LETTERS AND ADDENDA
Here is the only letter our mother ever wrote to her family. This was written during the Civil War, to brother James, while he was caring for Old Home and farm. She was so patriotic at all times, and always posted about the latest War news, as you will see by this letter:
May 11, 1862
My Dear Son James:
I write this afternoon to you, as it is the first opportunity that I have had to do so. I arrived safely in Philadelphia this morning about 7 o’clock, and succeeded in finding my cousin John Mills.
At 7 o’clock on Thursday morning, I took the new Steam Packet Eagle and paid $3.00 to Pittsburgh, and arrived at Pittsburg at 8 o’clock Saturday morning. I immediately took a carriage and drove to the Pennsylvania depot, and waited there for the Express train until 10 minutes of 4 in the afternoon. Here I paid $10.00 for Philadelphia and arrived safely, as before stated, at 7 o’clock, Sunday morning.
We have received news here this afternoon, of the capture of Norfolk. The town was evacuated and as the Union army was marching forward to the town, it was met by a party of citizens who surrendered the place. The rebel steamer Merrimac is destroyed. The rebels fearing that she would be captured, set fire to her at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon, and at 5 o’clock she blew up.
I will also mention that I found cousin John Mills and family all well. I myself am also well.
I have seen no one else but my cousin yet, but expect to go tomorrow and hunt up more friends.
Letter written to me by Joseph A. Smith:
Camp of the 39th
Nine miles west of Savannah, Georgia
December 23, 1864
Frances E. Smith
Cutler, Wash. Co., O.
I at last have found an opportunity to reply to yours of the 22. Ult. Which I received one week ago, also one from Priscilla of the 6th Ult., which came to hand last night. I am happy to say both found us well, and exceeding glad to hear form home once more. You say you were very anxious to hear from us then. I expect you are more so now, as I have not written a line since.
I must tell you a little of what we have been doing all this while, which is no small undertaking. But to begin, we left Camp according to the rumors I wrote to you, and arrived near Savannah as projected, about ten days ago. It was evacuated, or rather, captured, day before yesterday, for they were so closely pursued that they got nothing away themselves – not even their pontoon bridges.
It is true we have had a long and hard march, and we have accomplished much, and I believe more, than any other expedition of the war, and lost less. But the papers will tell you all about that.
But I must tell you how we tore up the railroads. First we tore up the road from Atlanta to Chattanooga, burning every tie and bent every rail next the road form Macon to Savannah, including the branch as leading to Augusta and Charleston; and last, the road running to Thomasville, as far as the Altamaha river – thus making a breach of more than a hundred miles in the Confederacy. We have destroyed all cotton and cotton gins, mills, etc., and all public property, except churches and school houses, that lay in our line of march.
I expect you have heard a great deal about Sherman’s army being starved, and living on half rations. It is true we only draw half rations of bread, and part of the time, one-third ration; ad tens days since Fort McAllister was captured, without any (with full rations of coffee and salt and a little sugar0 was all we drew form the Quartermasters. But we lived well all the time – only one day we had nothing but beef and a very little rice. A king could not desire anything better, or more of it, than we had most of the march – if we had had a little more time to cook and eat it. Our cooking utensils are none of the best, being only such as we could carry with us.
Now you want to know what we had to eat. We had fresh pork, chickens, turkeys, and poultry of all kinds, mutton, molasses, peas (black-eyed) and sweet potatoes in abundance.
You say you raised fifteen bushels of as nice sweet potatoes as I ever say (maybe it was fifty – you spelled it fifteen). Now you had better be careful in your boasting, for I Georgia, than ever grew in Ohio. I have seen a thousand bushels in one pile on several plantations. We found them so plentiful we could not carry them along, but depended on getting them wherever we stopped.
The weather for the most part has been delightful. It has not rained enough to wet through a shirt but twice since we started. We had only three or four nights cold enough to make ice. Last night was the coldest; it froze water in a bucket, near an inch thick. It has been far more pleasant than the month of May was to us in northern Georgia. This is rather romantic: “December’s as pleasant as May.” I would try and describe the country if time and space would permit, and will try to do so in my next.
Since writing the above, we have marched twelve miles and established our camp on the opposite side of the city, which we had the pleasure of seeing; also we received sister Jane’s letter.
Mr. king says to tell you he was not at all hurt with his burden of fruit, nor very bad in jail. They only served him as they do the conscripts and men that stay over their time.
Oh yes, that watch! I sent for it purposely to sell it; so you may scold if you like it. If you want one, tell Alex to get you one just to suit you, out of that hundred dollar check. Also tell him, if he has any watches he wants to dispose of, to send them to me, for I can sell any kind of a watch that runs well; also that I expect a letter form him soon. I will write soon, for I have not told you the half yet.
Well, tomorrow is Christmas. How the year rolls round! Please write soon and often.
You Brother as ever,
Joseph A. Smith
Co. K. 39. Reg’t
Under date of February 25, 1914, the following items were added to the family history:
On the first day of August, 1912, a fine daughter was born to
Fred H. Edmonds and wife, Grace Smith Edmonds, near
Ridgefield in the sate of Washington
On the fourth day of August, 1913, Omie Frank Smith and
Idress Lea Koe were united in marriage in Zona, West Virginia.
On the third day of August, 1913, little Henrietta Sheets died in Chillicothe.