Well my dear boys, The candles are made and the company gone, and though there are many other things to employ my time, yet I will try to write you a few lines. I have thought about you a great deal the last two days. For we consider it very cold weather, so cold that it has frozen considerably in our house the two past nights.
I feel afraid that you are suffering with the cold in those open barracks. Poor boys how I pity you, but cannot help you. I thought last night, while in my warm bed, what if you should be out on guard duty, how terrible! All I could do was to pray to the Lord to shield and protect you from harm, and in committing your case to Him I found relief.
Father has written you a long letter, but as I know nothing that he has written I shall be excusable if I should repeat some things that he has. (I wonder that he had to write so sacred, that he would allow none of us to read it.)
Thomas Schuyler is installed in the place that Jewell left as drygoods vender and is boarding at Mrs. Foxes and most likely occupies the same room as Lornes was about leaving when he went there. Rebecca is back again to her old boarding place. Though Mr. White's treated her very kindly she was glad when Mrs. Higby came. The work seemed too hard for her, and attend to her lessons too. She has not been very well for two or three weeks past-is troubled with derangement of the stomach. She looks quite thin in flesh. Allie says she forgot to tell you father brought home the buggy, but is disappointed in it as it has but one seat, and no shafts, so we cannot drive one horse in it.
I still feel sorry that Jimmy should have proved so unfaithful as to leave you for easier duty. It looks dishonest to me, to take a bounty to stay at home. I should never expect it of him of the Deacon [Barrell] either to allow it. But so it is-Those we deem our best friends, sometimes forsake us. But there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Who never forsaketh those that trusteth in Him. May you both secure His friendship and love is my daily prayer.
Thomas, how do you feel by this time? Have you found Christ to be a precious Saviour? I hope so. Do write and tell me all about your feelings-your hopes or fears, your joys or sorrows, or any difficulties you may have to encounter. If I knew how you were getting along I should know better what to say to you.
I found a short piece in an old paper which I sent you. It expresses what I would say to you better than I can do myself. I would like to send you the two late copies of the Christian Times but don't know whether you received those papers that we already sent.
Pardon all mistakes and remember your affectionate Mother.
Bound for Dixie
On December 9th, the soldiers received their orders to move out, and on December 10 at 7 p.m., they "Left Camp Butler for Dixie. Sent $20.00 home to the folks. Got our hard tack and all. Now for .Vicksburg."
The troops rode trains as far as Cairo where they boarded the White Cloud transport ship at 10 p.m. on December 13. The ship steadily moved south toward Memphis through cold weather and snow. On the 14th, Thomas noted that the ship passed the ruins of Fort Pillow, site of a controversial attack by the Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest in which many of the Union troops were killed after having surrendered. Half of the troops were Black soldiers, and the cruelty toward them in this incident is often regarded as illustrating southern soldiers' vengeance.
On December 15, the ship reached Memphis at midnight. The troops went to Fort Pickering, which was garrisoned by Black soldiers, and were issued their rifles for the first time. Thomas commented in his diary, "Mine was as rusty as the dickens. Took me nearly all day to clean it." The unfortunate truth is that during the Civil War it was quite ordinary for troops to drill without real rifles and even to enter battle without ever having been given target practice. The regiment was given its marching orders for a mission, and Thomas realized the seriousness of it. His diary entry for the 20th said, "Left Memphis middle of the afternoon. Wet and rainy. Commend myself to the Care of our Heavenly Father."
Duty Near Moscow, Tennessee
The 11th Regiment was assigned the duty of moving through the territory east of Memphis to interrupt communications and prevent reinforcements from moving toward Vicksburg, Mississippi. This effort took the troops through Germantown, Moscow, and Wolf River, Tennessee. At this point, the family back in Amboy did not know where the troops had gone or what their mission was. A letter written on December 22, 1864, from Reba shows this concern.
My Dear Brother, I suppose I ought to have written to you before, but I did not know where to direct my letters. Until Ella kindly granted me the privilege of reading your letters which she received last evening we have not heard a word from you. We have been looking very anxiously for some word from you ever since you left Camp Butler, but in vain. I think we shall get one to-night certainly. We were somewhat surprised to hear that the Regt was at Memphis when you wrote that you were going to Vicksburg. I wrote you last week and directed to V. Also sending a letter for Wilson from Eberhart. I have been worried about them since sending but am told that the letters will be forwarded to the regiment wherever it may be. I hope so. When I commenced writing I was deploring the misfortune that I had no more paper here, but I don't know whether I can fill even this piece.
Tomorrow is the all-important day which we are all dreading. I have less to do this week than any time this term. For I have my lessons so well prepared that I don't need to study at all. mr. R. insists on my explaining extraction of Cube Root by the blocks. But I dread Saturday evening most. I am to deliver the Introductory. I don't know as I have any cause for dread, for I guess there will not be many out for both the other Sabbath Schools are to have Christmas Trees also. I think they are getting into little business. Cousin Tom has been to Freeport. I don't believe he likes his situation very well. He says he is satisfied with every thing but late hours. They seldom shut up the store before midnight and he says he can't stand it. I like him pretty well. But I surmise he is a pretty fast young man.
Father has got that buggy from Mr. Wooster, and last Sunday we started for meeting but when we got as far as Mr. Machin's the front wheel run off and let us down. Some part of the axle was broken so we were obliged to pursue our way on foot. Father went home with the team. I went to Mrs. Fox's to dinner that day. Tom went along up to the Dea's and it rained so hard he had to stay all night.
I was at a sociable at Mr. Mynard's last Tuesday evening. Had a pleasant time. Nellie and I have been engaged in collecting money to get Miss Warriner a Christmas present. We have got $3.50 now I do not know whether we will be able to get any more or not. I do not know whether to go to school next term or not. Alma ought to go.
Deacon Barrell brought me that note from you last Monday. I did not see father, but will do as you desire when I get the money. You need not fear anything from John Wilson. I would not associate with a man of his stamp. His brother is quite as fascinating, but I am forewarned. There is but little young folks society in Amboy, and I do not know who is worthy of countenance. Mr. H. Barrell's have gone to housekeeping. I don't think of any more news. I will write again when I hear from you.
I will write to Wils soon. Will he be separated from you? I hope not. From your sister Reba.
Thomas' diary entries for the time period from December 20
through December 31, 1864, describe the events he experienced
during the Moscow campaign. Fortunately, he did not suffer through
any real battles, other than with the elements.
Dec. 20. Near White Station in camp in the woods. Left Memphis middle of the afternoon. Wet and rainy. Got a good fire. Commend myself to the Care of our Heavenly Father.
Dec. 21. Near Germantown. Did not march a great deal today. Went on the railroad this forenoon. Cleared off. Got a comfortable camp fire. Foraged a little for straw to sleep on.
Dec. 22. Camped don't know where (Lafayette?). Slept with Wils and Jim Gordy. Back on fatigue. Passed burnt houses and deserted farms all day. Lost my pipe last night. Feel mad over it. All in good health.
Dec. 23. Near Moscow. Did not march all day, rest till this afternoon. Most of the men pretty tired and lame. Jimmy rode in an ambulance. This forenoon on guard.
Dec. 24. Christmas Eve. Did not march today. Wils and Jim are on picket. What we are here for no one knows. Can't go out side the lines for fear of being grabbed by guerillas.
Dec. 25. The dullest Christmas I ever spent. It is rainy and disagreeable. Got burnt out last night. Lost my boot and haversack. Borrowed a boot of a sick boy to wear to Memphis. March in the morning.
Dec. 26. Left camp at three o'clock in the morning. Had a heavy tramp, the roads being very muddy. We are half way to town, camped near the railroad. About out of rations. I've got half a tack for tomorrow.
Dec. 27. Germantown tonight. Only made about 6 miles and then put up. I am on guard at the wagon yard. No foraging allowed.
Dec. 28. Remained in Camp all day. Went around town to see the desolation that abounds. Visited the church, mill, and shops. I feel glad that the war is not near home. E. W. Sloan was captured by guerillas today.
Dec. 29. Received one letter from home. It was quite cheering. I suppose there is more in camp. It is reported that we move back to Memphis in a day or so.
Dec. 30. On picket. A wet rainy night. Orders not to sleep any. I expect it is cold enough at home. The Lord above take care and protect us and our friends.
Dec. 31. Back in Memphis, but orders to be ready to start at 7 o'clock a.m. This is New Years eve. How the folks at home are spending it I wonder. I am sure they think of us. I got three letters here to night. I am very tired but must write a letter home. Sloan escaped from his captors and beat us to Memphis.
The entry for December 23, above, is particularly interesting because it mentions that friend Jimmy is still with the troops. This is further explained in a letter from sister Allie to the boys dated December 31, 1864.
Dec. 31. My darling brothers, I have not written to you since you left the state. I do not know whether you have missed my scrawling or not. I have had a slight attack of diptheria this week. It commenced Thursday morning and grew worse till the next day, when Sis took me in hand and gave me an emetic and it made me so sick. Oh! I hope I won't have to take another for a long, long time. I have gone to school 8 days in three weeks. Don't you think I will improve fast? Well on pleasant days I had to stay at home and pick corn (that plaguy cornfield) and one day it was too stormy, so I have not attended very regularly. Our teacher is green looking, but he is pretty smart for all that. He is going to teach me Algebra. He can scold too. He gave me a curtain lecture one day, because I forgot myself and whispered without permission. How he did scold! I suppose Reba has told you all about the Anniversary and there is nothing more to tell. I did not get a present. My brothers are gone to the Army you know. I must stop and gargle now. Sage tea, alum, and sugar is not very bad though.
I was surprised to hear that Jimmy went with you. I am glad too just as glad as I can be. Give him my regards and tell him I called him a "coward", brave-stay-at-home, real mean and I do not know what else but I will take it all back now and won't say anything about it again. He has got more courage than I gave him credit for.
Tom S. [cousin Thomas Schuyler] has gone up town tonight. He has been at our house since Monday. He has given up his place in the store on the plea that he could not stand their late hours. He has become an agent for an insurance co. in Freeport but I do not believe he will stick to it very long. I guess we shall have him insure old Fan! He is the greatest tease alive. I escape now because I am not well but Sister has to take it every night.
I hope you will both be good boys and try to do right. I am sorry you are separated but if you can see each other every day it will not be so bad. Did you have a Christmas dinner or any presents? I promised to give Thomas one and if he had been at home he would have got one. Fred Barlow got the mitten. Don't you think that was gay? I have eaten a piece of pie for Tommy and will eat another piece if he wants me to. It is getting late and I am sleepy so I guess I will stop.
Good night. Write soon to me, excuse poor writing and all mistakes. From your loving sister, Allie.
Go to page 8
Copyright 1993 Thomas H. Fisher, Tallahassee, Florida 32312
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