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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: William G. Christie
Date: July 16, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: Now inside the city of Vicksburg, William writes about the sights around town and the general progress of the Union offensive.

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Vicksburgh Mississippi July 16th, 1863

Brother, I lay aside my lazy fit as I would a load, and I will try and write you a letter. But here I have to come to a dead halt for want of something to say.

July 19th Dear Brother I once more resume my pen, to scrible a few lines to you. We are much Pleased here with the Prospects in Tenn: and Penn, and are well satisfied with our own acheivements, Rummor has it the greater Portion of the garrison at Port hudson gave Banks, and fleet, the slip crossing the River to La. side and cutting some very smart yankee tricks, let these things Be as they may. The Mississippi River is oppen and the Southern Confedracy is cut in twain, it will be out of the question to think that the Pesky critter can live with our the tail, and if Meade only gives the Head a scrunch with his heel we will soon make away with the Body.

This city is very nicely sittuated, and has been very handsome Before the war. I have been over the whole Place and I have changed my mind in regard to its appearance. Tis very filthy and although large gangs of Negroes have been employed in cleaning the streets, there has been But little, apparently, (comparitivly speaking) done. the Rebels have been very filthy, and it has just been here as every where else. We have been driven to a great Deal of work for healths sake. There are waggon loads of old rags of clothing, full of vermin and disgusting to Behold, there are one or two Rebel hospitals in town, and you can tell long before you come near them By the odorous stench, where they are, and let me assure you that they as a general thing have a Peculiar odor, belong[ing] to their camps and hospitals, and you can tell when Passing through a country, where troops of Both sides have been camped. the difference, between each camp By the smell even before you see a scrap of clothing or anything else to tell the difference by.

A Report is current in camp today that Joe Johnson has got out of Sherman's net and is running away as fast as he can. We do not hear much about what is going on in our rear, But we do not trouble ourselves much. We have any amount of confidence in U. S. Grant and feel sure of everything coming out right.

I have picked up an old Grammar, Kirkham's; first published in 1830, and I study it with great Profit and Pleasure. getting some very good assistance from the Corporal, I will say nothing further at Present, about my Proficeniancy in the rules or application of them, for I have not the least doubt, you can see no improvement, in the grammatical construction, of my sentences, and there is none in the sense either.

You complain of having nothing to write abut, what do you suppose we Poor Devils have to write about, nothing only drumming here: and drumming there, drumming everywhere, and fiffing for the same. Dixie Played on one side of you Yankee doodle Behind you. The Praire flower in front, and girl I left behind me on the other side; accompanied By the Devil's Dream, by another Band close bye. the whole makes a very curious mixture of sound like one grand Devil's Dream, or some such other villanious compersion of music. Next we might tell of transport hot weather, then of the daily arrivals of Contraband, from the cane brakes, where they have been hid away by there masters, untill so near dead with exposure and want, poisoned by vines of various kinds, and in such horrid Plight, that numbers drop Dead in the streets, or lie down in some unoccupied house, and die. Is this war too much for the Nation, that has had such a system in it that bears such fruits. No, and untill this accursed thing is Put from among us there will be no end to the war. I might also tell you a large quantity of Provisions, have been found under the house of a citizen of vicksburgh, while he was drawing Rations from our commissary, fifteen barrels of flour, several of sugar and a great quantity of melossas. he was taken in Custody and the goods seized. I might also tell you of the departure of Ransome's Brigade for Natches, how the 13th Ill, releived the 11th, and so you see you might learn a great deal if I was only disposed to tell you. The 11th I might say followed the Balance of the Brigade. I might also let you know there is two of the collord rigments camped in vicksburgh, and it is said in camp that a numer of our troops down the River near Natches captured five thousand head of stock, two thousand heard being Beef Cattle and the Balalance mules and horses. I might also tell you about an Election of officers in the first Minnesota Battery and how near like a Political thing of the same kind, in Clyman it looked, But Being like [Gruncio?] : I do not feel disposed to do so, and so you may die of curriosity, or Ignorance.

But I hear the Ringing of the church bell, making music in the air: and they Bring many many Pleasant memories before my minds eye, not that I have ever been a church going Individual, no sir. But I can go away Back to the sunny sabbaths when I used to Be in Dundee, making music with my fingers on the railing round St. Davids Church, or stand near the Catholic Church at the foot of Tys Street and listen to the Organ as it helped to swell the chorruses of the peiceses played in the service. Then I used to go and see the tide come roaring over the Banks, as it came in, and Now I go and see the Mississippi, Pouring to the sea its water Beaten white By the Paddle wheels of the transports, and thrown up in spurts by the propellers of the messenger Boats, as they glid up and down from one Place to another Keeping up communication between the gun Boats. One of these goes Past at times grim and Black to look at, and there Port holes , thereateningly oppen.

My letters are wearisome, I know. But there is only one excuse for me writing and that is it lets you know I am well, I am also light in weight, (not to say or imply anything else) Being, only 140 lbs. By the scales. so you see I am But a bunch of Bones: But lively and well. I am glad we left Lake Providence, for we learn it is very sickly there. The sixteenth Wisconsin and 120th Ill. has a great number on the sick list, there does not seem to be much increase of sickness among our troops at this point and the old contraband inhabitants say “dat, Dis will not be a yaller feve yar, dis yere: thank de lod:” Poor things they may be mistaken, but they are it seems quite confident, then they go on and tell of faithfull watching over thankless masters, and mistrisses and how they would be taken with it themselves: and left to die or get well as they Best might. The Christian Episcopal Methodist Church about a year or so ago gathered up a subscription for the erection of a church; for the use of the collored people, would have nothing But gold or silver. got eight hundred Dollars in hard cash, never built the church, nor returned the money, and so the mater is in “status quo” or some other such fix, Be Patient in all things, is my advice to you and if I had only written so at the head of this letter you would have been profittably warned and spared you self the trouble of reading such a jumble of nonsense, Read and forgive, and Remember me to all,

Believe me your affecttionate Brother

Wm G. Christie,

PS. we had lots drawn in the Battery yesterday for furloughs of those that drew three detailed men from the […] got Prizes; and are going home, I did not draw neither did T.D. it would cost 2 cents mile each way. James fischer is one of the men going home. he will call at Uncle Davids. Fischer resides in Portlan

enclosed Myrtle Blooms.

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