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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family
CHRISTIE HOME

Author: Alexander S. Christie
Date: February 23, 1865
Location: Fort Snelling, Minnesota
Addressee: David Christie
Description: Alexander writes about his friends in camp, and also mentions the use of mules in the Army.



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Draft Rendezvous, Minnesota
Thursday 23rd Feb., 1865

My Dear Dave:

Your welcome letter of the 16th came to hand this morning, and was read by me with great pleasure, the more so that it contained no very bad news. Now, although you may think yourself a poor letter writer, and others may think so too, yet I can tell you that you and the rest of those who think so are mistaken, and I only wish I could write as good a letter as yourself this morning's mail. The chief beauty of your style lies in its simplicity; you always say what is wanted with the fewest words and the simplest. Just take pains to leave no works out that you intended to be in; and you will do “Bully.”

Now to your questions, — You will remember some timber that we hauled south into the brush at the south end of the breaking and up on the hill. All that I hauled, but not that at the food of the hill excepting about two loads or so. The wood I have reference to as being at the foot of the hill, is that which are passed by on our way to Kelly's after apples that Sunday afternoon when we hell in with the flock of partridges. you will recollect that remark made by Willie Reid at the time.

You must be well acquainted with its whereabouts, since you and I put it there, so I suppose the reason of the question is the absence of the wood. In that event you may be thankful that you are endowed with a modicum of Common Sense, since there must be some person over [ ? ] that is not. However, you will find it hard work enough to haul that in the hollow during the remainder of winter, and having so many other things to do at the same time. Did you manage to haul two loads per day and do the chores too? If so, you are doing well.

Is it with the wagon or sled that you haul it; fore here we have been having very warm weather ever since I came here which sometimes merges into rain, so that instead of the big snow drifts I expected to see at “Fort Snelling” there is three or four inches of mud, in which the heavy Government wagons loaded with wood & water for the Garrison goes heavily along, tasking to the utmost the strength of two pairs of tough looking, hard-used mules, who look as if, once [ ? ] they would dedicate the remainders of their lives to eternal warfare with the whole human race in general and their present driver in particular. Very few horses are used at this place, any more than down south, the mules seeming to answer the various purposes of the Quartermaster& [ ? ] Departments better. This I think is because they need less attention and are less easily hurt than horses, not because of superior intelligence. There is nothing more amusing than to witness a struggle for supremacy between a mule & a driver. Get one of these animals once mad and there is no act of vengeance within its power at which it will hesitate, sometimes kicking some person unlucky enough to be within reach of its heels other times running the wagon against a corner and spilling the whole load into the mud.

This it does, too, with such a number of pugnacious antics that it is ludicrous in the extreme. But poor mule; the Black [ ? ] of the enraged and brutal driver soon makes itself felt and he is soon made to submit again to the yoke of hated servitude

If the horses's bits gave out before they got away from you, as it might have been, then it was no fault of yours, in the least. However, you should get a new pair of the heaviest kind of jaw-breaker for them. I think you did well in cutting the blinders off. Get Polly's bridle mended, for it might give out sometime and allow her to "go kiting" as you would say.

And mind you, during his ugly fits look out for that horse. While he is struggling for supremacy he might try to finish it by a stroke with his heel while you are giving him his oats or hay.

By the way, how does the hay stand it? There is when Father will have occasion to use that money, and [ ? ]. I could not enjoy myself otherwise. It fairly "riles" me to see him doing as he is with it and you toiling and driving things because of my absence. It must be arranged otherwise.

I don't know what to think of the Bounty question in Clyman. If the Government would only show a little "spunk" and take up these runaways wherever they can be found I should rejoice at a Draft, but otherwise I can't say. I know something, and that is that even the majority of the copperheads, in this part of the Army would support Uncle Sam in so doing. It makes quite a difference with a copperhead whether he is in the Army or not when he comes to discussing the conscriptions. He is into it himself beyond description and wants everybody else in the same fix.

I am very sorry to hear that Tommy Rhodes is so far won with Consumption as to be down sick. I did not think it had got so far with him, although I always thought he had it.

I shall try to find John Clarkson, but the Artillery men sometimes leave about the next day after coming here so I might not see him. There are some firstrate fellows here in my quarters, and I pass my time agreeably. Among them I must mention a young man by the name of Livingston, whose parents were reared in Argyleshire Scotland, (he was raised in Upper Canada) his father being a cousin of the father of the African explorer. I do not doubt it in the least, for he is a man of hood character among us. Another man by the name of Burton is so like Big Willie that my heart fairly "jumped into my mouth" when I first saw him. Not only does he answer to Willie's description, in size, build, carriage, color of hair, whiskers, hand, eyes & general features, but what is still more amazing he is almost identical in character—the only difference of importance being that he is given to drinking beer rather freely upon certain occasions. He is so very like Willie in the way he fools around, slapping everybody with his [ ? ] and getting slapped in return with good humor, and [ ? ] to a good-natured laugh

The quarters are twice as agreeable since his arrival. he is a thorough "Black Republican," Was brought up in the town of [ ? ], where he lived 13 years since which he has lived eight years on the L. Charles & Winona [ ? ] Think he knows our Willie. Knows Clarkson.

Love to all, write soon,
your Affectionate Brother,
A.S. Christie




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