Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: January 5, 1865
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: Thomas offers his opinions on soldiering in general to his brother, who is considering enlistment.

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Savannah, Ga.
Jan. 5th 1865

My dear Sandy:

As I know you love to read letters from us, & as I suppose it will be some time yet before I will have a letter from you to answer, & as it costs me only a little time, ink, & paper, a three cent stamp & an envelope to gratify you, I have determined to spoil a sheet of this new Wilton Mead letter paper for your benefit.

Contrary to our expectations, we did not break up camp today, & it is now thought that we will not leave immediately, even if the Infantry of the Division go, which they expect to do tomorrow. We hear that the 1st Division of the Corps is at Beaufort, where it is thought we are to go when we leave here. We also have from Wilmington the news of Butler's landing there, above Fort Fisher. It seems to me that we will push Charleston closely very soon as a division in Butler's favor. When the troops went on board the transports two days ago there were put on with them several Guns of the heaviest calibre captured here, which looks as if siege operations were to be commenced somewhere, & of course we naturally think of Charleston as the object of these forthcoming operations. No matter where we go, so that we are on the move, & doing something and we will be satisfied. Savannah is as tiresome to us now as ever Corinth or Vicksburg were, & we want to be at something new. Before the winter is out it is likely we shall be gratified. Our life since we appeared before the city has been so full of interesting incident, that I have not been able to keep you posted of everything as I should. While we were in position on the lines outside the city we had several very exciting duels with the Rebel Batteries of 32 pdrs, & 10 pound Rifles. On the 15th Nov. they opened fiercely on us and our Cannoniers rushed to their posts, while I looked out a position from which I could observe the fire of my Gun. As the country was very flat, & the smoke of the cannonade hung low to the ground it was difficult to see the effect of our shots from our parapet. On the flank of our work, & close to it, was an old Rice mill, of which you have heard before, & on the end facing the Enemy's Batteries was an old window in the upper story, some twenty feet from the ground, the blind of the window being thrown back against the side of the Building. I thought this would be a good spot from whence to get a view of the Rebel position, & so I went into the mill in order to go up the stairs into the upper story. On going inside however I found that the stairs had been taken down by the men for firewood, so I had to give up the project, as there was no other chance to get to the window. I had scarcely got to my piece again when a 32 pound shell from one of the Guns in front of us struck the old window blind & burst just inside the mill, tearing off part of the roof above where it exploded & raising Ned generally. I could not but think that if those stairs had been all right in their place, I would have had a hard time of it at that old window. We dried up the Johnnies soon after, and had no more trouble till the 17th when they opened on us from both front and flank. They had a Battery on our left front within 700 yards, with which they enfiladed us completely, sending the shells across in the rear of the Guns, through our cookfires. We had been started up from our dinners to reply to the scamps, and as I was hungry, as I generally am about that time, I occupied myself in munching a cracker while directing the fire of the Gun. When my first hard tack was all nibbled up bethought myself of getting another one, and looking round for the haversack, saw it hanging to the pole of the tarpaulin which was stretched immediately in the rear of the Gun. Started for the haversack to get a cracker, but when half way to it, something told me not to go. A moment after, and a ten pound shot bounced over the low parapet on our left, passed close in the rear of Conner's Gun, & plunged right through my tarpaulin, making two holes in it that you might shove your head through. Of course I felt grateful to my inward Mentor for preventing my going to the haversack. The tarpaulins that belong to my Gun have always been specially unfortunate.

The old one we turned over at Atlanta had 11 ball holes through it, and now this new one is completely ruined for rainy weather by these shot holes through it. This thing of having a fellow's wigwam riddled with air holes, though fine for ventilation, is not very desirable when these southern torrents pour on the canvas.

That was a rather hot place we were in by the old Rice Mill. A day or two after that close call of mine, a shot from the same flank Gun dashed through an Embrasure of the 15th Ohio, in the same fort with us, & tore a man's shoulder & arm all to pieces. He has since died. When we passed through the line of Rebel forts on our way to the city on the morning of the 21st, we had a good chance to see the effect of our shots. Their embrasures were completely torn to pieces, & two of their Guns had been dismounted by our Rodmans. I don't think you have much idea of the terrible accuracy of our kind of Guns, which the Rebels confess they dread far more than any other kind. Probably you think your rifle is pretty good at shooting, but what would you say to see a two foot square target, in the shape of an embrasure, hit twice out of three times at a mile distance. This we have done repeatedly, and we have never failed yet to have the last shot with either Batteries or sharpshooters.

If you enlist under the new call Sandy, and if no persuasions will keep you at home you must come to us. There is plenty of room now for 30 men, & if [Malmros?] will not enlist you for us, take 50 dollars in hand & come down to Savannah, or where the Corps may be. Lieut. Wurter will be glad to enlist you and his Certificate will draw your Local Bounty anywhere. Never think of joining any other Company than ours. I have not space to give you all the reasons that should influence you to this step, but if you come across any old soldier ask him about the different branches of the service, & see what he will tell you of the Infantry.

Morning, Jan. 6th

We are under orders to march at 9 O'clock, for fort Thunderbolt—5 miles south—where we are to take transports for Beaufort or some other place. Under these circumstances you must excuse me from finishing this sheet.

Yours hurriedly,
Th. D. Christie

Hurrah for seasickness.

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