‘We have some hard fiting . . . ‘ Letters 7 and 8 of James DICKERSON

James sounds very low in letter 7.   He’s ill and homesick.  His living conditions are poor and he’s seen casualties of battle, one of them being the death of a friend.  His request is for a momento of hair and the written word from Clary.  Letter 8 appears to be written 3 days after letter 7.  He is in better health but describes the cold, hunger, and anticipation of battle they are living with.  Sickness is amongst the Regiment. He wants to know about home life and remains an ‘affectionate husban.”

Letter 7

Richmond Virginina       June the 5 1862

Dier wife      I take my seet this morning to let you now that I am not well at presant      I not got none leters from you in along time      I think sometimes that you have stop riting      I ly down in a hole of water and get up out a hole of water       wee have some hard fiting everyday      Mose Suten got kiled and great many was wounded      I her that all men that is over thirty five [1] can go home after the 16 of June and if it is so you may look for mee      I have nothing to rite to you of importans      I want you to make mee a brade of your hair and send it to mee      I want you to rite to mee      I have rote ten or twelve leters and reseced foure      tha balans gits leters evry week      I will come to a close saing I am your beloved husband until Deth       J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson.

[1] James is age 40.

Letter 8

Richmond Virginia the 8   1862

Dier wife       I take this opertunity of droping you a few lines to informe you that I am well at presant and hopeing these few lines may fine you all well       I want to her from you all       any  how I am her in the woods with one blanket and napsack and hot [not] half enof to eat        we are looking evry minet for a fight       we can see plenty of yanks one the other side of the river       we are sheling each other every day       Dick Bias receve a leter from his wife that stated tha had bin a fight in youre settement       I want you to rite to mee if you plese that all git leter but mee      I would be glad to her from you       now is the time to rite       this makes twelve leters I have rote to you      we have a great deal of sickness       John Holwer left us at ginee and i dont no where he is tha loued he would die [1]       all the sickness is from the mesels [2]       I dont want to stay this part of the world      it is cold and too wet       it was cold last night       I want you to rite to mee wether your raking my wheet or not and how youre comin and how you came on rasing chickines and what your hogs is a doing      Jo gilping [3] is home sick and William B too and I am sorter soo my love is all I will to you       the reson I didant pay the potea tha [they] tole [told]  me that tha would go beter without       you must not think hard of it      escuse my hand rite for i had to rite it one my napsack by a fire so I will close       I shal not rite until I git a leter from you       nothing more at presant onley I remane youre afectionate husban until Deth   J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. C. Dickerson

[1] ‘tha loued he would die’ is probably ‘They [be]’lieved he would die’.

[2] A confederate soldier had a 1 in 8 chance of dying in battle and a 1 in 5 chance of dying of disease according to Eric Either (Dec 2003 Civil War Times).  Measles was only a part of the disease epidemic.  Dysentery was number 1 with typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis and malaria contributing.  It’s hard to imagine now,  but the folk of the day did not understand that contaminated water and poor sanitation were the major facilitators of so much disease.

[3] ‘Jo Gilping’ is Joseph M.Gilpin married to James’ sister Elizabeth Dickerson Gilpin.  His death on Sept 7th of that same year was communicated to his wife by a letter from W. J. Proctor, 1st SGT in company D.  He writes,

“I embrace the present opportunity to communicate to you the painful intellegiance of the death of your husband.  He died this morning about sunrise at the field hospital about one mile from the company.  He had been complainine for a day or two.  Yesterday mornin he seemed to be quite sick and only lived until this morning.  I am informed that he died from inflamation of the bowels (gun shot). . . I deem it the duty of some member of this company to tell you of the sad fact and take the task upon myself.  I’m not very well aquainted with you but am well acquainted with your father . . . “

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2 comments on “‘We have some hard fiting . . . ‘ Letters 7 and 8 of James DICKERSON

  1. In letter 8, “John Holwer” is likely John T Holder, brother of Thomas Jefferson Holder, who was also in Co D of the 45th GA Infantry at this time.

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