5 January 1862: “…we are not Barbarians, if we are “Rebels”!

Item description: Letter, 5 January 1862, from Jeremy Francis Gilmer, a Major of Engineers in the Confederate States of America Army, to his wife “Loulie,” Louisa Fredericka Alexander Gilmer. Gilmer wrote of the wintry weather and the relative softness and scratchiness of merino and flannel undergarments sent by his wife, Confederate treatment of a captured wounded Union officer, the anticipated arrival of a Colonel John Bowen’s wife, and the possibilities for Yankee attacks.


Item citation: from folder 41 in the Jeremy Francis Gilmer Papers #276, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Bowling Green, Ky:

(Sunday) January 5th 1862

My dear Loulie:

Without any thing of import to say I have commenced a hurried note to you. Simply to say that I am well and still at Gowling Green. _ We are in the midst of rain and mud, with every indication of a continuance of like discomforts for some time to come. Every thing around us is very dull and tedious, & I am coming fast to the conclusion that we are to remain in the same dull condition for the rest of the winter. We certainly will, if we wait for the bold Yankees to come and attack us in our present position. The risk of attacking Bowling Green with its intrenchments is too great for them, and they cannot venture to pass us by, to the right or the left_thus exposing their flank & rear to our attack at will. The result will be, most likely, that both armies will remain in status quo until next spring _ A winter campaign in Kentucky is next to an impossibility_.

                A few days ago, Col: Mackall wrote a note to Prince making inquiries in regard to his wounds and his accommodations at Nashville_ This evening, a note was received from Capt Prince in reply, in which he says his wound is reported by his doctor to be doing well, and that he wants for nothing — being comfortably provided for. I was very glad to hear this, so that he & other northern people may know that we are not Barbarians, if we are “Rebels”! I think I told you that the Yankee troops sent as Princes Escort ran off and left him as soon as a small body of Genl: Zollicoffers men advanced towards them, leaving Prince & his assistant—a man by the name of Helveti at the mercy of our dragons who captured them as they attempted to retreat after their men.

Monday, 6th _ I was interrupted last evng and this morning, being up a little sooner than others of our mess, I will scratch you a line or two before breakfast.

                James being about out of shoes & boots I have let him go to Nashville to get some; he is just off in the cars and will return tomorrow. He is very proud of the comfortable shirt you sent him in the box. By the bye I have been wearing one of the red merino under-shirts for the past three or four days and they are charming – soft and warm. I am wearing also a pair of the home made – flannel drawers and I like them much – do not object to the degree of scratching which mine can do—I think those you sent to Mackall are one of a more scratchy quality? He is wearing a pair and when we were riding together yesterday – (he on a restless horse) – he said “the horse and the new drawers won’t leave much skin on my legs by the time we get back” from which I inferred they scratched some. You have heard from him on the subject if you recd his letter of the 4th in which he spoke in his peculiar way, for himself

                It is reported that John Bowen – (now a col: in Provisional Army – ) is expecting his wife here in a few days, this to the surprise of most of us. Bowling Green is certainly a very awkward place for a lady to live. She has been with him however for several months past while he was at Mayfield, not far from Columbus, Ky: – breakfast bell.

                I have just returned from a long cold ride up the banks of the Barren river, where I went to examine with Case as to the facility there might be for our enemy to cross to our side __ A part of the day a little snow fell, but it was too cold to snow much, and I was, at one time, almost frozen. It will freeze hard to night _ every thing indicates real winter weather.

                I expected a letter from you by last evening’s mail, but none came _ to night I expect to be more fortunate, a letter from you with the good news that all’s well – and all in no danger from our ruthless enemy

                Give my love to our dear children—to Aunt Loulie, and to yourself and my kindest regards to your Uncle. Let me know when you receive the statement enclosed in my former letter, in reference to the stock sold to me by Mr. Banning. – and what your Uncle thinks will be the probable actions of the courts in the case — Goodbye — J.F.G.

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