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In Their Own Words

April 30, 1861

Soldier Wrote Sister from Civil War Camp

From a new training camp for Georgia recruits at Marietta, Georgia, Tom Dowtin wrote his sister:

“Your very kind and affectionate letter of the 21st was forwarded to me at this place from Cassville and received on yesterday. It afforded me much pleasure to hear from you and to know that you sometimes think of your absent Brother. As you can perceive from the heading of my letter, I am now in encampment five miles below Marietta. We have been here a week today. Only the officers of the companies are here. We came here for the purpose of drilling and becoming well qualified to march our men against the enemy. We are daily expecting to receive orders to go to Virginia, when we will go home, get our men and pitch into the heat of battle. I am quite anxious to receive orders, as I should not like for any fighting to be done unless I had some hand in it. I hope that, if I am compelled to go, that you will often think of me and write to me at every opportunity. I guess that David will soon be enabled to return unless he goes to Virginia.

“We are living here like regular soldiers, sleeping on the ground under tents and eating beef, bacon and loaves [of] bread. We also have to stand guard. We rise at 5 in the morning and retire at 10 in the night. There are about thirty-five companies represented here. If you could see them marching around and hear the drum and fife, you would be compelled to say that the North can never conquer the South whilst there lives a man to fight. I trust that the God of battles will be on our side and conducts us safely through the wars and crown us with victory! I am determined to fight if there is any done, as I had rather die on the battlefield than live and see my country needing my services. I am ready and willing to devote my all to my country. Governor Brown is here today reviewing the troops. As my ankle is badly sprained, I am compelled to stay in my tent today. I sent to see Nannie just before I came down here. She is getting on finely. I must close, as I am tired writing. I have written this on my trunk, whilst I am sitting on the ground.

“Give my love to all. Write me and believe me as ever your Brother.”

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), p. 7.