Monday, June 2, 2014

Military Monday : The Camp Letters * - What a Soldier Needs ...

"Stained Glass of a Confederate Soldier of the American Civil War at Bardstown, Kentucky"
photo by Mary Harrsch posted on flickr

When we think of our country's soldiers today, we think of them as all clothed with the same uniforms, fed and living in standardized barracks.  That wasn’t always the case for Confederate soldiers such as my 2GreatGrandfather, Thomas Lumpkin Camp.  Excerpts from some of the letters he wrote to his wife Mary reveal his need for personal items, clothing, and food.

Camp near Dalton, Georgia
Dec. 25, 1862

My Dear Mary,
….. You need not send me any yarn shirt as the winter will soon be over.  If you can sell it, you can do so.  Send me some socks when Dave comes ….. 
 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Camp near Loudon, Tenn
Oct the 29th, 1863

My Dear Mary,
 ….. I have not heard any thing from my blanket, and I never expect to.  I think Dave will get home after [a] while; you can send me my blanket by him and one pair of socks and that will do me some time until spring.  If we should take winters [here] I may want a green shirt and drawers. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Camp near Chattanooga
Nov. 22nd, 1863

My Dear Mary,
….. I want a pair of half soles for my shoes.  If this should come to hand before R. T. Harlson starts back, [I need] one yarn shirt and a pair of socks.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
Camp 40th Georgia Regiment
April 14th, 1864

My Dear Mary,
….. I want you to send me one of them old pocket books by Dave or Mr. Goodson at the first chance, ….. one of the two, I want to have it fixed.
 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _

Camp 40th Georgia
May the 20th, 1864

My Dear Mary,
….. .  I will say to you that I am needing some fronts ..... so if you can make me any you can do so if you have any cotton cloth that will do.  If you can not, get jeans.  I much rather have jeans ….. I want you to make me a nice suit this summer if the Yankees do not break you up.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Camp near Cave Spring [Georgia]
Oct the 10th, 1864

My Dear Mary,
….. This is a fine country and as fine crops as I ever saw in my life.  We will [gather] as long as there are as many potatoes as what is in this country.  I have been living better for the last week that I have since I have been in the War.  On last Friday night I came by Sister’s, and she loaded me with chicken and bread, on the way came by Uncle Burrell Camp’s, and he filled his saddlebag with bread and potatoes and his bucket with as good butter as you ever saw.  So we are living alright now.

Socks, jeans, food, just a few of the necessities to make life as a soldier a little more bearable.

* These letters are 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.

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