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December 25, 1863

CHRISTMAS

        The first sound that greeted me this morning was the little negroes in the yard running about before light holloring Christmas gift to the other negroes–Christmas has once more come with its joyous sports. The little chaps enjoy it wonderfully. I have remained at home the entire day, as usual eating my Christmas dinner at home. And although the times are “hard” Mother had provided a good dinner for us. Several dined with us, viz Sam’l McGee, Larkin, Anna & Maggie Agnew. A poor soldier (32nd Miss) who has lost an arm (named Brock, who lives near Parson Scally’s) called this morning wanting a “lift” on the road home. He is weak, having been furloughed last Saturday from the Fair Ground Hospital of Atlanta for 60 days. Pa sent him on a mule to Mr. Armor’s. Wiley went along to bring the mules back. Jno. Martin and Johny and Claudius Nelson were here a while this evening. These were our visitors for the day. Early heard some big Christmas guns but not many.

        Have some news. Mr. Brock gave Pa a Mississippian of the 20th from which I have gleaned some items. The Yankees have made a raid on the Tennessee Railroad at Salem Va, west of Lynchburg. Some trussells were destroyed and Longstreet’s supply route cut. From Longstreet see nothing very definite. On the 14th there was a battle (not general) at Bean’s Station in which the Yankees were driven towares Knoxville. From Bragg’s army see nothing in the paper except that a reported raid towards Athens, Ga. was unfounded.

        From Texas see that Banks is gaining a lodgement in the state having and holding Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Aransas Post and Matagorda. This was in November and Banks is having much more success than I had heard of. In the U. S. Congress F. Wood had introduced a resolution directing the Pres. to appoint 3 Commissioners to negotiate a peace &c. The resolution was tabled by a large majority. This proposal would have resulted in nothing, for they looked to a restoration of the Union, but the U. S. Congress plainly declares they do not want peace now, and are not willing to make such propositions. Mr. McGee tells me Dr. Ford returned from the Georgia army yesterday. He reports them going into winter quarters at Dalton, a portion of the army is at Tunnel Hill fortifying: an attack of the enemy is looked for at Tunnel Hill. Gen. Jo. Johnston has gone on to assume the command of the army, and doubtless commands now in place of Hardee. Heard that it was reported this morning that the Yankees were up on 20 mile Creek, but as I have heard nothing more suppose it was a false report. McGee tells me he heard yesterday that the cavalry are moving up. They are certainly at work on the R. R. repairing to Tupelo at least. The day has been cloudy. Tonight a heavy mist is falling and we have the prospect of a wet night, Pa is reading The Message from the Sea tonight. It is a Christmas Story by Charles Dickens.

Source: Samuel Andrew Agnew Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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December 27 [1863]

By the fire in my room

My own dear little Pinck,

How are getting on at Grand Pa’s ? Very well I hope. How did you spend your Christmas? I thought about you a heap & wished you were here to hang up your sock. Zona & Willie hung up theirs & Zona got a big doll, some molasses candy, some ginger bread & a big apple & Willie got the same. So you see the Yankees have not got Santa Clause yet.

How did you like your Christmas letter? You must be very smart & learn to read so I can come after you. I want to see my little boy & Zona talks about you a heap, says she will be so glad to see you. She don’t comb my head often as she did when you were here to help her. Willie’s sore finger is nearly well. He wants to see little Pinck too & little Gus will jump & crows to see Pinck.

I have not seen Papa since the day after you left. They all left on Sunday after you left Saturday. Aunt Jane spent Christmas day with me. Little Dora & the baby too. She is living in Asheville at John Woodfin’s house. I am going to see her this week. She has been run from her home by the mean old Yankees & tories. They are mean people to do that way.

You must be a good boy & Papa & Mother will love their child so much. You must never tell a story & tell Aunt Dora good night every night for Mother & Papa. I kiss Zona & Willie every night for you. Hanes & Lonzo send howdy to you. Rose says tell Pinck she will be glad to see him when he comes. Mother sends a heap of love & kisses to her little Pinck. Gus, Zona & Willie send love & kisses to you. Be a good boy & write to us often. God bless you with contentment.

Your fond Mother

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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Small First National Confederate Flag, used as bookmark.  North Carolina Museum of History accession number 1979.157.1

Small First National Confederate Flag, used as bookmark. North Carolina Museum of History accession number 1979.157.1

Small first national Confederate Flag on a staff, used as a bookmark.  Silk with painted stars.  Used by owner, great-grandmother of donor, as a Bible marker.  The entire flag with staff is less than 6″ long.

Curator note:

“During the Civil War, in the evangelical wartime South, many people on the home front spent their evening studying the Bible and praying for the safe return of family members away in the army.  Small flags like this one were popular to mark a stopping point when a reader completed the evening scriptures.  The single large star in the center of the circle represented the maker’s home state, in this case, North Carolina.”

Source: North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number 1979.157.1. www.collections.ncdcr.gov 

 

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Fever at New Orleans

Commander Bell, commanding the West Gulf squadron pro tem, has informed the Navy Department that a pernicious fever has appeared on board the United States steamers repairing at New Orleans from which several deaths have resulted. Some of the cases have been well defined yellow fever and others are recognized by the names of pernicious and congestive fever. The vessels which have suffered the most are those lying the longest off the city.

Source: Fayetteville Observer, October 12, 1863 as found on www.ncecho.org.

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Liquor Sellers

During the past six months one hundred forty seven licenses to keep ordinaries have been granted by the Hastings Court. Our citizens, from the above, may form some idea of the magnitude of the retail liquor trade in Richmond. One hundred and forty-seven men licensed to poison people. Enquirer

Source: Greensborough Patriot, September 24, 1863 as found on www.ncecho.org

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Tuesday 22nd [September 1863]

I have felt very gloomy today. Matt & I went up the peach orchard, got but few peaches as they are all gone or nearly so. We sit down by the old store house under a tree & staid there some time. I love to go on the hill where once stood our hotel but I feel so sad when I look at the ruins of the old house. I sewed some on my chemise today. Did not get it done. We had a big frost Monday morning, I saw some after I got up. The sun was an hour high. We had some frost this morning but ‘tis more pleasant today. Indeed I got quite warm as Matt & I were going up to the orchard. It was about 11 o’clock when we went & dinner was nearly ready when we got back. Harrie came over this evening. The bridge is not up yet, he forded. Betsey has been sick all day, wove but little.

** at the beginning of Cornelia’s diary, we learned that they operated a hotel and that it was destroyed by a fire, likely arson, in early 1861

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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The bloodied coat of Lt. Col. Thomas Ruffin of Johnston County, worn when he was mortally wounded in battle in Virginia Oct. 15, 1863, is a challenge for N.C. Museum of History Conservator Paige Myers. As a conservator she seeks to prevent further damage to textiles in her care even as the ravages of war are still evident.

During a live webcast September 10 from the N.C. Museum of History, you can get a behind-the-scenes look at a working textile conservation lab and see some of techniques Myers uses to conserve Civil War uniforms.

Some of the highlights of the program will include:

  • A demonstration of treatment for the blood-stained frock coat worn by Lt. Col. Thomas H. Ruffin, of Franklin County
  • A look at the moth eaten frock coat of Col. Dennis D. Ferebee of Camden County
  • Discussion on the various treatments that conservators use to preserve Civil War-era fabrics and uniforms
  • The chance to ask Myers questions about her work and textiles in the museum’s collection via email and live chat

The webcast will be held on Tuesday, September 10 from 6 to 7 p.m., and an Internet connection is all that is required to participate. To register, simply fill out the form at http://www.ncdcr.gov/CivilWarTextiles.

This program is the first in a series organized by the Connecting to Collections Project (C2C) of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, in cooperation with the N.C. Museum of History. Future programs will examine the conservation of flags and garments from civilian life during the Civil War. The entire series is made possible thanks to a federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Freedom Tenn

Washington Co. August 21st/63

Mr. G.F. Smathers

Dear Father I take my pen in hand to drop you a fiew lines which will in form you that I am well at the present time hoping theis fiew lines will cum safe to hand and find you and all the rest of the family well and doing well.  I received your leter yesterday and was glad to here from you but was truly sorey to here that you was sick. I hope that you will soon git well agin. You was rong in formed about me being cuming home at camp meeting. I hav giv my name to go with the cavalry and if I git in with them I will be at home sum times this fall to git me a horse. Father I wold like to see you the best in the world but I recon it is out of the question un less you git able to cum out here. I got the nuse that you got the money that I cent you by JP Justice. I got my pants and socks and unions that mother cent me. We are at a vary good place now but I don’t know how long we will git to stay here tho we may git to stay here a long time yet.

You rote that never wanted me to run away like sum of them has dun. Rest contented about that. I do not expect to ever run away unless times gits worse about sum thing to eat. Be fore I will parrish I leav if they hang me for when my life is gonewhat will this world be worth to me. I had as soon be hung or shot as to starv to death. I wish

If you hav money by you that you wold keep hit till I see Whiker. I git in the cavalry or not. I fi do I will hav to borey sum to by me a horse. So I must close. BGive my best respects to all my friends. Yours truly un till deathe. Tell Jane that I cold ent rite to her this time I had just started her old leter. Fare well father for this time.

Sgt. WJ Smathers to

Mr. GF Smathers

Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003).

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upcoming webinar on conservation of Civil War uniforms!

Our NC Museum of History conservator will be sharing soe behind the scnees secrets! Sign up today! It’s free!

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Museum Monday

today will start “Museum Monday” …. I’ll feature museum collections at least weekly because objects can tell you as much as a document

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