Item description: Letter, 13 October 1861, from Charles Woodward Hutson to his mother. Hutson comments on the health of his fellow soldiers, including a pair of “sickly brothers, who have been sick off & on ever since we left Charleston.” He also notes that he has been reading several works by Percy Bysshe Shelley, during a period of relative inactivity in camp.
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.
[Transcription available below images.]
Item citation: From folder 4 of the Charles Woodward Hutson Papers, #362, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Sunday, 13th Oct. 1861
Army of the Potomac
Legion’s Camp at Freestone Pt.
This morning, my cold being much better & but little soreness of throat, I took a walk to Kankey’s & breakfasted there. I think I will soon be feeling quite well, as I am very nosy today, which shows that the cold is deserting my system.
Last night two letters came in one envelope, one from you & one from Em, which cheered me up very much.
Instead of fighting those fabulous Yankees reported as landing at Occoquan, you see, I have been fighting that old enemy of mine, a bad cold.
I have got along so far very comfortably with one blanket, but will need another on the approach of real winter. I endure cold much better than many of my friends around me & am well satisfied with the practical workings of my philosophy of content. Grumbling & groaning always make heavy things heavier & painful things more painful.
I am getting a reputation for boxes from home, as I have long had one for letters. I do not know how I could endure campaigning, if you did not so often supply me with fragments of home, talk & specimens of home, comforts & home-luxuries.
The cap, which Em is making, will be very acceptable as one’s head is often cold at night, tents being airy. As for spiders, which she regards it as a protection against, I have become quite used to them, having slept in the woods where they are plentiful. At Bacon’s Race several men suffered some pain & very lively fright from bugs entering their ears. Against these a cap covering the ears would be a great protection. A scarf would be both useful & picturesque in winter.
Mr. Lieber is just recovering from an attack of jaundice & during the last one or two days, I being oppressed with cold in the head, we have been reading Shelley together, procuring the volume from Logan. We managed to get through the “Cenci,” boggled in the “Revert of Islam” &, making a dash at “Queen Mab,” failed there too, & then tried “Prometheus Unbound,” when our disgust became unbounded & we returned the volume, reviling Shelley for the rest of the day. Lieber drew a capital caricature the other day, when soured thoroughly by the jaundice. The picture represents an old soldier, ragged & shoeless, begging with extended hat. This is intended to personate Hampton’s Legion, the officers & friends of which have disgusted us much of late by constantly bewailing in the papers the neglect which this body has experienced. “You give so much to everybody else, & the Legion has received nothing at all” is the refrain of many a paragraph. This beggin, “poor-mouth” spirit is what Lieber intended to caricature. Underneath runs the legend: “Pity a poor soldier! Only a penny!” He put it into Darby’s hands knowing that the Colonel would get hold of it very soon, & in hopes it would moderate those public petitions; but the Col., though he saw the point, only laughed. Lieber is a simple-hearted, unpretending fellow, but exceedingly well-informed on a great variety of subjects; & he holds very sensible views, understands the true state-rights doctrine better than most intelligent men whom I have met, & has excellent gastronomical taste.
Uncle Ed. flatters me by giving me a share of the interest which he puts forth in the military line. I should like much to see him now in his brigand costume of pistols & moustache. I wonder if he has heard the whistle of balls yet. A very fiendish sound, I assure you.
I am sorry to hear of Mac’s fever, I trust it was only in consequence of cold, & is now among things forgotten.
I wonder how a campaign on the Potomac would have served Mac. It would have been either kill or cure, but not so certainly kill, as you might imagine. In our company are two sickly brothers, who have been sick off & on ever since we left Charleston. One was affected very much like Mac, & has taken the victim of Dyspepsia all his life. For weeks I have seen that man a mere shadow, his face & hands bloodless as a corpse’s. Every body advised them to return home, the Surgeon almost insisting upon it; but they would not go. One of them stayed from pure stubbornness; the other, a far more intelligent & refined young man, insisted upon remaining because he knew the character of his disease & feared hypochondira if inactive at home, whilst if he died here he would die like a man, facing duty. There is no one in the company, whom I respect so much as this young J.Q. Jones. He is now a well man, compared to his condition, when I first met him in Charleston. His brother suffers now only from neuralgic pains & is really improved in health. The only thing which the former seems to regret is having missed the Battle of Manassas. He was then lying in hospital at Richmond, likely enough to die of starvation; but the man’s spirit sustained him, & will make something firm of his weak frame yet.
You can tell Em., I did not read her letter by moonlight this time, not having occasion, & my eyes being sorely distressed with the general liquefaction which my cold thinks proper to bestow upon the physical part of me. Candle-light streamed over her interesting page, & thanked its stars that it was permitted to touch a young lady’s scribble.
You seem to regard Sunday as little as we. Relief from drills, & the bore of an Inspection are the incidents which make the day with us. There is seldom any sermonizing, & most of us take to writing letters.
Tell Em., that she succeeded in spelling that dubious word wrong after all, when she scratched out the “h” in it. Yankees are full of wiles & unworthy tricks; but it takes a true Carolinian to while away an hour or so in innocent pastime. I have no dictionary to refer to; but believe I am correct.
I am glad to hear that Willy is suited to his liking. He abominated the Citadel so much, that really, as matters are now, his life there would have been wretched, had he returned. Mercurial tempers are, after all, not much the better for discipline of sorrow & enforced patience; because mercurial tempers seldom reflect. Their mission is to brighten life – not to “wisen” it.
These uncharitable remarks emanate from my cold in the head. So goodbye. My love to Father, Sisters & all at Jericho, the Dr.’s & Martins. The wildest rumours always afloat here – many pointing to our wintering in Carolina, which is “one great big lie.”
Your loving son,