This letter was written by 43 year-old Micajah (“Mike”) Sanders (1820-1882), a native of Jones County, Georgia. He was married to Caroline M. Bonner (1827-1891) in December 1842 in Carroll County, Georgia. Sometime prior to 1860, the Sanders family moved to Leake County, Mississippi. During the Civil War, Mike Sanders served in Co. B, 40th Mississippi, enlisting at the age of 43 in October, 1863 — after this letter was written. Her served until 26 April 1865 when he was paroled near Greensboro. At the end he was with Co. I of the 3rd Mississippi Consolidated Rgt. Burton Sanders, his son, served with his father at the same times and places.
Sanders wrote the letter to his cousin, 39 year-old George Marion Gamble, MD (1824-1903) who resided in Pinckneyville, Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Dr. Gamble was married to Emily Catherine Bonner (1829-1881) in Carroll County, Georgia in January 1841. He built his residence “Gamble Heights” in Pinckneyville in 1851 and it was there that all seven of his children were born. In 1868, the Gambles moved to LaFayette, Alabama but they continued to use Gamble Heights as their summer home. A US IRS tax assessment listing for George gives his occupation as “dentist.”
Standing Pine, Mississippi
May 17th 1863
Dr. G. M. Gamble and family
We received yours of 19 April some 10 days since which was very interesting to us to hear from you after so long an absence.
Dear cousin, I have no heart to write to you now, nor would not fear that our mail facilities might be cut off so I have the painful news that the Yankees have taken Jackson — our state capitol — a few days since and holds it now with a force estimated at from 30 to 40,000. I do not see how they can hold it without taking Vicksburg to get supplies to their army. Some think the movement will prove their own destruction but what will be done remains to be seen. If our forces don’t flank them and cut them off, they will very likely overrun and ransack all this country. I fear we will see trouble wit the Yanks. I shall look with much suspense the events of a few days.
Dear Doctor, leaving off this unpleasant subject, I will say to you that myself and family are all well and our country is very healthy at this time and hope that you and yours may enjoy the same blessing and be more secure from the Yankee raids than we are. We have a very promising prospect for a good yield of the small grain crop. My oats is as fine as I ever raised up to this time and wheat is better than an average and will be ready to harvest in 8 or 10 days and it will be much needed by the time it will be ready for use for many are short of corn.
I must tell you something about a terrible accident that occurred at Greenwood on [the] Yazoo River some time since [19 April 1863]. Three of my nephews with others were examining the Yankee fortifications near Greenwood after the Yanks had evacuated them and took up a torpedo (they call it) and were examining it when it exploded killing three instantly and badly wounding 4 others. Two of my nephews were killed ¹ and the other badly hurt. But I hear he is getting well. This was a terrible accident indeed.
Dear Dr., my mind is so confused that I can’t write. You say you want me to tell you what to do with the money you have of mine. I don’t know what to say to you. You know you can’t do anything with the notes until they are ready to pay them and if you can loan the money in good hands, let it out or buy cotton with it as you think best, or do it as you would if it was yours. Cotton has been selling here at 15 cts. but I learn it is higher in other places.
Now Doc, it is no use to say to you that times is hard for we have got use to that. Though money seems to be plenty, it is very hard on those who have much to buy for everything is very unreasonably high and especially all articles in the way of provision and clothing. And as I have nothing of any interest to write you, I will close by sending you and family our very best wishes. Give our best love to all enquiring friends.
I want you to be certain to write to me again soon and you say you would give me more of the Georgia news but suppose I hear from there very seldom and any account from there by you would be very interesting to us. Please write who has died or been killed in the war from my old neighborhood if you know.
Yours very truly as ever &c. Write soon. — M. Sanders
¹ The accident occurred at Fort Pemberton, Greenwood, Mississippi, on 19 April 1863. One of the nephews accidentally killed by the torpedo was Alsey Andrews Sanders (1844-1863), the son of Burton Jackson Sanders (1814-1892) and Martha Ann Booth (1820-18xx) of Leake County, Mississippi. The other nephew killed was Alsey’s first cousin, Lt. John Henry Sanders. It was Alsey’s older brother Frances (“Frank”) Marion Sanders (1839-1921) who was wounded in the torpedo explosion. Frank lost a hand at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee and he was partially blinded by the explosion of the torpedo at Fort Pemberton. All three Sanders boys served in Company A, 33rd Mississippi Infantry. According to a descendant, John H. Sanders, the son of a gunsmith, died “while ‘a-tinkering with a mine’ at Fort Pemberton in April 1863. They had recently been a part of the sinking of Star of the West, and were probably doing a little recycling and repair. Hey, if you can take a gun apart, you can take a mine apart….right? Don’t answer that.”