21 September 1863: “Such a drunken crowd you never have seen, Generals, Colonels, Majors […]”

Item description: Letter, dated 21 September 1863, from John Andrew Ramsay to his cousin Julius.  Ramsay describes the movement of his company toward Tennessee, changes in command, and camp life.  He also requests boots be finished for him, and sends several pairs of knitting needles to his family and friends.

[item transcription available below images]

Item Images:

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Item Citation: From folder 6 of the John A. Ramsay Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Camp near Gordon[s]ville, Va.

Sept. 21st, 1863

Cousin Julius,

Dear Sir,

I received yours of the 29th [?], about the 10th inst., and would have replied sooner, but this is the first day day we have been in camp without some extra employment, since I received your letter.  Since I last wrote you we have marched over One hundred and fifty miles, and are at this time pretty well used up, as far as horses are concerned, and if this letter is not very entertaining, you must charge it to surrounding circumstances As I have not yet got rid of my fit of bad humor.

Gen Hood selected our battery from his artillery to go with him to Tennessee and we marched from Fredericksburg to Richmond for that purpose.  After we got to Richmond we procured every supply necessary for the trip, and drew rations for six days; of bacon and hard bread for use on the railroad from Richmond to Atlanta.  But drunkeness changed the whole programme. Such a drunken crowd you never have seen, Generals, Colonels, Majors, and all the smaller fry joined together in one big drunk.

After Gen. Hood left Richmond the whole programme was changed, and a new one made.  One of which was to leave our battery with the Battalion and take away our Major, and give us a worthless South Carolina youngster who knows nothing, and if possible does less.  But it is done, and like “the boy that burnt his toe,” we must “grin” and bear it.  The part of this letter referring to army movements is confidence at present.

I really hope this war will end soon, and then these puffed up concerns will find their level.  But enough of this.

The health of the army is good.  My own health was never better than it has been this summer, and I hope these few lines will find you, and yours in the full enjoyment of good health and prosperity.

Tell me in your next whether there was an enigma addressed to my sabbath school class, in the July or August numbers of the Childrens friend.  Also tell me all the news.

If you find any drill suitable for drawers, get me enough for half a dozen pair.  I left a pair of boot legs at Mr. J. H. Ennias’ Store, and have written to him twice in regard to footing them, but not a word can I get out of him. Tell him he ought to have to walk three miles every day for five days, over a newly McAdamised road barefooted, and then pro[b]ably he would have some idea what soldiers have to endure.   Pleas[e] hunt up the boot legs mentioned and have them footed of god matereal and in good style.  I left them with Sellers in the room over the book store.  I have a pair of pants which I wish to have made over; and will send them to you the first opportunity.  If you have the time and opportunity I would be very glad if you would attend to the above requests.

I sent you [pr.?] Lewis Beard two pairs of shoes and several sets of knitting needles, one half of which I intend for Cousin Maggie one set for Mr. Davis and the ballance for sister.  There are but [?] four sets in a bunch and each bunch is a different grade of needle from No. 15 to above 20.  If Cousin Maggie does not use them I will take it as a favor if she will distribute them among her young lady friends.  When I procured these articles I expected to present them in person but affairs have changed since that time.

There has arrived a telegram in camp that Capt Rielly has been promoted I do not know yet whether to believe it or not.

Write soon as convenient.  Give my regards to Cousin Maggie and all my friends.

Yours truly

J. A. Ramsay


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One Response to 21 September 1863: “Such a drunken crowd you never have seen, Generals, Colonels, Majors […]”

  1. Buck Lawler says:

    The phrase in the third paragraph-‘ “goin” and bear it’-most likely is “grin and bear it”.