Mansfield La. May 17th 1864
We received your letter a few days ago and was very glad to hear from you all but was sorry to hear that Aunt Bet was sick. We are all well at present – except Sister Eugenia she has been sick several days. There has been stirring times about here within the last two months. I suppose that you have heard of the battle of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill2 before this time, the battle was fought within 7 miles of our house. the guns could be heard distinctly. Uncle Joe and Conrow both escaped unhurt and a day or two after the battle both of them came by and stayed Several days at our house. I was not at home and did not get to see them, we were ordered to Shreveport about two weeks before the battle. I did not stay in camps but a month was sick most of the time.3 there is no fun in soldiering.
There is several hundread wounded men in Mansfield now and a great many wounded Yankees a great many have died from their wounds and are still dying every day. three of them are staying here but two will lieve in a day or two.
Sister has not heard from Dr Morgan since December Ma got two letters from Joe about week ago he was well and at Lauderdale Springs Miss he said that he was coming home this summer. We have had several fish fries lately on the lake we catch the fish with the Seine there will be an other fish fry on the lake next Saturday I wish that you were here to go to it. I wrote you and Ed a long letter about two months ago but have not received an answer yet.
Jim quit here + as he is going off tomorrow on a courting expedition wants me to finish for him. June 2nd We are all well, + had a good rain yesterday. which has revived the spirits of the farmers our crops a pretty good + were needing rain badly.
I want you to cheer up + get some color back in your cheeks- dress + flirt as much as possible-
Old Bris’ health is very bad. I dont think he will live long. I stayed in the old neighborhood ten days. Hale Whitfield + Pole McCoy ran away + married, neither of them are much. Margaret Calloway is dead + old Mrs Thomas, Mrs Col Smith’s youngest son + Mrs Gomran’s youngest, are all dead. None of the McCoy family in the army. Byrd Holland + George Adkins, + Gil McKay were all killed here. There is more hope now of an early Peace than I have ever heard expressed before. God grant it will come soon. I wish you had have come with us. I have just witten [Liz?] a long letter. Pet talks so much about cousin Ellen + Ross about [Clancy?]. When did you all hear from your sweet hearts? I hope you have had better luck in that line than I have. I want you to cheer up + get some color back in your cheeks- dress + flirt as much as possible- + if he should not come “There are as good fish in the sea, as was ever caught out of it.” What have you gon done with Mr W___er I dont think I can ever like W__l a bit for causeing you so much trouble. The easiest way to forget him is to fall in love with some body else.- but dont you marry a widdower with children. Come down this summer + stay with me. Samps thought Brother Smith was captivated with some of you- [?] was it? Mrs Alex Lacy aint dead yet- but has a boy- I wish she was in Halifax for running aunt Bet down, she will be a trouble as long as she lives by her. I wish she would make friends with “old white-face” she could indulge her passion for nurseing. I never wanted to go any place as bad as I do back to your house this summer, but it is so far + I have nothing but a buggy without a top to go in. I may go to Aunt [Liz’s?] if we all get sick here. Ma sends love to you all. Throw this in the fire when you read it. Give my love to all + write soon + often to your affectionate cousin.
- The first portion of this letter was written by Fanny’s younger brother, Jim. Fanny (Eugenia) then takes over writing the letter to an unknown female “Cousin.” The letter was written on ledger paper torn from a book. ↩
- The Battle of Mansfield was fought April 8, 1864. Confederate troops commanded by Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor stopped the Union army’s advance along the Red River (part of the Red River Campaign). The following day, Taylor’s men again met the army of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks near Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. Pleasant Hill was recorded as a Union victory, but Banks’ troops retreated so soon after the battle that people argued about which side had actually won. ↩
- Young men from rural areas were often exposed to illnesses for the first time in camp. Their lack of immunity to diseases and the filthy conditions in many army camps made disease a major cause of death for soldiers on both sides of the war. ↩
What a difference in the subject matter between Alex letters and Fannie’s concerns. How dependent women were on marriage for survival.
any idea to which cousin she was writing?
I am the great-grandson of the man who started this letter. His full name was James Alexander McCown. Born in 1847 and died 1881.
I am very grateful to you for publishing this letter, as this is the first written document of any kind I have seen by my great-grandfather. This is also the first direct proof that he served in the military in the civil war (although there was little doubt that was the case).