Civil War Love Letters: July 8–9, 1862
On July 7, Company K moved their camp from Corinth to Rienzi, Mississippi. In this letter, like the previous one, James focuses on the efforts of Union major general McClellan at Richmond, Virginia, knowing that the length of the war depended on his success or failure. James also briefly mentions his time in Australia. In 1854, James and his brother, Samuel, decided to follow the rush to California to look for gold. James and Samuel left St. Louis with a party of 30 to travel to New York. In New York, James heard many tales of failure and disease from other men who had traveled to California, so James engaged with a skipper loading a boat of supplies for Australia. The voyage to Australia took 103 days. Upon their arrival in Australia, James and Samuel traveled to Ballarat, where they joined a party of Americans mining near Creswick’s Creek. When that failed, James bought a wagon and some supplies, and left Samuel to manage it. James returned to Melbourne, where he got a position as a porter with the importing firm of De Pass Brost Company. He soon became a shipping clerk and outdoor agent for the company. When James’s health started to fail in January 1858, he left Australia and returned to St. Louis.
Camp Near Rienzi
July 8th 1862
My Dearest Eliza
The silver moon shines above & soon our immense camp will be rapt in sleep, securely so, though supposed to be facing the enemy. But we have been diligently searching for said enemy & found him not.
They have all gone to Richmond leaving scarcely a corporals guard behind to watch us, for say they "Our independence is to be gained or lost there, & on the present battle we stake the result," so they have left their Southern homes unguarded save by a hot sun, a swampy soil, & all the diseases, so brought forth - & I believe our commanders here wont attempt to combat such opponents ere October next & we have every prospect of going no further South ere that time. We may march much from place to place, as the ever changing requirements of this game of war, as of Chess - may dictate_ - but not South of us, but at Richmond is the life blood of the Rebellion to flow. God send that it may do so!! is my fervent prayer, and that in all Charity & Kindness on both sides - as if we are defeated at Richmond (as we came near being) it would be only the commencement of the bloodiest time the World ever saw.
So I hope they have reinforced McClellan & that he is now or soon will be in Richmond - where we started to go - but are here - In the advance & look with intense anxiety for news. We get the St. Louis & Chicago dailies when two or three days old, but have had no letters for ten days. We have moved camp & marched every three days or oftener & so they could not overtake us, & many have no doubt gone down to Major General Mitchell at Chattanooga. So put Genl Mitchells name on no more - simply 8th Kansas Vol - Corinth or Rienzi
We are now directly under "Halleck" & perceive many advantages already from so being. We have been all very anxious for a fight - but as we have no enemies but the heat at present - We are & expect too conduct ourselves valiently even against such odds.
We have all the vantage ground of a good airy camp, high & covered sparsely with tall trees enough for shelter & not enough to stop the circulation of any air stirring. We have also at 200 yards distance, a deep ravine full of the finest springs & the coolest water I have had since I entered the service. We are on the southern slope of the Tishimingo hills, splendid rolling timbered land, but entirely wild - as it wont grow enough cotton - by nigger labor - to pay.
& So the great fight progresses at Richmond, & we lay here in peace, enjoying the heat even while we can – but hungry for a fight when comes the cool breezes of October - if there should be by that time any secesh left to fight. I fear there will be - as "they" threaten to tender their allegiance to France or England if whip'd at Richmond - & thus become a province of one of those powers rather than succumb to the cursed Yankees offering to free their slaves gradually, & to trade freely with them - in return for their protection & rule.
Well if they do so - there will be much fighting yet, & so much money spent, there will not be much to fight for - "but never give up the ship" is a time tried motto & though time that tried mens souls may have come back again, why we must only, hope on, hope ever, & worry through.
So God grant McClellan is in Richmond - & that thus I may have a chance to see my Molly well & hearty ere I grow gray.
I enjoy better health than Ive had for years. The Sun scorches, but I stay as much in the shade as possible from 9 to 4 o.c. & exercise before or after those hours, & I’ve felt the sun as much in St. Louis & more in Australia. I believe now if fate favors me - I will get through this campaign healthier then before - & now what of my darling. I look for a heavy mail when it comes. It is now 18 days since I left the city & yet not a word - but I have no doubt 2 or 3 missives are on the way.
I wish you could for a day even visit our camp among the ever waving pines.
Our men got paid off up to 1st May yesterday & are in the best of spirits. In our company only two sick one from typhoid fever & one from the effects of a former sun stroke - other Companies have 8 or 10 each - but our city boys - whisky heads though some of them are - are impervious to disease to all appearance. They are a little lazy perhaps, but they attend to their comforts, live well & reverence a good shady bower or tree. So different from our country cousins around.
I enclose a scrap I cut from a Chicago paper that I believe is correct & gives some details that will save me writing.
I have a nice tent well fixed up - all save a writing table - which I suppose we must do without for the future. We have a table for common use but it is barely two foot high, & so I write this on my knee sitting on my bunk.
I will enclose this along with a scrap to Alex, in the morning & will then close it. I could find much more to say but it seems as if I must tire you sooner or later with all these details & I find it almost impossible to fix my mind on other themes - the present interest & occupation of our movements are so overpowering.
So with much love to all & the kindest wishes, love & thoughts toward your dear self - I kiss you, by proxy wish you pleasant dreams & goodnight.
July 9th 1862
My Dear Molly
I hasten to close this straggling epistle & the more so that I have nothing new to communicate. We have no news of any kind in camp. All is quiet along the lines & naught remains but that surcharged Thunder Cloud at Richmond. Will it break with our destruction or our salvation or will it only cripple both parties & prolong the war indefinitely. That is the only question we are capable of thinking of discussing.
We wait an answer as patiently as we can & meantime Madam Rumor is busily at work romancing wildly. I hew her not but look for a paper anxiously.
A mail has just come in but nothing for me yet better luck tomorrow I hope
I am my dear Girl
James E. Love
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