E. John Ellis.
Edited by Steve G. Ellis.
Letter to his sister, March 18, 1862.
Corinth, Miss. March 18th, 1862
My Dear Sister — Your letter was recd four or five days ago and I will now attempt a reply. our Rgt is still here, or rather it is now some four miles from this place on picket duty, acting as an advanced guard and occupying the post of honor in the army here. I am here yet in Corinth at the house least half of a Mr. Brookshier. Have had no chills or fevers for four days, but am still rather weak and the disability of my right leg still continues though it will soon be all right, in ten days at the further,, so the surgeon says. I long to be well again. Our Rgt. has suffered a great deal with sickness and some of the men are unfit for duty. But God has most wonderfully blessed us for out of some 500 that have been sick, only 4 or 5 have died. None of these were of our Company. One of Brother Gabe Mullins boys has been very low and night before last they thought Hr, would die, but now He is better and they say there is a good chance for him to get well. He had typhoid pneumonia and has been in them to their boats long since but the idea is to get them some distance from their gun boats the hospital two weeks. We as yet have had no decisive battle or even sharp skirmish although the enemy are only 12 or 14 miles away, But almost every night their pickets & ours get firing at each other and some 8 or ten of them have been killed by our scouts while we have lost three men, two killed by the enemy and one killed by a fall from his horse while He was skirmishing. We are going to have a big row here though in a few days and intend to whip the enemy. We could have attacked and driven and there we will learn them a trick. We have got a force here of over 20,000 and can have 60,000 at two days warning. I never saw the like of soldiers in my life.
The troops from Louisiana and Alabama are the best clothed, armed and accoutered of any, those of Georgia and Miss. next. These Chaps from Arkansas & Texas are the roughest set I ever saw. Many of them armed with the flint lock musket and always a knife about the size of handsaw and as keen as a razor. These Texas mounted men have generally good rifles, a knife, hatchet and lasso or lariat & his horse pistols nearly as big as a 6 pound gun, each. They are a formidable looking set of fellows. But the finest specimens of manhood I have seen are the Tenneseeans. They are all large fine looking men, and they are gentlemen too. But they are miserably armed and some of them ( two whole Regiments) now here, have no arms whatever except a stray shotgun or hunting rifle and even these are scarce. And some of these heartless, thoughtless soldiers, ( not Louisianians) taunt them with cowardice and sneeringly tell them how they acted at Fishing Creek & other places and they hate it so bad and swear that they will retrieve their reputation or perish. And many of them can tell how the federalists have plundered their homes and taken away their stock and insulted their families. How they came with lies upon their foul lips and told them they came to protect them from their own blindness and folly, to save them from the delusion of secession and gave them the protection that the hawk extended to the doves.
Oh! My God, we who were their acknowledged equals, we who were nourished at the same fount of Nationality are now rebels and traitors, and the hollow hearted, false soured bastard of New England heresy and bigotry is to dictate to the noble southerner of Louisiana, whose only fault was, that He was too unsuspecting, too forbearing, too patient, too confiding and force him to live under a government which He has most solemnly abjured forever. I would not go back though they should let us prescribe our own terms; though they should decide to establish slavery in every state and you are aware what my feelings were long after the state had seceded, even after the war had begun. We must fight to the death and lay low every invader that we can; the boy who knows naught of war must learn to glance his bright eye along the gun barrel, and strengthen his sinews to grasp the knife; and the young girl whose soul is innocence, whose thoughts are purity must learn to hurl the torch and with crafty hands prepare the subtle poison for the invaders cup. This must be a war of extermination. Rest assured that the troops here from our state will never cause the cheeks of Louisiana to blush except with pride & gratitude. Here are represented every class from our state.
The Crescent Regiment from New Orleans is here. It is for 90 days only and I can't understand why they should have been accepted and mustered for that time & Toms Company for 12 months rejected. It is composed of dandies, Canal street men of Garabaldi Collar & Zouave pantaloons. It is funny to see them cutting wood and "totin water" and doing the drudgery of soldiering. Some of them go at it right awkwardly. Just imagine a hand used to a lemon Colored Kidd and guilty of only a delicate cane or at best a play thing, Called (or miscalled) a pistol, all blistered from using an axe, or handling a horrid heavy musket. Their Rgt is about 900 strong. They left the city on the 7th of March and yet I have been credibly informed that there are 132 applications for furloughs now sent up to headquarters. But enough. I see many big boys here. I have seen Breckenridge (J C), Hindman, Bragg, Gov Harris of Tenn. Pelters of Miss & Q C Lamar of Miss, all men of note. They are all Common looking men except Lamar & Breckenridge. The latter is a splendid looking fellow,. really handsome, but seems care worn.
Beauregard has not been here. Jeff Davis is looked for daily.
I was glad to hear from the girls. Nothing gratifies me more than to hear from the Jewels, that they are all well and hearty & pretty & sweet & good. I was glad to hear that sweet little black eyed Jenny centers part of her large amount of affections upon me. I love her too, as hard as Ann Eliza Wright can look. Tell Jennie that I shall expect her to keep that promise (i e) not to marry till the war is over, that Ellis is well and still "walks all over" when he walks at all, that Mr. Billy Pipkin desires to be remembered to her, and that George Richardson still has "throat disease", snuffs his nose and looks like the wandering Jew, or a lunatic escaped from the asylum, or some other curious animal. Tell Steve his letter is read and thank him a thousand times for his kindness in sending me the New Orleans papers. He has no idea what a treat they afforded me. What do you think?
I rec'd a letter from Lon. three or four days ago, along affectionate letter, full of regrets for the past offering explanation & &c.. I am very sorry that she has done so.
She did not know where I was, the letter was dated Feb. 20th and directed to Columbus, Ky. where she thought I had gone. I shall not answer it. She has heard ere this that Columbus is evacuated, she will think the letter was never reed and I will not undeceive her. Not that my mind is changed, not that I love her any less, but that I am satisfied there is no use of resuming any relation of engagement while this war lasts, I had a letter from Emma yesterday. When you see her, thank her for it and say to her that I will soon reply. Give my love to all. No use to distinguish any but Pa & Ma & the babe. Write very soon. Your letters are prized more than you can imagine. Goodbye,
Affectionately, Your Brother John
Ellis, E. John. "Letter to his sister, March 18, 1862." Ed. Steve G. Ellis.