"These letters from a yeoman farmer in the Confederate Army to his wife in Coosa County, Alabama, will be of interest to historians not only for the light shed upon the life of the Confederate soldier, but also for frequent allusions to rural life and the operation of the farm in Cotton's absence.
He enlisted at Pinckneyville, Alabama, on April 1, 1862, and was paroled at Talladega on May 25, 1865. During the intervening years he saw action in Tennessee and Kentucky, in the Dalton-Atlanta campaign, briefly again in Tennessee, then in Georgia against the forces of Sherman, moving finally into South Carolina....
These letters constitute an authentic record of a typical Confederate soldier's experience,"
-Journal of Southern History
|Publisher:||University of Alabama Press|
|Edition description:||1st Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
John Cotton was a Confederate soldier from Pinckneyville, Alabama.
The late Lucille Griffith was a retired professor of History at the University of Montevallo. She also was editor of Alabama: A Documentary History.
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Yours Till Death
Civil War Letters of John W. Cotton
By Lucille Griffith
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESSCopyright © 1951 University of Alabama Press
All rights reserved.
Alabama Montgomery Aprile the 24 1862
Mariah Cotton dear wife for the first time in life take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you no that we are all well William lessley has been sorta puny but he is better he is down in town garding the yankes there is 744 yankeys here in a old ware house and we have to help gard them we have been examined and received and they say our horses will be praised today and our legion will also be organized today I would bee very glad to see you and the children I am very well satisfyed concidering the way I left home If I could see you and the children when I wanted to see you I could make out very well we are camped two miled south east of montgomery we received our bounty money yesterday it is uncertain how long we will stay here I dont recken I will come home til wheat gets ripe unless we git orders to leave if we get orders to march I wil come home sooner I would bee glad to bee there and see how things are going on and look around a little rite to me and tell me how my wheat is doing and how things are going on nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death John W Cotton to Mariah Cotton
Montgomery Camp Mary Alabama May 1 1862
Mariah Cotton Dear Wife I take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you no that I am tolerable well I have had a very bad cola but I am better I am not atall sick but feel sorta bad I hope these lines will find you all well and I hope you have got more reconciled about my leaving you and the children I think if you could see these yankeys that we have to gard down here you would yap, whip them or dye on the battle field I have hope to gard them for days and nights there is over eight hundred of them in all some of them wants to get home very bad and others dont seem to care mutch about it I would bee very well satisfyed if I could see you and the children when I wanted to I want to see you all very bad and I would bee glad to here from you all for I have not herd nary word from you all since I left home I would bee glad to here how my wheat was comeing on and how manuel was comeing on with his crop we here down here that wheat is all ruined with the rust if it is I may bee at home in about two weaks but if it is not I dont guess I will come until it gets ripe the most of our men is at home now we here that the yankeys have taken neworleans some of the people here are very badly scared and are moveing out there families and they are halling oft the cotton they say that our men burnt two hundred bails for oald howel nose we are doing very well now we got plenty to eat and nothing to do but to gard the yankeys our company has been received and our horses praised and we have got our bounty money but we have not got our saddles yet nor I dont no when we will get them we cant drill any until we get our saddles for a heap of our men have not got no saddles I want you to rite to me and tell lis to rite too dock rote a letter yesterday bet I dont no what he put in it nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death John W. Cotton
Alabama Montgomery County May the 5 1862
Mariah Cotton Dear wife I again take the opportunity to rite you a few lines to let you no that I am well and doing well we get a plenty to eat but it is badly Cooked we had nothing fit to Cook with but we have bought some things but not enough yet we draw meal flour pickle pork pickled beef and some times fresh beef rice sugar molasses and soap I am very sorry to here that the wheat has got the rust so bad I am glad to here that manuel is trying to do comething and getting along so well but I was a heap gladder to here that you were all well except bad coles there is several of our boys complaining but none of them bad off I never wanted to see any body as bad as I want to see you and the children I could do very well if I could see you and the children every time I wanted to but I cant help studying about you all If I could see you and talk with you I could tell you of a great many things that has passed since I left you I think if nothing happens I will bee at home about the 20 of this month the most of our men is gone home now but the captain says they shant go no more I could have come two but I thought as I could not come but once that I would wait a while I recived a letter from you this morning dated the 29 of Aprile for the first dock got a letter from lis last Saturday that was the first time I had herd from you I recken you herd that the yankeys had taken neworleans we are still garding what yankeys we have got here yet one of our men killed one of them the other day for disobeying orders one of our sodiers belonging to our legion shot another the same day and the day before one of our men got drounder in the river Mariah you said you wanted to no about our going to taladega to drill I have not herd nothing about it since we got down here only our colonel says that we may have our first battle here at this place I expect we will stay here a good while and we may never leave here while the war lasts we have not drilled any yet but the captain says we will have to go at it the 10 of this month he thinks that we will draw our saddles the ninth my horse is very bad off with the distemper he has eat nothing hardly for about a week ould Deny kelly is down here and he brought us a backet full of eggs which we was very glad to receive you said you wanted to no what to do with them stands tell manuel to put them in the stillhouse on the flore if robberson dont come and do that work dont pay him for it nothing more at present for I cant think of half that I want to rite give my love to lis and that I would bee glad to see her I would bee glad to see little ginny and give her a kiss and see the rest of the children frolic around and play on my lap and see babe suck his thum if it had not have bee the love I have for them and my country I would have been ther now nothing more but remain you affectionate husband til death J W Cotton to Mariah Cotton there is about fore thousand soldiers stationed here now and there is more comeing in direct your letters to John W. Cotton Montgomery Alabama in care of Capt M G Slaughter
May the 6 1862
nothing more had happened since yesterday we went on dress perraid yesterday and to day we have not put out no gards around the encampment yet we are doing nothing yet but go to town or anywhere else we want to I dont mind any thing that is to do here only having to stay from home I am well today but some of the company is complaining I have just now received a letter from you and I was glad to here from you and to here that you all was well and that all was going on well and that the wheat was doing better I want to see you and the children as bad as any body can
Alabama Coosa County June the 7 1862
Mariah Cotton Dear wife I take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines to let you no that I am well and I hope these few lines may find you an the children all well dock has been very sick but he is a good deal better he had like to have dide nite before last he had the congestive fever in his head he left here this morning on the cars to go to georgia on a 14 day furlow the rest of us are well except william lessley he is complaining some the most of our men has gone home with the measles we are not doing any thing here only lying about I reckon you found that I did not come home when the captain comes home I will try to come home he will bee back next wednesday if I dont get to come back home you must do the best you can have that wheat and barley thrashed as soon as you can and turn the hogs in and dont let pares nor ases in and have the ry cut and thrashed the yankeys are all gone from here but some sick ones I believe that every thing is till riseing here I had to pay fifty cent a quire for this paper I have nothing of importance to rite there has been a big battle at richmon but no correct account how many were killed on neither side nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death
John W Cotton
Montgomery Alabama June the 17 1862 Dear wife I again address you with a few lines to let you no that I am well and hope these few lines may find you and the children all well I have not much to rite I hant herd from dock since monday I got a letter from lis she said that he was very porely our captain came home yesterday and several others and we went on drill this morning for the first time since I have been down here he says tomorrow that he will drill all that hant got saddles on foot we have not drown no saddles yet I dont no whether I shal get to come home any more before we leave here or not they say that the colonel has stopped giving furlos to any body a good many thinks we will leave here in a short time and go to chatanuga georgia if we stay here I want frar or wash or Bill to come down here and bring us some vegetables for they are very hy here I baught some irish potatoes this morning at 15cts a quart if they do come and you have more bacon than you need get them to bring it and sell it it is worth forty cts a pound and from that to fifty I went to meetin las sunday and I herd the romon catholieks and presbyterians both preach and we had meeting at our camp that nite and again last nite the regiment that was here when we came here is ordered off to florida there is now twenty eight or twenty nine companys in the legion nothing more at present I remain your affectionate husband til death
John W Cotton
rite I hanent got nary letter from you yet
Montgomery June the 19. 1862
Dear wife I seat my self to rite you a few lines to let you no that I received a letter from you las eavning and was glad to here from you all but I was sorry to here that little ginny was sick I hope that she is better by this time if any of you gets sick and you think you need a doctor it is not so fare to bakers but what you can send for him if you need any abit medicine send to william words and you can get plenty he lives one mild this side of bill adkinses these lines leave me well and all of our boys but there is some of our company complaining and a great many at home sick I hant herd from dock since last monday was a weak ago I dont no why he dont rite and let us no how he is it was thought last weak that we would have been gone from here before now but the legion is now turned into a brigade and it will take some time fifteen or twenty days to get ready to leave here I am going to try to come home before we leave here if I can the colonel says there shall bee no more furlows given to well men but some of the captains gaves furlows any how everything is still riseing yet bacon is worth from 40 to 50 cts per pound flour 9 cts per pound butter forty cts per pound cabbage twenty five cts a head irish potatoes 20 cts a quart and beens the same and everything else according I want you to rite and let me no how you all getting long I want to here from little ginney again very bad I shall bee uneasy until I here from her again nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death John W Cotton
Montgomery Alabama June the 23 1862
Mariah Cotton Dear wife I take my pen in hand to rite you a few lines to let you no that I am well and hope these lines may find you all well but I am a fraid that little ginney has not got well I want to here from her very bad I have not received but one letter from you since I left home I tryed to come home to see little ginney but I couldnot get off the legion will bee formed in to battalions this weak and the offecers elected hant mutch to rite I got a letter from dock day before yesterday he is very porley yet he said he had one of his bad spells yesterday was a weak ago that lasted him for 10 hours the boys here are well but william lessley he is complaining rite smart ly and one with the measles he is the last one in the company to have them the Colonel says that we will get our equipment soon bill is getting fat again he is most well of the dis temper our horses are all doing well rite when you can and tell me how things are going on nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death John W Cotton
Georgia Coweta County July the 10. 1862
dear wife I now seat myself to rite you a few lines to let you no that I am at John Fulmers and I am well all of them here is well your paps folks are all well but mikeand he is able to rock about he is at home on 30 days furlough and so is John Tramel me and dock left montgomery yesterday morning and we staid at your paps last nite our company was to leave to day and we are to meat it tomorrow at grantsville and go on with them we are going to atlanta I would bee very glad to here from you all for I hant herd from you since I left home I want you to rite to me as soon as you get this letter direct your letter to Atlanta georgia I am getting very anxious to here from you all let me no how manuel comes on with his crop and every thing and how the hogs are doing we have drawn our sabers and haver sacks but the rest of our arms and our canteens we aim to get at atlanta and our uniforms our saddles are makeing at augusta we will get them in a weak or two crops looke only tolerable well there ant mutch cotton planted out here your pap and all of them was very glad to see me but none of them wernt looking for me I hant mutch to rite to you nothing more at present but remain your affectionate husband til death
John W Cotton
July 11 we are at grantville waiting for the cars and our company but we dont no whether they will come up or not if they dont come up they will rite to us they may have past last nite but no body cant tell here the car last nite never stoped these lines leave me well nothing more
Atlanta Georgia July 13th 1862
Mariah dear wife I again take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you no where I am and that I am well and I hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing I want to here from you very bad worse than I ever did in my life but I am afraid it will bee some time before I can here from you we got moved out of town yesterday and got our tents put up and every thing fited for staying here and this morning we received orders to move from here we are camped about two miles above atlanta we have got good water here and a helthy looking place we are camped in three hundred yars of that great steem distillery you have herd talk of but they are not stilling now I hant mutch to rite only to you only to let you no where I am Aasa went down to his fathers yesterday eaving to come back tuesday and he dont no that we are ordered off from here I want you to rite to me as soon as you get these direct your letter to Chatanuga tennessee in care of Captain M. G. Slaughter hilliards legion I reckon that we will stay there til we get equiped and armed they are expecting to have a fight there before long they have just now come here with the drays after our baggage to carry it to the cars to be ready to start in the morning I dont want you to uneasy yourself about me for I am doing very well bill is complaining right smart the rest of our boys is well nothing now but remain your affectionate husband til death
John W Cotton
Now in a fare land I rome
fare from my friend at home
but I hope the time is near
when we shall all meet again
I have not herd from home since
I left there.
Chattanooga Tennessee July the 16 1862
Dear wife I now once more take my pen in hand to rite you a few more lines to let you no where I am and how I am I am as well as I ever was in my life and I hope these few lines may reach you all the same I got the letter that you sent to me by James Arnold I saw him at dalton in georgia him and frank Corley stopped there weighting for passage on the cars and we over took them and they went to noxville and we went to chattanooga I was very glad to here from you it was the first time since I left home I would bee glad to here from you all again today I rote to you last sunday when we were at atlanta we left there monday morning at ten oclock and we landed at Chattanooga at twelve oclock that night we had a very pleasant trip of it but our horses saw sights they had to do about twenty five hours without any thing to eat and some of the lasy never even watered there horses when we got here that nite some of them never wated to attend to any thing and others watered there horses and we never got them of on the cars til 8 or 9 oclock next morning we got nearly all of our things halled out to the camp yesterday we are camped five miles from Chattanooga we have a very rough place here it is rite in the woods on the foot of a mountain they say the yankeys are in about fifteen miles of here but the main armey is about thirty miles of here on the tennessee river it is clost to us about a half mild we have got nearly all of our company to gether now we left our first lieutenant at montgomery and it is thought he will die he has got the brain fever there is about forty thousand of our troops here and about forty thousand yankeys but our men dont appear to fer them no more than if they wernt here there is strong talk of us beeing dismounted if we are there will bee a set of mad men for aheap of them says they are not able to stand the infantry I had rather not bee dismounted they say they will pay us for our horses but we are not willing to sell them the boys the most of them are very mutch dissatisfyed here they want to go back some where when we came up the people cheerd us all the way men women and children they were collected on the road in great quantities and there was a continuel hollow nearly all the way we passed some of the higest bridgs that ever I saw and we passed the tunnel under the stone mountain but it was night and we couldnot see mutch when we struck it I could not harly here any thing for the shouts of the boy nothing more at present but remain your affectionate friend til death John W. Cotton
Excerpted from Yours Till Death by Lucille Griffith. Copyright © 1951 University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS.
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