This letter was written by Pvt. James W. Lipsey (1834-Aft1880) of Co. I, 26th Georgia Infantry. Lipsey enlisted for three years at Savannah as a private on 8 May 1862 and was promoted to corporal on 1 September 1864. He was wounded at least three times during the war — first on 5 July 1863 in a skirmish near Fairfield, Pennsylvania, on the Gettysburg Campaign (Gordon’s Brigade); second at Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864; and finally at Farmville on 6 April 1865 where he suffered a fractured jaw and was captured. He was released at Newport News, Virginia June 25, 1865.
Service records indicate that Lipsey stood 5 feet 7 inches tall, had blue eyes and dark hair.
James W. Lipsey was the son of Amasa B. Lipsey (1808-1850) and Emmallia Hudson (1809-18xx). James lived in Jones County, Georgia, before and after the war. James mentions his older brother William L. Lipsey (1829-1867) who served in Co. B, 40th Alabama Infantry.
The letter s were written a few days before and after the Battle of Chancellorsville from near Hamilton Crossing — a railroad depot just 6 miles downriver of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock. The 26th Georgia was part of John B. Gordon’s Brigade at the time (despite Lipsey’s dateline in the first letter). They initially served in Lawton’s Brigade of Stonewall Jackson’s Second Corps but Lawton was severely wounded severely at Antietam (September 1862) and did not return to service until August 1863 and only then as a Quartermaster.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp [of] Lawton Brigade near Hamilton Crossing
April the 21, 1863
My dear kind, true loving wife,
I seat myself with pleasure this evening to answer your kind letter you wrote on the 10th of this inst. I received it at the 20th of this inst. I was glad to hear from you and hear that you was well. It found me well and this leaves we enjoying the best of health. I hope this will reach you enjoying the same blessing from God.
I hain’t got nothing of importance to write to you. Everything is quiet in camp this time. The Yankees old me if the weather stayed good 3 weeks — I never heard it thunder before, they say — that they will whip us in 3 months. They [told] me this when I was on picket guard. I told them that they had never [?] it yet.
There was 4 of our men deserted and went to the Yankees out of our regiment when we was on picket and they swam the river and went to them. I think that will be the last thing that I will do.
I saw brother William the 14th of this month. He was hearty then. He give me that letter you sent by Samuel Giles. Tell C____ [?] I don’t know other he has got them things or not. I am a going to see him tomorrow if I can get off. It is mighty hard times here and everything very high. Bacon is a dollar a pound, corn is 2 dollars a bushel, butter 4 dollars a pound, eggs 3 dollar a dozen, chickens 2 and 3 dollars apiece. Cornfield peas 1 dollar a quart, tobacco one dollar on half a plug. I don’t get too much to eat. I buy some pies sometimes. If it won’t for what thing I buy, I don’t know what I should do, I would be glad of that milk and cornbread that you give old pup, I want some milk butter mighty bad and cornbread.
I want you to write to me as often as you can. Give all the connection my best respects. I want to see you all very bad. Tell them all to write to me and give me all the news. Tell them howdy for me. I hope and trust to the Almighty God that this war will soon come to a close so that we all can come home to our wives and relations.
We once had peaceful times in our land but now we have heavy clouds of war hanging over us and we must defend ourselves the best we can. Our enemy is invading our soil yet.
I hain’t got a answer from John since I wrote when your mother was at Savannah. I expect they will come to Virginia this spring. If they do, they will see hard times as well as me. They hain’t never seen war yet. They hain’t learnt their A, B, C’s yet. I hain’t got time to write anymore at the present. Tell Mary howdy for me. I must close by saying I remain your affectionate husband until death.
— Mr. James W. Lipsey
to Mrs. Matilda Lipsey
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp Gordon’s Brigade near Hamilton Crossing, [Va.]
May 24, 1863
My dear wife,
I sit myself with pleasure and more to write you a few lines and this will inform you that I am in splendid health at this time. I hope and trust to God that this will reach and find you the [enjoying the] same like blessings from God.
My dear wife, I hain’t got no good news to write to you — only everything is quiet on our lines at the present time. I don’t know how long they will stay so. They think the Yankees will cross the river again shortly. If they do, we will whip them again.
I want you to write to me. I hain’t had a letter from you since the 3rd day of May. I don’t know what is the reason. If you have wrote, I never get your letters. I want to hear from [you] very bad. Give all the connection my best respects after taking the first yourself. Tell Mary howdy for me. You don’t know how bad I want to see you and the children. That all the pleasure I see is when I get a letter from you.
I haven’t heard from brother William in about 2 weeks. He was mending then. He had been sick but I hope he has got well.
We have got back to our same old camp again. I hope we won’t have to march as much this year as we did last. I heard the boys had left Savannah and gone to the west. I don’t know whether it is so or not. We hear the Yankees is about to take Vicksburg. I am in hopes it ain’t so. We have got back to our same old trudge of standing picket hard again. I swam half across the [Rappahannock] river and met a Yankee and give him some tobacco and he give me some coffee. We shook hands and told one another howdy.
You must excuse my bad writing and mistakes. Write soon. I must come to a close by saying I remain your affectionate husband until death. — James W. Lipsey
to Mrs. Matilda Lipsey
I get a plenty to eat.