Item description: In this letter of 19 August 1861 to his family, Charles Woodward Hutson comments on the large number of cases of typhoid fever and other ailments plaguing his fellow soldiers, noting, “too many suffer from a disease still more difficult to control in a place where steady & faithful nursing cannot possibly be procured.” Hutson also makes several mentions of needed supplies, namely: socks, stationery, reading material, and underwear.
[Item transcription available below images.]
19th Aug. 1861
Army of the Potomac
Hampton’s Legion at Bacon’s Race Church
Dear Home Folks,
Entirely out of paper, you see! Nor has the box yet come to hand, though I long for it momently. Yesterday, however, I was fortunate enough to receive that long-looked for package from Aunt Harriet. It contained three pairs of beautifully soft, white, wollen socks, a bundle of well-selected tracts, which will be read here by men destitute of any other reading matter. She also enclosed an affectionate letter, which I must answer soon, thanking her at the same time for her timely & exceedingly useful present. Talking of something to read reminds me that once upon a time the house of Redfield & Co. had for sale “Maginn’s Miscellanies” published or rather edited by R. Shelton McKenzie. It is, or rather was, in five volumes: & if the book be not out of print, should we not get Glass or some one equally alert in such matters to look it up for us? If I should survive this war, I would enjoy greatly a little more chat from one of our old friends of the “Noctes.”
The disorders of the camp are already busy among our men: the greater number are under the baleful influence of measles; but too many suffer from a disease still more difficult to control in a place where steady & faithful nursing cannot possibly be procured. I mean my old friend, the Typhoid fever, which seems to be native to this region of the country, so prevalent has it become of late in the army. Its presence may however, be almost solely due to the exposure & privation to which the soldier is constantly subjected. It is fortunate that I have had both this & the measles. Poor Arthur Beck is considered by the physicians to have the typhoid fever; & I am very anxious about him. He is with a private family in Brentsville, however, where every attention will probably be shown him & every comfort provided as far as lies in their power. He has also a powerful constitution; & I have strong hopes that he will pull through it. His brother is with him, or I would be strongly tempted to get permission to leave my post here & help nurse him. As it is, he will be well cared for, I think.
Last night I received a letter from you, which I should have received before the two which came, when I was near Brentsville. This one spoke of the sickness of Laura Mitchell, while the two which arrived previously informed me of her death. The mail is very irregular, & all my last letters may yet come in gradually. I see on reference to your letter, which I read hurriedly last night, that I was mistaken in supposing it an earlier one than those announcing little Laura’s death. I was led into this error by your speaking of Cousin Laura G’s having taken the disease & did not note the difference. So much for reading a letter by the light of the gloaming! I hope & trust that the disease will not become epidemic among you. I suppose this is the sorethroat cycle, & all ailments partake of the type.
If we are to winter near the Potomac, I think I will certainly need flannel drawers, but not until the winter-season fairly sets in. But we may winter either in Washington or at Port Royal. We will doubtless remain here for the present & for some time to come. I have just heard that we are to go to Port Royal in October. These reports however I put but little reliance in. By October we may be in Philadelphia.
Thank you for making our acknowledgements to the Bledsoe family, who were certainly very pleasant people & very kind to me.
You, Em, mention Lily’s letter to you, but give me none of the news. What does she say?
You need not assume that I will be out of the fray when battle comes. Wound well or not, my blood is of Carolina & summons me to the field where my comrades are fighting, so long as I have strength to draw a trigger. Duty above all considerations!
I am truly surprised at the news of Willy Wigg’s engagement. I thought he knew her well. The crazy vein I see has not left the race.
I have not received your Charlottesville letters, Mother, though I hope they will come some day or other. Nor has the hat reached me yet.
I am glad our boys are in the same company with such a capital cook & caterer as Frank Frost; he has a natural talent that way. Envelopes, you know, I need as well as paper; & if you can send me these things, remember to put in the same parcel pens of the size you usually write with.
Aunt Harriet’s letter is dated as far back as the 13th July.
My letter must be off immediately, & will therefore. My love to you all & the dear friends around you.
Your loving Son & Brother
C. Woodward Hutson
More about C. Woodward Hutson:
Charles Woodward Hutson (1840-1936) grew up on plantations in Beaufort District, S.C., attended South Carolina College, served throughout the Civil War in Virginia, was a teacher and professor in several southern states including fifteen years in Texas, and settled finally in New Orleans as an artist and writer. Hutson enlisted as a private in the A Company. The Hampton Legion South Carolina Infantry Battalion was organized on 12 June 1861, and mustered out 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Court House.