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Read Family Correspondence

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: Martha White Read
Date: August 20, 1861
Place: Waynesboro, 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 5015-7

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Waynesboro Augusta Co., Va. Aug. 20. 1861.
Dear Husband,

     I received your dear letter yesterday and now at the top of a sheet of foolscap, commence to answer it. I am so much relieved, and trust I feel grateful to our Father in Heaven; to hear that you are well. I have for the present; cast away all my fears on that subject. I have written to you twice since the thirteenth. Wrote last Thursday by Mr. Seyrich of Monroe, who was going to Manassas to see a sick son. He took several letters, said he would put them in the office at the Junction. Wrote again, and put in G.K.s box, sent by Mr. Walker yesterday. Mr. K. told me on Friday at B. Brown's funeral, that he would find out that evening if Walker was certainly going on Monday, & would let me know Sat morning and see about it. "No, he would save me that trouble, he would send me word." Well, Griffin, he did not send me word, & I just took it for granted that Walker was not going Mon. Mr. K. had said that the box he intended sending was so large he was afraid we could not fill it. I told him no danger of that, I would fill it, if he could not. Well, he told Mr. Brown's family that they could put in some articles. But recollect, now, if I just had not, on account of the unfavourable morning, gone to Bethlehem, I would not have known any thing of it. Well, Nan [i.e., Nancy White] & I took down the peach box of famous memory, a bag full of crackers, two loaves of bread, a box full of tomatoes. Well, the box was full when we got there; & Mrs. Killian "thought there was no room for mine;" Mr. K. told me to "take every thing out of it, & repack, he knew I could get more in than she could; so I managed to squeeze a few things in, which I hope you got. I know you would not fail to get them if G.K. got the box, but they seemed to think that probably Walker was not a very safe head to take charge of such things; were afraid he would lose it or I should have put yours in a box by itself. Well, as soon as I can hear of any reliable person going over, I shall send you a box full, I will put in as much of the articles you mentioned as I can. I was so grieved that I was disappointed in sending all I had prepared.

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I hope you won't come to the conclusion that I don't do anything but write to you, as I write so often, and so much. I accomplish an amount of work besides, I assure you. Yesterday (Monday) our Bethlehem Soldiers' aid Society met, and packed a large box for the Monterey Hospital. We put in 6 quilts, 3 comforts, 12 pillows, 24 pillowcases, 13 shirts, 9 pr drawers 1 bushel crackers, 16 lbs sugar 1 1/4 lbs. tea, 1 doz spoons, 6 mugs, besides soap, herbs, candles, corn starch, rags, towels, & bread. Everything is done systematically; we have upwards of 30 names; & each one gives 25 cts per month to purchase necessary articles. Mrs. Clinton Miller is Pres. Mrs. Read Vice Pres. Nannie White Sec. & Mrs. Alexander Treas. We want to send a box of provisions to Staunton in a few days. There were 500 sick there last week. The general Hospital is there. All who are able to be moved are brought there from the North-West. They have Measles mumps fever & dysentery. We are all willing to deny ourselves any thing to afford them every relief.
     You folks down there should keep a lookout for old Abe's [i.e., Abraham Lincoln's] balloons. The papers say that the old scamp started on a tour with Leowe [i.e., Thaddeus Lowe], but had scarcely got fairly started when, he spied a "masked battery", & begged piteously to return to earth again. I hope Beauregard will contrive one that will blow up balloons, next. Did you see Prince Napoleon? Wouldn't I like to know what he came for! When ever you can do so, try & find out if Andrew & Charley Brooks are well, & mention them when you write.
     It has rained here for several days; yesterday it poured down about 12 o'clock, & last night it rained very fast; I thought about the "dwellers in tents," & am afraid many of them would get a drenching.
     I would have sent you more huckleberries, but they were hardly dry enough to keep well. We intend drying all the fruit we can; apples, plums, damsons & quinces; we have no peaches. I sent the coffee, just because I thought you would like to drink some that I had prepared; now if I could only have made it for you. But I expect your cooks can beat me. (Tuesday evening) Nannie and I went to the orchard today; climbed the trees to get some apples without bruising them; so as to have them ready to send to you, if we should hear of an opportunity. Mary S. has a very sore throat tonight. Mine was sore for about a week, when I had that cold, I cough

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a good deal yet. I did not feel at all well all last week; but am now about as well as ever. I think trouble about your being sick, made me sick: and as soon as I heard you were well, I got well too. I recieved a letter from Cous. Sally, & one from Mother yesterday; they were both in one, & Sally wrote for Mother. They had a letter from Cous. John; it was written in June, they got it last week. They got to Canada in safety; could not tell how they would be pleased, met with a kind reception by the church.
     Griffin, do you remember when we came to Augusta we heard of the arrest of Ed. C. Randolph suspected of being a spy, but he was allowed to go free. He lived in Middlebrook. Well, the other day, he murdered his wife! ripped her open with a large knife. Now is not it a horrible case! I think he ought to be put up in Staunton, and let the regiment shoot at him. Well, my candle is almost out & I must stop for tonight. Wednesday morning. It is again cloudy, & a strong east wind, this morning. I hoped to see the sun, as it cleared off so prettily yesterday evening. It is so muddy we can scarcely get about. Mother said they had sent you and Mr. V. [ i.e., Private Lemuel Vawter, Company I, 33rd Virginia Infantry] a box of provisions by Capt. Sibert [i.e., Captain Marion M. Sibert, Company E (the "Irish Guard"), 33rd Virginia], did you get it? I am sorry to hear that our Irish company fared so badly on the 21st [i.e., at First Bull Run]. But their wounds are marks of honor. I see in the last "Register" that Casper Branner died at Charleston, Kanawhas of fever. He was a member of Capt. Brook's cavalry.
     I am vexed yet at the way I was deceived about that box, but you need not tell any body, only cousin Lem. Mr. K. had said to me, "let us fill a large box, of course I agreed. Then when I carried my cargo down there, they had taken a smaller one & I had to bring more than half home. If I can find any one going, I will send you a box, or barrel full. Will send apples tomatoes and nice potatoes. You ought to save some of your good biscuit and eat them cold, you dont have them hot every

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time do you? I have knit you a famous pair of socks, for winter, and intend knitting several more.
you must send me word when you need any new ones, and if you wear the feet off the blue ones try & save the tops, put them in the bottom of your knapsack. If you have to stay in camp this winter, and I am spared to fisc for you, I will make you new flannel drawers, & color them, so they will not need washing so often. There is a flaming advertisment in the Register of the "N. Market Female Seminary," Mrs. Jessie Hainning Rupert," & don't you think after all their fuss about getting married, Rupert has not gone to war yet. I was glad to hear that Henry had got off, he is making cartrige boxes. Mother wrote that Carry talks so much about "Aunt Mattie," thought one morning that I was there, and wanted to go over to see me.
     Yes, dearest, I hope you will all soon get home, but am afraid that peace will not soon o'erspread our land with the balming wings. We dont want peace at the price of our independence, & I believe the wicked leaders of Yankedom are determined that they will try to make us pay that price for it. Well, we would all rather die fighting than get peace that way, I dont want to live, if I must live under the tyrranical sway of such a degrading despotism. "Liberty or Death". I see a great many instances of female heroism, recorded in the papers. A Mrs. Grove (formerly Miss Rohr of Rockingham) of Upshaw Co, in the absence of her husband, when the Lincolnists came & tried to carry off some of her property, siezed the shovel, & broomstick (woman's weapon) & beat them so that they dropped the articles & fled. Well, I do not say it boastingly, but it is just as I feel when I reflect upon it, that if they ever cross my path and offer harm to one or mine, if I am able I'll fight them, any way I can. I am generally peaceable you know, but if I had a good chance at Lincolns minions I would try & give them some marks to carry with them. But our God is just, dearest, & I trust him with it all. He maketh even the wrath of man to praise Him, & if it is his will that we must suffer, his will be done. Farewell, my husband, and pray for

Your Mattie.

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Next Sunday is our communion day, at T. Spring.

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Sister L. [i.e., Lucy White Shirey] sends love, & says she was almost as much distressed as I was at hearing you were sick. Last Sund. at church Miss Peggy Mooney asked Nancy how you were, & said "we always want to hear from him; we almost claim kin with him at our house!!

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Nannie and Mary send much love.

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

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