These two letters were written by James Andrew James (1836-1900), the son of John (“Jack”) James (1801-Aft1870) and Rachel Kelly (1811-Aft1870) of Anderson County, South Carolina. Andrew was a member of T. B. Ferguson’s (South Carolina) Battery of Martin’s Battalion. Thomas B. Ferguson, a graduate of the Citadel, commanded the South Carolina Battery until he was wounded in July 1863, after which Lieutenant Rene Beauregard (son of the famous General) commanded. The unit was armed with two 6-lb. Smoothbores and two 12-lb. Napoleons. The battery was captured by the 119th Illinois Infantry at Nashville on 16 December 1864.
Ferguson’s Battery (later called Beauregard’s Battery) was organized in April, 1862, at Charleston, South Carolina. After serving in South Carolina. The unit moved to Mississippi and fought under General Gist at Jackson. Later it joined the Army of Tennessee and was assigned to Palmer’s, R. Martin’s, and R. Cobb’s Battalion of Artillery. At the time this letter was written the battery was posted near Dalton, Georgia, thirty miles southeast of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
James had two brothers in the Confederate service as well: Captain John Kenneth James (1834-1912) of Co. C. Hampton’s Legion, Army of Tennessee, and Private Thomas Elias James (1845-1899), 1st S. C. State Troops serving near Charleston.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
August 12, 1862
I take my seat this evening to let you know that I am well at this time, hoping these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing.
I have nothing of importance more than am very well satisfied. They have been a fighting in 6 or 7 miles of us & tomorrow we have to start up to Stonewall Jackson in the Valley. It you have any brandy stilled, I want you to save me some. We have had but half rations since we have been here.
I received your letter when I was in Camp Hampton. I was glad to hear you was all well. Tell John to stay at home as long as he can. As soon as I get to a place that I can [get] stationary at, I will write again.
Tell Emiline that I am well & as well satisfied as the circumstances will admit of. I should like to see her very well & all the rest of you. You must eat my share of the peaches this year. Tell Melissa Barrett I have not seen her love yet but I have looked for him. I think I have saw that pink one and his was a walking about in the garden.
I must close. You need not write till I write again. I remain yours, — J. A. James
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
October the 20, 1863
My Dear Father,
I take this opportunity of writing to you to inform you of my whereabouts & welfare. My health is very good at present. We are stationed at Atlanta, Ga. for a few days. I do not think we will stay long. When we leave here, we will go to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There is nothing new about this place worthy of communication. Atlanta is quite a lively place now. There is a great many sick & wounded soldiers here. There is eight hospitals in this place & they are all full of sick & wounded. They all get very good attention, I believe.
There has been a great many Yankee prisoners here but they have sent a good many off & a great many have died & I would not care if all the rest would follow suit. There is not but few here now except those that are not able to be sent off & I don’t care if they never get able. You may think I am hard — maybe, but it is so. They deserve death and let them die.
Brother John & John Chapman left camp on the 13th of this month & have not heard from them since. I expect they have gone home. They left in the night about 10 o’clock. They hunted for them next day but did not hear from them. I want to go home as bad as anybody but I will never go if I have to desert to go because I would rather die than to be called a deserter.
Times is hard here. We do not get much to eat. We have not got any bread for dinner today nor will not have any for supper, nor breakfast. We do not get much to & have not got anything to cook what we do get in.
We have not drawn any money yet nor I don’t know when we will. You must give my love to Susan, Jane & family & all the rest of my sisters & friends. I want you to write to me immediately & direct your letters to me in Capt. Calhoun’s Light Artillery, Ferguson’s Battery, Atlanta, Ga. Nothing more but remain your affectionate son, — J. A. James
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Camp near Dalton, Georgia
January 18th 1864
I seat myself to drop you a few lines in answer to one that I received from you on the 15teenth which I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. I hain’t got much to write, Times is hard here and worse a coming. I fear there is a talk of moving back down to Kingston but I don’t know whether we will or not — 70 miles. But if you come, I will try to let you know some way. If you don’t see any of us there, you can come on up here. I will tell the Agent at the Depot that we are there and you can ask him.
It is very bad about some place to stay here. It is very muddy too but I will try to get some place for you to stay if you will come. We are stationed about 7 miles from Dalton to the right as you come up here. You can go to Greenville and your papers fixed to come on and have them fixed like I was sick and you can come that way the best and I want you to [get] paper bill and to come with sister if she comes and one of you must be sure and come.
The Captain out here and I can do nothing here but you can go to the clerk and get paper bill one for that I will ever get to see you. I want one pair of drawers, one pair of pants, two pair of socks, one pair of gloves, and a hat and a coat. You need not bring no scarf. Fetch some 15teen pounds of flour and some dried fruit and some butter and some chickens and I will pay for the flour for I have to pay one dollar for one pound here and am glad to get it at that for we only get enough for two little snacks a day and we eat it at one time.
And I want you to bring some red pepper for I want you to bake me one loaf of tight bread. I want one more good bottle of brew from home for we can’t cook good here and the beef that we draw they have to lean it up against a tree to shoot it or prop it with rocks. It is one pound of beef and ten pounds of bones.
Come to Branchville and then enquire for the Augusta train and then to the Atlanta Depot in Augusta and then to Atlanta and to Dalton and you had better stay there that night if you get there in the night. Leave Columbia the same night that you come down and meet connection at Branchville and that will …. no, you had better stay at Columbia the first night and that will through you to pass Kingston in the daytime and you find out if we have moved. You can find out by asking the Agent of the Depot. And if you come by the night you can enquire for Ferguson’s Battery and if you can’t hear nothing of it, you will come on up here. If you come up to Dalton, you can enquire for the road that leads to the Spring Place — a place that they call the Spring Place. It ain’t worthwhile for you to write no more till you come for it [is] so uncertain about getting a letter. It may be a month on the road. I want paper bill 40. Be sure and come.
The battery is on the left hand side of the Spring Place Road as you come and on the right hand of Dalton as you come up. Enquire for Martin’s Battalion. If you don’t come, direct as before. — J. A. James
To John James and mother.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
June 20th 1864
I take this opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know how I am. I am as well as could be expected. Received your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well.
There is no news to write — only they are all fighting yet up here and bunches of wounded are coming in here every day and men are dying off fast here. There are from 10 to 15 taken out of the dead house every day.
It has been raining for 4 weeks here every day. You wanted to know if you could come through to this place. You can come if you want to. There is nothing to hinder you. There is folks come further than that. If you will try, you can come without any trouble.
When you write again, you will let me know whether fruit is ripe or not and whether there is any of it there or not. It is unripe in this country and if any of you come, I would like for you to put some in some packet and fetch it to me. You can come if you want to and you can do as you wish about it. Come if you want to come and if you don’t want to come, don’t come. I would be very glad to see you all and stay with you awhile and take supper and perhaps a sit with you. The folks is mighty indifferent here. Nobody cares for me and I care for nobody.
Tell Jane and all the children howdy for me and that I would like to hear from them all. Give my best respects to all my friends…I don’t know whether I will ever get home or not but I hope I will get to come home soon. I hope you will write as soon as you get these few lines.
When you write, you must let me know how the times is out there — whether they are any better there than here or not, for it is hard times here and looks worse a coming. You must write soon as you get these few lines. Give my love to all the friends and a share for yourself. When you write, direct yours letter to Fairground Hospital, Ward No. 19, Atlanta, Ga.
— J. A. James