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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: July 16, 1862
Location: Corinth, Mississippi
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: Activity in camp. Thomas contrasts the health and hygiene of the First Minnesota Light artillery with that of Wisconsin infantry units camped nearby.

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Corinth Miss. July 16/62

My Dear Sister,

Your lecture and songs of the 7th were thankfully received on Monday with your letters of the 9th. I can see by the style and mechanical execution of this last one that you are still in good health and lively spirits, for I have discovered that we write best when we feel best, so that it did not need your assurance to that effect to let me know that you felt well.

I am happy to let you know that I never felt better in my life and William is in firstrate health as he no doubt has assured you in his letter written yesterday.

I would have written at the same time, only I was off on a jayhawking excursion after apples. Don't be shocked, they were not stolen, as there was no owner to steal from, he being in the Rebel army.

You read probably of the severe skirmish at Russel's house just before the evacuation of Corinth, well, this was the place, the fine house was set on fire by one of our shells and burned down, the apple and peach trees are many of them marked by our bullets, and the whole place is now abandoned to Ruin.

1 of us went on horseback (it is about 4 miles) and brought home a basket and a half of pretty good apples. Even when ripe they are inferior to our Northern fruit, being neither so large nor so juicy. However, they make very good sauce and pies. The peaches are very numerous and good looking but not ripe and they will not be in 3 weeks. As I came through the fine garden all overgrown with weeds, I picked the prettiest rose that I ever saw intending to send it to you, but the petals very soon all dropped off, so I send you another flower that grew close by the ruined house inside of which the Rebels were posted untill [sic] driven from there by our Artillery. Several were killed on each side in this engagement.

That is a very good letter from your friend Powers, but it struck me as singular that she addressess you by your surname. It is the fashion here among our men but I did not think that it was among young ladies. With us it is Clayton, Everts, Koethe, Southwick, Christie W. G. or Christie T. D. No Mr. about it, in fact we don't adhere much to any of the conventionalities of Society but go it roughly and kindly. “Smith,” throw a tater over here before I hurt you so bad that you can't. All jokes must be taken in good humor for nothing else will do, and we are just as free with our Sergeants and Lieutenants in the way of joking as with a private. Well, they are just as frank with us and have themselves to blame if they get the worst of it sometimes in Repartee. Nor do we obey them the less for this freedom of intercourse, for our Battery will do more today for our Commander than many a one whose discipline is more strict, whose officers tie a man up by the thumbs for missing Roll call, or any other petty offense.

We Minnesota fellows don't believe in the Regular Army theory that the Officers are Gentlemen and the men are dogs, but I regret to say that some of our Volunteers seem to be governed by rules deduced from that axiom. In the 17th Wis. there is considerable of this kind of punishment used by the officers. But, Sub Rosa, let me tell you it is generally needed in that Regiment, for a more scalliwag [sic] looking set of men I have seldom seen in ranks, they are the strongest Regiment in the Division and may be the best drilled, but the general phisiog of the men is repulsive and most Celtic.

It is always disagreeable to me to visit our Clyman boys there, for I seem to descend into a lower moral sphere with their cursing and brogue and quarreling. I expect though that they will fight like devils from mere habit and disposition although there are a great many among them who would not care now one snap which whipt [sic], the North or South, if they only were out of it. Of course this is not to be told round Clyman or even to W. who has a different opinion of them. Every one to their taste you know. I am proud to say that the Clyman men are far superior to the average of the Reg. And I am always glad to see them, they visit us often, and are entertained with the best we have, Bread, Baked beans, new potatoes and apple or Blackberry pie and sauce. No Company I have visited yet lives in better style than we do, well, we have a better chance being Artillery and getting better Rations than Infantry and than [sic] we pay 50 cts per month apiece for cooking. I ascribe to this our superior health at present, and better muscular condition than the infantry for while they play quoits with mule shoes at 12 paces, we use the heaviest kind of uncorked horseshoes at 20. This is a pretty good index of strength for when I commenced I could not throw more than half our present distance.

I remember of but 1 of your letters that I did not answer and that came almost a month after it was written, continue to write and I will answer. My love to all the folks - Grandmothers Reid and Bertie especially, not forgetting Mother from whom I expect a few lines soon. T. D. Christie

[Postscript at top of page 2] I have to say Sarah that you must improve in your writing or [sorrow?] will [face?] you. I don't think you give enough attention to this and you will forgive me for reminding you of it as it is out of regard for you that I do it.

[Postscript at top of page 4] I write on a table under a booth that we have built at the door of our tarpaulin tent. A half mile south is the cluster of Mead quarters tents, on the west stretch the long line of Infantry Sibleys of our Division while on the east lie the artillery and Cavalry. In the rear or north is the town .

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