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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: William G. Christie
Date: May 13, 1864
Location: Athens, Alabama
Addressee: James C. Christie
Description: Now in camp, William recounts the march. He also describes the use of snuff among Southerners.

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Athens Alabama May 13th 1864

Dear Father, I would have written, and should have written to you sooner, of course but Tom stole a march on me, so I did not feel, as if you would be in any trouble about us, and so I waited. I have not much to tell you only we made very fast marching over a very rough hilly country, driving with us some seven or eight hundred head of beef cattle. The hills were covered with a heavy growth of timber, oak being the most plentifull however their was a number of flowering shrubs in the woods and the ground is most beautifully enammelled with various species of phlox. our road for the day's travel was over a very nicely made road, and all along it[s] sides, there was large piles of Pig Iron, lying as though they had been brought out of the wood, and corded up. We Passed a large foundry or rather smelting furnace on the afternoon of the first days travel, but the second night out, we only move from camp in Clifton five miles on the evening of the 5th our journey was through a poorly settled country, and their was not much to jayhawk, but our Battery mannaged to have a little more than Uncle's Sams grub for supper and Breakfast. large Piles of fence went up in smoke for we had to have something to keep us warm, and cook with. we made an average of some twenty miles a day, by the sections, but we must have done more by the actual travel over a road that turnned to every Point on the compass, in its windings among the hills of Tenn: We Passed through the County seat of Waynesborough, and on the same day Passed through Lawrenceburg, County seat of Lawrence County our road on this day (Sunday) was in many place over the solid rock, for as much a mile at a time, and late at night we drove intoo a large flat at or near Pulaski, on the Bank of Richland Creek we stayed at this place over night and at or near noon we started for Athens, on the Nashville and Huntsville turnpike, and after four miles travel on it we turned to our right for Elkton, on Elk river, our road was good through a very good farming country, and we go intoo camp before sundown, making a march of 15miles, next morning a[s] day dawned it began to rain, and it ceasing at eleven o clock we started for this Point, crossing the River on a Bridge of Boats covered over with Plank. our Infantry and Battery got over all safe, but those who had the Cattle in charge let to many of them on the Bridge, and it Parted in the middle, let a large number of them intoo the water, But there were none drowned. We got along very well on the road climbing some very high hills, and having but a very little trouble to get along. about four oclock, we had got through climbing a very high ridge, and shortly after a heavy rain storm commenced falling accompanied with a high wind, vivid lightening, and loud crashing thunder. the scene, who can describe it, I cant, but I will try. Just think you see four thousand men, with their waggon trains, and seven or eight hundred head of cattle, winding through country covered with a heavy growth of young timber. the road was litteraly like a river, and the men and horses slushing through it, faugh! I cant Paint it no sir, but we had a very disagreeable night of it I assure you, but our men are all in good health T. D. and I ditto, and we have had quite a nice rest here on a very nice flat West of Athens a few rods. This Country could be made the Paridise of the south, the formation of it gives A Pleasing variety of line to the eye. the soil is very fertile, and water very plenty for digging thirty feet.

Now for the People, they are rather a sorry looking set, and have the most filthy habits of any People I have ever heard tell of. Tipping is one of the bad practices I speak of not table tipping, nor tumbler tipping, but Tobbacco tipping just thing of it old women and young, Black and White, Yellow and Brown, Massa and Missis tips, and so sambo and [?] tips, and steal young Massa's and misses snuff for the sake of the Plasure now for the method of tipping so you may enjoy the new use of Tobbacco it will give you. get some snuff, and a small reed hollow out said reed fill the hollow with the snuff, then put one end between your teeth and gently raising one end , if not in a hurry get the snuff intoo your mouth, which must be full of saliva. then commece squirting the Back and forth through your teeth keep the lips shut, you will have the first Process. next take a small stick and commence rubbing your teeth and gums. if the stick ain't handy use your knuckles, and so on. when tired [of] that chew when tired of chewing smoke and then with your Back brain on fire be ready for the first develtry that comes in your way, in none come seek some, and you will be sure to find it. Life in the south, is not Life in the North, you have little Idea of what has been under the surface through the Past years of the every day life of this People. Olmsted's Book of travel in the south don't give you any Idea of Life as it has been here, no matter how high in Position, Politically, or morraly, in the eyes of the world, well no matter. So the sun shone, Roses bloommed, Birds sang, men and women dressed fine and fared sumptuously. The whip cracked on the Backs of the toilers and the chains clanked on their limbs, and when it suitted their Masters, [illegible] , so we needed this war, and God sent it, and surely it will end Right, for he will assuredly not cease untill it is well done.

We are having Glorious news from Lieut. Gen. Grant's opperations in the East. I hope that we are having no wrong impression in our minds, in regard to these things. Many brave men are falling but through these trials we will yet be made free. There are slight rummors in camp here that our advance at Tunnel hill in Georgia, has fallin Back on Ringgold, we have no Particulers. Banks; what is he: I did not like his actions in his administration of affairs last fall and summer. This spring he had too much to do with the making of the Governor of Louisianna. I really hope that things are not as bad as the Papers say they are, in the district. I expect a letter from you every day now. But there is not any telling when we will get mail, tis said that on the evening of the fifth of this month, after we left Clifton Their was fifteen thousand men and 1800 head of cattle landed there, and it is likely we will get mail when they come they should be here tomorrow, or the next day. there is a report that there are 10,000 men under some Rebel general within a few miles I don't believe it allthough we have to get up each before day light and boots and saddles being sounded, we harness and hitch up, the Infantry also fall into line. this road is guard[ed] at many Places by colored troops, raised in this state and the Borders of Tenn. three regiments in all. we are with some troops we were never with before, the 30th Ill. and 32nd Ohio, are among them, also the 14th Ill. they all think we are as good if not better than any Battery then have ben with, and think we done well in getting so well a long in the storm. the gen. in well Pleased with us to I hear, we are the only Battery in this force,

my love and respect to all and Believe me ever your affectionate son

William G. Christie

P. S. send along Post stamps a dollars worth, at least Love to mother and grand mother good by for the present.

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