The Confederacy Is On Her Way Up the Spout

I recently made a trip to our local library and found a civil war book that looked pretty good.  It was titled The Confederacy Is On Her Way Up the Spout. It made me think about what it might have been like to have lived during the Civil War.  Of course, there was always the risk of losing a loved one, but just think of the families that split over the issue with one side picking the North and the other the South.  Talk about a family feud.  Anyway, I decided I’d do a post on the Civil War.  Hope you enjoy it.  

Soldiers often enjoy sending and receiving letters.  In previous wars before censorship, email, and cell phones, their letters were often a source of information about the progress of a war.  They also explained how a soldier spent his days and nights. 

Between the years 1861 and 1864 Jesse McMahan and Lucretis Caroline Barrett McMahan of Pickens County, South Carolina, received numerous letters from a family of Confederate soldiers-three brothers and a brother-in-law.  The soldiers were yeoman farmers whose education was limited as you can see from their spelling and punctuation.  Unhappily, none of the four survived the war.

Excerpts from the letters are listed below and shed light on what it was like to be a soldier in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. They also show how the soldiers’ attitude changed as the war progressed.

August 11, 1861

Richmond, VA

Dear Brother and Sister

…a sholger nows but little moar what is a goin on than you do only in his own ridge ment or when he receves orders to march and than he don’t know whether hit is for a fight or to change en campements til he sees the enemy.  Only by the movements of the armey he can give a perty close gest.  i know that tha is fifey Thousand shoulgers in camp hear and sixteen Hundred yankee prisoners hear but I don’t know ho long we wil stay her nor wher we will go to next.

Oct 14, 1861

Camp Winder, Richmond

Dear Brother and Sister-Thrue the kind provadents c. and all wise god I am enjoying good health while many of my Brother solgers has sicken and dide hoping thes lines may find you all well.

November 1, 1861

Goldsboro, NC

every thing seams still today.  The same auld tail keep two days rashon cook.  we have bicets that is so hard I could nock a bull down with one.  hit is raining this eaven an the wind a blowing a prospeck of a stormey night.

April 11, 1862

Ashland, VA

It a snowing on the morning of the eight long be for day.  the role beat we was up and on march by six.  the snow had turn in to heavy rain.  it continued to rain all day.  ten thousand of us on march the mud and water nea deep in a heap of places and small stream to wade.

May 13, 1862

Kent County vergina

the Yankees made a heavy actact on williamsburg at 11 on monday.  tha was 3000 ingage on boath sides.  the fight lasted tel 6 in the even.  the Yankees reinforce all the time and no reinforce got to our toops tel five in the even.  our troops won the fight.  drove the yankees back with grate slaughter.  hit was a hard and bloody battle.   

January 28, 1863

Fredericksburg, Va.

it was a sight to see the battlefield, the dead was a lying thick over a bout one hundred achors of ground and strange to tel but no les strange than true the heaps of the dead to make brest works to sight behind.

June 5, 1863

Hampton Legion 

South Quay, Va.

There is nothing more but Sorrows & trubles to be seen.  Oh I will be glad when it is gods will to restore Peace to our unhappy & distressed country.

July 18, 1863

Camp Neare Richmond

the soldiers has a by word when any body dies or anything lost saying its gone up the spout.  tell Washington that I say the Confederacy is on her way up the spout.  nothing more.  

About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
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10 Responses to The Confederacy Is On Her Way Up the Spout

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    It’s always fascinating to read personal accounts of people involved in an event. It gives an entirely different view, reading about how individuals were affected. When cleaning out my mom’s house, I found a little suitcase full of letters my dad wrote to his parents during the Korean War, and it made me see him in an entirely different light. Thanks for sharing this!


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    Wow…. those letters are powerful.
    Years ago, my mom loaned me a handful of letters her Daddy wrote back to his mother, during WW1. Though he was an educated man — later a phone company exec — he had lots of errors of spelling and punctuation. As you did here, I preserved all of the content as my grandfather originally wrote it — when I typed up his correspondence and sent copies to my siblings.


  3. John Babb says:

    What an eye-opening post, Jeff.  I haven’t seen such mangled writing in all the Civil War letters I’ve read, but maybe it makes them all the more poignant.  Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      These men did have a limited education for sure, and I agree it’s more poignant to read it just as they wrote it.


  4. How amazing it is that those letters were preserved in a book for the world to see! I love reading old letters, it gives you so much more insight than just facts and dates on a page.


  5. Touching history! I wish more people had had the foresight to keep such letter. I learned so much about the whys of the Revolution from the books where the info was gained through letters,(boy, those people WROTE!)
    My mother kept my brother’s from Vietnam, unfortunately, they were destroyed.
    The Joyces were in Wisconsin during the Civil War, but my grandmother’s family had to have been involved in S.VA and N.C.; I do not know.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      I had some letters from Vietnam too, but unfortunately I let them get lost over time. We made several moves, and things just got lost.


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