LETTERS OF DAVID RICHARD CHILDERS


Richard David Childers Sergeant in Company A 34th Mississippi Infantry.  These letters by him were published in the Tippah County in the March 1999 issue of the News and Journal and are used here by their permission.


June 1, 1863 Camp near Landing, Tenn. Monday Morning, 1 June / 63

Mrs. H. M. Barksdale, Dear Niece,  Your long and affectionate letter posted May 22nd reached me yesterday. I have read it with more than a lively interest for the sentiments of friendship you express to me, to mine, and what still makes your letters doubly precious to me is the striking similarity I see in your writing compared with that of your mother whose memory I shall ever fondly cherish. Glad to hear from you, from your husband, from your father and his family, and that the family has been afflicted with small  pox which  spread out into the             from the dying. I reckon. Nothing of interest springs here. All is quiet. .....that precedes the storm. Nothing indicating a battle here now with..to be waiting the ...of the streets of Vicksburg .  ...No disposition to make a forward move now. Recent success at Vicksburg indicate that our forces are able to hold the place against any and all.  My opinion is, if we can effectively route the enemy then gain a victory. ..dession as character, we may reasonably hope for peace to return soon to our country. But we must make up our minds to supplement both in  ...and in the destruction of  property before the infamined belief will be made to let us alone. I join you in .st wishes that the horrid unholy wicked war soon may close. That the weary worn out soldiers may return here unto dear ones. It has inflicted much distress upon our crops and many a poor womanís heart mourns for the "unreturned brave" there are evils incident to War, the toils and (jurictions), the sacrifices God make. I hope will make us to rather appreciate the blessings of a good government, which I humbly pray God in his just providence will be back to us. We are stationed here in the War in support of Van Dornís command....

 And what is still whether God is genuinely pleased to bless the preaching of his word to the brigade. We have many ministers of visiting Methodist Presbyterians etc to preach to us, have had it for the last month. Mr. McFerrin, of Nashville has preached several times to us. He is an able to make God his Helped his lot.. (Mis Eliza Jackson.is she living, married?) Good crops of wheat ...The enemy are destroying.

 My children growing f..ly just and sprightly. The older one, Martha Carolyn is very fair skinned, blue eyes, light hair, a pretty child, four years old last September -- anxious to go to school. Martha reminds me of my mother. My youngest one, Biddy Lucy, is a small baby with features much after or like your mother. She has fair skin, black eyes, is very affectionate, good child. The pleasure and honor of all this world could not comfort me further than of this company. My wife is a blessing, a beautiful, good, sensible woman. May God bless her and the children. I am there from one hand of the spirit.

 I would have gone in by your (house) on my return to the command if  I knew yesterday that we still camped at Oconee.

 I do not know what I would give to hear from home. My heart aches when I think of the condition my family may now be in. The enemies probably have taken my place back, striping my family of their income, being that they  have done in many instances in my neighborhood home sad and lonely, distressed. I know my .. and my little helpless children who needs a fatherís care. Wish I was at home. I hope my tears, hoping and praying that the day of our deliverance of our triumph is not far off, when I shall be at home with my family in peace and quiet.

 I have not heard from Br CH.. In a long time. I reckon he is gone to the ....at Natchez with you and the family..and with your brother John. Here is the beauty ---red---not down in the ground as I remember---. He has past the river on where there --are the trees of life blooming when to weary rest to rise to spend in immortality.

 Tell Sis I will write to her soon, to accept the ring I send her made in the army. Remember me kindly to your Mother Mary & the family-- My respects to Mr. Barksdale, be cheerful  happy. God Bless you.  Your Uncle, David


September 24, 1863 Infantry of  Chattanooga , Tenn. Sunday evening, 24th Sept. Ď63 - Mrs. M. H. Barksdale, Washington Co. GA.

Dear Niece,

Your kind and welcome letter dated 8 and 9th instantly did not reach me till Friday 18th, in line of battle on the Chickamaugee. I had read the 27th and 72nd  Psalms when your letter was handed me. Your prayers that .God in his all wise & providence would shield and protect me. inspired me with hope. The bugle sounded and our brigade moved off into the fight- bringing on the attack.  We threw out our skirmishes here. Did not go far through the woods until we came to a fence at which we stopped a moment. The enemyís sharpshooters were concealed in some timber 150 yards on the right. They poured a murderous Volley into us, wounded many of our men, killing some. In front of us on a small hill in thick timber were posted the enemy in strong force, 350 yds from us. We charged through in open fields, shot shell, grape and ball coming in and among us. Many a brave man bit the dust. The enemy could not stand, fled in the direction of Chattanooga. We resumed our march, waded the Chicakamauga after sundown, made fires and camped for the night. The next morning the heavy firing heard in the distance told that the enemy was close by. Our general reconnitered the ground, made arrangements for the coming battle. Lt. Q. Armour brigade again brought on the attack....We even found the enemy in strong force in the woods, ..The field opened-the very earth shook from the rain of cannons and muskets. We chase them for more than a mile they shooting from behind trees. They fight well-- yielded the ground very reluctantly. We captured Lommaís Battery, the finest of the Federal Army - killing the horses to prevent the enemy from (heading off to Gand or Grud). We left many men, both killed and wounded. Our flag bearer, a young Mississippian was shot -dead-close by me.  Bugle Boy, proudly and gallantly did he bear that flag. We had fought through 2 lines of the enemy and had pierced the 3rd when our worn down and exhausted -thinned and rivaled. We had to fall back. The enemy rallied-came upon us- recaptured the battery - hooted and yelled. But they soon changed their note.our reinforcement came up, drew them from the field. The fight continued all day Saturday till an hour after sundown. The hardest work I ever did. Saturday night coming out of the battle, worn our, almost famished for water, I went to get a drink, drunk too much, that and sleeping cold, made me sick. I am now well I hope. I am truly thankful to God for his  mercy in sparing my life. In saving me from harm, I came out, not touched, be Thankful, O my soul-- The fight on Sunday opened about  10 am. The enemy brought up their best men--the men of Shiloh, Murfreesboro and Perryville--the ...of the Federal ...they fought with a zeal worthy of a ...service, confident of success, but they could not withstand the frequent and determined charges made against them...Georgia (Street) Miss. La. and Arkansas, the Carolinas  and    Kentuckian  clashed to drive  from their frightened event  foes ......fightings such possing one hour after sun down, the shield of victory, shouts by such as I never heard. There stands by them Eyce of Many a prison, men in thankfulness for the victory. The many fled from their fortifications, throwing away their guns, leaving the ground covered with their dead and wounded. Poor men. They got their pay for trying to subsugatesal (?). My heart ached to see our dead on the field, dressed in homespun. I thought of the women and innocent children reduced to orphanage. The enemies are now at Chattanooga, the strongest prison in the South. Some...they will not remain. I hope they will not, no telling. They got a good whipping--lost 3000 stands of arms, 86 cannons, 7000 prisoners and 20 or 30,000 killed and wounded. Glad to hear from you, from Sis, etc.

  April 7, 1897 Falkner, Miss. 4/7/97,  Mrs. M. V. Barksdale, Jennieville, GA. Dear Niece,    Yours of the 30th March was handed me, through my friend W.H. Smith of Ripley, yesterday. I was glad indeed to hear from you. The last letter I recíd from you was when in line of Battle, on Saturdayís thick conflict, Chickamauga, I am glad to hear from you. Hope your patriotic husband passed through the fiery ordeal, came out ofthe conflict unscathed. Those were "troublesome times."  The whirlwind and the storm have passed over me, yet in His providence I am still healthful, stout, for a man of my age, 70 years last November 2.

 I have frequently thought of you, and of your sister, of your father, and wondered if you, any of you, were living. I suppose your father is dead. Donít know your step-mother, living? Is Mary Jane?  If so, where at?

 My father died in Drew County, Arkansas 25th Dec 1858(?) I think. He willed you and  your sister, all his Negroes, had no money I heard of, no land. Some people in Ark claimed kindred to him, took possession of the Negroes, wrongfully and held them till the commencement of the war. So you see their work did none of his kindred any good.

 I trust you will write soon. Remember me kindly to your husband, if living, My best wishes etc. D. R. Childers - My wife in poor health, has been afflicted for years.

***


March 14-15, 1904 3/14 + 3/15  Falkner, Miss. Tippah County.

Mrs. Martha V. Barksdale, Oconee  P.O. Ga.

   Dear Niece, Your letter of the 9th of January last was recíd in due time. I thank you so much for the kind sentiment you expressed. They recall many incident of my early boyhood, spent in Elbert County in GA. where it was my pleasure, my joy, to visit my only sister, your mother, and receive instruction in morals, in religion, from your honored father. Those days are gone, the memory of which will go with me to my grave.  What  then you have taken place--all my people dead- gone - and I left alone, after 5 boys and 1 girl, (your mother). The Good Lord in his mercy has seen fit to spare me till I am now nearly 77 years old, has shielded and protected me in battle, on the land, in times of pestilence, How thankful should I be?

  I would have written to you long ago, but I had a very long serious attack of "La grippe" and from which I came very nearly dying. I am not well, but regaining my strength slowly.  My wifeís health not improving. She has Catarrh, Rheumatism, Erceyphelas, etc, We have tried the treatment of nearly all the doctors in this Co.- in New York, Baltimore, and Atlanta, no good, the loss of "seeing" is indeed a calamity to her. She has been sorely afflicted for many years with these difficulties.

 I am pleased to hear that your father is still alive-- what pleasure it would afford me to see him, to talk with him as I did 57 years ago, I shall cherish his memory. My prayer is that to a man of  age, of infirmity may not press him-- that he may long live in the twilight of a well spent life-- that his last days may be his best- that God will continue his blessings to him, that he will eventually reach that happy place, prepared for His People, where no sorrow, no clouds come, but all is one Eternal Day of joy, of sunshine, of peace, where the weary rest eternally.

 In looking at the picture of your children, I am impressed with the belief that you should feel proud of them. "Sally Mary" blooming intelligently.  You and your husband de(deserve?) for the care, for the way in which you have sought to bring them up - to Honor and Obey their parents. Their reward is certain, sure. By their efforts, in the discharge of duty, They, with Sally May "can leave their footsteps on the sands of time" can cast bread on the waters, to be gathered up in the days to come.

 Good crops lost in this county. Corn plentiful, cheap, 40 to 50 ...meat scarce, and there being no hogs, mules from 75.00 to $125.00 to 150-- People in good shape....Hopeful.  Rain, Rain!! Nothing in or on the farms, poor markets ....snow and sleet killed every peach & apple.

 We had the misfortune to lose the 16 month child-- granddaughter (Amanda Moore) recently, She was a bright promising child, died of measles, hives, etc. Poor Amanda !! She is grieved, distressed, cast down at her loss. May the Lord comfort her in her trouble. My other grandchildren are well, living 1/2 mile distant of them. The children J. T. Powell, an intelligent, well doing man has one son. David Allen...

 Sunday 15th March -- I wrote you the first of the week intending to send to the office. Rain-- High water prevented my going.  My thoughts are solemn and sad. Remember the Sabbath day - Keep it Holy - "Observe my Sabbaths" & commands. This day of rest from toil, from all kinds of labor - Well typifies the rest in the far beyond.

 Hoped to go to church today, no preaching - We have all kinds - Methodists, Baptists,  Campbellites and  occasionally Mormon, Presbyterian. What strange beliefs some people can have! Mormons believe in praying for the dead -- that remission of sins can come only through baptism by immersion!

 No plowing done yet - rain - people eating up all they have. We have a big Confederate Reunion in August, 10 miles distant from me. Hope for a good time. Our President seems attached to the black man. Love to all, write soon.

D. R. Childers


Picture taken at the Confederate Reunion David refers to


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