28 February 1864: “I am heartily disgusted with public opinion.”

Item Description: William Dudley Gale wrote in this letter, 28 February 1864, to his wife, Kate Polk Gale, describing the destruction wrought by the Yankees on Meridian, Ala., and Enterprise, Ala., and defended the much maligned strategy of his father-in-law, General Leonidas Polk, in his campaign against General William T. Sherman in Meridian. Gale also offered direction to his wife on the sending of summer clothing and on financial matters. Though he left the decisions to her, she would need her brother to facilitate the exchange of notes.





Item Citation: Folder 5 Gale and Polk Family Papers (#266), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Demopolis Ala

Feby 28th 1864

My darling Kate

If you have not changed your habits, you are now sitting in your own room, this the 28th of February, and are pouring out your thoughts to me, as I am now doing to you, my own loved wife. And tomorrow the messenger of love and Sympathy will each start on its mission, urged forward with all the ?? that Strong affection, and deep attachment can give. They will pass each other on the way, all unconscious of the fact and heedless of the precious burden, which is bound concealed by the envelope, that hides their treasures from the vulgar eye. God speed them to their destination. Tell Fanny She must write me a little letter, Soon.

To day has been, as indeed have many for Some time past, a Soft baking, Spring day. The early flowers are all in bloom as indeed are the plum & peach trees also. There is a comparative lull at Hdqrs now as the enemy are flying from our front and going back into Memphis and Vicksburg. Our little army is encamped around here and only waiting the completion of the mending of the RRoads about Meridian to enable us to return. Of course as Soon as that is done we will all go back. You Say to Sallie & your mother that Meridian is no more, at least as far out as Mr Balls Store, which was burnt. The Genl Hd Qr was not burned, owing to the exertions of the negro family who lived there. The Yankees entered the town that way and fought their way into the Village, driving Genl Lee out. Enterprise was all burned up, that is all the Stores, and every house of business. Two citizens houses were burned, one of which was our friend Genl O. Ferrell. He had left, taking his wife & family and two wagon loads of meat & subsistence. He lost his Store and his house & all he had. He Seems as cheerful & good humored as ever tho he Says he lost $150,000_ Mr. Mims the wife of a Quarter Master died when the devils were there. She had an infant about two weeks old, when they entered the town. Her husband lingered until they were about to enter the Yard, when he fled and was pursued The excitement and anxiety about her husband brought on fever of which She died. Her husband returned to See her die but She was unconscious and Knew him not. As a general thing however, they did not abuse the people much. They tore up the Rroad track for about ten miles above and below Meridian, and nearly as far as the Selma & Jackson Roads. A large number of laborers are now engaged repairing the various roads and will Soon have our army back again.

I have heard that many person have been inclined to censure your father for retreating without a fight, and Some of the editors have gone So far as to make publication of their fault findings, but I am glad to find public opinion in this quarter completely changed. The news papers have come out in editorials recalling all they Said and many of these have been highly eulogistic. I am heartily disgusted with public opinion. If he had failed he would have been abused, let his plans be never So wise. As it was he has Succeeded and he has numberless admirers, and not a few who pronounce his late campaign the most brilliant of the war. In this I quite agree with them. And what is more I, am in a position to know that the result was attained by energy & Skill, and military ability,  unsurpassed in my judgement in the army and not by any good fortune or accidental lucky end to the difficulties which at one time Surrounded Since. The Cavalry fight of Forrest in my opinion is the most brilliant affair of the war of the kind and will add imperishable lustre to his name.

I have written to you Several times in regard to your money. You can of course obtain any information necessary from Your brother and get him to act for you in the promises. All your notes of the denomination of $100 must be funded by the first of April. Those of a less denomination can be exchanged for notes of the new issue at the rate of one third off. That is 300 of this old for 200 of the new. I wrote you to Send me back the money I Sent you Since I have Seen the bill I find it is now too late So if you have not Sent them, do not but use them as you See best through your brother and Mr Aston I am not in need of it. You spoke of Sending my Summer clothing. I do not Know of any that I want excepting undershirts, which you will have to mend up very Strong, for if I am not mistaken I have worn thru for or five winters. I have drawers and Socks enough. yes you may Send me my check Shirts, if  you think they are worth Sending. I have one coat, which I think will do, I do not wish any [?] pants as I cannot afford the washing. You might Send my Alpaca coat or not as you choose. I Know of nothing else I want.

There is a little girl here about as old and about as large as Fanny, and I So often think of my own dear little fellows and wish for the time to come when I will have them all to myself and can have as many romps with them as I please. Always write me Something about the dear little fellows and now good bye dear, darling wife, Love to all

Your own Will

I have written to you very often Since we have been here and I have time. for after awhile we will be in the field again and I cannot do So_ Write to me as often as you can. Poor Harry has not received a letter from his wife for 8 months

Your ever & ever



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