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Read Family Correspondence

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: Martha White Read
Date: July 16, 1861
Place: Augusta County, Virginia
To: Thomas Griffin Read

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 4 pages (25 x 20 cm) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN/CW 5015-4

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Augusta Co., Va. July 16.1861
My dear Husband,

     I recieved yours of the 11th, yesterday, was rather looking for a letter, for I thought you would write soon after reaching W. [i.e., Winchester, Virginia]. I mailed a letter to you last Saturday hope you have got it by this time. Am grateful to our Heavenly Father that His providence led you into such comfortable quarters, I firmly believe that his goodness and mercy will follow you wherever you may be called. You had no news for me, you said; would I could say the same; for in these awful times no news is good news. Probably you have heard of it by this time. Last Thursday & Friday reports came to Staunton that a battle was being fought in Western Va. The rumors were vague and unsatisfactory. On Sat. evening, a man came to Staunton (Hanger, from Churchville) & brought word that Garnett [i.e., Lieutenant General Robert Selden Garnett] was surrounded, that he had lost a number of men, & had retreated towards Hardy. There was a call sent to all the churches round, for volunteers, but later in the day on Sunday, an order was issued for the militia. I never saw such a time at Tinkling Spring. Some of the ladies cried all the time. Mr. See did not preach a sermon, just made a short and appropriate address, & dismissed the people, so they could make arrangements to start. Men were riding around Sund. evening to notify the militia I did not cry so much myself on account of the militia's going, as for the bad news which was the cause of it. Jimmy [i.e., James White] was not quite ready, (he & Cy Killian intended going to Winchester next Monday) but we went to work, & fixed him yesterday. We

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lined his blanket (like yours) made him a pair of pantaloons I made him an excellent knapsack of a substantial oil-cloth table cover, which we had, lined it with tow linen. Papa sewed leather straps on it. We had two beautiful oil cloth table covers here, just alike (one of them we used on the parlor table; the other never had been used, it was mine. but we took them, sewed them together & gave it to him. He got an oil cloth at Fishersville just like John's, but it was so rotten we would not let him keep it. Papa took him to Staunton today. There are over two thousand militia in the county, & they will be congregated in Staunton today, at least all who are able to go. Wont there be a crowd! Besides this, a regiment of Lousianaians were expected up yesterday evening. There are now about 2000 troops on the way between Staunton & Gen Garnett's command. It is thought that our militia will not go further than Monterey, & will fortify themselves there, to guard the road, & prevent the enemy from coming to Staunton, for such is evidently their aim. I tell you I never saw such excitement before; but thank God, dear husband, in the midst of them all, I do not feel frightened; I can "put my trust in the Lord, and not fear what man can do unto me." But we learned yesterday that the report had been highly exaggerated, as a matter of course Dr. Drummond got home, he is lame from a sprained ancle he says it is not so bad as was represented, but it is bad enough, I expect. He says that it is thought our troops killed 800, or 1000 of the enemy, that for a while our

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cannon just mowed them down but they silenced our cannon. It is believed that Capt. McNutt [i.e., Capt. J. C. McNutt] of the Rockbridge cavalry is killed, but Col. Heck [i.e., Lt. Col. Jonathan M. Heck] is not killed nor taken prisoner, as was at first reported. It was said that the Augusta Lee Rifles were cut all to pieces but it is contradicted. Drummond says they all escaped. But Drummond is such a story teller, that we don't know how much to believe of his tales. I don't think they will take quite all the militia, think they will send some back, even from Staunton, but if all should be needed, let them go, I say; I wish there were six thousand instead of two. Oh it was hard to tell Jimmy good bye this morning; I just realized then how hard it would have been for me to part with you, if we had known that you were going to volunteer. I wish you could have seen us yesterday; so busy. Lucy [i.e., Lucy White Shirey] was up a little while in the evening, sends love to you, & says she has not got over not seeing you again and telling you good bye. Cy Killian started yesterday in great haste, for Winchester; they served for him Sunday to try & get him off, but he was stopped in Staunton, & informed that he belonged to the militia. Harrison Koiner's son, Dave, was going with him. Jimmy intended going to W. to join Capt White's company from Lexington [i.e., Capt. James J. White's Company I, 4th Virginia Infantry] the one Andrew Brooks & Wm. [i.e., William Brooks] are in.-- Wm Shirey went westward with the wagons last week. Lucy will come up here this evening to stay; so Papa will have his girls all here. And strong hearted, willing handed girls, they are too, don't you think so? Dont be afraid that I will hurt myself working though. I know it must have seemed strange for you at first, & perhaps the novelty of your situation has not worn off yet; but I know that you are fully

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aware that you are now seeing only the bright side of camp life. Am glad that you are pleased with the men in the company perhaps you can exert some influence for good among them. Remember Havelock. I wrote Mother by mail. I put your black pipe in my trunk, & will keep it as a memento of those pleasant times when you smoked and I sat by you. Oh, dearest, I am so glad you stayed up here & went to church with me that last Sunday. The memory of that day is so precious to me. The last Sabbath we spend together.

5 oclock P.M. Oh it is so lonely this evening, Papa has not come home from Staunton yet, & when I think that you are a hundred miles distant, and that Jimmy is gone, I can't help crying a little; don't blame me dear, for I am not desponding, but it is so hard to realize. But God will make his meaning manifest in His own good time, and as Mr. See said last Sund. it will end so that we will be compelled to give all the glory to God, and not take any to ourselves. I know we must suffer, but I pray God and feel that we will not be conquered Griffin, please tell me in your next, how your father did while you were in Augusta; was he himself when you were at home? Write to him sometimes and beg him to keep in the right path. I will write to him after while. Tell me who your mess comrades are & who are some you like best. Remember me to Mr. Vawler [i.e., Lemuel Vawler]. Trust God implicitly, & be brave, dearest one.

Wednesday 1o'clock P.M. The militia are still in Staunton yet; Papa said there were about 3000 men there yesterday. Reliable messengers came yesterday saying that Garnett had beat the enemy back; they are not on this side Cheat Mountain. Three of the Churchville Cavalry are killed; it is said the enemy lost about one thousand, that as long as our cannon fired it just made roads among them. We hear that there has been some fighting near Winchester, & that it was thought they might be having a regular battle there yesterday. Don't you think Cous. Martha Stuart went to Winchester today to nurse Wm. Brooks who is very sick. He & Andrew belong to Capt White's company, the one Jimmy talked of joining. Charley Brooks went this morning to join the same company. It is an awful time here now. A man came today to prep Papa's wagon & horses; he has not got all his grain hauld up yet. Dear T. do you feel as well as when you left Augusta? I felt so anxious about you. Have you met with any of Patricks company yet? Several were to go down today to join it. I am afraid your feet will get sore in cotton socks; drilling & walking so much. If so, & you need more wollen ones, write to mother & she will send your blue ones. Write to me dear, for any thing I can send you; persons are passing to and from Winchester daily. I wish you would make the attempt to find Cous. Martha Stuart. I suppose Wm. Brooks is sick at the hospital. I should be so glad if she could tell me that she saw you when she gets back. Oh, "when shall we meet again" If never in this world; I feel sure that we will meet in the better land where all is love and joy and peace, where war & strife can never enter. But I fervently pray that we will meet again. But dearest, I thank God that he gives me strength to say "Thy will be done." Not as I will O God but as thine wilt. Farewell dearest

from your affectionate Mattie

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Dear T. I wish you would when you write to mother, ask her to take care of the Presbyterian papers. You know when the war is over that will be the only file of papers we will have to refer to. They might send you one occasionally. We got the last "Spec" this week; the editor has to go with the militia & we will have no paper now.

Wednesday 7 P.M. All is so "bright & calm and fair" this evening.

I am suffering a good deal with neuralgia in the left side of my face; think it came from sitting in the door too late in the evening when it got too dark to sew in the house

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Transcription last modified: 01 Mar 2007 at 01:36 PM EST

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