These letters were written by Corp. George P. Jarvis (1842-1920) of Co. C, 3rd Ohio Infantry. George was the son of Leonard R. Jarvis (1817-1895) and Susan Thomas (1812-1895) of New England, Athens County, Ohio. George’s father came to Athens County from Belchertown, Massachusetts, in 1843. In 1850, the Jarvis family moved to Athens where Leonard worked as a gunsmith and (in 1853) as a superintendent of the M & C Railroad. During the Civil War, Leonard opened a mercantile business in New England (Athens County, Ohio). George’s sister, to whom he addressed many of his letters, was Leonora Jarvis (1850-1937). She married H. J. Smith and resided in Athens, Ohio. George married Roxavilla Beebe (b. 1847) in 1873 and became a railroad engineer after the war. He was residing in Parkersburg, West Virginia, when he died on 30 July 1920.
Jarvis wrote the first letter while serving with the 3rd Ohio during their brief 3-month term of service. He then re-enlisted in June 1862. He was wounded in October 1862 in the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky and did not return to his company until after the bloody engagement at Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee (late December 1862). He mustered out with his company in June 1864. George’s Pension papers indicate that he re-enlisted in the 18th Ohio Infantry on 28 November 1864 as a Quartermaster Sergeant and that he was discharged as a 2d Lieutenant on 4 September 1865. In the third letter we learn that George was one of only twenty-two soldiers in his entire regiment that was not captured on 3 May 1863 near Rome, Georgia while participating on Gen. Steight’s raid into northern Georgia. [Note: Not to be confused with George Peter Jarvis on Co. I, 92nd Ohio Infantry who lived in Washington County, Ohio]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
May 13th 1862
Having nothing else to do this morning, I thought I would drop you a few lines. The weather is very hot here now although it is only May and the Devil only knows how hot it will be next month. I think, however, that six or eight months will close this thing up.
Everything looks beautiful here as the season is quite forward. Corn is in some places waist high while in Ohio they can’t be more than just planting. Cotton is coming up finely and planters say looks well. I would not know anything about it if not told. The planters are generally very rich here — some of them own as many as six hundred slaves. The wealthiest man in town is from New Hampshire [and is] worth $1,000,000. There is several families here who are all relatives of his and from the same neighborhood who are all united like Shakers and are worth about $5,000,000 at a low estimate.
The ruins of the house in which Gen. Walker ¹ — the filibuster — lived are still standing. The house was a beautiful one and finely situated. By some means, it caught fire and was entirely consumed except the walls which are of brick.
I wrote to Charlie Collier some time since but as yet have received no reply. Haven’t had a mail for three weeks and can’t tell what is going on. About all the news we get is from a Nashville paper — a kind of a would-be Secesh if it dared to sort of a paper — and one don’t have much comfort in reading it.
The enclosed letter is one that I picked up. The writer, it seems, was a member of Hindman’s Legion ² — the same we shelled at Bowling Green. It seems from his letter that they were not whipped, they only ran to prevent such a catastrophe. He is wrong as regards the number killed as there was not a person killed during the whole cannonade. It will give you a pretty good idea of Southern intellect. But I have been stretching this out longer than I at first intended and will have to close. So good bye all with kind regards to everyone. I remain as ever your affectionate brother, — Geo. P. Jarvis
It is necessary to say I am well as I always have said so and if nothing happens, I will come home without having seen a sick day. — George
¹ George was misinformed. The Huntsville mansion ruins belonged to CSA Big. General Leroy Pope Walker (1817-1884) who as the Confederacy’s First Secretary of War ordered the firing on Fort Sumter. It was not the home of William Walker, famous for his filibustering exploits in Central America who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. [Note: Leroy P. Walker did not move into the house on McClung Avenue in Huntsville until after the Civil War when he resumed his law practice there.]
² Hindman’s Legion was composed of various Arkansas Infantry companies led by Thomas C. Hindman of Helena, Arkansas. In a letter sent to his father on 18 February 1862, Jarvis described the action near Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the encounter of the 3rd Ohio Infantry with Hindman’s Legion:
…we have been marching and running around so much that I have not had time to write…we will…start for Nashville tomorrow…the report here is that Bowling Green is taken and…it is true. I am writing this letter in one of the principle houses in the town. It was a glorious but bloodless victory and gives us possession of one of the strongholds of this state…it is the Gibralter of Kentucky. The Rebels had at one time not less than 75,000 men here…Feb. 19…we started from Bacon Creek…and over Green River the same day and encamped on the Munfordsville battle ground…we marched 21 miles…and expected to see the enemy in the shape of Hindman’s Legion who we supposed was encamped near. We did not come up to his encampment till just at night and…found he had left…the day before for Bowling Green in a terrible hurry…it was a perfect panic…next day started on a forced march after him. The 8th Brigade was ahead and the 17th to which we belong was next with Lomis’ Battery and the 4th Ohio Cavalry in the extreme front. We…got to within about 12 or 15 miles of their fortifications and…halted to give Gen. Mitchell a chance to go ahead and reconnoiter…we had been there about three hours when here came a horseman, his horse all foam, with the intelligence that the enemy had made a sortie and were engaging the 8th Brigade…we could hear the rapid firing of cannon and could see the huge volumes of smoke as though the whole town was on fire…we were not long in getting ready to go…there was a battery of artillery just behind our Regt and they were ordered forward to protect Loomis…when they started over the rough pike they made noise enough to scare all the Rebels in Ky. The battery was a miserable affair…the men had not taken sufficient care of their guns and carriages. They would go about a quarter of a mile and off would go a wheel with the horses at full run…when the wheel went off, away would go the men into the mud heels over head to the great risk of their lives and the infinite amusement of the boys…we got to Bowling Green just at dark and found everything still and quiet. The enemy had retreated and the firing we had heard was made by Lomis to prevent their burring the town. The only Rebel troops that was left…when our advance arrived was two Regts of Texan Rangers and Hindman’s Legion making in all about 5 or 6,000 men…as soon as we commenced firing on their train to stop them from getting their stores away. They fell into a perfect panic and started off in every direction. First…setting fire to the principle part of their warehouses who they destroyed with the engine house depot. There was some ten or twelve engines…damaged by the fire. They destroyed hundreds of tons of provisions…we saved enough to last our division…two months. There was not a single man killed during the whole action. Lomis did fire on the men. He was firing on the locomotive to stop the train in which he succeeded. I found quite a number of old friends in town…and look as natural as ever. They all send love to you…”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
September 4th 1862
Dear ones at home,
It has been some time since I wrote home but be assured that it was not a lack of interest on my part that caused the delay, but we have been on the move almost all the time and it has been impossible for me to send a letter even if I had written one. I will give you a brief account of our march and troubles.
We received marching orders one evening to march the next morning and commenced making preparations, but as our teams were out foraging, it was found impossible to move till the next day after. Slept the next night without tents and got most beautifully wet by the first rain we have had for a long time. It was refreshing to our bodies but somewhat dampening to our ardor. The next morning we started before daylight, marched three miles, and received orders to make the tramp in forty-eight hours. Here was a fix — forty-seven miles to be made in forty-eight hours, and the weather hot enough to roast a Gui[a]na Nigger. But we pushed ahead and made it in thirty-eight hours and received a complimentary order from Ge, Smith, a copy of which will appear in The Messenger as the adjutant kindly furnished me with a copy of it and I will send it to Wildes.
We remained at Dechard three days and then started for this place. We arrived the day before yesterday. The last day we marched twenty-five miles between 6 A.M. and 2 P.M. I did not march the last day as I had a very severe attack of cholorrhea morbus the night before that came very near carrying me off so I rode in the ambulance. I have not been very well for several days and today am separated off duty but by tomorrow will be all right again and I suffer no inconvenience from them now. I was returned to ranks this morning for the reason that I was reported off duty by the surgeon. The drum major says that he cannot do all the duty and if I cannot be on duty, I must take a gun. He may go to the devil. He has forgotten that while he was at home on sick furlough from Elk Water that I went to work and detailed men out of the ranks and instructed them and when he came back delivered over to his charge a good band. This is only what I have wished for some time now. I am where I can do something for myself. There is a great deal of gratitude in some men and in others there is not so much.
I received the package you sent by Baton. Father thinks there was no stamps in it but there was. I think there would be no danger in sending those pictures now. I am confident they would come all right directed to Rousseau’s Division to Nashville. His headquarters are there now. Father has taken that position on the railroad then. What is his salary?
I am afraid my dear little — no, big sister — will get the start of me in my favorite accomplishment. An octave is always seven notes, my dear. Mr. Collier and myself are not corresponding now. I answered his first letter but have as yet received no reply. I wrote to you that I had received the things you sent by Dr. Johnson but you probably did not get the letter. Never mind about my coat yet. I may be nearer home before I shall need it for I think we shall be in Nashville before long. We have not received any mail for three weeks till yesterday. Then I received two letters from home dates August 11th and August 17th and one from Ed Grosvenor.
My postage stamps were all stolen from me by some rascal night before last and I would like some more if you can send them just as well as not. I would say something about our movements and force but are not allowed to do so. I will write again soon. Give my love to all.
As ever, your affectionate son & brother, — G. P. Jarvis
We are now in Gen. Smith’s command.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
February 14th 1863
Dear ones at home,
I arrived at the regiment the day before yesterday and found the boys generally well. I saw many faces I did not expect to see. Capt. [Charles] Byron, 1st Lieut. [A. K.] Wolbach, and 2d Lieut. Kessinger are well and Capt. Byron sends his regards. I have written twice since I left home and sent both letters from Nashville. Did you get either of them? I will try and write at least once per week and when I have anything of importance to communicate I will write oftener.
I wish I could give you an adequate idea of the strength of the fortifications here but I cannot. In the first place, I could not if I dared, and in the second place, I dare not if I could. Suffice it to say that should the enemy attack us here with the recent acquisition of forces we have received, they would most certainly be defeated.
Last night Dan and I went over to the 18th Ohio and staid all night. Had a very pleasant time. Got back this morn at ten o’clock. I was surprised to find the appearance of the country so materially changed from what it was one year ago or even since last Autumn when we passed over the country last. Then the fences were all up and everything betokened a thriving and industrious people. Now the whole aspect is changed. There is not a fence to be seen between Murfreesboro and Nashville and everything shows plainly the devastation and ruin that has been visited upon it. ¹ Yet such is the fortune of war while the people of our own neighborhood — which by the way is not the most wealthy position of creation — are living in comparative opulence and ease, the people of this country — a county which in civil times ranked among the highest for wealth, opulence, and industry — are many of them wanting the most common necessities of life, and many are living on what in former times their own slaves would have denounced as unfit to eat. Would you like to have the war brought to your own door? I know well what your answer is. For my part, I would rather serve in this army for the term of my natural existence than have you suffer for one short six months the privations and trials of having a hostile force in your midst.
I have made up my mind to remain in the service till my term of enlistment is out from the fact that I think the war will last that long and even longer and it would not be surprised if before that time some of us will be called home to quell an insurrection there. Why is it that the people of this country cannot be more united? That is all that is necessary for the consummation of a speedy peace and unless it is so, our utter ruin is inevitable. We are endowed with all that a nation can ask for — the welfare and prosperity of free people, yet notwithstanding, all this we could not be satisfied and even now the North are willing to gaze with complacence upon the ruin that has been wrought. For my part, I am disgusted and will leave a subject for which I have so must distaste.
Well! I have got to soldiering once more. Was on duty all day yesterday. We were clearing out the bed of this creek here. There had been a large lot of trees felled into the stream to give our cannon a better range and we were engaged in clearing them out. It proved to be a very unpleasant job but several thousand men can do a large amount of work in a very short space of time. We would take the largest trees — many of which were three feet through at the butt — hitch two inch ropes to them, and haul the whole thing right out by main strength. I would not have believed it could be done had I not seen it. As yet, I have not made a thorough investigation of the battlefield yet but think I will tomorrow. But I have seen enough to convince me of the nature of the engagement. In my next I will give you something of an idea of the thing.
I have been out and chopped a load of wood today. Eat two big crackers, a hunk of beef, and feel as if I could whip a ten acre field of wild oats with a ____ throwed in ever fifteen minutes. In fact, I don’t know but what I could almost take daddy down: “I do by thunder.” Now, all I ask is health, not murmers at what ever duty is imposed upon me. I think that I can get along without getting homesick. At any rate, I shall try, for if there is a miserable thing in the word, it is a homesick soldier. I love my home as well as anyone can, but I think I can get along without getting the blue drolls.
How Leonard improved in his writing. I never saw one in my life of his are who could write as well. And I want to see lots of his writing. And I want father to write as often as he can find time and mother too. All write together and if you can’t write enough, make a writing frolic and invite the neighbors to assist you. How is Axia? Don’t forget when you write to tell me all you know about her. I shall write a note to her and enclose it in the package I send this in by Mr. Frank Johnson. Dan will send one or two in the same package and I wish you would send them as they are directed and when I come back I will try and repay you for your trouble — but not in money — by obedience.
It is raining quite hard and has rained more or less for several days. Oh! I forgot to tell you what we were clearing out the crew for. It was to prevent the logs and trees fro drifting down in case of high water and destroying our bridges. There don’t seem to be any prospect of a fight here soon. We are all looking anxiously for news from Vicksburg now. What success Grant will meet with there I cannot tell but hope it will be good. Thunder! how it rains.
How is Mrs. Reasdon’s folks? Give the good old lady my best and tell her she will [not] be forgotten. My regards to Miss Culbertson. Tell Miss Sturtevant that her little present has come in. Play more than once. But I must finish and I fear you cannot read what I have already written. Give love to friends at Marshfield. Write often and remember me as ever, your affectionate son & brother, — George P. Jarvis P.S. I will enclose an epitaph I copied — found on the headboard of two rebel graves.
¹ John Beatty, a member of the 3rd Ohio Infantry recorded similar thoughts in his journal: “There are many fine residences in Murfreesboro and vicinity; but the trees and shrubbery, which contributed in a great degree to their beauty and comfort, have been cut or trampled down and destroyed. Many frame houses, and very good ones too, have been torn down, and the lumber and timber used in the construction of hospitals. There is a fearful stench in many places here, arising from decaying horses and mules, which have not been properly buried, or probably not buried at all…”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
May 18th 1863
Dear ones at home,
Not as yet have I heard from you, but if I don’t get a letter tonight, I shall be disappointed, and I’ll give Uncle Sam’s mail carriers thunder for I think they have had sufficient time to have forwarded a letter to me since I wrote you last. But it will come some time and if it does not come tonight, I shall not despair. Suppose I should be at home soon. Would it not surprise you? It would not me since I know that one entire regiment is captured with the exceptions of the twenty-two that are here now. They will of course be paroled and go to Columbus and of course there being so few of us will be ordered to join them, and the Gov. — not wishing to pay our board bill while we are doing nothing — will end us home. Now do not make up your minds to see me for this is only my opinion, but just consider me as absent till my time is out and then if I get home before, why! you will be disappointed, that’s all.
I am still clerking at the hospital here and find it rather pleasant but sometimes somewhat confining. But ’tis better than doing nothing for if I had nothing to do, I should die of ennui for Corinth is not the most pleasant place in the world for a man to be idle in.
There is no news that I can write that would interest you. We may leave here in a few days and we may not. There is no telling. Gen. Dodge has telegraphed to Gen. Rosecrans for information in regard to what we will do and expects a reply tomorrow. I hope we will be sent north. There is only about twenty of us left that are not captured and I don’t think they will separate us from our command. I am not homesick but I would like to spend the month of June at home. I think strawberries would suffer some.
I did not intend to write much when I sat down. My aim was only to let you know that I was well and so I will close. Give love to all. God Bless you all. Goodbye.
Your affectionate son & brother, — George
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
June 22d 1863
Dear Ones at P. G. C.
I take upon myself the duty of answering your kind letter of the 4th and 7th ulto. received yesterday. You can’t guess how much pleasure they afforded me, they being the first of a late date I had received from home since I left Murfreesboro to go on that confounded trip into the bowels of “Dixie.” I had you — when I was at Nashville — direct to that place without reference to Company or Regiment from the fact that I did not know what moment I would leave there nor where I would go, and I thought by so doing I could get the letters sooner and it has proved I was right. The letters remaining in the office are advertised each morning and as soon as I saw my name in the advertisements I wrote to the postmaster where to forward them to. Don’t you think I was rather cute?
It was my turn to go on guard this morning but just as I had got on my trousers I received an order from Gen. [Samuel] Beatty to repost myself to the Brigade Quartermaster as a clerk. I wasn’t pleased “nor nothin” and now I have a place where I have every facility for writing. So you needn’t be surprised if you hear from me pretty often.
I wish you had been a little more explicit in regard to that extensive job of yours dad, but I will wait for further particulars as patiently as I can. Oh! if I was only at home now, wouldn’t I kick some of those Irishman’s asses if they didn’t mind? but if I live through this service, I will yet have a chance “at em.” I rather guess that our great confederacy is getting into a rather tight place but I hope she will come out all right, although I tremble for the result. I am afraid Hooker has got more than his match in the person of R. E. Lee but Gen. H. has surely got more troops than the said Lee and he may defeat him. But should the result be otherwise, I fear that the North will yet feel all the horrors of war — a consummation devoutedly not to be wished.
I fear too that our government has made a mistake in not calling out the conscripts sooner but yet Mr. Lincoln’s head ought to be better than mine and I will wait for the result before I give an opinion. Now there is another thing I am looking at anxiously — that is the growing dissatisfaction evinced at the North in regard to the “conscript Act.” If certain measures are used, we can crush this thing immediately, but if this is let go on our ruin ultimately is inevitable. Nothing short of prompt action is going to bring these dissatisfied persons under subjection. It will not do to allow those of them who are captured to lay in jail six months or more before they are brought to trial. They should be tried immediately and such an example made of them as will show to others that we are really in earnest in this matter, and that their best course is to submit quietly. If this is done, we are all right, but if not, we are gone, and gone forever.
I have thought for a long time that this Vallandigham party would get us into trouble and I fear the effect will be worse than I at first anticipated. But as I said before, prompt action will save us and that alone. I have had all along great confidence in Gen. Grant’s success at Vicksburg, but I must admit that my confidence is somewhat shaken. And yet I have not heard anything yet that is really not in his favor. But his long silence, it seems to me, bodes us no good from the fact that as long as everything was going forward favorably, we were in constant receipt of news from him whereas now we hear nothing atall — only from private sources, and these are not to be relied upon except in sure cases.
I wrote you a long letter the other day and I think rather exhausted the Vallandigham subject so I will not speak of that now. I am surprised, however, that there should not be sufficient patriotism in the old Democratic party to defeat even his nomination. And now since he is nominated, the only thing you have to do is to see that he is not elected. Rest assured that we will do all that we can here for his opponent and you at home must do the same. Nothing else will save us.
Damn it! I wish the South could have been content to have remained as they were, without kicking up this confounded mess. But I’ll help them out of the stink they have raised and perhaps in a manner more effectual than pleasant. I am with the government heart and soul and shall be with them till my term of service expires and then hussa! for home, and then after I have had a good visit, if the war continues, I am with them again to the end of it or me.
Old Rosie [Rosecrans] is playing thunder with deserters in his department. I saw one shot day before yesterday. ¹ Poor devil — he never knew what hurt him after the guns were fired. He fell like a log and never moved afterward. Three men have been hung here within two weeks for murder. ² I saw them also. They won’t make much off of Rosie here.
The weather has for some days been very warm but it is now moderating down and is quite pleasant although rather dry.
There is no news of importance from here now and as I have told about all I know and splurged a good deal about things I knew nothing of, I will close. Give my regards to all and if you see Axia, give her my regards. I have not heard from her for more than three months. I am hearty as a buck — weigh above a hundred and sixty. Write soon in the care of Gen. [Samuel] Beatty. Until I hear from you, I shall remain as ever your affectionate son and brother, — Geo. P. Jarvis
L. R. Jarvis and others
New England, O.
P. S. You see I made a slight mistake in these pages. If you can read all of it, you can do more than I can, but I have written very rapidly.
¹ The deserter was Jared Blazen of the 4th Indiana Battery. James M. Randall, a Wisconsin soldier, also witnessed the execution and wrote of it in a diary entry of 20 June 1863. Randall’s opinion was that the “poor devil” was feeble-minded and that it was a mistake to shoot him. “The mistake,” Randall thought, “was made in enlisting him in the first place.”
² James M. Randall, the same Wisconsin soldier who witnessed the deserter execution, also wrote in his diary of this hanging. The hanging took place on 5 June 1863. Randall’s information was that “four scoundrels, in their attempt to compel an old man to tell them where he kept his money, used every means of torture conceivable, and upon failure to secure the desired information, finally killed their victim. The murderers (citizens) fled within confederate lines, were there arrested, tried for the crime and one was hung. The other three escaped to our lines and were arrested as spies, and being recognized by the son of the murdered man, was tried by a military court and hung today. One of the men was was over seventy years of age. All of them protested their innocence. A son and daughter of the man murdered as well as ten or fifteen thousand soldiers witnessed the execution.”
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
September 26, 1863
Dear Ones at Home,
Again I find a few leisure moments in which to write to you. We have had no more hard fighting since I last wrote, but don’t know what minute it will begin. I don’t think it is necessary for me to attempt to give you the number or a list of the killed and wounded in the late engagement [Battle of Chickamauga] as you will get it sooner and perhaps more correctly from the papers. I will, however, mention the name of Gen’l. [William Haines] Lytle as among the killed. Maj. [William Harvey Glenn] Adney [of the 36th Ohio Infantry] is also wounded — not dangerously, however. A ball struck his pistol, shivering it to atoms and injuring his side. I have not been able to see the regiments since the fight to give you names of any with whom you may be acquainted. Col. Chas. Grosvenor [of the 18th Ohio Infantry] & Capt. Ed Grosvenor [of the 92nd Ohio Infantry] are not injured. I have seen them both since the fight. I am sorry that I am not able to give you more news but it is almost impossible to get over the river to get news.
I am still well as usual and likely to continue so. I think now that in a few days after we get reinforcements that are on the way to join us, you will hear good news from this department. Rosa [General William S. Rosecrans] will not remain idle and sure defeat will come upon the enemy. We will drive them right before us and soon they will find themselves in that last ditch they have for so long been prattling about. We are bound to give them a thrashing for it is virtually impossible for them to take this place even with the force we have here at present and when our reinforcements come up, we will give it to them in a manner that shall remove without a doubt the supremacy of the North over the South.
Chattanooga is certainly a very strong place and if Gen. Bragg’s reinforcements had arrived a day or two sooner so that he need not have evacuated the place, we would have had no little difficulty in possessing ourselves to it. And since we have it, we are making it much stronger, and in a short time, it will rank next to Murfreesboro at the strongest point in the United States. And too, it is the key that will unlock to us the states of Georgia & South Carolina. The papers say that we have been compelled to fall back upon Chattanooga. I can’t see it in that light. We console ourselves by saying that it was not a retrograde movement, but that we marched straight ahead to the place. This is true, but — we did not come to Chattanooga in the first place, but after the enemy evacuated we came in between them and the place. And to avoid recognizing a defeat, we say that our first intention was only to possess ourselves of the place. Logical, isn’t it?
Chattanooga has been a beautiful place, but now — like the rest of the Confederacy — it is faded. And where once the people were wont to pass their time in pleasure or business is heard only the rumble of government wagons or the heavy tread of marching columns. Of the country, little can be said. It is with the exception of the valley of the Tennessee [River], literally a mass of mountains.
Please give my regards to all and believe me as ever your affectionate son & brother, — George P. Jarvis
Addressed to Miss Lenora D. M. Jarvis, New England, Athens County, Ohio
October 3d 1863
Your kind note of 14 Sept. came duly to hand last evening about ten o’clock. You have no idea how glad I was to hear from you for I had not heard a word for nearly a month. I have written just as often as I could send letters and even oftener. Two or three letters I have written and kept a few days and then burned them up because I had no opportunity to send them. And by the time I would get an opportunity, they would be stale and I would write again. I have not written much account of the fight [Battle of Chickamauga] because you will get it in the papers much sooner and more correctly than I could give it to you, and I have not been on the field atall, but have been in the rear all the time where we get nothing but exaggerated reports till we ourselves get a paper containing an account of the battle. And even if I had been there, I could only have described first what came beneath my immediate notice.
We had a beautiful rain this week, the first we have had for about two months, and the weather is much more pleasant in consequence. The river raised about two feet last night and I think is still rising slowly. I would not be surprised if we moved over the river to Chattanooga soon. I think we can get a house over in town for an office that will be much more pleasant that staying in tents, don’t you think so? I think Gen’l [Samuel] Beatty will let us go over where the Brigade is for it is very unhandy to be on this side of the river and all of our Brigade on the other side. And now Lieut. Wells is sick and we clerks have to do all the business. And being two months behind in our returns owing to the continual marching, we have our hands full, and are pretty busy.
Then you have got a cross teacher, have you? ha – ha! that is good. I did think I would like her myself but if she is so very cross I don’t think I can. You needn’t give her anymore of my regards. And if she gives you a licking, tell me when I get home and she will hear from me. I won’t have anybody’s daughter “laming” my sister. For heaven’s sake, Lina, don’t be an old maid. Marry somebody rather than be that. By the way, how are you and Mr. Ferris getting along now? Well, I hope. I don’t think it would be of much use to play the pretty to Miss Agnes. I am getting too old to be a lady’s man any longer. Only think, this month I shall be Mr. Jarvis. Won’t that be grand? Won’t I make things stand around when I get home? “Cause” I’ll be of age, you know, and daddy can’t “lame” me, whoop-em! Won’t it be nice. And if I want to do anything, I won’t have to ask “Ma.” I don’t guess I will be a very bad boy though. I don’t feel like it now, for it seems to me if I could only get home, I would be the happiest fellow in existence. But it is only 8 months more and then hurrah! And I will get home in just the most pleasant time of year too and the way I will go into strawberry short cake will be a caution. You will be a big woman then and I will be a big man, and well, we will make the work stand around, and everybody with it.
Don’t let Ella Rider get ahead of you in anything nor anyone else. You need not for you are naturally smart enough with a little application to out strip them all, and I want you to do it. As for me, when I return, I will try and be different from what I used to be. I will not be near so boyish and will try to do something for Father. He has worked for me long enough and I will try and repay it. I think I can get into some kind of business that will be profitable and pleasant. Perhaps Father will give me an interest in his business and I know with him to do the financing and me to stay in the store, we could make some money. I shall be quite a book keeper and business man when I return and I hope be of use to somebody and myself too.
Yes, pronouns have antecedents. The noun for which the pronoun stands is, I think, its antecedent. On this point I will not be sure, however. But that pronouns have antecedents I am very sure. Be careful now and don’t let that teacher get any wrong notions in your head. You can trust Miss Wright’s authority on any point of that kind. She knows as well as does Mr. Miller.
I am cultivating a new style of writing. How do you like it? This is the first letter I have written since I commenced it and this is written very fast. I could write much better if I was not in such a hurry. My pen flies just as fast as I can make my fingers go. And you know one doesn’t write so well when they write fast. But I am stringing my letter out too long and will close. Give my kindest to all, and believe me as ever, your affectionate brother, — George P. Jarvis
P. S. Our whole Division train was captured yesterday morning while returning from Stevenson with forage. We have now only one wagon to each regiment. They got about 200 teams belonging to our division and all the teams of the 1st and 3rd Divisions too. In all, about five or six hundred. They did not burn them up and hopes are entertained that they will be recaptured, and there is a report in camp this morning that a part of them are recaptured already.
P. S. No. 1 12 o’clock. Just got another letter from you dated 21 September. Many thanks. We will move over the river today or tomorrow and will go into a house to do business in. Isn’t that fine?
Give love to all and can’t you send me a few stamps? I am entirely out. — George
Head Quarters 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 14th Army Corps
October 10th 1863
Dear Ones at Home,
Well — Well! Here I am! right in the heart of Chattanooga. Right behind the Market House where people “most do emigrate” these cold evenings. And where they barter for sundry pieces of fresh “confed”(not corn fed) pig and for which sundry prices they go down into their pockets to the depth of thirty cents per penny and then they have to make some arrangements to procure grease to fry their purchases in — as though purchases themselves do not furnish the said requisite. It is hard, old times for Chattanooga, and Chattanooga knows it. Chattanooga feels the depth of misery into which she has fallen, and she knows too that long years must elapse ‘ere she regains her former state of prosperity. She has been beautiful but now, Oh! how altered I cannot tell just how beautiful she has been, but she disclosed enough in her misery to satisfy me that she has once worn the garment splendor and that she has once occupied no mean place among her sister towns. War is the destroyer, it he that has stripped her of her charms and who now rejoices in her misery and revels amid the beauties that once bedecked her fair countenance. It was her misfortune to be strong and beautiful. This has made her the mark for which two rival armies, fought long and terribly, and it is the fact of her importance that has proved her ruin. May the time soon some when she can be called Chattanooga the beautiful.
Matters at the front seem unchanged. The still appear to occupy the same ground they have occupied all along since the battle, and for the past two or three days they have shown no disposition to shell us. A part of their force is nearly in plain sight. I saw them today. They seem to be throwing up new works in the position they now hold. And they are so very near us that with some heavy guns they might do us considerable damage. Several times their sharpshooters have thrown minnie balls whizzing about our ears but no one hurt yet from them. One contraband was killed and one soldier wounded the other day by shells, but I don’t know but that I spoke of this in a previous letter. You ought to be here and see them sometimes. They look quite well at a distance, but in this case “distance” surely “lends enchantment to the view.” I had much rather behold them at that distance than have them any closer. They have a peculiar way of making themselves very unpleasant visitors.
The men of Longstreet’s Corps were very greatly surprised when they came here and found that we did not run at the first fire and those of them that I have seen say there is a vast difference between fighting us and the eastern army. They don’t call us Yankees atall. We are the “western men” and those of the eastern army are the “yankees.”
There is a great change going on in this department and yellow stripes are flying off at a terrible rate (yellow bands or cords down the leg represent staff officers) and this Brigade loses Gen. [Samuel] Beatty. He goes into Brannan’s Division and takes command of a brigade of seven regiments. The brigade he commands now has but four. I don’t know whether we will go with him or not. If he retains his present staff, we probably will. I sincerely hope this will be the case for I have become very much attached to him. There is a general change throughout the entire department, but as yet I do not know enough about it. Gus McCook and [Maj. Gen. Thomas L.] Crittenden will report to Indianapolis to have a hearing of their cases. And now Gen. Buell will come out all right again. Public opinion has been waiting for some time for somebody’s shoulders to throw Buell’s load upon. And now poor McCook will catch it. He will have the whole load to carry and Buell will come out all clear. I am glad of it. I believe McCook deserves it all — and richly too. I’ll call again in the morning. So goodnight. I slept with Capt. Ed Grosvenor last night. — Geo.
Sabbath Morning, October 11, 1863
I slept mighty well last night and feel first rate this morning, but have no news to write. Please give my love to everyone and be particular to tell Mrs. Reardon that I wish I was at home choking down some of her eggnog this cold morning. But I’ll have it when I get home. I am going to spend the day with the Wyatt boys and the 36 and the 92nd generally.
We are having most beautiful weather here now. The night are quite chilly, it is true, but the days are beautiful. If I was at home now, I would be gathering nuts for winter. It must be most time. Day after tomorrow is the big day. I am going to vote with Ed Grosvenor, CO. if I am not of age. I look old enough to vote for a president.
Give my best to every one. And believe me as ever.
Your affectionate son & brother, — Geo. P. Jarvis