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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

January 20, 1864

Soldier Suggested Potash Work for Cousin

A Georgia soldier at home on a furlough wrote to his aunt, uncle, and cousins - telling them of the illness of his parents, suggesting to one of his cousins that he get involved with “pot ash.” Potash workers were exempted from conscription, as the product was important in making both soap and gunpowder.

“…My Father and Mother has bin sick since I cum home. Father Wilson ses he is no better. I went to see him last Sunday and I herd from him today and he was no better. He sed the Doctor came to see him last Saturday and he told him he cold [could] not cure him. … Cosens I want you all to come and see me. Cosen John if you want to get in government work, you can get in the pot ash workes. The man has bin round inroal [enrolling] all under 60 and down to 16. The pot ash is in two miles of me. The man went to in roal [enroll] the men at the pot ash but could not do enny thing with them. They will stay as long as enny other workes. It is helthey at the pot ash workes. Thay worked here all last year and thay had good helth thaire. Thay have good houses to stay in, and when it raines, thay don’t work at all. …” Source: Hugh McKee (ed.), The McKee Letters 1859-1880. Second Edition. (Milledgeville, Boyd Publishing Company, 2001), pp.134-135.