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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: July 1, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: Thomas provides advice on school, and relates the status of the siege operation.

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Before Vicksburg, July 1st 1863.

Dear Sandy:

Your excellent long letter of the 18th Ult. is recieved [sic] and read by me with much pleasure as it indicates great progress made by you in the art of letter writing, and also a manly independent spirit.

I am with you entirely in your plan of self improvement at home. Let Father get you the necessary books, and give you opportunity this coming winter to attend school, doing enough chores to keep you in exercise, and I am confident you would learn more and learn better than at any college.

For you are too young yet, and not well enough prepared, to take your place in a college class, where you would kill yourself trying to keep up. No, No, Lay a good, broad, solid, foundation first, by making yourself master of all the minor studies, and then you can enter college with a fair start and come out ahead, as I know you will.

It is a fault with us, and especially with Sarah, (you may show her this of course) to wish to go ahead too fast, if not to go ahead to appear to do so; and this is perfectly ruinous to a plan of education. This desultory way of catching up a study, pursuing it awhile with great ardor, and then dropping it half mastered to try something new, will never thoroughly educate man or woman.

Being a military man, I would advise you to push your lines of advance parallel. I know pretty well the situation of your forces; opposite that grand old fort, Mathematics, you are far in advance of the rest of your line and untill [sic] you work up as near to forts Grammar, Geography, and others, I would advise you to suspend operations at that point, taking care of course to hold all the ground you now occupy. You see: if you push one part of the line too far in advance of the rest it is in danger of being flanked, and cannot be supported. To drop simile: you must be careful not to rush too fast into new studies and thus neglect the unfinished old ones. I think that by the time you have attended school for 6 months or less, and studied some at home you will be ready to enter College with every prospect of success.

Now for the mathematical part of my letter; A man has 100 acres of wheat to cut, and has 100 Dollars to pay out for cutting it. He hires 2 men to cut it, and one of them (A) being a better and more careful cradler than the other, (B) he pays a 1.25 per acre, and consequently pays B .75 per acre. Now, the question is, how many acres shall each men cut to earn 50 Dollars, as that is the sum to be paid to each.

You will explain the reason for the different answers which you get by different processes.

Again, how many strands of inch rope (inch in diameter) are needed to make a 3 inch rope, allowing nothing for twistage.

An interval of 14 seconds intervenes between the flash of a mortar on the river and the report. Another interval of 8 seconds between the bursting of the shell and its report here. How far distant is the mortar, and how far does the shell come before it bursts, supposing that the firing is directly towards us.

When you work out these I will give you some more.

July 2nd

Yesterday at noon the big fort in front of Logan (Ft. Hill) was blown up for the second time, but no charge was made. The artillery opened on its rear immediately and for a short time the cannonade was tremendous. Our howitzer fired 20 rounds of shell and case in a few minutes, and must have done considerable damage, as the enemy did their best to silence us, the bullets came in through the port hole thick and fast, but hurt nobody, although one struck the face of the piece, another split the handspike, and many others went into the fascines behind the gun.

William got 3 holes in his blanket while it was out airing yesterday morning.

We had a visit a few days ago from 2 men of the 36th Massachusetts, Barnsides Corps. They are now at Snyders Bluff, and these men came to see what the Western men were doing. One of the 45th Ills. was with them, showing them round the works, and when they came to our gun we had a long talk with them. They seemed to take it for granted that the Eastern army was inferior to the Western, although we deprecated the idea. They said that the 7th Connecticut is in their Corps, and they think it is with them now, but I doubt it, as the last I heard from cousin Robert he was at port Royal.

Write me another such letter as this last and leave political disquisitions and criticisms on the war for William.

Affectionately, T.D. Christie

[Postscript at top of page 4] We were paid yesterday for the months of March and April $(26.) We will send what money we can in a letter to Fathers address at Watertown and will post it tomorrow or next day. I have been drawing private's pay all along in consequence of there being too many non-coms in the company. Some who were marked off as deserters having come back and been reinstated. The (?) insists that I shall act as corporal, though (?) says he will make it all right. So, for the months of May and June I will draw [remainder illegible]

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