1863: Thaddeus S. Hubbard to Margaret (Cotton) Hubbard

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How Thaddeus might have looked

This letter was written by Capt. Thaddeus S. Hubbard (1837-1864) of Co. G, 34th Mississippi Infantry, Walthall’s Brigade. Thaddius enlisted in March 1862 as a lieutenant and rose to the rank of captain. He was in command of Company G in the fighting before Atlanta in August 1864 where he was killed.

Thaddeus was the son of Joseph and Cassandra Hubbard of Tippah County, Mississippi. Joseph was a native of North Carolina; Cassandra of Georgia. In the 1860 Census, 23 year-old Georgia-born Thaddeus was enumerated in the household of Thomas Starr Patton (1828-1900) — a farmer in Tippah County, Mississippi. Also in the household was his younger sister, 19 year-old Fenita J. Hubbard, and his 56 year-old mother Cassandra Hubbard. Thomas Patton’s wife, Lucinda (1831-18xx), was Thaddeus’ sister.

According to Tippah County Marriage Records, T. S. Hubbard married Margaret S. Cotton on 3 January 1861. He affectionately refers to her as “Puss” in this letter. He also mentions their daughter — Ruth Ann Hubbard (1863-1918).

The 34th Miss. was originally known as the 37th. Many of its men were from Tippah and Marshall Counties. It was immediately sent to Corinth and fought its first battle at Farmington, Tenn. May 9, 1862 as Gen. Grant advanced from Pittsburg Landing towards Corinth. It then moved with Gen. Bragg’s army to Chattanooga and marched into Kentucky where it engaged in the Battle of Perryville on Oct. 8, 1862. Bragg then retreated back to east Tenn. and moved in November to Shelbyville, Tenn. On Dec. 27 they moved to Murfreesboro and fought in the battle of Stones River on Dec. 31 and New Year’s day, 1863. The 34th was in the thick of the battle at Chickamauga Sept. 18 – 20, 1863. From there they moved to Lookout Mountain and fought in that battle on Nov. 24th. They wintered at Dalton, Ga. and fought in the battles for Atlanta. From Ga. they followed Gen. Hood into Tenn. and took part in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. Hood’s wrecked army crossed the Tenn. River on Dec. 26, 1864 and moved to the vicinity of Tupelo, Miss. for winter quarters. The brigade was furloughed until Feb. 12, 1865 and assembled at Meridian under orders to the Carolinas. They started east on Feb. the 18th and were detained some time at Montgomery, Al. by the Mobile campaign. In March they preceeded to Augusta, Ga. and on to N.C. On April 3rd the aggregate present of the brigade was 283. On April 9, 1865, the 24th, 27th, 29th and 34th Miss. Regiments were consolidated in the 24th Regiment, Col. R. W. Williamson commanding brigade of Gen. W. F. Brantley, in D.H. Hill’s Division of S.D. Lee’s Corps. The army was surrendered April 26, 1865 and paroled at Greensboro, N.C. soon afterwards.

This letter was written just three weeks before the Battle of Lookout Mountain in which the 34th Mississippi was cut off from the rest of Walthall’s Brigade “and had to withdraw as best they could up the steep, rocky slopes of the mountain, all the while suffering from Federal artillery fire raining down on them. Of that experience, one of Benton’s men, Private Henry Woodson of Co. E, wrote that “The whole face of the mountain was lurid with bursting shells and seems to belch smoke from every crevice, while the mountain itself seemed to howl and shriek as if a million demons had been aroused in its caverns.” The rest of Walthall’s brigade fought stubbornly around the Craven House but was forced back by overwhelming odds to a second line several hundred yards further up the mountain. By the afternoon, after being reinforced by Pettus’ brigade from the crest of Lookout Mountain, Walthall’s and Moore’s men managed to patch together a defensive line, but it was both thin and precarious. Luckily, the swirling fog and heavy clouds of smoke helped hide the weak condition of the Confederate position. Finally, after being battered all day, they were withdrawn about 8:00 p.m. and moved to the defense of Missionary Ridge. During the engagement, nearly 240 men from the 34th Mississippi were reported as wounded and missing, and many of those were captured. An untold number were killed.” [Blog by Jim Woodrick]

TRANSCRIPTION

Missionary Ridge in front of Chattanooga, Tennessee
November 3rd 1863

Mrs. M. L. Hubbard
My dear wife,

I will once more attempt to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well and in fine spirits. I have received two letters from you lately and was truly glad to hear from you. The first letter stated that Ruthie Ann was sick. The next stated that she was mending. I would like to hear from you at this time. I wrote you a long letter some time ago but I don’t know whether you got it or not. I would like to know whether you received them as there was something stated in them that was of some importance to your Pa in regard to Mary. I heard from her the other day and she was well and well pleased with her home. She wants to hear from her children.

Puss, we are just laying here in front of Chattanooga where we can see the whole Yankee army. I can see it seems like a hundred thousand tents. In fact, I can see the whole army. We are on picket duty every two or three days. We get tolerably plenty of meat and beef & some flour. Bacon has about played out. I will give you a few items in regard to what we have to pay for living. Bacon cost us, when we can get it atall, 85 cts per lb., Meat 4 cts per lb., flour 25 cts, beef 25 cts, sugar 85, coffee $10, molasses 4 per quart, biscuits 2 dollars per dozen &c.

Puss, you said in your last letter that you heard that I had gone to the hospital. It was a mistake. I did not go to the hospital but I was right sick for two or three weeks. But thank God I am as well today as I ever was in my life.

The soldiers are all in fine spirits out here. How is it with you all back there? I am anxious for the war to end. I want to see you and Ruthie so bad. Puss, you cannot imagine the satisfaction it is to me to receive a letter from you. It seems like a long time between receiving letters from home. You must write as often as you can by mail. I have received 2 by mail. They will come in a few days if you can get them [to] Okolona. Direct to Chattanooga, Tennessee, 34th Mississippi Regiment, Walthan’s Brigade. There was a mistake — you sent the other (Anderson’s Brigade).

My company are all in fine spirits & good health. I have more men for duty now than I had last year this time. We have no Lt. Colonel yet. Major [William G.] Pegram ¹ waved his chance and they tried to get me before the board in a few days after I got back and so I waved to the next in ranks. He failed and me and Pegram will have a new hearing when Pegram gets well.

Puss, I have only a few moments to write as this man Renard is a going to start. He says he will send it to Dunbar’s Mill. Puss, let me hear from you as soon as you can. Write how you are all getting along back there & what the Yanks are doing for you all back there. Give my love to all the connection and tell them to write to me. Tell your Pa to write to me again for I was glad to get a letter from him. Puss, write if you have heard from Ma or sister Puss lately. I want to hear from them. Give my love to your Pa, Ma & Tommie. Tell Tommie it is nearly time he was writing to me and I would like to know whether he is learning to write or not.

Puss, if you can, send me some socks. They would be very acceptable as they cannot be had out here at no price. I can make out for other clothing. I will give you the Post Office where you can write & hear from Mary so if I should get killed, you would know where to find her.

Direct to Houston Post Office, Troup County, Georgia

Littleton Lay ² is the man’s name she is with. I will close for this. So goodbye for this time.

— T. S. Hubbard

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Special Requisition made out by T. S. Hubbard (clothing for Company G) on 31 October 1863 — just days before this letter was written


¹ Major Wiliam G. Pegram (1823-1887) was only a small boy when his parents left Virginia, and settled in Hardeman County, Tennessee. He was there until 1838, when his parents moved to the Falkner area of Tippah County, Mississippi. He would have been about sixteen years of age at the time. He married Elexina R. Royster about 1851. Pegram joined Company A of the 34th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, as First Lieutenant. He succeeded Capt. Murry when the latter was appointed Assistant Surgeon. Pegram was subsequently promoted to Major. He held this rank when he commanded the regiment at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19, 1863. Dunbar Rowland’s “Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898” states, “Major Pegram, a gallant officer, was severely wounded, and Captain Bowen took command.” Major Pegram remained in the Confederate Army until March 16, 1864. He had to cease active duty because of trouble from his wounds. He was always known as “Major Bill.”

² Littleton Lay (1819-1912) was the son of Sampson Lay (1796-1876) and Sarah Ann Pittman (1798-1854). In the 1860 Census, he is enumerated in Pools Mil, Troup County, Georgia. In that census, he residing with him a 38 year-old wife named “Elis” and five children ranging from age 15 to 6 months. Littleton served as a private in Co. K, 2nd Georgia Cavalry.

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