Jackson County Tennessee
Letters from Forgotten Ancestors

Bragg’s Army. . . Passed By My House,
Ate Me Entirely Out
~1863 ~
Copyright © 1998, Leslie Hamilton Smith. All Rights Reserved.

JACKSON TN 2, Also see: ROBERTSON TN 1 & 2.
There is no envelope.

Letter written to Elizabeth Latimer Weir

Jackson County Tennessee Sept 20th 1863

Dear Mother,

It has been along time since I have written to you which you may attribute to the difficulty of mailing letters here and the uncertainty of the mail. We have enjoyed very good health since we wrote last except the children they both had a very bad spell of sickness last fall caused in both cases by waiting on sick soldiers. Time has been very hard on us since the war commenced. The year 1861 was the hardest year we have ever experienced though. I sustained no loss that year except by men moving off that owed me which amounted to about three hundred dollars. Last year I made more money than I ever made in one year and lost more than I made in the first place. My saddle horse was stolen which I payed one hundred twenty five dollars for. Then when the federal soldiers passed they left a good many sick at and in the neighborhood of the Red Springs and appointed me surgeon over them with instructions to forward them on to their commands as they got able for service for which the government owes me one hundred and eighty dollars which I suppose I shall lose. Then when Bragg's Army went to Kentucky they passed by my house ate me entirely out and established a hospital at the Red Springs and appointed me surgeon which place was afterwards captured and I was taken prisoner and kept confined for one day but being able to prove that I was a Union man I was liberated with the loss of the best suit of clothes I had and my saddle bags and all my medicine which was a very heavy loss. I don't suppose that a thousand dollars would pay the damage. The rebel government owes me three hundred and sixty dollars which I expect to loose.

In Dec last after I had laid in provisions, Morgan's men on a raid they made into KY camped at my house and ate up everything I had leaving me nothing to eat or feed upon and I immediately moved then some distance from any road into some comfortable cabins in the woods and have not been pestered since save one time when I had a very fine mare taken from me for which I had been offered four hundred dollars for several times. I succeeded in getting her back though she was damaged so when I got her back that she was not worth more than half what she was before and I sold her for two hundred dollars losing at least two hundred on her. Though I do not complain my loss had been small compared with many of my neighbors few of them that had property before the war commenced has any now. It makes no difference whether a man is a rebel or not if he has property he can't keep it. The country is infested with rogues and robbers.

The health of the country has been very good this year better than it has for many not withstanding my practice has been very extensive as much as I have been able to attend to. There is no physician nearer to me than fifteen miles and if there was much sickness I could not attend to it. I expect to stay where I am until the war ends from the fact that I can't get away. If I could I would like to move back to Minnesota but I can't and if I could I don't see what I could follow to make a living at this time. We have been deprived of the luxuries and many of the necessaries of life since this war commenced. Everything we get we have to pay a very high price for and many things that we want we can't get at all. We had to do without coffee for two years now. We get plenty of it for forty cents per pound and sugar at 25 cents. Coffee was sold here as high as one dollar per pound and part of the time it could not be had at that. I have paid as much as one dollar per yard for calico. 80 cents is, I believe, the highest I have ever paid for domestic though it has sold higher than that. Brown James such as you have frequently sold for sixty cents sold last fall at three dollars per yard this fall at one twenty five. Corn sold last year at about 8o cents per bushel. I bought some last winter at 50 cents. This summer I had to pay forty five dollars for forty five bushels of corn and all most everything else is selling in proportion to that. Thirty or forty miles south of us everything sells much higher than it does here. Last night we had a very heavy frost half of the tobacco crop is lost and corn injured. We have had frost in every month this year except July--I received a letter from Vandela some time ago and she requested to know if I have ever had any cases of Diphtheria. I have a good many. I was called in great haste to see a young lady six miles from me with diphtheria. Since I commenced writing this letter I have been very successful in the treatment of that decease as well as all others and if I live to practice as long I shall have a better name than Old Tom Walton--No one course of treatment will apply to all cases of diphtheria though I believe the best course of general treatment consists in administering every second or third hour the muriated tincture of iron with diluted hydrochloric acid in a little syrup and water--the dose according to the age of the patient. The application of the diluted hydrochloric acid to the affected part of the fauces once or twice a day according to the severity of the case and the frequent use of a gargle made with a weakened solution of the same acid also sustaining the strength of the patient with beef tea and wine at frequent intervals.

I must now tell you about the children. There is no other children like them. I know it would do you good to see them running up the lane to meet their pa when they see him coming home. They have grown mightily since you saw them. Birtie is large enough to take my horse and put him in the stable and feed him when I come home, make fires for his ma and do a great many thing. He and his ma is gone to see his grandma. Today they live some ten miles from us and Ella is at home getting my dinner. She can cook a very nice dinner and in less time than half the women. She is a great help to her ma. I have not been able to send them to school any yet nor think I will be until I can leave this neighborhood. Ella can spell and read well and write some. She says she is going to write a letter to Aunt Delia soon. Birtie can spell very well and begin to read a little tries to write sometimes. I have no doubt if you could see them but that you would think they were the finest, smartest, and best children you ever saw. I would like to write a great deal more but can't this time. I am as much opposed to this rebellion as any man living and would like to see the Union restored but have little hopes of ever seeing it. Sarah and the children send their love to you all.
Your affectionate son.

Signed. James Carson Weir

From the Collection of Leslie Hamilton Smith
Provenance: a treasured family heirloom

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16 May 1998