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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: November 28, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: Thomas is involved in the creation of a soldiers' group called the Vicksburg Union Literary Society. He also writes about the prevalence of music in camp.

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Vicksburg, Miss. Nov. 28th, 1863

My Dear Sister,

At length I receive a letter from home after waiting for it so long. Yours of the 6th came to hand this noon, and I answer without delay. William also got one from Sandy, and one from -----.

The continuation of the "tale" of my adventures coming down from Memphis you will have to wait for till I come home, as there did not enough of interest occur on the journey to make it worth recording. William and I are both in good health as you will readily believe when I tell you that my weight today is 156 pounds, without overcoat. I am very comfortably situated at present in the Orderly Sergeants tent, but still mess in the Squad, and do duty there. Southwick is well and hearty, and he and I mess together, that is, we buy and use butter, cheese, etc. in common. Komer is not any better, to say the least, than he was when you saw him, as his diarrhea still continues bad, and the change of climate and mode of life has done him no good. Sam is stout as ever and in a fair way of getting rich fast, as he buys apples by the barrel in town and sells them out in the Company in such a manner as to gain about five dollars per barrel, (out of pocket). This extraordinary result may be attributed to the fact that like cotton in his grocery, he is his own best customer. We have a way here of what we call "saddling the horse" for the apples. The modus operandi is this,= Suppose there are 5 of us who go into it, a slip of paper is marked on one side with the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and on the opposite side is marked, in secret, one of those figures, the paper is then handed to each one and he selects one of the five figures by crossing it with his pencil. Whoever crosses the figure which is also put down on the other side has to pay for the apples for the crowd. This mode of making a man stand treat is much in vogue in our squad, and as Sam comes around pretty often with his pailful of apples to peddle, we generally manage to inveigh him into it, and as he has miserable luck in marking, he almost invariably has to come down with the fruit. Yesterday evening Sam came around, as usual, to Southwicks tent, where I was, and I, being the prime mover of all mischief of this kind, immediately proposed to "saddle the horse" for a quarters worth. This they all agreed to, Sam included, and we all marked our figures, throwing the treat on the luckless Woolley. This did not suit him, and he proposed to try it again when we had eaten the first treat. His object was to get it on to me, as I had been having a good many apples at his expense, and had not been saddled yet. So we went through the operation twice more, and, singularly enough, he marked the fated figure each time, so that he went away with an empty pail and minus the yomay [sic] greenbacks which he should have realized by the sale of his apples.

We have got a society in town called the Vicksburg Union Literary Association, and W. and I are members of it. I joined only last Tuesday evening, and have not taken any part in the proceedings as yet, but Wm has taken an active part in two debates, and is the leader in the one to come off next Tuesday. The proceedings of the weekly meetings are, Debate, Reading of the magazine published by us, and delivery of an Essay by one of the members, the meeting opening with prayer and singing. If we stay here all winter we will have a good time, for besides what I have mentioned, we attend Dinner Service every Sunday, and I have heard some of the best Sermons here that I ever heard in my life. There is a young fellow in the 10th Ohio Battery, Sergt. Gage, who visits us sometimes and I like him very much, as he is well educated, a good conversationalist, a good singer, and can draw first rate. He was in our tent last night, and we were all enjoying ourselves very much, when one of our boys came to the door and looked into the tent for a long time, then, to excuse his standing listening to us, he suddenly asked if so and so was in. Gage very soberly looked under the bunks, pulled out a drawer in the Orderly's desk and peeked into it, and lifted up the large Roster Book and looked under it, then turning gravely to the eavesdropper said he thought so and so could not be in, as he could not find him anywhere. The chap turned off, perfectly satisfied that the man he wanted was not in our tent at least.

We made a chessboard and men a short time ago, and I have learned to play quite well. We have some good players in the Company and I will have a chance to become a pretty good player. It is a much deeper game than checkers, and we sometimes are 2 hours at our game.

William and I sent home 62 Dollars a few days ago with a request to Father to pay your debts at Lowell and Watertown, and he will probably do it.

You must give me a description of your new school and the people of the neighborhood in your next and give my respects to our old schoolmates, the Foxes. The Bugle Call which you sent down is much appreciated among the singers here, and "the Gun boat Song" and "Gone to the War" are special favorites. We sometimes have great old sings in our tent, where half the company will come to hear us. My new tent mate, Sergt. Heywood is an excellent singer, and a good fellow altogether. Kelley is now in the hospital, sick with the fever and ague and he has not been well since he and I were taken sick together last Summer. We had a note from John Schaller yesterday, telling us that he is with his Regiment at Red Bone Home 12 miles south of here, and wishing us to come out and see him, we will go out on [illegible word]. I am on Guard tonight, and it is awful cold, we have had some rain lately and may now expect a cold spell, but last week the weather was just like Indian Summer.

Write promptly in answer to this and then you may expect a like virtue in me. No more,

Your Loving Brother, T.D. Christie

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