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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: September 8, 1862
Location: Corinth, Mississippi
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: This letter explains the process of foraging for food around camp, and also mentions the mobilization of the troops for maneuvers in the Iuka area. Thomas also provides advice to his sister on studying.

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Corinth Miss. Sept 8, 1862

My Dear Sister,

Yours of the 2nd has arrived and I see with pleasure that you are soon to resume your studies.

Of course you need no exhortation from me to make you pursue those studies with industry and perseverance, for I know you must appreciate the opportunities you have to fit yourself, by acquiring a thorough education, for the noble profession you have adopted. But there are a few other points on which I feel you perhaps need advice, and I know you will not think it amiss if I give you a few hints as to the manner of conducting your studies.

In the first place, do not begin on too many studies, put yourself through in Common English Branches, Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar and Writing. Leave nothing behind you in these things not fully understood, for, as you know, they are the foundation of every good education. while you are pursuing these studies I would have you practice vocal and instrumental Music to a limited extent as a recreation only, and do not let the pleasure you derive from it or any other similar occupation make the plainer and more usefull [sic] labors distastefull [sic] to you.

As to foreign languages, painting, drawing etc, I advise you not to think of them this first year. I know you will be greatly tempted by the example of others to disregard this, but you must observe that their pursuit tends to draw the attention from the sterling acquirements and impart to the mind a superficial cast and make it unfit for deep thought.

Do not be ashamed of, or try to conceal, your ignorance of anything that you do not understand, but remember what Benson used to say to us, that we must always confuse our ignorance in order to be taught anything. I speak plainly to you because I wish you to succeed, and I know that by these means your success is certain.

In your anxiety to study do not neglect or injure your bodily health, take plenty of outdoor exercise and bathe frequently. Strive to excel in the play yard as well as in the Schoolroom, and when you play, play and don't sham it.

This will do now, but expect more hereafter and I would like you to keep me posted in the progress you make in all your studies and the way things are conducted at the Establishment. It will be pleasant when we are driving the enemy south towards the Gulf to read of your peacefull [sic] triumphs in the recitation room.

Apropos of driving the rebels, I may tell you that we have received orders to make everything ready for active service, all the ammunition is to be inspected, and cooked rations kept on hand to last 3 days.

Rumors are flying round of our Battery being ordered to Kentucky to defend Cincinnatti [sic] and help to whip Kirby Smith. One thing is certain, your letters will not be directed to Corinth much longer, the Fall Campaign will soon open in the West and we entertain expectation of wintering in Mobile and bathing in salt water.

A foraging expedition went out day before yesterday and I was one of fifty mounted men who accompanied it as guards.

We rode west about 2 miles and passed one of the dozen forts that guard the town, they extend in a semicircle 6 miles in length and each mounts 6 guns. After leaving the fort we took the road to Ripley and passed the pickets about a mile out. We then rode through an extensive swamp full of pawpaw and persimmon bushes. The former is a fruit as large as a common-sized [illegible word] and about the same shape, it is very sweet and pulpy. The persimmon looks just like one of the round tomatoes and tastes very good. On emerging from this swamp we came to a cornfield and immediately entered it with about fifty teams. In 20 minutes the field of 10 acres were swept clean and the fodder piled on the wagons.

We then turned and came back, leaving the Division quartermaster to pay the owner five dollars per acre as he was a Union man. On the road home we filled our saddlebags with wild plums that were considerably inferior to what you are picking nowadays.

I have just got the Independence and must read the Sermon. Write when you get this and remember me as your loving Brother.

T. D. Christie

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