
Now to another matter, on Christmas eve, the news of South Carolina's secession, reached here. Many patriotic and intensely Southern gentlemen proceeded to a demonstration of joy, by a cannonading or rather anvilading. Among the number, were Mr Henry Thorp and Mr Cutler. After a few rounds and through some unfortunate movement, one of the anvils exploded into several pieces, striking Thorp on the foot and severely injuring it. He has been confined to his bed, ever since, and it will be some days, yet, before he will be able to get about. Fortunately for him, no bones were broken. But not so with poor Cutler. A piece of the anvil struck him on the shin bone breaking it badly, and at the same time, his instep of same leg, was struck, completely shivering it. The doctors cannot tell what course they may be compelled to pursue. They think that the amputation of the foot, may be the only alternative. I sincerely hope not. The poor man will suffer beyond all description, even under the most favorable circumstances. Age is upon him, and he has not the strength to bear such severe afflictions. This may terminate his life. He certainly commences the year, under inauspicious prospects.
Mr DuBose has told you about the death of poor Atkins. I saw him the evening before his death, and on entering the room, I did not think he would notice me, immediately, he, however, did, and extended his hand, and I took it in mine. I felt its deathlike coldness, and noticed the glassiness of his eyes. He could hardly speak. I knew his hour was not far off, but it came sooner than I expected. Let us hope that his soul is now in a better world. Of the sorrows of his relations, I will not speak. May they be ameliorated by the conviction, that our Heavenly Father "Doeth All Things Well."
I have written this much, so badly, that I am almost in the notion not to send it. I am now going home, to dinner. After my return, I shall warm my fingers, try a better pen, and thereby may do better.
Well, I am back again, and fingers still unfit for writing. O! for better weather. We had a tremendous snow storm, a couple of days ago. I never saw anything of the kind to beat it. But that is no evidence of much, for precious little have I seen. How many good resolutions, have you made for this year? The old year has bid adieu forever, and is now numbered among things that were. Have you given a single thought to what you accomplished during that time? Doubtless, we have fallen far short, none excepted, of doing what we might and ought to have done, and this cannot now be helped, but we can certainly make great amends for misspent time, by determining on due diligence, hereafter, and strictly adhering to, and acting in accordance with such determination; for remember that resolutions however good, are worse than naught, unless practiced.
How did you spend Christmas. It was excruciatingly dull with us. The negroes [unreadable] Matt Talbot is back. He is now in the country, and I understand, intended to visit Genl Bates! He expressed himself to me, as altogether indifferent about his old love affair. Should matters be satisfactorily arranged, I will be sure to know it.
I was invited, and took tea Christmas night, at Judge Talbot's. Miss Harriet was, and still is in the country. I had the pleasure of there making the acquaintance of a Miss Thomas, governess in John Gibson's family. She is quite a fine looking lady, and being young, sprightly and very intelligent, I was delighted with her. Frank Holt Wasn't There.
Is my highly esteemed friend, Miss Mary, still in your neighborhood? I trust that you, Miss Celia, are being restored to, if you have not already recovered, your health. You are richly deserving of good health, and if my wishes amounted to anything, you would have it.
Girls, this letter doesn't suit me. The composition doesn't suit, -- the writing doesn't suit. I can do better, and if this were not my first attempt for the present year, I would not send it. But let it go, and now, Dear girls, criticise it gently, for it is open to criticism.
I should like very much, to see you, but I cannot. Time will bring us, again, together, that is, if nothing extraordinary, arises.
It is almost time to close this document. I never, in my life, desired to torture my friends. I reckon you will act, in regard to this letter, as I acted on a similar occasion, --read a part at a time, and another part at another time. If so, I shall not blame you. But there is no use in going further, so I will halt. I must say, before I lay down my pen, that times are hard, money scarce, and I am wishing for better. Money is a great thing, isn't it girls? "It's mighty good stuff, you had better buy some."
I am, dear girls, your old friend, the same as heretofore
P.S. W. Haden knows not to whom this is written but he has seen its length, and he says that I must request of the individual, information whether this is long enough. If not, to have it returned for completion.
*******************************************Matagorda, May 1-61
I herewith send you an account of our soldiering, however imperfect it may be. It will give you a pretty good idea of our transactions. When we again meet, I shall narrate at length, the campaign.
Yours as heretofore,
Wm H B
To Misses C. A. & Isabel Shrock
*******************************************Matagorda, Oct 13th, 1861
Dear Miss Celia,
Having written you so long and interesting a letter, last week, it cannot be supposed that I shall accomplish the same thing this, yet I am about to make an attempt at doing something, and for any short comings, I rely on my former letter to supply. Besides, you are so very fastidious, that even I, with my variety of thought, find it difficult to please you. Still I am determined to write to you, and should the same displease you, you can have an opportunity to seek reparation, as I shall soon be with you, on my way to Austin. Beaux and bells, love and sweethearts are my principal topics of writing and conversation. Who would be so foolish as to dive down into the depths of science, unravel the mysteries of creation, confine himself unto literature or concern himself about the political workings of the Government, when my subjects are open for conversation, composition and discussion. Let the Civil War which is now prevailing throughout the land, continue in all its horror and fury, but let me bask in the gentle sun-shine of a smile, and burn my mind to the peaceful and happy pursuits of a domestic life. Thus while my relations, friend, fellow citizens and countrymen are waging a direful war, and made "to bite the dust," I can quietly pursue a pleasant vocation, far away in some secluded spot made lovely by the presence of a _____O! nothing but a woman. By the by, writing of these things, how is your dear little _____ I'll not mention names. Now should he go to the wars, he might never return, and then my dear friend would be left to weep for her lost____. Never mind, I reckon I'll accompany him, and so you may quiet your mind, and be assured I shall restore him unto you, safe and sound.
Miss Barbour died last Sunday, and Dr Perry, yesterday, both of consumption. Death has claimed the young and old and hurried them into that "far distant country from whose bourn no traveler returns." Don't say anything to Mary about this quotation, as I made use of the same in a letter to her. If you should compare letters that are yet to be written, there would be a very great similarity, I can assure you.
I received a letter from her, a day or so ago, complaining on account of my not writing. She stated that she never expected such neglect from me, tc tc tc. I must confess that I was really sorry I had not written. In admitting my error, it is only declaring that I know more now than I did then.
I am mighty anxious to get away from this place. A much longer residence under my present state of feelings, might possibly impair my health. I positively declare I would rather enter the service of my country, than to continue here, as matters are, even if those services were not needed.
I don't know the use in writing any more nonsense. Nothing is going on here worth mentioning and so I will close. Remember me to all the folks.
And believe me,
P.S. You recollect the principal governing the settlement of little boys' difficulties, --"if you'll let me alone, I'll let you alone," so if you'll not criticise, I'll not criticise.
Velasco, Texas Dec 19th 61
Dear Miss Celia,
George DuBose leaves for Caney, to-morrow and I take this occasion to write a line or two:
Accompanying will be found a letter to Mary which please deliver to her.
Poor Billy Thomas is no more. He departed this life, yesterday at about 3 o-clock PM after an illness of about twenty four hours. He was taken with a chill which resulted in general congestion. He had but very little to say from the moment he took his bed, and on the next day at about dinner time, showed evident signs of his departure. We gave him all the attention in our power, and had his life been dependant upon the efforts of his friends, he would be living, but he was sadly neglected by the medical authorities, and died from the want of such aid. No truer man, patriot or more devoted friend ever lived. He has gone to his final home, his body will soon find a resting place, and while we shed tears of sorrow for his sudden departure, we bow in resignation to his will, "who doeth all things well." This information will shock you all, and even I can hardly realize his death. I did all that a kind and unselfish friend could have done, but my heart is made sad on account of his death. His place cannot be easily supplied, and while the roaring waves of the Gulf, roll their heavy sounds about his grave, his soul will be soaring in a happy region, in "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
But a day or so ago, he was full of life and merriment, and I often remarked that he was the happiest man in camp. How sudden and unexpected a change! His voice is silenced by the finger of death, and his body so physical, has now become a lifeless thing. My heart is too sad to continue this subject, and I turn to something else.
We are having a miserably dull time, and what is worse, there is no prospect for a change. Such a life is enough to worry a man to death, and I long for a move from this place. If I were continually stirring around, I should be more contented but as it is, I do confess that I am most awfully dissatisfied, yet if I were to be offered a discharge, I would not accept it unless to go elsewhere. But I have the satisfaction of knowing that this cannot last always, or even for a great length of time, for our term will soon roll away, and then I shall rejoice with exceeding great joy. A year seems to be but a short time, when we look to the past, but as I look ahead, it seems discouraging. But why should I complain? We have plenty to eat and drink, good places to sleep, and not enough to do to keep us in exercise. How different this situation to many thousand others, now engaged in this war for independence!
Our company is not near full, and it is hard to tell when it will be. I think there will be a general election for commissioned officers when the company is full. Levi Prewitt is a candidate for 4th Lieutenant and is opposed by others, but from his great popularity, will, without doubt, be elected. He is a clever boy, will make a good and popular officer, and I intend to do my best for him. I received a letter from Billy Jenkins, yesterday. He is desirous of joining this company, and from his letter I judge he will soon be along.
I regret to hear that Eli has moved. I shall miss him much when I am on Caney, and I know it caused you all to shed many tears. Eli is a clever and honorable man, and will succeed, go where he may.
I intend to take a trip to Rugeley's camp next Sunday. I am very anxious to see Alex, and also the other boys. I think if I had a brother with me, I should be satisfied. My heart is as tender as a woman's. It always has been, and will always be so.
I hope to hear from you often. Receiving and writing letters will be my greatest pleasure and I do assure you that a soldier can duly appreciate favors.
We have considerable sickness in camp, but not of a severe form, except one case. Wedge, the ambrotypist who took the likeness of you and Isabel, is here. He is coining money at his business. His room is continually crowded with soldiers armed and equipped. They think it very pretty to see themselves in a likeness, loaded down with guns, pistols and bowie knives. I don't fancy such things. They are not to my taste. A likeness in a plain citizen's suit, is much more preferable.
I have written about enough, so I will close.
Remember me to all, and believe me.
Yours ever the same,
PS Do not expect as good a letter from now, while in service, as might be expected, were I at home
PS This was written in a hurry. Don't hold me responsible for errors
Velasco, Texas, Mch 14th 1862
Dear Miss Celia,
George DuBose will soon leave here for Caney - and as I am resolved to lose no opportunity to write to you, even though I write only a page or even less, --I attempt something. Among other things, I acknowledge the receipt of your favors. They indeed proved very refreshing, and I was delighted to discover that you were possessed of the goodness of heart, which prompted you to write, even though you heard not from me. Such friends are worth having. One is more to be desired than a host of pretenders. It is superfluous for me to attempt to describe my feelings towards you. You know that what I appear to be, such I am. I do not believe, my dear-friend, (I almost said "my dear Celia.") that two better friend[s] than you and I, ever existed. May we ever be such.
There was nothing extraordinary in my letters to Mary. I reckon she wanted you to manifest a great deal of curiosity.
I was gratified to learn that you were about to spend a few days with her. I was gratified to learn that you were about to spend a few days with her. I want you and Mary to be warm friends, and to take particular care not to quarrel about me. Peace and quietness are much to be sought after, and more particularly by the ladies. How disgraceful it would be for you and Mary to have your eyes blacked and faces scratched! But if you are determined to fight, let each one do her best. I will give three cheers for the victory. Plague take such nonsense, can't I write anything else?
There is considerable talk and commotion caused by a report that we are to be disbanded, and then have an opportunity of going into the service for the war, willingly, or to be made to go by draft, or rather to risk a draft. Many of the men are determined to do neither. They think it an outrage that the Government should take such a mean and contemptible advantage of them. I think that such a course would be an insult to the patriotism and courage of men who have willingly enlisted for the year. It will be one of the worst steps the Government ever took. There are many men who enlisted for twelve months, and made their calculations accordingly, who would enlist for the war, should their services be required after present term. If an attempt is made to force them, they will not serve at all. There are differences of opinion in regard to this step, and in my mind it will not be taken. It looks so contrary to right, justice and common sense, that in my opinion it will prove a failure. You will readily observe that the above or a part thereof, is a repetition. But it is now written, so let it go. Whatever may take place, you'll hear from me soon again,
I shall hand this to Corporal DuBose, and I want you to write me on his return, and also before.
Please deliver Mary her letter,
I should like to see you very much, but cannot tell when my wishes can be gratified. If we remain at this place, I hope to spend a good while with you, on my next furlough. I know we will be happy to see each other.
For the present I'11 close
Remember me to all the folks, and believe me
Ever the same
Houston, May 22nd, 1862
Dear Miss Celia,
It has been truly said that "disappointments often blight our fondest hopes," and I feel the truth thereof, on this occasion. When I parted with you, I looked toward Arizona, as the field of operations, and even had got as far as Eagle Lake, on our way, when to the great surprise of all of us, we were ordered to return, --Galveston being demanded to surrender. We lost no time, and are now encamped near this city. How we will be disposed of, I know not, but it is the general impression that we will be sent to Virginia Point, near Galveston, where we can delight our minds as well as eyes, in gazing upon the mighty deep, and enjoy the melodious hum of the flies and musquitoes, and hold sweet companionship with companionable fleas.
I am writing in a great hurry, as this writing will bear testimony. I shall write soon again, when I will instruct you where to address me.
Remember me to Mrs Shrock and the family.
Ever truly Yours—William
Camp Near Harrisburg
June llth, 1862
Dear Miss Celia,
I have written you twice since we parted, but am sorry to say have not had the pleasure of hearing from you in return. It does seem to me, that you would write to me often, or at any rate answer my letters, knowing as you must, my feelings toward you, and the great estimation in which I hold any thing coming from you.
My frequent writing is not caused by matters of interest, but simply for account of the good old friendly feelings which exist between us, and which, so far as I am concerned, must continue to glow with unabated lustre. But enough of this for the present. You know I delight to hear from you, so do write often.
We have just reached a new camp ground, about three miles from Camp Kyle, and nearer the village of Harrisburg. I am not able to find wherein we have benefited ourselves by this change, yet such moves give us the appearance of soldiers, and teach us to bear patiently, some of the ills of life, at least of a soldiers life. But wherein is our condition worse? In this particular, viz, the camp but lately abandoned, had been to a very great extent rid of ticks and red bugs, and we were enjoying a little rest, but now we are thrown into the midst of new enemies, to incur their displeasure to our sorrow.
I have set forth in a former letter, some of our sufferings from these pests, and I will not repeat.
Innumerable reports as to our movements, continue to float through the Battalion, but very unreliable, and I am not able to give you the slightest idea what will be done. At one moment, is heard the report that we are soon to be marched to La, at another moment it is circulated that we will soon be encamped on the Bernard. From this you have as accurate an idea, as almost any man in the Battalion. For my part, I am anxious to return home altogether, or go where something may be done. This playing soldier, is becoming extremely irksome to me, besides expensive to the Government. How long this cruel war will be waged, the wisest cannot tell, but at this rate, the battles will be fought, the victories won, and peace determined upon and ratified, before we can get out of the state. If this must be the case; I shall have the pleasant consciousness of having obeyed orders.
Oh! this is a wretched way of living, rendered glorious by being done in behalf of our country. Where is the man who really delights in it? "If such there be, go mark him well," for he is a man having but little regard for cleanliness, or the delicacies and refinements of civilized life. It is an impossibility to keep one's self, neat, and this is one of my prinicipal dislikes. At some future time, I shall give you a graphic description of the life of the soldier, as far as experience may track me. As yet I have endured but little, and therefore would certainly be prosy in attempting any thing of the sort, now. Well as I intend to write you on the receipt of a letter from you, I shall close this scrawl.
Remember me to the family and believe me,
Yours ever the same
Dear Miss Celia
July llth 1862
Your prompt reply to my last letter was duly received, and met with just such a welcome as you might reasonably suppose,--a welcome filled with genuine feelings of friendship and esteem.
I am happy to believe that your feelings toward so true and devoted a friend as myself, are unchanged, and that the erroneous impressions for a short time entertained, are entirely removed. It would indeed be sinful for us to sever the ties so long existing between us. We have known each other intimately and for years, and that knowledge has always carried with it mutual friendship and confidence. We have truly respected each other, and I must say that our association has been of much improvement to both. Not having time at present, I shall allude to this subject in future.
We are passing through a dull routine of camp life. Old sights, old duties and old matter to talk about, daily engage us, while the prospect for a change is not at all flattering. Today we move our encampment, a mile or so up the bayou, where we will meet with active service, fighting and scratching at ticks and red bugs. Profanity under all circumstances, is shocking, but it is almost amusing at times to hear the cursing of some of the soldiers, when the little pests would attack them. Even I, good as I am, although I never give utterance to profane language, came just about as near thinking it, as the next man.
Well, how do you manage to pass away the time? Since the county is almost depopulated of gentlemen, and since your attention must be now unengaged by society, I suppose you are filling your mind with useful knowledge and wisdom. You now have time and opportunity to read and study, and I know such will not be permitted to pass unimproved. When I call upon you, we must have a real literary feast.
Very soon I intend to write you a long letter, which of course must contain a great deal of nonsense for sense is something we have dispensed with. I have attended a dance, visited some of the girls and endeavored to enjoy myself as much as possible, and all that since I've been on this bayou. I have made an engagement to visit more, and should anything interesting attend my visit, you'll hear of it.
I want you to write me soon, and often. Consider the differences of our situation,--your conveniences my inconveniences. Your association with old friends and acquaintance, and residence in a country to me familiar, where something is continually occurring, which will interest me. Remember that at present, I am in a dark and isolated corner of the globe, where but little can be seen, and which is altogether unworthy of notice.
I must bring this to a speedy close, or I'll not get a chance to send it. Write soon. My respects to the folks.
Ever your friend
Matagorda, Sept 3rd, 1862
My Dear Miss Celia,
Enclosed you will find a few stamps, and of course I shall expect to receive a more bountiful supply of letter[s], than formerly. I have endeavored to get you some paper, but it cannot be obtained, yet you have a sufficiency for sometime to come.
The pens and ink you have on hand, and I must so arrange it, as to furnish you with brains. Such being the state of affairs, I expect to be made happy in the receipt of really affectionate letters. Besides I feel satisfied that I was erroneous in my impressions in regard to your being in love.
DeBray's soldiers are about leaving, and Rugeley's Company is to be encamped on Peyton's Creek.
I hope there is nothing in this letter at which you can take exception. It being so repulsive to you. I have dispensed with the subject, "seed ticks and red bugs".
One of your objections to my late letters, is my bad writing. I am quite sensitive on this point, and have therefore written this in a beautiful and unexceptionable style
Give my love to the folks.
Ever the same,—William
Matagorda, Nov 2nd, 1862
My Dear Miss Celia,
Your brother not yet having gone, I shall write a line or so more. I forgot to state in my note of the other day, that I would send up my political works, for your particular benefit. They have been out of use for sometime past, and will likely continue so, a good while longer, unless I adopt some other course. I therefore present them to you, of course, with my best wishes. I shall have no need of them, during the service. If I outlive the war, I can obtain others. If I should not survive, what good will they do me? This is what I call an unanswerable argument.
You will doubtless be surprised at seeing my trunk, and may guess that I intend to live with you. If so, you will prove yourself a good guesser. I do expect to pass the principal part of my time with you, that I am not in the army. I always did feel perfectly at home, while with your folks, and what place could I now prefer to be at? But O me, it looks so much like, and really is an imposition! I know it will not be regarded as such, by your family, but I cannot but feel it.
Since my last, four deaths have occurred from yellow fever, to wit: Mr Giles, our P.M. Wm Mackey; Little Nora Haden and a son of Mr Dietrich. There are still a few sick cases in town. Tonight I sit up with Henry Thorp. Am I not getting along famously? Yet the physician says I cannot go into the army, with safety, before Christmas. Unless we do more than we have been doing, I would be willing to stay away longer.
I rode out to the burial of little Nora, I saw her hid away in her little grave. There the family is interred side by side. What a mournful sight those graves present! What a sad tale they tell! Nora has only gone to add happiness to the family circle. I occasionally go around to the Haden residence, to see how those who remain are getting on, Ella seems to have accumulated quite an amount of affection for me, since she has been left alone. Julia is more shy. I love the helpless little orphans, and feel a deep and abiding interest in their welfare.
While at the graveyard, I beheld the final resting places of Mother and Sisters. What thoughts took possession of my mind! What feelings welled up in my bosum! There they sleep quietly and undisturbed, together, side by side. The gentle breezes wafting their way over the silvery bay and expansive prairies, and which so oft and so pleasantly fanned their cheeks, will now kindly and mournfully linger about their graves, and sweetly sing their requiem. They clung to each other in life, and in death they are not divided. 0 happy three! We weep over our loss, but must rejoice in your heavenly and eternal gain. My dear friend, I feel lost. I am a wanderer on the wide, wide world. A mere waif upon the ocean of circumstances. The link that bound us so firmly together is broken. The voice that lured us to this old favorite spot, is hushed. Both filial and fraternal love have been blighted by the unavoidable decrees of the deity. "Dust we are, and onto dust we must return."
I may send my large map up, also. It will be a much easier matter for me to move these things, when I desire. Than it will be pleasant for me to use there. For instance, clothes are clothes, now-a-days, and may be a little more so, after while.
My love to the folks.
Yours ever the same.
Don't neglect to write to me whenever you get a chance —William
Matagorda, Jany 2nd, 1863
My Dear Miss Celia:
I have nothing of importance to write, yet I am determined on writing to you, any how. I reached this place, on the same day I parted with you. I found a few of the yellow fever fugitives, among whom is Mr Braman and family. You cannot imagine how delighted I was to see them.
I was almost on the eve of leaving as soon as I reached here, having been informed that the men were being called into camp, whether sick or well, dead or dying. My mind, however, was soon made, easier, and the blood resumed its free circulation, by the promise from Major Perkins, whom I saw in town this morning, that he would not order me into camp as long as he had command of the Battalion, and that things were not as bad as represented. I shall therefore indulge in the bright hope of seeing you again before I report. But is a very unsafe business to make any calculations concerning the military. At any rate, I shall start for the country, as soon as I get through with a little professional business, which is now pressing me,—provided, I follow my inclinations. I cannot for the life of me, succeed in writing, unless "I raise my head." The mouth of the inkstand is altogether too small, to get along without raising it. However, there is a tumbler right at hand, and if I am forced to keep my head down, I'll use it.
The weather at present, is very disagreeable. It has been raining all day, and we have a prospect for a continuance, this is rather unfavorable to pleasure. I allude to those evening rides which we agreed upon. Suppose you put in fine condition your pony? Wouldn't Mrs Shrock like to join us? Tell her to resurrect her old horse, and take along her family. It will be so nice for us to be together!!!
Tell Miss Sarah that I tried to get that prayer book or bible, and could get neither. Never mind, tell her to be of good cheer, and it may be got at some time or another. Let her in the meantime, give her lover, religious advice. Words of mouth, exist at times, great influence.
I cannot suffer the present occasion, my very dear friend, to pass, without writing a few words in relation to ourselves. It has now been several years since we became earnest friends. Time and association have only served to strengthen our attachment. No motives of selfishness have controlled our feelings, nor any circumstance allayed them. Each one has been true to profession and at this very moment, we look upon each other as sincere, and regard ourselves as the personification of friendship. It is my heart-felt desire that this feeling may continue as long as we live. I know no reason why it should not. The commencement of the year, beholds us friends, let us keep up the feeling. Bear in mind that I am not as changeable in my principals, as the chameleon is in color. The comparison is good in many cases, but not in mine. Remember me as the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I trust that Isabel will gradually become reconciled to her misfortunes. I deeply sympathize with her and I can, to some extent, appreciate her feelings. How little did I think, when waiting upon Eli at his marriage, that in so short a time he would be hurried into eternity! Death cuts down the greatest strength and blights the brightest hopes.
To-morrow, I shall search for old boot legs. They make a very fine shoe.
I will close for
PS I do not contend that the above is a very fine specimen of either composition or penmanship.
Camp Waterville, Feby 12th, 1863
My Dear Miss Celia:
How great was my rejoicing, when I, this morning, learnt of your gradual and certain recovery of health! My nerves again became quiet, my blood freely circulated, my voice grew clear and full, and my countenance resumed its accustomed cheerful appearance. Though the day was declared by many, to be gloomy, I admired it for its striking beauty. The landscape as far as the eye could reach, seemed to be covered with rich verdure, and the grove wherein we are encamped, gloried in its heavy foliage. Never before did the birds sing so sweetly, or entire nature look so lovely. Every word spoken by my fellow soldier, sounded as an open avowal of friendship. Little did I feel like a private soldier, sold to the Government, for the war, and perhaps for life,——But rather like one in the full enjoyment of liberty, peace, prosperity, security and happiness--like one at peace with all the world, friendship and love towards many, and without a single spot, blemish or imperfection in my whole character. But this subject is exciting, and in order to avert danger, I close.
Affectionately Your Friend,
Tender my thanks and gratitude to Miss Sarah and Isabel, for their kindness, and my respects to the family, generally
I am anxious to see you, but the many and varied duties of the soldier, and the presence, and expected attack of the enemy, render it impossible for me to leave my post for the present. A great battle is impending, upon the result of which, depends the safety of this Confederacy. We are making active and earnest preparations for the contest, and we are determined "to conquer or to die."
Matagorda, March 2nd, 1863
My Dear Miss Celia:
The chilly sensations caused by your last note, have so far passed away as to leave one somewhat able to handle a pen. It is very true, that when I laid my fingers upon the note, or to use a more elegant expression, when my fingers came in contact with the note, an icy coldness at once passed through them and into my body, foreboding great evil; but thanks be to a good constitution and an undaunted spirit! I recovered, and but for a slight spell of sickness, for the last few days, I would now glory in good health. But it seems to me, that the very atmosphere of this place is unwholesome, or at least so to me. Soon after reaching this place, a very singular cutaneous eruption, much resembling measles, made its appearance on my body, attended with a light fever, causing both throat and eyes to become very sore. This has continued for several days. The skin is becoming clear, but my eyes and throat are still quite bad, though much better, and what is not the least in the matter, a bad taste has been left in my mouth, thereby depriving me of the pleasure of enjoying a good meal. For this and the further reason of not being able to get a letter to you, I have not written.
When this shall reach you, I know not, however I'll trust to luck. As you have heard of the disturbances we have had here, I'll not enumerate them. Lt Thomas Cooper has shown a spirit and determination commendable in any man, and Capt Moseley a spirit detestable. The former has more friends and stronger ones in the company than he ever had before: the latter, fewer and weaker. Charges have been preferred against Cooper, and a strong effort will be made to cashier him. I am afraid it will succeed. I do not fear the charges so much as I do the influence.
Since reaching this point, Brown received an order to start us forthwith to Houston, where we would be converted into artillery. He was bitterly opposed to it, and forthwith started for Houston, in order to have the order countermanded and to secure the artillery for his command. In the meantime, we remain at this post. What Brown will accomplish, is yet to be seen. Many of the boys are opposed to going into artillery, and many don't know what they want, or what they do not want. So far as I am concerned, I am mighty nearly indifferent. If I get to Houston, I suppose I can get to see you and Mary, occasionally, and besides, the mail arrangements will be much more convenient. What a dear time I shall have in writing to you!
Several parties have been given, since our arrival. Of course, I did not attend but understand the officers figured conspicuously, and almost exclusively. What fools women sometimes are! Brass buttons, imitation gold lace, and stripes charm their eyes and win their hearts! All that is necessary now-a-days, is to have plenty of brass without, though there may be no brains within. These remarks do not apply to all officers. There are many clever, excellent and able gentleman among them, but we mighty well know that it is not generally so. The verdancy and vanity of some young ladies, are strikingly displayed on certain occasions. A few days ago, I was both amused and disgusted. An account of the matter can be much better told verbally, than written, and when we again meet, I shall give it to you, in full, and I will guarantee that it will cause you to smile.
I have had very comfortable quarters, since our occupancy of the town: as well as good eating. I have not slept but one night out of my room, and then, I was on guard, and of course that night slept but little any where. I generally eat at Mr Braman's, but take an occasional meal in camp, in order to keep up my acquaintance with the boys, and also with camp life.
I am doing finely, but am willing to leave. We might as well bear things with equanimity since there is no help. The war bears little promise of our early close, and an early fretting would eventually wear out patience, as well as impugn the health. I am prepared to obey any order that may be issued, even though it were to lay down our arms, and go about our own business. I think I could bear that, as severe as it might be. At any rate, I think I shall be willing to comply with the order when it does some.
I am going to make an effort to get to see you, on our way to Houston. I wish I was with you tonight. But why are you so kind and gentle at times, and again so distant and cold? Surely you have consistency, so act it out. We are friends, friends in the full force and meaning of the word! Our friendship is worth something. Let us not fritter it away, but rather let it live and increase, --become stronger with years. If you understood my feelings towards you, you would appreciate me. Friends we are, Celia, and may our friendship never grow less. You'll hear from me soon again.
My kind regards to all
Ever sincerely yours
Levi Prewett is recovering from an attack of measles. Billy Jenkins has been ailing for several days, but is on the mend. Billy Prescott is well, and I am gitting so.
For the present,
[This letter was written on the back of a letter from William David Tidwell Shrock, dated March 28, 1863.]
Camp Lubbock, Near Houston
My Dear Celia:
Billy having offered me the privilege of adding a few lines, I avail myself of his kindness.
I can yet discover nothing in our present service to render it desirable. Not even have we any evidence that we are rendering our country any beneficial service Of course we are in service after a fashion, but I don't fancy the fashion. I find this camp, an excellent place for the military officials to put on airs and play the fool. Those officers over conscript companies, have reduced their folly to a science. Some continue clever, but the majority are affected with the "big head."
We witness a variety of punishments at this camp. Today something new presented itself. Several soldiers, guilty of some small offense, or perhaps not guilty, were condemned to stand on tip toes, while their arms extended at full length over their heads, --they are kept in this position by a cord being fastened around their thumbs, and to the ceiling. How long they stood this position, I don't know. They laughed and chatted quite lively, while undergoing the punishment. Do you not think we have got into a bad state of things? Tomorrow or next day, you may hear of your old friend being severely dealt with. But I hope not, Celia. I am not quite ready to be disgraced.
Having just obtained a pass, I shall go to town this evening, and attend a concert or theatre, if there should be any. Just reflect, a white man carrying a pass?
I have written you two letters, and in a few days, shall look for an answer. Write to me often. Your letters always are a source of great happiness to me.
I shall write you soon
Camp Lubbock, Near Houston,
April 13th, 1863
My Dear Miss Celia:
I am in receipt of your last favors. They have but lately reached me, the first of which being on the road sometime. I know not how to reply, unless by a recital of unimportant matters, and a repetition of what I have written before.
In the first place, I must notice that part of your note, which sets forth that your reason for receiving letters from me, is a long time coming, but that you think I have done very well for an engaged gentleman. Now let me tell you, that the fact of my being engaged has never created the slightest change in my feelings toward you, and consequently no effect upon my correspondence with you. It is very true, that occasionally a few days will intervene between my letters, but this is a very common occurrence among men, and also women, and I cite the case of yourself, while I was a member of Brown's Battalion, and stationed near Houston, and on Chocolate. Then I wrote and kept writing, but you failed to reply, and saw fit to construe a friendly letter, into something horrable. Of course you recollect it. I have often told you, that I was determined to be your friend, any how, and thus far have my words been verified. I shall write to you frequently, and hope to hear from you in return. I can tell you, Celia, that you never had a truer friend, than I. My entire association with you, bears witness to it. Naught but your own conduct, can tear me from you. In whatever situation of life, I may be placed, remember that I am constant. But where is the necessity of my thus writing? You know me better, than any other living being, and you know I'll do to trust.
I must now give you a brief account of a meeting between Moseley and Myself, a few days ago. While quietly writing, your brother informed me, that Capt Moseley wished to see me. Being in no particular hurry to accomodate that contemptable personage, I finished my letter, and started for his tent. He saw me coming, and started to meet me. He was in a perfect rage. He stated that he had heard from an officer of his company, but did not say whether he was commissioned or non-commissioned, that I was the creator and promoter of all the disturbance in his company, and that he believed it. I denied the charge, but his anger continued, and he threatened to prefer charges. At this stage of the conversation, I got a little angry. I replied that I was no braver than most men, but that I wanted him to understand, that God Almighty never put anything into the shape of a man, that could scare me, and to go ahead. He then said, that he did not wish to intimidate me, but simply to put me on my guard. He then wanted to know the cause of the disturbance. I told him plainly, what it was. He wanted to know why we did not complain of Genl. Magruder, that he, Moseley, had obeyed an order from Magruder. I answered him that it was very true, he had obeyed the order, but we believed the order was got out by himself, and that we were here through his influence. He saw he was completely hemmed, and concluded that part of the subject, by saying that he thought the change very desirable. He said he would be satisfied if I would give my word and honor as a gentleman, that I was not guilty. I answered that Wm Burkhart was too much of a man to disavow what he had said, that I had very freely expressed my dissatisfaction, which was done by every man in the company that we were all dissatisfied, and if he wanted to prefer charges, --if an expression of dissatisfaction could be construed into mutiny, we were all liable, but that I was under no such impression. He agreed with me. He then offered me a transfer, provided I could get a man to take my place, or in other words an exchange.
But little was said on this subject, but it was very evident that he wanted to get rid of me. On the very next day, a gentleman from Capt Tompkins Company, applied for admission into our company. Moseley sent him to me, stating that I had the refusal. I sent him word, that I was too much attached to the boys to leave them at present. So I am still here, and determined not to be scared out. It is very true that I am warmly attached to the boys, and if I had any idea of leaving them at all, I should not under present circumstances. We are circumvented with troubles, and I shall see them out, and should we get into serious difficulties, you may rest assured that I will be there. I love my country and I love peace, but I will contend against oppression either at home or abroad, and will not sacrifice principle, even for the sake of my country. In the course of the conversation above mentioned, Moseley said that he knew I was an educated man, and that he understood, being a lawyer, I told the boys their legal rights and remedies. There was a considerable quarrel, in the course of which I spoke of the circumstances under which I had enlisted, that I was as true a patriot as he had in his company, and then rising to my full height, and bring my face near his, I said with emphasis, "and not less true, sir, than you are." He said that he did not base himself on his patriotism. This is but an outline of what passed between us. I saw his object was to intimidate me, and to clear himself of the trouble in which he was involved. I knew I had right on my side, and I was determined to stand to it. I feel that I have acted the part of a man, and I have the commendation of the company. I verily believe that if Moseley had dared to have arrested me, he would have done so. But we are united and I pray unto God, we may continue so. On the following day, I called him out. I told him that I conceived great injustice had been done me, that I had made inquiries through the company, and found that each man was dissatisfied on his own ground, that I demanded it of him as a matter of right, that he should go around among his men, or test their feelings at some roll call. He said he would do so. He seemed quite calm. I went on to say to him, that after having made this investigation, he would find his informant to be a base, willful and malicious liar, and I so charged him, and added that if I could get his name, the military might protect him, but if we were in civil life, he never could escape me. We then parted. I am resolved, Celia, to resist tyranny at every hazard. My conscience is all right, and must continue so, as long as I have right on my side. I shall give Moseley no advantage of me. I told him I was too smart for that, that I know how far to go, where to stop, and just where I rendered myself liable. I have no longer the restraints I had a few months ago. The epidemic of last fall, laid these restraints in the cold and silent grave. My course, however, will be such as to cast no stain on the family name.
I am tired, tired, tired! I do not wish to withdraw my services from the Confederacy but I have been so much imposed on, that I am discouraged. I can get out but in one way, and that is, to buy myself out, and if things don't go on more to my satisfaction I will go out. If my place is filled by another, no one can grumble. Besides, if I were out of the service, my health would improve. As I stated in another part of this letter, I shall not leave as long as we are in this trouble. I may not leave at all, but I'm in a mighty strong notion to do so. Now, here are several pages containing a dull narrative of a matter which cannot interest you, but which I make mention of, in order to make out a letter. We are here without the prospect of getting away. Moseley is in his glory, and I believe would rather remain here, than go any where else in the Confederacy. We are in hopes of an early change in our company, Moseley is looking for promotion, and I hope he will get it, and then be transferred to ————I won't say it, but I don't care how soon he leaves. I do believe that he is the meanest man I ever saw in my life. I cannot imagine how it is, that he remains in a company where he is so thoroughly despised.
Tom Cooper has not yet had his trial, but has been allowed the privilege of remaining in camps. It is impossible to tell when he will get his trial. I think he will come out all right. If Moseley doesn't look sharp, he'll get into a bad trap. He stands on slippery ground and if he ever prefers charges against me, I shall prosecute him before the Military Court and also the Civil. I would bring up every charge possible, before a court-martial, and sue him for damages in the civil court. He will find a hard case in me. I ask him no favors, and if he oppresses me, I shall grant none.
I am doing tolerably well. I go to town, whenever I please, and worry myself with camp duties as little as possible. I have many acquaintances in Houston, and I frequently meet them. I am going to enjoy myself as well as I can. Of all the places to spend money, Houston is the place. But that makes no difference, we are not to live always. I have been purchasing some fine clothes lately, and when I go into town, I go like a gentleman. You know I like fine clothes, but they don't make me vain.
It is generally the case that I read over my letters, before sealing them. I am almost ashamed of this, so I'll let it go. If there are mistakes, attribute them not to ignorance.
There is a great deal of sickness in the company. The weather is getting warmer, and the flies are in swarms.
It is almost impossible to write.
Give My Love to all the Folks
Write to me soon.
PS I find old man Twitchell in town. He invited me to call on him. I shall do and will meet Miss Hunt. She is my girl, and what'll become of you and Mary?
[This page does not seem to belong with any existing letter on hand. Although signed, it is undated. It begins almost in mid thought.]
I am not much afraid of my not being able to get out. He would rather have me o[ut] than in, but I like the boys and they like me, and I don't care a cent how the officers feel towards me, and more particularly, himself. I know that I have an influence in the company, and when ever we are oppressed, I shall use it. But you may rest assured, Celia, that I know what I am about. No one shall get the advantage over me. The more I associate with men, the more clearly do I see the necessity of being prudent. There is no situation in life, where a man is so apt to reveal his true character, as in the army. I must say, that in some I have been very much disappointed.
After a weeks reflection, Moseley apologized before the whole company, for having unjustly charged me with having created the disturbance in his company. He must certainly have felt humiliated for thus making reparation for a wanton attack. H[e] has rendered himself, in the eyes of his company, the most loathsome creature in existence. I cannot express my abhorrence for the man.
I am happy to inform you that I feel in fine health, with the exception of a cold which is prevalent. I begin to feel strong, and I think am gaining flesh. I think this summer will set me all right. There is no possession so desirable as good health.
I am anxious to get away from Houston. It is the most infernal place for extorti[on] I ever saw. A dinner cost from 1.30 to 2.00, a cup of coffee, 50 cents and everything else in proportion. I can't go to town without spending from five to ten dollars. If I meet with a friend, he must take dinner or a cup of coffee with me, eat cake or smoke a cigar. Then there is the theatre, which I frequently attend I have spent over two hundred dollars since I've been here and have written to Matagorda, for more. I must quit this extravagance. It is an unpardonable waste of money. Oh! how I could enjoy riches. If I thought we were to remain here, twelve months, I would at once engage a substitute, for I would spend all I'm worth, any how.
I am not a man to be overcome by temptations, I can resist them as effectually a[s] any person living, but situated as we are, we must make our time pass as pleasant[ly] as possible. Money contributes to pleasure, and consequently we must spend it, to attain the object.
Remember me to all the folks. Kiss Matt for me, and when she can lisp a name, teach her mine. I love the little creature, and always have. She looks so sad and innocent! She always seemed to know me, and I should dislike the little creature to forget or become afraid of me.
There is no telling when I shall be able to get away from this place. It will be a long time before I shall try.
There is no prospect for our removal.
Waldo Thompson is expecting to visit his family, in a day or so, he will see you, before he returns. Get him to give you a description of our affairs.
I am about to visit some of the Houston ladies. Send me by Waldo, my watch and chain (short chain) linen coat and light vest. I am bent on pleasure. I must close for the present. Let me hear from you soon.
Matagorda, June 15th, 1863
My Dear Miss Celia:
Here, I am most peacefully sojourning, awaiting an answer to that application. I understand that no appointments have yet been made. I have no doubt of my success. I did not procure a discharge from the army for the purpose of making money. I very well knew that I had no tact for speculation. I never ventured beyond a horse swap in my life, in the way of trading, and invariably got cheated. So I have done very little of that. My object is to make an honest living during the war. I have no desire to rush headlong into speculation, and shall not if there is any other recourse. But be this as it may, I can always find pleasure and profit in applying myself to my professional studies. I may not realize profit, but I surely will in the future.
I notice the call on the Militia for ten thousand troops. I miss it by having a substitute over 50. Pretty bad on those whose substitutes are under, isn't it? I sympathize with every man who must leave his family for the army.
How is Mary getting on? In assisting her, Celia, remember your ever true friend, the writer.
I have not disclosed to Mary, my calculation and intentions, because I did not consider it particularly necessary. I expect to do so, soon.
Mrs Braman and family expect to leave this week for the Peninsula. Mr Braman and I keep house. He cannot be away from his business very long at a time. Several families will leave about the same time, I understand, and the probability is, that Matagorda Peninsula will become a famous summer resort.
I expect to see you in the course of time, in the meantime be assured that you are in possession of my never-dying friendship.
Give my love to the family
Matagorda, July 30, 1866
My Dear Miss Celia
Need I assure you that your letter received a most hearty welcome and has called up the most happy recollections? No, I know you must know it! I was truly glad to hear from you, but as so much time had already passed since we parted, I must say I was surprised when I did hear. I cannot excuse or pardon you for seeming neglect, without the most tenable showings, even though I am a married man, head of a family and Chief Justice of the county, you should have written. You should have written, because you know how much I think of you, and how delighted I would have been to have heard from you. It would have been no presumption in my humble opinion, I do positively declare. I deeply regret the long ill health of your brother, and do sincerely trust that ere this, he has returned to his family, much improved if not entirely restored.
Just here, I might note a word or two in relation to me and mine. For the last two weeks my family has been staying on the Peninsula, where I hope to keep it for a month longer. All are in good health, which might not have been the case had they remained here. I stay there most of the time, but am compelled to come over to town every now and then--I am now here in one of those occasions. I love the Peninsula, because my family keeps well, and I feel better when there. But oh me! I am still low in health, very low. That old disease still clings to me as though it intended to accompany me to my grave--I am very weak, and still endeavoring to get well but the time seems afar off. Yet I go about as usual, look tolerably well, and am still able to attend to my business. I would to God I were well!
I care not a cent for the slanderous reports circulated against me. Where I live and am fully known, the reporter of such slanders, is at once regarded a liar, and where I am not well known, the truth must eventually reach. I am in habits the man you have always known me to be, nor have I been anything else for a single moment. I trust, moreover, that I am on the road to wisdom and goodness for otherwise I shall make but poor use of the time which God has been pleased to give me.
I know you were gratified to hear of my election. The opposition to me, worked zealously for my defeat, with Henry Thorp as their standard bearer, I believe, in fact I am convinced he was the most available man that could have opposed me. My enemies left not a stone unturned. They could say not a word against my character that could deceive, but they misrepresented in a most outrageous manner, my political sentiments. But all without avail. The election came, and I was triumphant. My majority was about fifty votes. I do not gloat over my victory, but I am exceedingly gratified. The majority is indeed a heavy one for so small a population. Does the result show a falling from grace incompetency or want of friends? I think not.
I will now make short paragraphs, drawing to a close.
I am glad Hartford is with you, give him my love.
I am glad Isabel is well, give her my love.
Remember me in kindness to the entire family and to all particular friends.
I am sorry you are not properly appreciated--Richmond must be a vile place.
Mary and I frequently speak of you and if ever chance or choice brings you in our neighborhood, bear in mind how happy we will be to see you.
I will write no more for the present.
Write soon again
Matagorda, Sept 5th, 1866
Dear Miss Celia:
I am in receipt of your second favor, and it gave me the usual pleasure.
I am now with my little family again at home, after an absence of six weeks. Of course, I was not away all the time myself, as it was necessary for me to be in town every few days, but the runs to and from Matagorda, were at times very pleasant.
As you, no doubt, feel some concern about my health, I will state for your information that I feel and indeed am much better than I have been for a long time past. As the heat of the summer moderates, my health improves. I am under medical treatment--and trust that I will be restored to health during cold weather.
I saw Mr Pierce in town, a couple of days ago, and was glad to learn from him that the health of both your brother and sister had improved and that they had returned home. Give them my love, and say to them that I think of them often and with pleasure, and that my long and intimate association with them, and their many kindnesses shown me, have made impressions which cannot be removed under any circumstances. And right here, I will ask you to remember me to the family, in which I include Billy and Hartford Jenkins.
I am still making a living, which is doing very well in times of such general necessity and trouble. I am, however, in hopes that the present legislature has made my office one of involvement, as the business that will come up before us hereafter will be considerable importance to the position, and keep the incumbents much engaged.
A word about local matrimonial matters--Dr Joe Fry and Miss Emily Talbot were married about a week ago, on the Matagorda Peninsula, at the residence of Shortridge, where the Talbots now live. Dr Fry is now living in style having purchased the fine residence lately owned by John Gibson, and then known as John Gibson's prairie house. It is reported that before long, and I have no doubt of the truth of the reports, that soon are to be married, Dr Thompson of Caney and Miss Annie Wilkinson—Dr Tom Thompson of this place, son of Isham Thompson and Miss Maggie Pearson—a Mr Stratton of Brazoria County and Miss Low Waldmann—and Frank Holt and Miss Nell Wilkinson. There may be others, not just now remembered. The other girls are about as they were when you left, with the exception of growing older and uglier, and more anxious to marry. Do not infer from this bit of news as gossip, that I am inclined to gossip . I write this merely for your gratification as you are so far away and may wish to know something of your old acquaintances.
I certainly was guilty of a great neglect in failing to make mention of my boy in my last letter. No mention however, that I can make can do him justice. As a child of good behavior and handsome appearance he cannot be surpassed. The quantity and blackness of his hair, the blackness, size and brilliance of his eyes, the regularity of his features, the plumpness and symmetry of his entire person all, all indicate him an extra ordinary child. He is between five and six months old, and in named William--NOT Wm Henry--But William just so do not imagine this a mere fancy picture, for what could I say more corroborative of this description than that whenever the ladies see him, they exclaim, "how much like his father!" How could he be else than handsome?
Brother George has not yet returned from the north--When he does return he will find another member in his family--I have not seen the little stranger, but am informed that it is of the masculine gender--that is, a boy. I have nothing more to write at present--Mary sends her love--
Yours most affectionately
Wm H B---
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