31 March 1862: “[Copperheads] are the most contemptable devils, of all others what ever shape they may assume.”

Item description: Letter, written by Abraham H. Botkin, a lieutenant in the 79th Ohio Infantry of the U.S. Army, to Mr. and Mrs. Bushey, possibly his brother-in-law and sister. Botkin wrote from Gallatin, Tenn., where action was at a standstill, save for the prisoners arriving in camp every day. He lambasted Copperheads and praised the Unionists in the vicinity of Gallatin. He also noted that his wife, Martha Ann Dillon Botkin, was with him and what she cooked, and that he was sending a present, a company roll with deaths and discharges, many due to homesickness.


Item citation: Unit 39 in The Federal Soldiers Letters #3185, in the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Gallatin Tenn

March 31st 1862

Mr & Mrs. Bushey

Dear Brother and Sister I reced your very kind letter some days ago and which I now propose to answer, your letter was read with much pleasure, by both of us, and also by Bob Dorsey, he seemed very much pleased to even hear from vienna; Why don’t Sukie, write to him.? we were glad to hear that you are all well, and getting along so finely, I would have loved very much to have been permited to have been present, at your examination, but it was otherwise ordered, and I must be content. I was truly glad to know that Louisa succeeded so well with her school, I would have liked very much to have been present, at the close of her school.

As for the copperheads, you say I may locate them where I please, well as you say “they are not fit for Earth Heven or Hell, I would have them suspended by the neck and have them dangle between Earth and Heaven, and then after they, have given up the Ghost, the Devill may take them off my hands, and then send them where he thinks proper,- I of course used to believe in universal salvation, but I have got, bravely over that now. I never until now could see any use for a Hell of endless torment, But it is now as clear as a sun beam at mid day.- And the hotest hell fire and brimstone, ever preached, or was even imagined by the most ultra, hard head methodist, fails to be hot enough to scorch endlessly northern traitors in, I care not whether it is John Middicomb, John Johnes, or who the devil he is, They are the most contemptable devils, of all others what ever shape they may assume. and in my opinion southern traitors should have the uppermost seats in Hell, so that they, through out eternity, may be enabled to look with contempet, with their ever hellish grinn down upon those northern scoundrells, who have proved to be traitors, to this glorious land of human freedom, Am I bitter enough? no. language fails to portray, a hell hot enough for, them, immagination staggers, when it would deign to picture a place of torment, which they so much deserve, And now if any of the infernal hounds dont like, me, or this, my talk, let them meet me on the battle field, and thus prove to the world that they are not, mean low craven cowards, and contemptable Blackguards, Well by this time I presume that you think that I am somewhat relieved,- well I am. I think that I could not have slept well had I not given vent, to my indignation at those infernal (I will not use a harder epithet) scoundrels.

I received a letter from William since I received yours, he was well and was enjoying himself finely I wish we were together, then I know that we would have glorious times, But as it is we are making it first rate, he is enjoying himself below, and I am enjoying myself here at Gallatin,– Martha is still here and “wo’nt” go home, well I don’t want her to go, very bad, you may bet your bottom dollar on that. The Col, made a large party, well now that beats, all creation._ The Col made a large supper, and invited the Union people generally in and about town, the Generals and their staff officers, the Col’s of the various regts” and a few line officers, and would you believe, your humble servant, only a little Lieut” was among the invited, and so was the Mrs. Lieut, and we went, and we had a first rate time. The Union people here, are true as steel, and would die in the cause, and it done my soul good to converse with some of those union people, who, have sacrificed all their earthly possession for the cause of the union, and what a contrast, when they are arrayed besid those northern traitors,_ We were paid off last monday up to the 28th of Feb, I received $791,70. five hundred and thirty five of which I sent home. The boys generally in our compay sent the greater part of their money home There was man from Port William here, which made it very convenient, and which proved to be a blessing to may of the boys, and their families at home, for by his being here they sent their money home, which had it been otherwise perhaps they would not have done,_ The Capt. has again gone to Ohio, and left me in charge of the compay,_ so that by the time I get to be Capt. I think I will understand the “biz” pretty well,_ The prospects just now is pretty fair for me to be L,M, but how it will turn out in the end, of course is yet in the future, I hope all right,

I will just say here that Martha, says for me to write enough for both of us, which I will do, in as much as she is not a very good penman, we are both well and are living as comfortable as could reasonably be expected for soldiers, we have warm biscuits almost evey meal, “Mat” bakes them in an old skillet, which does first rate for the army. she cooks meat in a mess pan, and makes tea in an oyster can, we have potatoes, and minced pies & c but perhapse you may think this is to much gossing therefore I will close this stuff,

To Ann especially I will just state that I sent you a roll of our compay as it was and as it is now, and you will discover several deaths, and may discharges Some marked discharged were honestly entitled to it, but others were not, they were left sick, (home sick) at Gallatin when, the Regt mooved to Buck lodge, and by some hook or crook they managed to make the surgeons believe they would die, if they did not get, to go home, so home they were sent by dozens, you had better believe I “cussed” some, but it all done no good, Please accept the Roll as a present from, your affectionate Brother, you will discover..that there is a place or places, for the Photographs of the officers, and when I meet with an opportunity I will send you mine and the captains, The 2nd Lieut as you discover has resigned, and really was never of any particular benifit to the compay, therefore I do not know whether I will send you his or not, I believe I will send you Marthas, in stead for she is a better and braver soldier than he,

I think now that I have writen enough of nonsense for one day, and I had better close, please dont’, forget to write whenever convenient, tell the girls to write to me ocasionally, and I will try and find time some way to answer,

Things right here are at a stand still nothing much doing, However we are receiving daily accession to our list of prisoners, but that is so common here that we dont notice it any more, The Reb’s” are prowling around, and when the water falls so that the Cumberland can be forded, I would not be surprised if we have a little brush, with the devils, But I will close by subscribing myself yours truly

A. H. Botkin

This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.