29 September 1863: “How we are spreading ourselves as a family this year, hey?”

Item Description: Letter dated 29 September, 1863 to Edward “Porter” Alexander from his sister Harriet. In this letter, Harriet congratulates her brother on the birth of his twins, Edward Porter and Lucy Roy, by his wife, Bettie Mason Alexander. She also inquires as to the needs of the children and Bettie and plans to send as much as she can to her sister-in-law.


[Item transcription available below image]

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Item Citation: Folder15, Edward Porter Alexander Papers #00007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Item Transcription:

My dear darling Boy, this is to welcome you once more to Georgia soil and to congratulate you heartily on the birth of your twins. God bless them and you. I think it one of the prettiest sights in all the world, and am only sorry that I cannot see them, and that you cannot either. I know you are fond of them, Dear, but at the same time I know their coming must give you some restless and anxious thoughts about their poor mother and how she is to provide for them. I have just been getting together such little things as I could filch from my youngster’s wardrobe which will go to Betty by tomorrow’s express. But that will be a mere drop in the bucket of her necessities, and my present object is to ask if you would like me to have anything bought and made up for the little ones here. It will be abominably expensive, but less so than in Virginia, I suppose. I could cut out and have made anything that she wanted, that is, as far as materials can be bought here. I am lucky enough to have a good supply of flannel on hand, of which I have sent her about five yards, so she need not buy that. I did not cut it into garments, not knowing what she needed most. Now you may wonder why I propose this to you instead of to herbut I am going to do both. I only write to you, because not knowing her address, my box and note must go to Felix for her, and may be some time in reaching her, and I tho’t you might by chance know some of her needs, or whether she would be likely to have any pressing ones, and so I might begin the work sooner. If you know nothing about it, why, after a while I can hear from her about it. 

I am so sorry for her ? in having the two little ones taken care of  and nursed, when she has no settled home, and while little Bess must still need a nurse’s care. You must not worry tho’, for you know she is in better care than yours and no harm will be allowed to come while duty calls you away from them. I know your heart must often travel back to the little nest and that you can scarcely keep from anxious fears about this. How we are spreading ourselves as a family, this year, hey? I thought I would hand at the head of the performers as having opened the ball, but Betty has burned? one down completely. We’ll be looking for news from Ida in a week or two more.

Charley is working hard and I think means to make something of himself in his new department. They are having a deal of trouble this in getting up their company, for withstanding the most stringent orders from Gen Beauregard, the Captains are upheld in just refusing outright to allow men to leave their companies to join the engineers. They have been six weeks and more at ?, and have not 60 men reported to them as yet, tho’ the full number was ordered to them long ago. A letter from Felix yesterday says that the rent of Gen Wilson’s house is raised for $2500 – and they are hesitating about keeping it. Gen L had been sick, and Sallie must yet started for the South. I don’t know where to address this to you, and shall send it to George hoping that he may know more than we do.


Sister Harr.

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