I Try to Not Be Anxious~October 1864~17th to 18th

I Try to Not Be Anxious ~ Hannah Whitman Heyde.

The Whitman family, like many other families, North and South, worries about a missing loved one, probably a prisoner, and about loved ones from whom they are separated. Refugees flee the Shenandoah Valley. Bandits as well as foraging and raiding soldiers, take crops, tools, animals and valuables from ordinary citizens. Yet once more we find evidence of women dressed as men in order to fight for the side of their choice.

October 17– Monday– Burlington, Vermont– “Write to me will you, Walt– I always feel better to hear from home. I shall be anxious till you write. I sent this morning to the Post Office. I thought I should hear. I have been spared ever since that battle but I had a hope he was safe, because he always had been. What will we do if we cant hear from him? I was glad the paper spoke of his being well. I hope we will hear from him soon. You must certainly send it to me too if you get a line from him. I wish Walt I could see dear Mother and you all– I hope Mother is well. . . . I do hope we will hear from George, I wish Mother would write as it’s very long since she has written. I hope she is well of rheumatism. Write soon Walt. I try to not be anxious about George but I am. . . . Tell Mother I am better and want to come home and see you all more than ever, give my love to all.” ~ Letter from Hannah Whitman Heyde to her brother Walt Whitman.

Louisa Whitman, mother of the clan

Louisa Whitman, mother of the clan

October 17– Monday– Elmira, New York– “I again seat my self to let you hear from me this leaves me doing well and hearty. I hope this may find you an our children all well and doing well. Write to me when you get this . . . . Write but one page of letter paper. Write only about your own family affairs an I will be sure to get it. I think you had better continue farming until I get home if I ever do. Life is uncertain. My Dear you must do the best you can. I know times is very hard.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Richard Henry Brooks, in a Federal prisoner-of-war camp, to his wife Telitha.

October 17– Monday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Another lot of refugees from the Valley arrived in the city yesterday en route for Ohio. In all eight hundred families have been shipped from the Valley at Government expense by order of General Sheridan. The most of them belong to the Society of Dunkards, and being opposed to taking up arms they have been terribly persecuted by the rebels. They are a hardy looking set of men who will be an important accession to any Northern community.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer. [Most likely these “Dunkards” were a branch of Anabaptists who believed in adult baptism only, rejecting infant baptism, and were committed to pacifism and non-resistence. However, other Christians did not always know of the differences among Dunkards, Brethren, Mennonites, Amish and other Pietist groups which preached pacifism so these people might have belonged to one of several Anabaptist or Pietist sects.]

Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley

October 17– Monday– Point Lookout, Maryland– “Though suffering this incarceration within the prison walls of Point Lookout, though banished from friends and the society of much loved ones, I rejoice to feel the assurance that God is with us, and, we hope, will turn back our captivity when we are sufficiently humbled – that we may meet once more the kind – the sweet embraces of our dear relatives, and friends. But we would not forget the sweet words. ‘Not verily my will but thine be done.’ I wish I could be allowed to write as much as I wished. I could have much to say to you. This privilege is denied me. But may be, you would ask Why is it that I appear as willing to continue the correspondence which has been so soon, and unexpectedly, cut short? I would answer now, the same that I would have answered on that ever memorable morning, that it is as motive no less, than a desire to cultivate the friendly relations– do not say, ‘there is none in existence between us.’ With your sanction our correspondence (though it will be rather slow) will continue. I am pained when I think of my uncivil conduct, when in your presence that morning, and also, those complicated mysteries that I had boldness to write since] at the expense of one so truly innocent– Let me ask you to forgive me, and not only to destroy these letters, but even tho recollection of them for ever. I can write no more now. I will send you a stamp all I have. Brown landed here a few days ago & we both have slight colds, with that exception we are well. Inform my mother that I have heard from Danville and Mr. Kelso – they are well. Their school is still going. Their children (two daughters) are well also.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Robert Yates Ramsey, in a Federal prisoner-of-war camp, to his friend Maggie.

Confederate prisoners

Confederate prisoners

October 17– Monday– Augusta County, Virginia– “I have been thinking of writing to you for some time ever since the yanks were up to see us. I have a great Deal to tell you but don’t know whether I will get through this time or not. In the first place we are all well. The yanks burnt both of our barns with about twenty five ton of hay in them & all of our wheat except about twenty five bushels that we had carried out. We saved almost all of our farming utensils. The yanks took all of our cows but two came back. I refugeed [sic] over the mountain with four horses & our colts & some old horses we left at home & they tried to drive the colts off but they ran off & came back. They looked through the house but didn’t take any thing except some sugar & one pair of pants from papa. There will be suffering times in the valley this winter as the yanks have burnt all of the barns from here down & all of the mills except one occasionally, all of the barns in this neighborhood are burnt up except two or three & the worst of all every body paid the yanks all of their gold & silver. One thing we never paid them one cent, & if they never come again we will do pretty well. Some people are ruined entirely. They like to ruined William Pence– they took of both of his black men that he had bought & five head of horses & all of his cattle & sheep & burnt his barn he didn’t have a barrel of flour on hand. I tell you he is almost crazy & the worst of all he has to go in the army now he has to go to Staunton to morrow to Start to Richmond the next day & John Grove has to go also . . . . Some people think the Confederacy is gone up all ready as the saying is. There has a great many family members off to the yanks from Rockingham & some men that had fine farms. People from here down are very much discouraged, every thing destroyed. The yanks didn’t got to John Grove. So all of the barns in that neighborhood are safe. They were at Uncle Jacobs but didn’t burn anything in that neighborhood. The yanks stripped some people of all of their stock.” ~ Letter from Daniel K. Schreckhise to his brother James.


October 17– Monday– Franklin County, Tennessee– “Pink Brannon colored came to my house and wanted to buy my blacksmith tools. I would not sell them to him he then remarked that I had best sell them as they would be on hand to burn myhouse in a short while. After some further conversation he left and some time afterwards a party of men came to my house and Pink Brannon and the Captain of the Band [Temp, a white man] came into the house. The Negro remarking they have come to burn your house and I had better let him have the tools we had some further conversation about the tools but finally the party left without burning my house. The following day the Negro Pink Brannon came back and tried to prevail on me to let him have the tools but I refused upon this he went to where I had the tools and laded them into the wagons stating I didn’t made a d____d bit of difference he would have them anyhow he then came into the house andTemp counted out seventy five dollars in Confederate money and gave it to my daughter at this time. Temp was with him. They left my premises taking the tools with them.” ~ B. F. Sanders puts his mark on his sworn statement about an integrated band of robbers.

October 17– Monday– near Macon, Georgia– “I drop you a few lines to let you know where I am. We are in about four miles of Macon, camped in the piney woods. I am well at present. I do not know where we will be sent. The men come in slowly. You must be reconciled to my absence, for I expect nothing [but] to be a soldier for the balance of the war. But there is a Providence that shapes our destinies, and we should submit to His decrees with humility. You know I had rather be at home, but it is impossible for me to get there. So I must think of it as little as possible. When John finishes the orchard fence, let him gather the house field of corn. Let the hogs in when they eat out the river field. Put the cows, horses and sheep in the river field. Join the fence to the river at each end. Let the sheep go in and out by the slip gap. Let John have all the Negroes four days to pick peas. Pick before gathering corn in head field and bluff bottom. Put peas in school, hasp lock or nail [it] up. Sow barley and rye first rain. Kiss the children 500 times for me. You must do the best you can. Make slip gaps and let the hogs run in the fields after you gather corn. Put the potatoes up with open shelters over them. Direct your letters to Company H, 5th Regiment, Army of Tennessee, but no place on it. Write me all about the business, what is done, &c.” ~ Letter from a Confederate officer to his wife.

October 18– Tuesday– Winchester, Virginia– “A few days ago I happened to find two Rebel soldiers in a house just out of town. We arrested the men and I placed a guard over the house. The lady living there sent me a very insulting message and demanded that the guard be withdrawn. She claimed that she would not have a Yankee soldier in her house, but she did. I sent word back that as she had no choice in the matter, that the guard would remain. It is amusing sometimes to hear the remarks made about us.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

General Sheridan

General Sheridan

October 18– Tuesday– near Poplar Grove Church, Virginia– “Your Letter came to hand this morning and I hasten to answer the Same. Your Brother’s Effects will be Sent forward to Your Mother’s address, Soon as we can get a permit from the Provost Marshall General, which I have this day Sent a request for. I was much pleased to hear from him and the rest of the Officers that were taken prisoners with him. And I know they were neither wounded nor killed, as we had no chance of hearing from them until your Letter Arrived. Every thing is quiet with Us and no news. So I will bring this to a close, by requesting you to write Soon.” ~ Letter from Lieutenant William E Babcock to Walt Whitman about his brother George.

October 18– Tuesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Sarah, alias John Williams, a private in the 2nd Kentucky cavalry, was sent to the Post prison, to be held until further orders. This gay ‘soldier gal’ has served for three years, and her sex never discovered, (so report saith,) until the present time. She is a veteran and deserves promotion.” ~ Nashville Dispatch

October 18– Tuesday– Milton, Florida; Summerville, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; Clinch Mountain, Tennessee; Barry County, Missouri– raids and skirmishes.

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