Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: William G. Christie
Date: August 20, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: A massive explosion of ammunition being loaded onto the ship “City of Madison” rocks the camp; dozens are killed on the ship. William provides details of the accident and mentions that Thomas D. Christie is on his way back to Clyman.

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Vicksburgh Mississippi, Agust 20th 1863

Dear Brother. This morning is Rainy. Raw and disagreeable, So you see by every letter I write to you there is always something wrong with the weather. Tis either too hot or its opposite, or too wet or too dry, and in fact there is no Pleasing of humanity or at least this small portion of it that addresses you I Believe I would growl if I were going to be hanged, no matter how soft the Rope, or accommodating the hangman. So you will have the little Corporal among you and one or two others of the Bould soger Boys, use them well, and see that they will Be well used by the Infernal Copperheads that slip and crawl round among you. within the past two weeks we have lost two members of our Battery By Death. one of them a detailed man from the 17th Wis. his name was James Bray, he enlisted at Janesville, Whiskey I Believe was the Reason he had to Pay dame Nature the debt due her. the other died on the evening of the 17th. he was a german a very good man, and succumbed to Dysentry and Ague. so there are great numbers going off with one ailment and another, which might be expected among so many men, where so few know or understand But little about the laws of health, or any of the phisical laws of Nature. But the Death of a fellow soldier, is a thing that is not calculated to shock us very much as long as it is in the field or Hospital. But when the lives of a number of men and some women is taken unexpectedly, and in the shocking manner that a number Perished yesterday; it makes even the most thoughtless of us feel afraid, or something akin to fear, at least it does me, yesterday morning I was detailed with some others of the Battery to go to the Levee for hay. we had slayed quite a while Before we got our hay, and about noon as we were leaving the Levee, I saw a great cloud of smoke flame and steam, and a loud prolonged roar as if a great gun had Burst. But we soon learned that it was the City of Madison, a goverment transport, that had nearly completed her load of Ammuntion. I left the waggons and hasttend in the Direction of the scene of Disaster, having about sixty rods to run. What a sight when I got to the Boat, or where she had Been, there she lay or what was left of her. a small portion of upper deck and the stern besides the right hand Wheelhouse, she was, at the time of the horrible accident, getting up steam so that she might Procceed to Natchez. But as her load was not complete there was a large Detail of as many as eighty men at work getting aboard the boxes of fixed ammunition, when unfortunately some careless or thoughtless Person let a box of Percussion shell fall, and it fell points down and then men, and boat went up in one great cloud of smoke and flame. Men mangled, were thrown as much as one hundred yards from the boat, and ceased to breath, Boxes of ammunittion were thrown up to a great hight and fell among Piles of the same that were on the Levee. Tis said the captains family were on Board, Besides the deck hands, one hundred Negroes were in the hold, stowing away the loading, and in fact I suppose there are over a hundred lives lost, I may learn more Particulars today, if so I will forward them to you But the papers will give all the different stories, afloat, about it. after what I seen I cannot write about it with any other feelings than those of horror. The Ewd; Walsh a very large Boat lying outside the City of Madison is a total wreck as far as her upper works are concernned, there were a number of people hurt on her, also. There is a great amount of all kinds of Millitary Business done here. large quantities of amunition is Being shipped down the River and it would seem By the kind that it was for siege Purposes; Tom's furlough and those for the other invalids are Being made out just now; and it is very likely he will be there with you, as soon as this letter. Now you will all Be troubling him about how Big Willie looks, so I will just tell you that he looks about as when you last saw him only not so many Pounds, Avoirdupois, in whight as he was then. Not any wiser But Probably tother way. so give the lad rest and me too, for I may Be up to see you and speak for myself, for I am going to try for a regular furlough,

O gory what am I to fill up this long sheet with. Horses is the talk Between me and the Corporal, we have come to the conclusion that one span of Horses are as easy kept as two yoke of oxen and seeing that Father's Place is all under the Plow we, or rather I have come to the conclusion he should have a Beautiful span of Brood mares: and seeing there is another year for me to Be in the service of my Country: (don't that sound Big!) and if it is God's will that I should get Back to the “old old home”, I will want to rusticate as much as another year, and look round to see what will turn up, I think Father could not do much Better than just use what ever We may send him to get things in shape on the Place, and he would have time to Refund the green Backs, at his lessure. There is one thing vexes me very much and that is I have not anything to send you.. I have not money enough on hand to have my […] taken. But you can just think you see me looking at you, with a Broad grin on, and my Ivories displayed to great advantage. Don't trouble the Corporal with your trines, and signs of X Plus y , and all such very valuable things let his Brain rest. jaunt him round and let him see as Be seen you have not any need to Be ashamed of him, I assure you. If he begins with any of his learned Book truck and wont stop when you tell him too, and that would Be Before he was well begun you up and knock him down, then have sarah maul him with the Broom stick untoo he says he wont say a work about Algebra or any other A. of the kind. So now you know how I would have the thing done. Amos Nobles and John Schaller will Be likely to pay you a visit, and they are Both good and useful soldiers, so do the Best to make them feel happy, and Pleased among you, Bear with some of John Schallers modes of Expression and Be considerat, you will find Amos a very quiet fellow, and able to give a very good account of the Battle of Shiloh, also a Pretty good Idea of Hospital life, he having been a waiter or nurse in these Places at different Points, he wont exagarate, John may draw the long Bow a little, Now I said all I can say about these things, and then you see I will have to dry up, and leave all this Paper unused; down come the rain in coppocous showers and old mamy Earth Bleaz through the rain haye, give my Respects to everyone that is not snakey, and Be you write soon, Love to Mother; Grandmother and all the rest of the Women gear, good By for the Present and Believe me your loving Brother

William G. Christie

I don't mean to slight the men folks in the least.

Good By

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