In Their Own Words
March 13, 1861
Letter from Civil War Military Camp
After Georgia’s secession, many Georgia militia units left for newly established training camps to be organized into regiments and prepare for active duty. From one such camp in Augusta, Maurice O’Callaghan wrote to his friend Johnny Perkins:
“I received your kind letter this morning and you may rest assured that it give[s] me no less joy than if it had been from my Brother, for I cherish a true friend. As [for] myself, Johnny, I will give you a small history of my new home. For our subsistence we have what the boys call wasp-nest bread – it is a baker’s bread – and one piece of fat meat three times a day and coffee three twixt twice a day. Second, we drill three times a day with muskets that weights 17 [pounds] each. We have a jolly time here. There is 200 soldiers here now. You just ought to see us with our red shirts on and caps on. We look more like British than Southern soldiers. We are going to pitch our tents in a few days on the parade ground, where every man will cook for himself. This will suit me very well, for I do not think our cook is the cleanest in the world now how.
“Johnny, as I have to rise in the morn at daybreak and ought to have went to bed at 9 o’clock but have stole time on the office of [the] day to the amount of about an hour, I must close. I want you to tell all the boy[s] to write me, such as Alf and Job. Give them my best wishes. Oh, I had liked to have forgot Miss Coffer, my little sweetheart. Tell [her] howdy for me and keep her for me, for she is the only one I can claim in that part, for Miss Ollie has forgot me or at least I think so from the way she has treated me. I wrote her a letter, and she did not answer and as after I have her ample time to do so. Then I studied a while and said farewell… .”
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 2-4.