Item description: Letter, 15 October 1861, from Sophia Hughes Hunt, of Woodville, Mississippi, to her sister, Jennie Hughes, of Cedar Grove, South Carolina. The letter describes the efforts of relief societies to provide warm winter clothing for Confederate soldiers, mentions ironclad vessels operating near New Orleans, comments on the difficulty, among Mississippi planters, of finding slave labor to harvest crops, describes economic hardships in the South, and details the writer’s personal health concerns. At the close of the letter there is a description of an incident near Natchez, Miss. (Adams County), where “27 Negroes” had been hanged to suppress an alleged slave insurrection plot.
[Click here to read more about this incident in, Tumult and Silence at Second Creek, by Winthrop D. Jordan.]
[Transcription available below images.]
15th Oct 1861
I am going up to Woodv. in the morning.
My Dear Jennie,
Yours of the 27th Sept. was received a few days ago. I was most truly glad to find that I have not been entirely forgotten. it has been many many months since I have heard from any of you or any one in Carolina. I see by your letter that you are all as busily engaged at [?] as the Ladies of Woodville are. They have been for two months meeting at Masonic Hall in Woodville, making clothes of every description for the Wilkinson soldiers – different companies. John, Robert, & Willie, all three of Cousin John’s sons are in Virginia, their Company is the Jeff Davis Guards. John was when he left here a Lieutenant. I see he is now promoted Capt. & Brandon Majr. or Col. I forget which. he was Capt. when he left. John they say is a fine Officer & drills well. Robt. is O.S. why did Robt. return home. where is Mr. Adams. as you did not mention him I suppose he is in Va. Neither of Cousin John’s sons were in the Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run are they not the same. They had been drilling in Camp at Corinth in the upper part of this state and arrived there a few days after the Battle – much to their regret. I sent 5 papers to John and supposed he had them by this time when lo! I received a letter from Brothers saying the package was handed him at the office in [?]. he gave it back to the P.Master – it had no business there.
The Philistines threaten they will take Brunswick. they say they want to make a Navy yard there as there is fine ship timber there, it is in Georgia on the Sea Coast. I do hope Ga. will be prepared to keep them out of it and be prepared for the vile Hessian Federalist Thieves. They built an iron vessel in New Orleans – some called it the Turtle – some the Torpedo, &c. – a telegraph was received at Woodville last evening 14th at one of the Passes, there are three at the mouth of the River or as it is called – as you enter from the Gulf of Mexico – a large man of war was coming in the pass – the torpedo attacked and sunk her, ran the other two ashore by some unfortunate mishap her bow got bent so that she could not use her guns or cannon – she was towed up to N.Orleans for repairs. but for that she would have taken or destroyed the other two. what a pity. she has long sharp pieces of iron under the water which jagged a hole in the man of war & caused her to sink – together with her guns but in the jar when she struck the enemy’s ship. her bow getting bent closed the port holes, so that she could not fire. & will soon try her skill again. they say they are determined to take or shell New Orleans, & they at the City say they are ready for them to try. It does seem that God is for us has been thus far. More poor fellows die in the hospitals than are killed in battle. I had a letter from Mrs. Beach, Charlottesville, Va. two or three weeks since. she said there was fifteen hundred sick then in the hospital there many a brave fellow will have to fall before this cruel war is over. we also heard they had telegraphed to New Orleans to Dr. Stone to go on to Va. so we suppose a big battle is on hand or about to be. he is a splendid surgeon, has been there after the Battle of Manassas & told them to telegraph to him & he would go again. his family live in the City, and have many years the Dr. is a Vermonter, but as true for the South as any form Southerner. I had a letter from Brothers yesterday eve. his children have the measles – & those that have not yet taken it have chill & fever – God I pray help them. if I had the money I would go on there but, Cousin John told me he had not a single dime not a bale of cotton can be sold. The Government forbids it but promises to make arrangements as early as possible, to relieve the planters all they can. Oh Lord pity the poor I pray. When the Rich have it not, what is the condition of the needy. The Rich have many things to fall back on hogs, cattle, sheep, Negroes to cut their wood & work, besides potatoes, peas, pumpkins & hundreds of other things. Cousin John drinks a cup of coffee in the morning – water at night. Lizzie & I drink tea. Cousin John don’t like it. Brothers wrote me he tried to get some one to haul in his corn, but could not & he feared it would rot in the field, as well as his peas. I sent him a quantity of fine turnip seed he says his patch is the finest they ever had & the greatest quantity of fine eggplants, but no grease to cook them with. I wrote him last night to make every asertion to hire a man or boy for a month to help them. it is very hard there to get any one. I have bought nothing for the best of reasons, nobody buys, because nobody has any money. Now Dr. Ford has made up another Company, & when they finish for the 4 Companies. They will have to go work for another. It is quite a heavy job to make heavy over coats with two large capes & a hood, pants, drawers flannel & hickory shirts, socks, gloves & comforters for the neck. Next week the boxes & bales of things have to go. It is now very cold in Virginia & Mo. If Kentucky had gone out when she ought much trouble would have been saved, poor Maryland. I feel for her, she would have gone out, but for her vile Governor.
Not one word do you tell me of a single soul. Old Mrs. Jones & all her family give my love to them all & Mrs. Teague & Mrs Butler and Mrs. [Spann Boulware?], [Blocher Strother?] & all.
I am truly sorry to hear of Sophie leaving her Dear little boy, but it is better off. The Lord took it from Evil to come, and she has the distinctive title of ‘Mother to an angel’. I wrote her a long letter but received no answer. I wrote you & Lizzie & Mrs. Hill once, Mary Adams twice & no letter from any of you until yours of the 27th ult.
I was sick last night. I have been twice very ill during the summer. I went to Mrs. Gordon’s to Woodville to spend a week or two with her, and was there sick four weeks.
[?] with Inflamation of the stomach. in June, in August I went up to Mrs. [C?], there I was very ill again with a return of the same diarrhea, lived on arrow root gruel of rice water a long while, & some six weeks since had Dyptheria. I have now almost a constant burning in the pit of my stomach, and often pain in my breast, but now I am much better, the Dr. says I have dyspepsia. in each of my attacks Dr. Holt visited me two & 3 times a day.
Now he is gone to Va. I must try and keep well. I diet some but not so rigidly as in the two first attacks last week was the first time I went to the hall to help them sew. 6 sewing machines going all day long, & 30 or 40 Ladies at work day by day now over two months, and all that have seamstresses take them along too. Lizzie takes three when she goes, sometimes she brings down a load of work, and stays at home until it is done and so several do that live in the Country. all take their dinners to the Hall & stay until sunset or very near it. Some send in from the Country. from one hand: 50, 60, 70 to 100 pairs socks, many Negroes are kept knitting, they have been threatened with quite a formidable insurrection in Adams County, near Natchez, 40 miles from here. 27 have been hung. Mr. Moseby there had only 5 negro men, 4 of them were hung, carriage drivers, & dining room servants of the rich many are hung, they were the ring leaders. it is kept very still not to be in the papers. the investigation is still going on. they implicated two white men, but it is thought they have not named the right ones. the head one is not yet executed. they still hope to make him tell. from there they were to come to this county, & go on if successful. don’t speak of it only cautiously. some act very differently. several have sent in money for the soldiers, they were to kill every negro that wouldn’t join them. Such was their confession under the gallows.
I have written such a long letter. I have left no room for my name, only here.
Your affectionate aunt,
[Sophia Hughes] Hunt