A Confederate Soldier’s Letter Home

8 months ago

There is a side of the Civil War that many don’t know about, or just ignore.  It was not so unusual for troops from opposite sides to mingle, talk and share or trade items, and generally act friendly when not engaged in fighting each other.

Here is a portion of a letter sent from a Confederate soldier in North Georgia to his sister.

July 15th, 1864

“Dear Sister,  

Pickets don’t fire at each other now. We go down to the edge of the river on our side and the Yankees come down on their side and talk to each other. The men on picket opposite are from Ohio, and seem very tired of the war. They say that their term of enlistment will be out in three months and most of them say that when it is out they are going home.

Gen. Johnson has issued an order that there shall be no more communication between with them, and I think it is well that he has done so because they were getting too intimate. Some men don’t know what should be concealed. The Yankees are very much in want of tobacco, and our Government gives it to us, and we used to trade tobacco with them for knives and canteens.

There is a rock near the middle of the river to which they would swim and trade. After a while they got so well acquainted that some of our men would swim clear across and land among the Yankees. The Yankees were not so bold for a long time, but a few days ago they got to coming across also. That has been broken up now and if any trading is carried on, it is done contrary to orders

I took some tobacco down with me the other day but I found out when I got there communication had been stopped. As I was sitting on the banks, one of the Yankees from the other side called to me to know if I had any tobacco. I told him I had. He said that he had a good knife to trade for it. I told him that trading was prohibited. He said ‘Your officers won’t see you, come over, I want a chew of tobacco very bad.’ I asked some of them who they were going to vote for President. One of them said ‘Old Abe’ but most of them said they were for McLellan.

…One of the Yankee Lieutenants promised to mail some letters for one of our officers and I wrote to Aunt Martha expecting to send it at the same time but Gen. Johnson stopped the proceeding so I did not send it. There is a force of Yankees on this side of the river and have been there for some time. Why Gen. Johnson don’t drive them back I don’t know he must have some object in view.

Write to me soon..

Yours truly,
(s)O.D. Chester”

The last paragraph of the letter talks about the coming election in November, a very important issue to the South.  They figured that that McLellan as the peace candidate so they supported him. So, if most of the Yankee soldiers said they would vote for McLellan, as indicated above, wouldn’t that make some of those Yankees who wanted peace, too, see maybe just a little bit pro-South?  

 

 

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