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Confederate Homefront Letter - Virginia

Item CON-6844
February 27, 1863 Jacob Peters
Price: $325.00


Original Civil War Letter from a Confederate citizen in Botetourt County, VA. 4 pages written in period ink and dated February 27, 1863.

Botetourt County, VA February 27th 1863

Much esteemed Uncle and Aunt,

After long delay I have taken my pen in hand to write you a few lines in the first place to ask your pardon for not answering your kind and interesting letter of date, not recollecting one reason for not answering it sooner is that we rather expected to see you with us before this time, giving us a passing visit on your trip to Richmond, but we are about to despair of that as the time for laying in a stock of hides is nearly over. Another reason for not writing sooner is that the crisis of our country has so paralyzed my taste for writing that I can barely make myself believe that I can compose my mind sufficient to write something that will or won’t be interesting to you.

Notwithstanding, I will give a short account of passing events, family affairs &c. In the first place, I feel grateful to an all wise Providence and our brave soldiers that the Lincolners has not been permitted to pollute this portion of the soil of the old dominion except as prisoners going to Richmond that was captured in Tennessee and the western part of this state which have passed down this way and Tenn. troops being nearer to us at this time than Charleston. Thank heaven though they have been in the joining counties stealing & burning & taking loyal Southern men prisoner.

The ring leader being a Union man, a native of Covington, Alleghany County VA was the means of victimizing the most prominent of our loyal men. But he has been overtaken in his crimes by being captured within the Yankee line at Summerville, Nicholas Courthouse, by Major Bailey and his cavalry. From thence he was taken in irons to Richmond and handed over to the Confederate court for trial. The court decided to hand him over to Gov. Letcher to be tried by our state law. Gov. Letcher sent him to Alleghany Co. to old Botetourt in order the better to secure him from rescue by the Yankees. He was brought before his honor F. M. Hudson, circuit judge, in December last, defended by 4 of the best lawyers that could be paid to engage in the dirty work of defending him. But the Commonwealth loses nothing from his able council. She has the attorney general of the state being one of the best in the state named St. George Tucker. Besides Flemings, G. Miller of our county bar & William Skeinn of Alleghany. He was eight days before the court impaneling a jury. The time of the court being taken up in deciding pleas filed in regard to the right of the court to try him. The court decided that it had a right to try on all the indictments but the trial was held up over by the court for the prisoner on account of absent witnesses till the 26th of June next. (Prisoner’s name: William P. Tucker) The court had the prisoner moved to Bedford County for safe keeping till his trial comes up in our county.

I will try to give you all that pertains to us as a family and relations. My own family that is at home with me is two daughters that are grown & a little blond boy 4 ½ years old and my Negro man, My son Edward’s wife & two children are with us now and I suppose they will remain so long as he is in the army. He belongs to the 22nd VA Regt. 1st lieutenant of Captain Dickenson’s Company, at this time camped at Lewisburg, Greenbrier Co., VA. Son Benjamin returned to his regiment in November last, after an absence of 4 months on account of disease (chronic diarrhea). Since leaving, participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg, received no injury, went to winter quarters near that place but a few days ago they were ordered to South Carolina 2 Brigades (Garrets & Kempers). I never expect to see him again without some change in the policy of the war. His wife and little boy is at her father’s. My daughter Mary is among the miserable Yankees and I have not heard from her since the war began and don’t expect as long as it lasts which God in his providence may so guide and control so as to give us an honorable peace with our independence and nothing else. My married daughter, Susan C. Watkins, is well and has 4 children. Her husband is taken under the conscript law and has to go to Dublin next Monday or send a substitute which he is trying to do. He has offered $3000 for one for some time and now expects to get for $2200.

I have been working both sides of those in authority since the commencement of the [war] and prospect for peace better at this time than since the war commenced because the great northwestern portion of the old United States is about taking some action that will bring the war to a close whether it will go off to itself or join with us we [know] not. But one thing is certain, the northwestern states cannot do without the free navigation of the Mississippi and Southern trade. I have not the most idea that Lincoln will ever be able to restore the union under the old construction, subjugate and confiscate our property or emancipate his betters as I verily believe the Negro to be.

We are enduring many hardships and privations from various causes growing out of this war: Speculation, extortion, short crops and worst of all those that are flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone that marched at the sound of the trumpet of war to drive the invaders off of our soil, fill a soldier patriot or their bones lie blushing on many a battlefield. If the doctrine of a good old Methodist of my intimate acquaintance be true, the Justice of God will not suffer a loyal Southern soldier’s soul to be lost as he avers. The Yankee will all surely go to Hell and the Southern soldier don’t want to go there & therefore can’t be lost.

The prices of produce is as follows: flour 20 to 35 dollars per lb; corn 3 dollars per bushel; oats $1.50 per bushel; butter $1.00 per lb; lard 80/lb; beans 90cts per lb; leather3 to 4 dollars per lb; horses average $300; cotton yarn from 10 to 20 dollars per bunch of 5 lbs; salt can’t be bought, it is sold as high as 50 cts per lb. We have 5 blast furnaces in operation in this county, operated by the government…so you see we are high up in figures.

We have had some small pox in our county which resulted in the death of some of its victims among those that died was George Puck. No doubt you knew him, lost part of one hand when a boy from the effects of a snake bite.

I believe that I have written nearly out of matter to write and in good portion of that of but little interest. But if you & Aunt will come to this county as we looked confidently for you when the Yanks made their raid through Tennessee & burnt the bridges across the Holston & Watauga.
I have been under the impression that they passed through your neighborhood. I f you have any cause to come, we have some bread and meat yet to spare. This leaves us all well at this time and as well as Mother also. She is in good health with the exception of being barely able to walk on account of pain, but she is employed regular in carding and spinning cotton. Aunt Tenas was well the last account I had from her.

I hope when this comes to have it may find you all enjoying good health, crowned with peace and plenty. You may think that we have forgotten you unfortunate William. Such is not the case. He is ever in my mind. His loss can never be repaired to me and the community. I have the consolation to reflect that I never gave him a harsh word that I recollect in his life for I have no reason as he was always but right, never speaking without thinking first.

If it shall be our unhappy lot never to meet in this life, may the Lord [grant] that it be our happy lot to meet where there is no war to mar our peace but where there will be eternal promise with him who has prudence. So with his blessing…

Your undeserving nephew, Jacob Peters

To: Col Philip & Ann Crites