February 10, In Their Own Words

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Sergeant Major
Apr 1, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia

February 10, 1864

A Georgia soldier stationed in Virginia wrote home to his wife; they both had managed to make a little extra money.

“…I am glad you made some money. I think six dollars is a big pile for you to make in one month and do your other business too. I have made a little money lately. I had $6.50 when I got back to New Market on our tramp here, and now I have $15.50 cents and two plugs of tobacco some paper and envelopes extra. I made it buying tobacco and apples and selling them again. It is my first speculation. I do not like the business and should not have done it if I had not been scarce of cash. I also made a dollar today, sewing. I made a haversack for a fellow. It was his own proposition to give me a dollar for it. I have some sewing of my own to do. I want to patch my old pants and wear them while we stay here and save my new ones. I give away my old shirts and drawers. They were almost gone under sure. I am highly pleased with all you sent me. I will sell about half my soap for fear of having to march and it is too much to pack. I can get $3.00 or half of it. It is pretty cold now but is clear. …” Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), p. 117.

February 10, 1865
A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his fiance, lamenting the loss of friends in battle, but seeing little hope of peace after the failure of the Hampton Roads Peace Conference.

“…It does indeed make me feel sad to see so many of my friends falling around me. Oh for something to stop this destructive conflict. … The ‘Peace Commissioners’ have returned, telling us ‘the argument is exhausted, let us stand by our arms’. They were permitted to go no nearer Washington than Fortress Monroe, at which place they were met by inhuman Lincoln, and the subtle intriguer Seward. Nothing was accomplished, save our Commissioners being told they were rebel traitors… Thus endeth the Peace question, ‘peace to its ashes’. I hope no sensationist will again revive it. I think we all can now see what is the character of our enemies. We can do nothing but await the time when we shall be more powerful than they. To insure such an event. we have to put forth every energy, in the field and at home. The people must encourage the army and all will be well. We have virtually commenced a new war. It does look gloomy; but contrast independence with submission or subjugation. Let every man’s motto be ‘Liberty or death’, and independence is ours. … None are more desirous to obtain peace than I. I have an object to attain to, which would make me forget all the many, many hardships I’ve undergone and render me the happiest among men. If we could gain anything by reconstruction, I would willingly give my consent; but we all know that instead of gaining, we would lose everything. …” Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 183-185
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