Item description: Given Campbell was born in Salem, Ky., on 31 December 1835. He studied law at the University of Virginia and, upon graduation, took up practice in Saint Louis, Mo. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he returned to Kentucky and joined the Confederate Army. He was commissioned a captain and eventually served with Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. By the close of the war, he had been given charge of Jefferson Davis’s personal escort. He published Memorandum of a Journal, Kept Daily During the Last March of Jefferson Davis in 1865.
In 1865, he married Susan Elizabeth Wood, the daughter of a prominent Saint Louis Unionist. After the war, he returned to Saint Louis, but was not able to resume his legal practice until 1873 because of restrictions on the activities of former Confederate soldiers. He remained a member of the Missouri Bar until his death in 1885.
[Item transcription available below images.]
Camp Muriette, Sept. 9th, 1861
10 miles North of Clarksville
4th Regt. Ky. Brigade
My Own Dear Bettie,
I am writing this letter to you under manifold difficulties. In the first place my marquee is full of visitors, officers of other companies, who, though I leave them to entertain themselves, frequently interrupt me with questions & etc., and this letter is written upon the top of a cigar box, placed upon a valise on end, for a table. I have been here but a few days and am not as well fixed up as to tables, stands &c. as I intend. And in addition to all these petty inconveniences, I am very much troubled on account of a perfect ignorance of the condition & whereabouts of my mother, father & sisters. I know that father has made himself very obnoxious to the administration on account of his Southern inclinations & the influence he has unwaveringly cast for that side. I have heard that he is safe & the papers have informed me that Gen. Grant said in his proclamation that he had come to “defend & protect citizens” of Paducah. I have no apprehension of any present danger & in case the place is attacked by the Confederates, the women & children wd. be moved out, but the constant unsatisfied & disturbed condition of mind make me unhappy. Now while I am writing a thunderstorm with vivid lightning has broken upon us & I feel as if this discharge of the elements has in some degree cleared ups my feelings also for I delight to look at the sublimities of nature & the terribel magnificences of a real storm has a fascination for her which usually makes my spirits rise. However, if the style of chirography of this letter should fall short of a critical standard you must overlook its faults for my sake.
I wrote to you from Mayfield a few days ago and requested the answer to be mailed to me at Russelville, Ky. where I wish you wd. direct the answers to this also. I will go there in a few days & see if you have written & the letter is there. How long this avenue of communication may be open I know not, for I am afraid that the South part of Ky. is avowed to taste of the bitter civil war first. But I will continue to write to you whether your letters made me or not, for if you continue to love me you will be glad to hear of me & if you acknowledge these letters I will most probably get them & do not fail to write because you think that your letter might miscarry for you do not know how much I prize any little line from you. The daguerrotype and locket are great comforts for me & I carry them with me at all times & looking pleases me so much as to go out of the guard into the woods and take them & think over the pleasant hours we have spent together & in our walks & rides. These are the sparks of light which guide me on my way & without these happy reflections & the bright hopes ahead I would be more desolate than a shipwrecked mariner without his compass on an unknown ocean. I get to thinking of the hard fate which closed the door to any communication with you except by letter & of the idea that the homes of those that I hold dear & of you whom I hold dearest of all others, closed against me by the fate of war, almost makes me curse the authors of this horrid civil war; but then I feel that if I am beloved by you I am fortunate in spite of my misfortunes. I have just been informed that news has come that the confederate troops under Pillow are marching on Paducah & if the news is true I will leave here for Paducah & take a hand in setting fires the city – and if possible to get my Father’s family out of the place beforehand. But I hardly believe it to be true, if it is confirmed by tomorrow, I shall leave a Lieut. in charge of the company & start. The drum has beat for Dixie & I must close this discussion note.
You must write to me at Russelville, Logan County, Ky. for I do wait to hear from you so much. Good Bye my dearest and believe me as ever.