22 December 1863: “I have not broken the seal to my bottle of brandy yet and am going to try and hold on to it until Christmas morning, when it will be compelled to be opened”

Item Description: Letter dated 22 December 1863 from O. Wilson Barrow to his aunt discussing a care package from her. Additionally, Barrow writes about strong abolitionist sentiment in Henry County, VA, news about a loved one who was probably captured, and gives an amusing anecdote concerning his uncle.

[Item transcription available below image]

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Item Citation: Folder 7, George Hairston Papers #04477, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Camp of 24th Regt Va Infantry 

Near Taylorsville Va Dec. 22nd 1863

Dear Aunt

I cannot longer forbear tendering to you my deep feelings of gratitude and thankfulness for the articles sent us by uncle Pete. Everything came in perfect safety and  Mark and I enjoyed the catsup and tomatoe sauce very much indeed as we had first drawn a good lot of beef and had it not been for the tea and sugar I don’t know what I should have done with that for a day or two as he had quite a sore throat and could swallow but very little, but he was very very fond of the tea as well as his Brother and would always manage to drink it and eat some of the peaches when ever they were fixed and carried to him. Tell Father? we send her many thanks for the chestnuts and apples. I looked around a good deal in Richmond to try to get some nice little present for her but could find nothing that I thought she would care anything about, I have not broken the seal to my bottle of brandy yet and am going to try and hold on to it until Christmas morning, when it will be compelled to be opened. It is not only the enjoyment of articles of comfort and luxury sent us by dear friends and relatives from home which cause us to appreciate them so highly, but the satisfaction of knowing and seeing that the soldiers still had a few warm and sympathetic friends left in Henry is certainly very gratifying, for I assure you my dear Aunt that I am fearful the true and feeling friends of southern soldiers are getting to be quite scarce in Henry and I feel at times almost like if it were not for the few true and faithful friends we still have left and my dear relatives, that I would hardly ever care to go back to the country any more, for I am almost constantly hearing of some strong abolition or northern sentiments being expressed by some low down character, or of some depredation being perpetuated by some deserter or stalker? from the army, but I am glad that I can say that no member of my company who came out with it as a native of our county has ever deserted or been guilty of perpetuating any disgraceful act since I have been in command of it, and while I don’t think I have very much pride about me or that I am much inclined to boast on myself I cannot help feeling very  much gratified and even a little proud of the condition and good feelings now existing in my Company. I have fifty odd men here all of whom seem to be better satisfied in a higher state of discipline and efficiency than I have ever seen the Company since it first came into service. We are still quiet in our comfortable little quarters. Times very dull indeed and no news at all worth writing and the weather clear with us but exceedingly cold. I am somewhat feasting myself on the hope that Pa will pay us a visit soon as we rec’d a letter from his Nannie a few days since stating that he spoke of coming down to see us about Christmas. I am very much in hopes he will come as he was disappointed in seeing us when he came to Richmond last summer we having started to Pennsylvania about the time he left home. How did Cousin Nannie enjoy her visit to Richmond was she as well pleased after getting home as she expected to be, with her I have been expecting a letter from her for the last few days. I had quite a refreshing and pleasant rest from camp duties with them all in the city and from what I saw and heard reported I suppose there will be some weddings in your county before very long. Did Uncle Pete tell you anything about having passed for a Colonel while at the Exchange. When I went there the second time  and the evening before they left, I went to the office and inquired if Mr.Watkins from Henry was still there and  they answered very quickly that Col. Watkins from Henry was there and in No. 58.  I could not help smiling a little to myself but did not say anything or tell them any better. I reckon he felt very much elevated and highly honored to find that he reached as high in a military point of view in Richmond as some of the balance of his friends and neighbors who went down with him, and if he appeared unusually merry and cheerful on arriving home as if something pleasant had happened to him while gone you may know what it was. I have heard nothing more from the capture of Capt ?? Cavalry more than there was a larger number of them escaped than it was first thought did, but I reckon Boogers was among the captured or I should have heard something from him before this time and if he was of course he was taken without being hurt as there was no fighting and I hope he will soon be exchanged as I see in the extracts from northern  papers that the United States Congress is urging an early exchange or parole of prisoners on both sides, and I don’t reckon the little fellow will be subjected to any bad treatment or suffering of any kind as I understand they are treating our prisoners very well indeed now. We rec’d a letter from a member of my Company a few days ago that was taken at Gettysburg. He is now at Point Lookout Maryland and he says that he is very well treated and his letter came through in very good time via flag of truce and I don’t think that you need suffer much uneasiness about Boogers unless you hear upon good authority that he is hurt as no doubt but the confinement will be the worst thing, but he will have to ? that sends best love to you all. Please remember me most kindly to Miss Susie, and my best love to Cousin Nannie and a kiss to Tatum and little Miss Lizzie and tell mother the little chap is getting on if she is growing very fast, and Aunt Lou don’t let your letters be so short and far between. With my best love for yourself and hoping to hear from you soon I am as usually

Very fondly yours,

O. Wilson Barrow

Let me know Lou if you all are getting on with your notion about going to Georgia.


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One Response to 22 December 1863: “I have not broken the seal to my bottle of brandy yet and am going to try and hold on to it until Christmas morning, when it will be compelled to be opened”

  1. Buck Lawler says:

    In the beginning of the third sentence, the actual name probably is “Tatum”, a female, not the guessed “Father”. Barrow refers to Tatum later in his letter. The sentence as currently transcribed “Tell Father? we send her” makes no sense, and Barrow’s writing looks very much like “Tatum”, whom he later references.