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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: December 9, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: Thomas describes the large social event thrown by the Vicksburg Union Literary Society.

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Vicksburg, Dec. 9th, 1863

My Dear Sister,

Your long and interesting letter of the 20th Nov. came to hand yesterday, when it should have been answered, but I had so much writing to do which I could not put off such as the minutes of the Social Gathering that our Association held on Monday evening, that I could not find time to write up my Journal even. So you will have to accept this excuse with the Schoolboy's promise from me that "I'll never do it again Sir."

Speaking of that Social Gathering reminds me that I must tell you of all the good things we enjoyed at it, but first for preliminary explanations. Our Literary Association, which meets every Tuesday evening in the rooms of the Christian Commission, consists of about 20 members, the most of whom were strangers to each other, for the purpose of getting acquainted with each other we determined to have a Sociable. Now, I need not tell you who have moved in the first circles of Fox Lake Society, what a Sociable is, for doubtless you have attended many a one, but this was a Soldiers Sociable so the description of it will probably be interesting. It would weary you to tell of all the steps we took to ensure success in our entertainment, (for we had determined to admit everybody, and ladies especially,) of all the committees we appointed, the Ushers we elected, (Southwick was one of them,) of how we appointed this one to read an Essay, and that one to lecture, so and so to be master of ceremonies, and Sergt. thing um bob Leader of the choir. The long expected evening came, and although it looked like rain, the large Presbyterian church was filled to overflowing with a splendid audience, officers, men, and citizens, not to forget all the front seats full of ladies, some of them from the North, and many from this city. The Brass Band of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Div. was in attendance, and a full choir sat in the gallery, besides the "Quartette Club," who were on the floor. Gen. McArthur arrived about 7 o'clock, and the exercises commenced with singing and prayer. As I was Secretary of the meeting I had a good position to hear and see from, immediately in rear of the Chairman. After the prayer, we had a stirring tune from the Band, and then the essays and reading of our magazine came next, interrupted by frequent applause from the audience.

I could not tell you half of the good things in the magazine, it is enough to say that I have never seen a Harper so interesting, and then it was all original matter. Poetry, Editorials, Stories, Etc., all good enough to be printed. Then we had the Song "Dreaming the happy hours away," by the Quartette club, and I think, in fact I know, that I never heard such beautiful singing, and never expect to hear better.

After this came the intermission for sociable purposes, when introductions were made, conversations carried on, and "a good time generally" enjoyed by the members and the audience.

By the remarks I heard from the audience, it seemed that nobody expected to find such a high order of literary talent among the common soldiers of this army, it being generally thought that we are a rough set, with but little principle, and still less intellectual tastes or capacities. They who think so make a great mistake, if they could see the eagerness with which anything good to read is sought after by us, how many dear daily papers are bought in the camps, and if they could hear the animated and profound discussions of abstruse subjects in our debates, they would alter their opinion. Indeed, what is our army composed of, if not the youth of the land, trained in the common schools and colleges of the free North, whose wits are sharpened, and ideas expanded, by the rough experiences of arduous campaigns.

But I digress. After the intermission we had more singing and more music, and then the second part of the magazine was read, and an essay delivered by Sergt. Rawlins of the 95th Ills. of whom I will tell you more at some other time. A Thanksgiving anthem from the soldier choir succeeded, and the audience dispersed at a late hour after singing the Doxology. A collection amounting to 40 Dollars was taken up for the benefit of the Soldiers Library during the evening, making the total amount subscribed for that purpose during the fortnight something over 85 dollars. You and Father must circulate the circular I sent you today, in the neighborhood, and try and send us some books. Put those volumes of Douglass Jerrold into the box. I sent a copy of the Circulars to the St. Paul Press with a few words of comment, and you may see it printed, if so, send it down to us. I saw Bill Deverough in town today looking well. He came down in 9 days. I had an offer of a clerkship at Headquarters of the Post last night, but declined with many thanks. I don't want to leave the boys. We are not reenlisted yet, but before this reaches you we will be in for another 3 years, and perhaps on the way home to recruit, so don't write till you hear from us definitely about it. I send a letter from T.R. by this post. He seems to be well. No more tonight,

Your loving Brother T.D. Christie

[Postscript on page one] W. is well, Southwick and [Komer?] do, Sam is gone to the Theatre tonight. I prefer to stay at home and have a talk with you. I have a great mind to go to the Theatre, only just to see what the thing amounts to. Write me, when you do write another second letter as the one I answer. T.D.C

[Postscript on page four] Love to all the family, Grandmothers included, many thanks for the compliment on my handwriting.

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