Evans, a judge of the Thirteenth Circuit Court of the State of Mississippi, has compiled and edited the writings--letters, diaries, and postwar writings--of eighteen members of the 16th Mississippi. This group of Confederate soldiers from the "Piney Woods" area of central Mississippi fought in the Army of Northern Virginia and participated in such campaigns as the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the Seven Days' Battles near Richmond, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and were even part of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.
The sample group of eighteen, which included a wide representation of rank, from privates to brigadier generals, consisted of Samuel E. Baker, Buxton R. Conerly, Luke W. Conerly, John B. Crawford, Hugh C. Dickson, Winfield S. Featherston, Abram M. Feltus, William H. Hardy, Nathaniel H.
Harris, Jesse R. Kirkland, James J. Kirkpatrick, John S. Lewis, William H. Trimble, Jefferson J. Wilson, and Jerome B.
Although Evans provides a cursory biographical sketch of each writer, someone should have advised Judge Evans that the federal census records would have provided detailed information about personal wealth, land ownership, slave holding, and additional socioeconomic data. Also, the Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Mississippi should have been consulted for information on promotions, grievances, wounds, sicknesses, hospital stays, furloughs, and meritorious service.
Unfortunately, Evans offers very little substantive context from which to understand these eighteen Confederates. For the most part, the writings cover themes that are familiar to Civil War historians.
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The eighteen soldiers shared a deep concern regarding events on the home front, especially those related to the welfare of their respective families. They queried family and friends about such matters as crop yields, slave behavior, cotton prices, and household income, and offered advice and solutions to a multitude of problems.
It was as if the soldiers were attempting to manage their homes and dependents from the front lines. Illustrative of this point was one captain who complained to his wife that the spelling and writing in his son's letters was atrocious.
People or pages in 16th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, United States Civil War
He warned her: "Now is the time to stop him and make him do better" p. Descriptions of camp life were abundant in the writings, with comments about poor or little food, inadequate shelter from the cold, rain, and heat, and substandard personal provisions filling countless pages. Men such as Captain Jesse Kirkland ridiculed their commanding officers; he called Brigadier General Carnot Possey another of Evans's eighteen writers "one of the most consummate asses that ever occupied the position he does" p. Commander Robert E. Lee, however, was well liked. So much so, that Private J.
Crawford instructed his wife to name their next male colt "Robert Lee" p. Throughout much of the war, the writers expressed great confidence in their cause and in their prospects for victory. In response to suggestions from the home front that the Confederate war effort was failing, one soldier remarked, "the Yankee says on to Richmond or to hell. I think it will be the latter with a great many of them" p. Toward the end of the war, battlefield defeats and attrition began to take its toll on the soldiers, and the writers commented with some regularity on the number of desertions from their ranks.
- CIVIL WAR BOOKS - REGIMENTAL HISTORIES;
- The Sixteenth Mississippi Infantry: Civil War Letters and Reminiscences?
- Stolen Son;
More details on each book are available at Worldcat. For an overall national view, see Bibliography of the American Civil War. For a guide to web sources see: Carter, Alice E.
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