26 January 1865: “the very general indifference everywhere out of the army, to what I conceive to be the most momentous earthly crisis which men were ever allied upon to meet”

Item Description: A letter, most like to Lt. General Stephen D. Lee, from his friend and army official, Patton Anderson, regarding both of their health as well as the locations and conditions of their Division. He mentions some frustration with the attitude of the others who have been wounded, but have not yet returned to duty.

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Item Citation: From Folder 3, in the Stephen D. Lee Papers #2440, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Monticello, Fla. Jany. 26the 1865

My dear General,

I should have written to you immediately upon hearing that the Army of Tenn. had returned from Middle Tennessee but for the hope and expectation I entertained of being able to report to you in proper person before this. I thought I was ready for the field and accordingly was on the eve of starting to the front when the vague news- through Yankee channels- reached us of the repulse from before Nashville. I waited a day or two to hear more definitely that my comds. might be shaped more intelligently, and in the meantime an abscess made its appearance in the jaw, which required nursing. In the course of a week however, the fragment of bone which was the cause of the trouble made its escape and left me once more in a condition to think of duty in the field. Then came rumors, apparently well founded, that the army of Tenn. was ordered to S. Carolina then the freshets, tornadoes and what not! to prevent such a consummation. All the while I am laying in wait, keeping scouts at Macon to inform me of the movements should it take place. I am all this time, the subject of surveillance by the Surgeons, who advise delay &c till the weather becomes less rigorous &c. But I am tired, tired to death of looking out of my door daily near almost every hour of the day, and seeing Tom who is “pretty well” well enough in fact to be with his regiment if he ” could only get the food there, suitable to his stomack” or Dick whose wound is “healed” but “too tender to withstand the winter of Va or Ten.” or Harry who “really would go” but he does not know how he can possible reach his command when all the Rail Roads are cut either by Yankees or freshets!!!! &c &c. Such spectacles as these, superadded to the croaking here the dissatisfaction there, and the very general indifference everywhere out of the army, to what I conceive to be the most momentous earthly crisis which men were ever allied upon to meet, embitter even the sweets of home to me, while my comrades are in the ‘field’. Today a friend in Macon reports that my old Division was to have passage through that city last Saturday on its way to S. C. but that on account of the breaks in the Ala. road it would probably not be along for several weeks. Whether or not he whole Corps. is coming he does not inform me; and this gives me considerable concern. I am anxious to remain with the army of Tenn: and when with that army to be with your corps and when with your corps to have my old Division. Should the Corps be sent to S. C. I suppose it would be proper for me to report to its commander there but should the Division only be sent I take it, I would have to report to my old Corps Commander in the Army of Tenn. wherever that army might be, and then, in order to get my old Division would have to get special orders from the War Dept. transferring me to the S.C. Department? Please englighten me on this point when you write. I will start the moment I hear from you if not before, whether the Surgeons say so or not.

And now General let me say that I deeply sympathise with you in the suffering which you have been called on to endure. I sincerely hope that long ere this, your worms has ceased to be painful and that in due time you will be restored to that command which under your lead + by your guidance, has won all the laurels that the Tenn. campaign seems to have afforded. I deeply regret that others did not do so well, but I rejoice that you and your corps did all that skill endurance and courage could do and that the country demanded. The enemy themselves admit as much. Then I may be pardoned the vanity in saying that I am proud to belong to that corps. I know you are well-cared for in Columbus. In time gone by, I had some valued friends and acquaintances in that refined and hospitable city. Among them, the Barry, the Sykes, Col. Young, James T. Harrison + his father-in-law, May. Blueth &c. Should you jostle against any with your crutch, present my kind remembrances to them.

Remember me also to your staff, and to my friends generally in the corps, particularly to Brantly, Sharp, Dan, and others of the old Division who may inquire.

I am General,
Very truly,
Yr. friend

Patton Anderson

Lt. Genl. S.C. Sec.
Columbus, Miss.

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