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Read Family Correspondence

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: Martha White Read
Date: August 7-12, 1861
Place: Augusta County, Virginia
To: Thomas Griffin Read

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 4 pages (30 x 19 cm) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN/CW 5015-6

(Please click on our Technical Details button at left
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Wednesday Aug. 7.1861.7o'clock P.M.
My dear Husband:

     I wrote to you all last week, sent the letter Monday in a box to G. Killian, his mother was sending a box to him, she told me that it was not a large box, but she could make room for one to put in a small package for you; of course I accepted the offer gladly; & put the letter in with a small bag of crackers; I hope you got them, and also hope to have an opportunity shortly of sending you a box. I am beginning to look for a letter from you. Since Sat. morning, I had been somewhat indisposed, but yesterday felt as well as usual, only weak; last evening my throat was quite sore, and I got up this morning with a "dreadful" cold in my head, which has made me feel unfit for any employment today. Though my day's work is a nice grey flannel jacket for Jimmy [i.e., 1st Sergeant James A. White, Company H, 52nd Virginia Infantry]; cut somewhat in roundabout style. Lucy [i. e., Lucy White Shirey] and the girls were making his pants; nice factory goods, made in Staunton. They get another suit, of grey goods, and a woollen overcoat, wont they be well equipped! They also get gingham shirts. They do not know when they will leave Staunton. I believe I wrote you before that he is first sergeant in Lilly's [i.e., Captain John D. Lilly's] company; or Mason's [i,e., Captain Claiborne R. Mason's], he is at the head of it, he is wealthy, you know, and has promised to stand by them and see that they never want, while he has any thing to give. I suppose he looks upon the "Mountain Pioneers," as his "Pet Lambs." It was some what difficult to get the requisete number of volunteers, the militia officers tried to prevent the men from volunteering, so that they could hold their offices, in case the militia should have to go. But they have got them now, & money has been raised to give each volunteer 100$. Those who would rather pay than go, gave 100$ apiece, & some giving 20, 30, &tc; Jimmy had volunteered before the proposition was made, but said he would not take the 100$ if he were entitled to it. He was one of the first to volunteer. Thursday morning. I am lying on the bed, trying to give you my thoughts as they occur. I ate no supper last evening and took three of "Ayer's." Spent a miserable night, my head aching intensely. Feel somewhat better this morning, but am very weak. I hope to be quite well in a day or two. Sister Lucy and

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the children are here. Mr. S. [i.e., Shirey] is in Staunton all the time. I spent Monday with Cousin Ellen Brooks. Her health is very delicate, & she suffers from the shock produced by William's death. Charlie went on yesterday to join Capt. Jas. White's company the same one Andrew is in [i.e., Captain James J. White's Company I, 4th Virginia Infantry]. Cousin Ellen said I must tell you to try & find Andrew and Charles if they are any where in your reach, & be a friend to them; she had written the same to Andrew about you. So, and I spent Tuesday with Mrs. Fuller, and yesterday we were to go to Dr. Hall, but could not get horses; & I could not have gone any how, as I was sick. There are three or four hundred sick at Staunton, many have mumps & measles. They have the deaf & dumb institution as a hospital. James came home Tuesday evening, & Papa took him back today; we sent up some provision for the sick soldiers. Dear husband, I do feel so uneasy about you this hot weather; I am so afraid you will get sick. If you have to drink bad water, try and boil it; let it stand till cold, and it will be divested in a great measure of its injurious qualities. You have not written me a word about your fare; who makes the bread? How do you get your clothes washed? There is a complimentary notice of the "Confederates," [i.e., Company I (the "Rockingham Confederates"), 33rd Virginia Infantry] by the editor. He says he spent two nights with Capt Jones [i.e., Captain John R. Jones] and his men, & says "Of this comp. Rockingham may well boast. Many of them are praying men, who while they labor in the service of their country, adhere faithfully to their religious duties, hence, in their midst the voice of profanity is hushed and virtue walks unharmed." I could say much more, but for want of space, suffice it to say that a more gallant and generous hearted band never pitched their tents upon the field." Now I think that is about as much as could be said of you all, yet, as you have not been tried in battle, but I feel sure that "praying men" cannot be cowards. "In the Lord will I put my trust; I will not fear what man can do unto me." "Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is staged on thee."
Friday morning. I looked for a letter from you yesterday, but was disappointed. My cold is much better, though I am very horse; can scarcely speak above a whisper. I made some hoar-hound tea last night; I think it helped me some. There are heavy rains about Staunton the first of this week; we have not got any yet, and it is very hot. I wrote a long letter to Araminter a long letter this week; have heard from there but once since you left. Next week I shall write to Aunt Ann or Sally.

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Friday, 3 o'clock P.M. Dearest, I recieved yours of Tuesday this morning it was sent up from Cous. Ben Stuarts. I have not heard who brought it, as you wrote that some of Antrims Comp. were coming home. I will find out tomorrow, and make arrangements to send you something. And, dearest, you are sick; it distresses me so. As long as you wrote you were well, I did not fret atall about you, but it is now a source of constant uneasiness to know that you are sick of that insidious and troublesome malady. Dont walk about any more than you can help; lie flat on your back all you can, & keep perfectly still. Avoid eating much grease. Rice without any thing but a little salt is one of the best things you could use; do not drink much water. Stir some flour & water together & drink it, sometimes proves efficacious. If you could get some ginger or allspice & boil some in water pretty strong it might help you. I will try and send you some. I shall not have a moments rest now till I hear you are better. I am so glad you got the things safe; would have sent more, but Mrs. K. said her her box was small, I suppose you did not eat any of the ginger cakes; but the crackers would be good for you. If you could cut your bread open and brown it before the fire, it would be better for you when threatened with diarrhoea. O, if I could be there to doctor you. I marked a text for you the other night; it is Ps. 69:16. "I will go in the strength of the Lord God." Now is that not enough, dear husband? I anticipate your answer. I pray constantly that Jesus will be with you always, your comforter and guide, And that you may be able to endure all the trials and difficulties of your hard life, for hard I know it is. And yet I feel sure that not one of our true hearted, and brave soldiers would willingly give up his post, if by so doing the chance for the preservation of our independence were lessened. Hard as it would be for me to give you up, dearest one, I would rather that you & many others would fall in sacrifice to Lincoln's bullets than that his ruffian hordes should lay waste our country, and desolate its firesides; but God grant that there may be little bloodshed in our future, and may He bring you back safely to me. I feel as though I could be more resigned if you should be killed in battle, than that you were to sicken and die among strangers, & I never get to see you. Oh, Griffin, if you get sick do get some one to write to me, and let me go to you. But I trust that you will not get so ill as not to be able to write yourself.

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Saturday morning. I will try and add a little more to my "diary" for your perusal. Nanny [i.e., Nancy White] is going this evening to learn if any of Antrim's company are at home and why they return, so that I can send you some things, and my letter. (I would go, myself, but don't feel like riding & she wants to go.) The other one went so straight that I will try and send this one the same way. I feel much better this morning; still have a troublesome cough, & feel rather weak. I helped to clean up house this morning, was pretty tired when I got through; hope to be as strong as usual in a few days. The hot weather goes very hard with me; & I think so much about you, during it all. If you only had not been obliged to use that bad water, perhaps you would not have been sick. Don't eat any more greens while you are complaining; they are calculated to increase a looseness of the bowels. If you could get a pint of sweet milk (it ought to be new, morning or evening) and boil it & thicken it with flour it might stop it. I have known it to do so. To half a pint sweet milk, one spoonful caster oil, boiled together; I have known this to cure a bad case of dysentary. I write all this, so that if you cant get one thing, you may perhaps be able to get another. Oh my dear husband, I do feel so uneasy about you. Monday morning. Dearest, I have learned that none of Antrim's company are at home, but Mr. Reeves came up from camp last week (having gone down on business) & brought a number of letters. Walker is going sometime this week and I will try and send you a box. I got a bottle of "Jamaica Ginger" for you. Also some Tea, sugar, etc. will send you some bread, tomatoes, apples etc. We went to T. Spring [i.e., Tinkling Spring] yesterday. Mr. See preached from Gal. 6.7. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." We had a delightful rain last night, the only good rain we have had for two weeks. Five weeks this morning since you left me. Oh, it seems so long. But I trust that we may one day meet, & spend the remainder of our lives together. And if we never meet on earth, we have the sweet hope that we will dwell together in heaven. God bless you love! Write as soon, and as much as you can. N & M send much love Lucy also. Bobby says he wants to see "Uncle Griffy". My respects to cousin Lem [i.e., Lemuel Vawter]. No more at present from

Your Mattie

I am so anxious to hear from you.

Additional Text on Page 1     Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI     Detail Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

What is the number of your regiment?

I send you some marks for your socks -- you can fell them on

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

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