Near Broxtons Bridge on the Big Salkehatchie River, Colleton
S.C. January 29th, 1865.1
My Dear Wife
About ten days ago just as we were leaving
our last encampment on the Coosawhatchie River,2 I received three letters from you all at once, of different scales. I had not time to read them until we got settled again. + I have been so busy since I got here that I have not written till now. I have been hard at work fixing up winter quarters. My hands are sore + swolen + blistered so that I can scarcely hold my pen, but you can take your time + guess at what you cant read. This sentence was written accross the back of one of your letters “Direct to Maj A.S. Rose Montgomery Ala or Mobile Ala and send $5.00.” Pretty heavy postage that, but I will try it. You seem to have such bad luck getting my letters. I get your letters now with tolerable regularity Bro. Joe [?] has a much better chance to send letters than I have. There are no troops in this part of the army from the Trans-Miss Dept. There are a good many in Hood’s army. And I am off the traveled route. I have never a chance to send a letter by hand across the River, have to send all by mail. That was bad enough before Shermans Raid through Ga. + is now much worse. I have had no news from Joe [?] from some time don’t know where to write him. It is reported now that a portion of Hood’s Army is on the way to Augusta, I think we will be ordered there soon, if so I may meet him.
I wish I could write a good “womans letter”, easy, gossipy, chatty, but full of news
I have read all your letters at once and shall answer in the same way, with just what comes first to my mind, a womans letter as the men call them. I wish I could write a good “womans letter”, easy, gossipy, chatty, but full of news, but I have long since despaired of attaining the art. It seems to be born with you all. I wrote you a long letter + sent it by mail just before our last move, I am sorry you have such bad luck getting them since you prize them so highly. What does the Govern want with more hands? I thought there were no Yanks in your country. Our whole Country is covered now with fortifications. Are you threatened with another invasion? I see nothing of it in the papers. Who are the Morgans you speake of in your letters? I dont remember any people of that name. Some new comers I reckon. I see from your letter that the home people in Texas charge Soldiers for food + Iodine. I am sorry to hear it. I had hope there was a part of our Country that was not poisoned with the villainous love of gain + speculation. When I first went to Texas in 1849. I traveled from Independence back to Shreveport on $5.00. The Charge at a great many places was “Nothing but be sure to call + Stay with me when you pass again” Whenever I have been on this side of the River, with a few noble exceptions, the rule is to charge from $5.00 to $10.00. Some of the people think a soldier should pay more than a citizen. That miserable idolatrous love of money, I think, was one of the causes of the war, + the home people are as much given to it now as ever. This love of money is the cause of the present excitement in the state of Ga. I am satisfied from the letters received by the men of my Regiment from their friends at home, that there is a considerable party now in the State in favor of going back into the old Union on any terms if they can save their property. Composed of rich men who have dodged or bought the Conscript Officer, Speculators who have made fortunes during the war, deserters from the army, and native half breed Yankees who were opposed to the war at first. I reckon there are more of these last in Ga than in any other Southern State. There have been Union Meetings held in some ports of the State, + some of the news papers I am told advocate Submission openly. The fools! They dont know what they are at. War is dreadful, but GoD save me from Submission to the Yankees. Just the idea of having to live with + being dicatated to by the cursed race is enough to make me stay in the army the ballance of my life. I am very much in hopes the reports I have heard are exaggerated. I hope there is patriotism + good sense enough in the State to save them from such a step. Let us hope for the best.
If you had seen as many old men, as I have since I have been in this war, who could not read or write their own names…you would not loose a day in teaching your children to read + write.
And you ask if I have seen my Maggie? Arent you ashamed to ask such a question? I have heard nothing from her in a long long time. She was married and doing well the last time heard of her. She had good sense enough to get over our little episode. I shall always think of her kindly, indeed love her in a way, but not to interfere with my love + duty to you. You are my wife, of my own choice. So. + I dont regret not marrying her. You are only joking though. By the way this reminds me of the children. I am glad to hear that Jim + Pet learn so well but you dont say any thing about Ross. Dont he learn too? I am astonished to hear that he cant read writing. You say you cant teach the Children, what else have you to do. There are a great many things that are matters of memory entirely as I told you in a former letter, which you can teach them as well as any body else. Spelling as you know from experience is a matter of memory + should be learned early. The multiplication table is another thing that we use every day + should be learned as early as possible. You can also teach them to write. If you had seen as many old men, as I have since I have been in this war, who could not read or write their own names + been bothered as I have writing letters for them you would not loose a day in teaching your children to read + write. Where are their slates? If paper is too scarce let them learn on Slates.
You are enjoying the Sermons you say. I am glad of it. I would like to hear one now from as weak a brother as I and to think brother Williams, we are without a chaplain. Ours left us last fall. I am sure I would appreciate Church priviledges now. Sunday with us I am sorry to say is too much like other days – You are sentimental about poor little Pet. And you really want Ma to raise her in case you should not be spared. It is a part of my prayer to the GooD Master night + morning to spare your life + health to raise those dear children. There are some traits in your character that made me prefer you, before all the other women I knew for the mother of my children, + the same cause me to prefer that you should raise them. There is about you a child like simplicity, an honesty + a stern love of virtue that seemed native to you. I used to try you about that native virtue by talking wildly myself. I admire it above all things. That is one thing about poor old Roach’s character that made me respect him.3 He was truly a virtuous man I believe. That made poor [Sallies?] “faux paux” go so hard with him. Well, I prefer Ma next you, but dont you consider that she is getting old + may die herself. As people get old they prefer quiet rest
(Inverted at top of pages 2-3)
you are mistaken about my rank I am only Assistant Surgeon I have tried for promotion but have failed. It is a difficult matter now without strong friends in Richmond. The army is full now of officers of all sorts. I was transfered from the 1st Confederate GA Regt to the 5th Ga Regt last spring at Dalton, at my own request. Direct to me 5 Ga Vol. or 5 Regt Ga Vol Harrisons Brigade, Midway, S.C.
(Inverted at top of page 1)
Remember me kindly to sister Mag + her Children, Ma + Maj, uncle Peter + all the kin + friends. Look for me when you see me. I will come as soon as I can. Kiss my dear Children + let them kiss you for me. Pray for me + believe me only your
Mrs Dr Morgan,
Capt. J. Fortson 4
- The Battles at Broxton’s Bridge and Rivers Bridge took place Feb. 1-3, 1865. Confederate troops attempted to prevent the right wing of Sherman’s army from crossing and moving toward Columbia. ↩
- Here Confederate troops defended the Charleston-Savannah Railroad. ↩
- Likely A.M. Roach, second husband of Fanny’s Aunt Bet. ↩
- Capt. Jack Fortson, son of Maj. ↩