Monday, May 26, 2014

Amanuensis Monday : The Camp Family Papers: Soldier, Husband, Father, Friend

Camp Letter 29, Thomas Camp to Mary Camp (1)

Soldier, husband, father, friend.  On 10 March 1864, a Confederate soldier wrote this short letter to his wife Mary.  In it his words showed many facets of the man who was my second GreatGrandfather, Thomas Lumpkin Camp.

Thomas Camp the Soldier

Camp 40th Georgia
March 10, 1864
Hoods Corps, Stuarts Division, Stovall Brigade

My Dearest Mary,

…...  We are having fine weather now for our military duty.  I have not been on any guard duty since I have got back.  We have got 30 men in our company.  Capt. Mc has not got back yet; he is at Kingston Hospital.  Lt. Murphy left the day before I got here.  He left here sick.  He is at Matterson, Georgia so John and myself is running the concern. ….. I have one consolation and that is this war can not last always.  There is an end to it though I may never live to see it.  Let me live long or die soon.  I am going to try to do my duty the best I can.

[As in so many of his letters, Thomas was apparently free to write about the location of the troops, the battles, and various military personalities.  No redaction here.]

Thomas Camp the Husband

….. Did you get my letter of the 5th?  I sent you $50.  If you have not sent the things I wrote for and Anderson thinks there is danger in sending them, you can pay the money to your father.  I will pay Dave this $20 but if you have sent them, it is alright.  I received your letter of 7th; ….. [the mail] is coming right through.  As I said, if your father should need his money, you can let me know, and I will send it to you at once. ….. .  I will send you $20 in this letter.  I know it is a bad way to send money.  You can pay it to your father, don’t keep it on hand.

….. You must take good care of yourself if you should take the measles.  This is a very good time of the year to have them.  You must recollect that when you think you are well, then the danger comes.  I hope you will not take them until I can be at home, but when will that be?  I have no hopes of getting home not before next winter.  If I should come, I will.  That seems like a long time to have to stay away from those that are so dear to me.

Thomas Camp the Father

….. I am glad you have the chance to send Lou to school.  I hope you will be able to send her all the year.  Try to encourage her all you can.  Try to get her to love to go. ….. May God be with us in all our trials and troubles and keep us from evil.  Write soon and give my love to all.
[Lou was Louise, the oldest of Thomas and Mary’s children.  At six, she was able to start attending school.  These few sentences are especially dear for me for I know the tradition of teachers among Thomas’ descendants.  Some of these teachers include six of Thomas’ granddaughters, at least two of his great granddaughters, and one greatgreat granddaughter.  I think Thomas would have been pleased to know of the family through the years who apparently loved to go to school.]

Thomas Camp the Friend

….. Dave is not very well, nothing serious, he was cold.  Lt. John says he is after the gal that bakes the cakes.
[Were this sentence written today, it would definitely end with a smiley face emoticon!]

Lesson Learned:  Once again I am grateful that Mary Ragsdale Camp kept these letters and that a great granddaughter later donated them to Emory University.  Each letter I read provides a little more information about these relatives as well as insight into their lives.  There are several additional Camp family letters among my family archives.  I need to look seriously at them and see if there might be a better place for them to reside than in my file box.

(1) This letter is a part of the "Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877" which are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University in Decatur, Georgia.  The letters was transcribed using Transcript freeware.  Some of the spelling, punctuation, and syntax were corrected in this post for ease in reading.  ... is used to indicate portions of the letter which were omitted in the post.  [ ] indicates a word or information I have inserted for clarity.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: The Camp Letters* -- Thoughts on War

"Writing a Letter" By Petar Milošević (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons
Raleigh Spinks Camp was a learned man, a teacher, and a Confederate officer.  Among the collection of Camp Family Papers were a number of letters written by Raleigh to his mother Penelope Willingham Camp (my third GreatGrandmother), to Thomas and Mary Ragsdale Camp (my second GreatGrandparents), and to other members of the Camp family.  In these excerpts of letters to family members, Raleigh did not hesitate to express his opinions and his emotions related to the possibility of war and later concerning the Civil War itself.*

Gilmer, Texas
January 1, 1861

My Dear Mother,

... I really have no news to write you.  Times are hard. money scarce and much talk about fighting, but even in the midst of all these, I hope for a more bright and better day in the future when money will be more plentiful, corn cheaper & peace either in or out of the Union.  These was considerable talk some time ago about Secession, but I now believe that Union sentiment will prevail ...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gilmer, Texas
March 25, 1861

My Dear Brother,

... Times are here like everywhere else, pretty hard.  We are sometimes excited about war and sometimes we are not.  You have doubtlessly heard that Texas is out of the Union, but we had to work [to] get it as there are in Northwestern Texas many Abolitionists, and then our Governor, Sam Houston, was a strong Union man, but the battle is fought, and the victory won thus far.  As to what Mr. Lincoln will do, I cannot tell, only that I feel certain that he will fail to coerce the southern states, should he try it.  I hope for the sake of peace, he will not ...


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On 2 Oct 1861, Raleigh Spinks Camp became a member of the Confederate troops being raised in Texas and was named Captain of Company B of the 7th Texas Infantry.  In less than a year, Capt. Camp was released from the 7th Texas Infantry when he transferred to the 40th Georgia Infantry.  Through his years with the 40th Georgia, Raleigh continued to write home to his family back in Georgia.

Camp near Big Creek Gap
45 miles from Knoxville, Tenn
1st June 1862

My Dear Sister,

... There are some Yanks on the other side of the mountain, and we sometimes hear that they are coming over to see us.  We are ready to give them a warm reception, I for one want them to try it.  I want to see a fight, not that I am reckless of life at all, but I want to bear my part in the bloody contest.  If tis my fate to fall, let me share it in common with thousands of my countrymen engaged in our great and glorious struggle for independence and the Rights of Man.

... We must meet the Enemy as he is strong and powerful, and it will require all our strength to do so.  Now is the time I am very anxious to hear from Richmond.  The battle there must be a great one, one upon which depends a great deal.  Should our Army stand and drive back the enemy there, then I think they [the Enemy] will begin to think the war a bad bargain, and it might lead to peace.  Should we be routed, then a long war will follow.  As to subjugation, I repel the charge.  I cannot think of such a thing.  I will go barefoot in these mountains, dress with a sheep shin, and eat parched corn for years before I will submit.

... O may God not forsake us in our deep distress and grant us grace sufficient for all our trials.

Yours truly and affectionately,

R S Camp

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tazewell [Tenn], 10 Sept 1862

Dear Sisters,

… I am 10 miles from the [Confederate] Army which [is] lying before the [Cumberland] Gap.  Yet how long they will remain there, there is no telling.  The Yankees are not starved out yet, nor do I know when they will be.  I am of the opinion that they are a hard set to starve, but then some deserters from them say that they have but little to eat.  If this be so, they must run or fight us soon.  The last news from some days past is encouraging indeed, enough to convince any sensible man that the North will never whip the South.  It seems they ought to be satisfied that Virginia is a hot place for them.  I think that Kentucky is to be a great battleground, and I will be there as soon as the Gap is cleared.  

O, my dear sisters, these are trying times indeed, and when they will end, God only knows.  If they still wage it upon we, we will continue to fight with them.  Our soldiers are fighting for liberty, home, and our loved ones and never will they cease to fight …


One man's thoughts,  Expressed about one war.  Like those expressed by so many on both sides of the fighting in numerous wars.

* These letters are a part of the "Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877" which are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University in Decatur, Georgia.  The letters was transcribed using Transcript freeware.  Some of the spelling, punctuation, and syntax were corrected in this post for ease in reading.  ... is used to indicate portions of the letter which were omitted in the post.  [ ] indicates a word or information I have inserted for clarity.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Military Monday: The Camp Papers*: Disease and Death Among the Troops

"Wounded Man in a Hospital Bed"
By Kennington, Eric Henri (RA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In April of 1862, Major Raleigh Spinks Camp wrote the letter transcribed below to his brother Thomas Lumpkin Camp and wife Mary.  His letter provided interesting insights into the presence and effects of disease among the 40th Georgia Infantry during the Civil War.(1)

Knoxville, Tenn.  4th April 1862

Dear Brother & Sister,

As I will not get to make you another visit as I so much wished, I will substitute a letter, the only alternative I have to chat with you.  My health is very good indeed;  [I] am improving rapidly [from my wound] and hope to soon be myself again ...

There is a good deal of sickness in our Regiment, now at least 100 on the sick list.  One from Floyd County [Georgia] died Monday and two this evening, one from Gordon [County] and one from Paulding [County], the latter by the name of Jos Cole.  In one short week, three stout men have died.  Pneumonia is the disease that cuts them off so quick.  Lewis Camp has it but was back and will be up soon I think.

I have seen so much in the last six months that it does not surprise me at all.  I expect men to sicken and die in camps.  More die, by far, than are killed by the enemy.  Many of the men are scared, but, poor fellows, they have seen but little yet.  They do not see the future before them and how wise God is to conceal it from us ...

I suppose William will be here by the time you get this.  His stay will be short, and I now see that it will be best for him to stay at home as long as possible.  Measles and other camp diseases would be a great risk for him, and his family needs him worse than he is aware.

[Raleigh's brother William Brooks Camp joined the 40th Georgia on 15 May 1862.  Within six weeks, on 2 July 1862, William had died of measles.(2)]           .

Kiss all the children for me, and write me soon and often.  And may the Lord bless us all.


* This letter is a part of the "Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877" which are housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University in Decatur, Georgia.  The letters was transcribed using Transcript freeware.  Some of the spelling, punctuation, and syntax were corrected in this post for ease in reading.  ... is used to indicate portions of the letter which were omitted in the post.  [ ] indicates a word or information I have inserted for clarity.

(1) "Dear Brother & Sister" 4 Apr 1862; letter no. 14, Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877; Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia.
(2) Henderson, Lillian. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, vol. 4. Hapevile, GA : Longine & Porter, c1959-1964; accessed through

Monday, May 5, 2014

Military Monday : Josiah Gresham Camp, the Rest of His Story

Confederate Mound, Oak Wood Cemetery, Illinois
photographer: John Delano of Hammond, Indiana

Josiah Gresham Camp left Georgia at the age 21, off to seek a better life in the state of Texas.  He seemed to have found life to his suiting, as he expressed in a letter home.  But no one lives in a vacuum, especially in 1861 as the country was divided by the question of slavery and heading toward a civil war.  In 1861 Josiah found his life heading on a different path.

In a letter written to his sister-in-law Mary Camp in May of 1861, Josiah wrote of the excitement talk of the war was causing in Texas.  He assured his family "as to myself, I have joined no company yet as there [is] excitement and so many … reports flying that I am not going to quit my business upon an uncertainty as many have done here.  But when there comes straight news that we are seceded, I am ready."(1)

Documents in Josiah Gresham Camp's military records found on revealed just how different life became from what my third great uncle had envisioned.  On 10 Sep 1861, Josiah enlisted in Company C of the 7th Texas Volunteers, CSA.  Interestingly, he was sworn into active duty by his older brother, Capt Raleigh Sparks Camp the company commander, and given the rank of 1st Corporal soon after he enlisted.

Josiah G Camp, military record packet
According to information given on Josiah G Camp's Company Muster In Roll card, shown above, the 7th Texas Volunteers, known as Gregg's Regiment, were officially organized 9 Nov 1861 in Hopkinsville, KY.  The Regiment was later captured at the Battle of Fort Donelson on 18 Feb 1862.  Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates by John R. Lundberg has an interesting segment about the role of Gregg's volunteers in this battle.(2)  According to Lundberg, Company C, "R. S. Camp's men had one musket, twenty-seven double-barreled shotguns, and eleven rifles, all in good working order".  One of those double-barreled shotguns belonged to Josiah.

Receipt for personal shotgun. Josiah G Camp, military record packet

In one of those historical twists of fate, Raleigh Sparks Camp had left the 7th Texas Volunteers and joined the 40th Georgia Infantry by the time of the Battle of Fort Donelson.  The 7th Texas Volunteers, lead by Col. John Gregg, were part of Col. John M. Simonton's Brigade.  They, in turn, were in Gen. Gideon Pillow's Division during the Battle of Fort Donelson.(3)  The fighting at Fort Donelson ended with the surrender of Confederate troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, making POWs of all the rebel soldiers who were not otherwise able to escape from the area.

A soldier from Mississippi, Selden Spencer, wrote this in his journal concerning the surrender:
"So after four days hard fighting without rest & exposure to severe weather, having defeated the enemy in every engagement & signally on Saturday, with no hope of relief, exhausted, surrounded by four times our number, cut off from succor, we yielded to fate and were Prisoners of War."(2)
 This is probably how Josiah felt when he became one of the 15,000 Confederate POWs captured on 16 Feb 1862.(4)

Due to either injuries or illness, Josiah was later transferred to the Camp Douglas Hospital near Chicago.  On 20 Mar 1862, Josiah died in the Camp Douglas prison hospital.  At the time of Josiah's death, his brother Raleigh Camp had just been promoted to Major of the 40th Georgia Infantry.(5)

Josiah Gresham Camp was later buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.  His burial is among those commerated by the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods, pictured above.  He was one of over 6000 Confederate soldiers buried in what is "the largest Confederate burial ground in all of the North".(6)

(1) "Sister Dear," 21 May 1861; letter no. 13, Camp Family Papers, 1858-1877; Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia.  
(2) Lundberg, John R. Granbury's Texas Brigade" Diehard Western Confederates. Baton Rogue, LA : Louisiana State University Press, 2012; portion accessed through Google Books.
(3) Cooling, Benjamin Franklin. Forts Henry and Donelson: the Key to the Confederate Heartland. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, c1987.
(4) "Civil War Timeline, Feb 16, 1862", Tennessee State Library and Archives,
(5) Georgia. State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records. Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, 1861-1864, vol. 4. Hapeville, GA: Longine & Porter, 1949-1964.
(6) "Oak Wood Cemetery",