“Camp Beulah.” Mobile Ala. Jany 24, 1863.
My dear wife
Another week has passed + no letter from you, no word from the dear loved ones at home. What can be the matter? There certainly has been a time since the 7 of Dec (the date of your last letter) when the mail could cross the river. The last news of you was in a letter from Joe. We have a letter from Ma dated Dec 19. all well there. Perhaps you dont direct your letters properly. I am In the 1st Confederate Regt. Ga. Vol. Camp Beulah1 Mobile, Ala, When the time comes round for your letter I must write. I hardly ever pass the time. So if you dont get my letters regularly you know it is the fault of the rascally Yanks. It does me good to sit down + think about you + talk to you even when you dont or cant talk back to me. I hope the fight at Vicksburg is the only cause of the stoppage in your letters, if so when the way is opened we will make up for lost time if you have written as often as I have. It was rumor’d in camp to day that the Yanks had attack’d the place again, but there is nothing known certainly.2 Genl Jo Johnson came to the city a few days ago + was to review all the troops on Thursday but received a disptach from Vicksburg that 100 Yanky Gun Boats were coming down the river + he returned that morning without the review.3 It may be true as the report says that they have been fighting all day yesterday + to day, but I dont much believe it. If it is true I hope they may get a coarse whipping how they got the last time. I think another defeat there + another in Va like the Fredricksburg Slaughter will finish the war.4
Do you know dear that my hopes of peace, I mean an early peace are strengthening every day? I see from the papers that there is a strong probability that the North Western states will soon declare for peace + recognition. in fact all the old U.S. except New England are heartily sick of the war + want peace. New England is getting rich by the war + all the rest are suffering. + they are getting very sick + tired of it. I dont know what to say about foreign recognition. some think we will have that very soon by France alone, if the other Powers join or not.5 As things stand now I am not particularly anxious for foreign interference. I think if we are let alone by early summer we will have conquered the sort of a peace we want. + then we will be under no obligations to any body. I would rather fight on a little longer + have it that way, than to stop now + be beholden to any body. I see our old country Texas is again free from Yankees? The last one is driven out of the state. now if they can only keep them out. The Yanks are said to be preparing for another “On to Richmond” 6 GoD grant us a victory this time that may be the last!
My health is very fine + my antics very light. My greatest trouble now is that I cant get my usual weekly letter from you.
My health is very fine + my antics very light. My greatest trouble now is that I cant get my usual weekly letter from you. I get a long letter every few days from Joe.7 +he invariably apologises for haste + brevity. He is thoroughly disgusted with his situation + wants to get out from Handly’s Company.8 I am afraid he will make some rash trade to get a substitute. I wish he could be transferrd but don’t see how it can be done without Handly’s consent + I have no idea Joe will ever get that. That boy has a heap to learn yet about the world + its ways + he is not an apt Schollar. There I’ve spell’d that word wrong I believe, there should be but one l, ough[t] there? He has all of his fathers impetuosity without a particle of his shrewdness + policy. + for my life I cant convince him that both are right + necessary at times. He was not as popular in the Company as I could wish + it was principally his own fault. He has some friends there though who will stick to him. I never could make him or Con either believe every mans good will was better than his ill will. I think it is a habit or else it comes natural with some people to make friends, as a general rule the Surgeon is not a popular man in his Regt. with the men I mean. I have been here now but little over a month, + there is not an officer in the Regt who is treated with more respect or who is more popular with the men than I am. When I left the Hospital at Greenville9 some of my patients said they could cry if it would do any good + all asked me to write back so they could know what became of me + how I was doing. Now dear dont think I am getting vain, puffing myself at this rate, but it is true + I am just telling you about it to please you. I wish you would tell me the plan you have in your head for this year, the one you would not write but wanted to tell me of. I would like to know what it is. May be it is a capital one + will do to carry out. Something quite romantic wasn’t it? out with it in your next letter dear. if you please.
The Yanks have put off their attack on this place so long that I have almost come to think they dont intend to do so at all. I am very well satisfied for them to think we are too strong for them here. I am very willing for the war to close without my seeing another big battle.
I am very willing for the war to close without my seeing another big battle.
I had a letter from Pa to day, all well except Ma who was suffering from an attack of cold + Rheumatism, all send their love to you + the children. I judge from that they have not heard from you lately. The old man is in trouble. The new conscript law take Enoch back to the army + leaves him alone. Enoch was going to carry on the farm this year. If he leaves the Negroes wont make their bread. The weather reminds me of corn planting + I often wonder what will become of my my little farm this year. You must do the best you can dear in the crop line. I think I would have some cotton planted. At present I can only refer you to Maj for advice in the matter. If I dont get back soon dont try to cultivate any over the Lake but continue to clear land there at spare times. There is as much on the home place as you can cultivate. I was interrupted last night before I finished your letter + will close itthis morning. There is nothing of interest in the paper this morning, no Vicksburg news. They are doing little as yet in congress. The exemption law will be modified considerably. I would like to hear what our legislature is doing. And now dear in conclusion let me beg of you to have patience + do the best you can for yourself + the dear children + trust as I do to providence for the end. Your Afft. Alex.
Click on images to enlarge.
Listen to the letter:
- Camp Beulah was established by Southern author, propagandist, and nurse, Augusta Jane Evans. It was called Camp Beulah after the name of one of her novels. ↩
- Vicksburg was a strategically important city. While held by the Confederacy it blocked Union control of the Mississippi River and permitted communication between the two geographic halves of the South. Operations against Vicksburg lasted from December 26, 1862, to July 4, 1863. Mail running out of Vicksburg was a vital but often dangerous occupation. ↩
- General Joseph E. Johnston was to be criticized for his failure to mount an effective rescue of the garrison during the Vicksburg Campaign. ↩
- The Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11-15, 1862) was one of the largest and deadliest of the Civil War. The battle saw the first significant urban combat of the war and the first crossing of a major river–The Rappahannock. ↩
- The supply of Southern cotton to French textile manufacturers was disrupted by the Union Blockade. In the fall of 1862, delegate John Slidell of Louisiana spoke to Emperor Napoleon III seeking recognition of the Confederacy and possible naval intervention against the blockade. Despite the possibility that a victorious Confederacy might not oppose France’s takeover of Mexico (begun in 1861) the French Empire remained officially neutral throughout the war. ↩
- Richmond, Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy. Beginning in spring of 1861, the battle cry from Union headquarters in the Eastern Theater was “On to Richmond!” The city was not captured by Union Troops until April 2, 1865. Early in the war, the Yankees failed attacks on Richmond were a popular subject for Confederate poetry and song. ↩
- Fanny’s brother, Jerome G. McCown. ↩
- Capt. Andrew J. Handly, Company F, 19th Louisiana Infantry. ↩
- See Alex Morgan’s Journey. ↩