19 October 1863: “…preparing for the decisive struggle which is generally believed to be not far in the future.”

Item description: Entry, dated 19 October 1863, from the diary of Samuel A. Agnew.  He discusses a case of horse-stealing, the activities surrounding a visit from CSA President Jefferson Davis, and recent operations of General James Chalmers.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From the Samuel A. Agnew Diary #923, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

October 19 Came on home after breakfast. J. Curtis Bolton of [Pontotoc?] was hers yesterday also Saturday might He was hunting beeves for the army.  He is an acquaintance of Mary.  Understand that Ham is camped on [Yarnuby?] near Judege Harris’ some 6 miles S. of Birmingham.  This is so few south of us that this section will reap little or no advantage from them – we are all left to the mercy of the Yankees.  Read the Mississippian of the 14th. Pres. Davis has gone to Braggs army.  He reviewed the army on the 10th.  Curtis Lee is with him and not the Famous Robert E. Lee as we had understood.  Everything was quiet on Missionary Ridge on the 10th.  Mary recd a letter from John Young yester-day dated Missionary Ridge Oct 6.  He thinks there is less prospect of a fight than was two weeks before.  Davis visit has some significance. His object doubtless is to inspect the army and give personal assistance in preparing for the decisive struggle which is generally believed to be not far in the future.  Gen. Wood has become offended, resigned and gone home. This evening we had one more case of horse-stealing.  One of Hams new came up into the neighborhood below this to day to get some baggage he had left on the route somewhere he found some of the ardent and I have reason to think drank more than enough. He came on to the head of Hollands lane and concluded he would take a nap especially as he had been on picket last night at Knights Mill and had lost sleep. So hitching his horse by the roadside he lay down and went to sleep.  A footman however came along and appropriated the horse.  He passed by here. I stopped him to hear the news but he had none. My father was out at Uncle Washs place this morning and met him footing it.  He claims to be one of Mat Carpenters men: seems to be quite a youth.  Had on as dirty clothing as I have seen in a long while. His pants had a huge hoel on the left knee: he was barefooted.  He seemed very attentive to the road.  Keeping his eyes open I supposed at the time that he was on the lookout for Yankees but it was really caused by a fear of pursuit.  The horse was a five large sor-rel horse.  The owner came in about an hour after he passed a foot. He went on in pursuit.  He says he would not take a thousand dollars for the horse.  Hear that a Miss Burrows horse was stolen out of J. D. Nelsons pasture Saturday night.  Rode one to Holland’s return his watch & bor-rowed his watch key.  From thence event on to Aunt Rillas and spent the night.  Mr. J. Curtis Bolton was there.  I made his acquaintance and think him a pious estimable gentleman.  He is in the Commissary business and is hunting beeves.  He gave me a clearer idea of Chalmers recent operations than I have yet had.  There was a fight near Salem and the Yankees were badly scattered.  From thence he went on to Collinsville: made some captures and surrounding the place dem-anded a surrender.  The railroad was torn up a short distance above and below Collinsville.  The officers in charge of that post telegraphed to Memphis for reinforce-ments which were immediately forwarded.  As they came out they repaird the R Road.  Chalmers had to raise the siege of Collinsville (after a sharp fight) and retreat the Yankee pursuing.  At Wyatt Chalmers turned on his pursuers and an obstinate fight en-sued for a few hours when Chalmers had to retire and when Bolton last heard from him he was at Abbeville.  [Huge?] wagon train has been ordered to Grenada from Pontotoc, & hence it is conjected Chalmers is making for that place.  It looks very much as if North Miss would be evacuated.  Ham has gone below from his camp at Harris.  He left I understand this morning.  The day has been clear and pleasant.


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