Camp Holly Va Aug 16th, 62
As this is wash day and a leisure time with me I concluded to commence an answer to your last which was received on Monday, the day after I wrote you.
I was on detached duty yestay cutting down timber on the river to give our batteries a fair chance at the gun boats of the enemy. At recess five of us went down the river hunting something to eat. We got some roasting corn and had a big mess fried for our dinner. Is the first that I have had this season.
I bought a pound of home spun soap, and have used a good chance on my clothes and hide. This morning have got clear of vermine by continual moveing.
Our company will have to go to the out post in a few days where we can get plenty fruit and corn. We have been drilling four hours a day since we came here. The [Lieutenant Colonel] McElroy has command of the Reg and I tell you he is the tightest wad yet. There is more dissipline in our Regt than ever before. The officers have to toe the mark and are held responsible for the actions of the privates.
[It] is currently reported that Barksdale has been promoted to Brig. Gen. If so the boys who have complained of him will have something to grumble about when Carter gets well and in command. Will bee well enough for some of them for they often need restraint.
Charles got a letter from Emma [in which] she stated that Pa had made but little wheat, and would make but little corn. What they are to do for something to eat I can’t imagine. It distresses me to think about it. There has been enough wheat and corn destroyed in this country to bread the state of Miss. I saw three hundred acres of wheat yesterday that was entirely lost. All belonged to one man. It was verry fine, at one time, but now falen to the ground.
I am glad you have sold the mule at last. That [was] verry cheap from the way stock sells here, but all right. Glad to hear of more young pigs. Hope you can raise them. Give them plenty corn sow [and] some turnips as soon as possible for winter feed. If I don’t come home they will do some one good. In the new ground will bee a good place where there is not too much clay. Every one should do something to supply the place of corn.
The non conscripts are trying to get [off] home. Think they will start in a few days. Frank is going, I believe, in Aleck’s place. That is the arrangement now. I would like to go in the place of one of them, but will not ask them to take my place. None of them have wives at home but they are going any way. If they can get [off].
Crittenden is going to stay in Thad Jennings place until he pays his beauty a visit. If my wife was as ugly as his I would never go home again, but poor fool he thinks she is a perfect beauty all right.
I suppose you want to know how black I am. About the color of Milly. When any one comes from home or a long stay in the hospital they look like white men beside us. I shave clean every week and have my head shingled close. Have not had a louse in my head since I left home. John Gil caught one out of his the other day, but he got it from some one else. He is a verry good bed fellow but will not compare with you. Won’t sleep close to me. Have slept with him about eleven months.
I am nearly bare foot. Will have to give ten dollars of a pair of shoes, unless I can get government shoes, they are only thre $. Will try to get the Qr master to get me a pair.
I think the hot weather is over here as it is quite pleasant now. Have to pull the blanket at night. I fear the cool nights will cause fever. In fact we have two new cases in our company now. This is fine weather for chills and fever.
The reason that an officers corps can be sent home is partly oweing the influence of friends and partly because a private is no more thought of than a mere fool. Unless there is something to be done, then they are counted on smartly. If a privates friends are allowed time enough to dig a hole two feet deep it is as much. The government will not give permission unless in the case of a prominent officer.
If I should die here or get killed, there will be no chance for my remains to bee sint home. And I can’t imagine why it is that the friends of deceased soldiers want their remains. It will do no good either to the living or dead. I never would want a friend of mine brought home.
You may rest content about my being sint home for my friends here know my opinion about that. I will be buried near my dieing bed, if in the army, but hope that you may bee by my bed side when that hour comes. When I know that my time has come and you are by my side that will bee a great consolation.
As you say I would like the best in the world to surprise you some day, and se how you get on with your buisiness. Although it is a great burthen I think it will bee better than if you had at first done like Hassie and Pauline have quit their homes because it was a little trouble to attend to their business. I think more of you for it shows that you take some interest in our affair, or that you have not the place to go to, or anyone to depend upon as they have, but I repeat what I have said before that I dont want you to keep house longer than to find out that it is impossible for me to get back in time to make another crop, and I want you to make every preparation for leaveing whenever an opportunity offers it self to you.
Tell Jim and Milly howdy and to bee good darkies until I come home.
I believe I will try Will Davis and see if he wont stay awhile longer and let me come home to see you, but I have no idea he will do such a thing, for he is nearly crasy to go home for something I know not what.
OBrien is still in bad health and Charles has been in command of the Co for a long time. C is improving himself and the Co rapidly. Capt is [off] on leave of absence at this time. Our Co number sixty men for duty, more than any other in the Regt except one.
I received a letter from Col Campbell a few days since about my transfer but can accomplish nothing. Am much obliged to him for his trouble in trying to get me transferred to the 40th Miss Regt.
It is nearly dinner and I will have to help some so will bring this letter to a hasty conclusion. If you can have me a pair of pants, one good thick woolen over shirt (dark color.), woolen socks, one pair drawers made and send me by cold weather, if it is not too much trouble.
Mr. John Cone is comeing up early this fall to bring clothing for the Co. and if you can have them ready when he starts [he] will bee [a] safe one to entrust them to. If he dont come some one will and you can send them by the one most convenient. One pair pants like those you made me last fall will last through the winter.
Well loved one keep in good spirits and dont get out of heart. Remember there are thousands of women in the confederacy that are in a far worse condition than you are. We ought to bee thankful that the war is not at our door.
Give my love to all our friends and relatives. Tell Bettie I think of her often, will write her soon. Hope and pray you are well ere this. I now commit you to the mercies of God. May he take care of you is the prayer of your own husband.
I very much enjoy the colloquial flair these letters possess. Thanks.
Thanks for your comment, Thomas.
Indeed, Newt was a great letter writer for his time and education. He was a friend of my great grandfather, who was also a private in the Minutemen of Attala, which is how I acquired Newt’s letters from his Dallas-area descendants. I just wish I had more letters from others in the regiment.