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In Their Own Words

November 03, 1864

Preparing for Winter, Possibly Arming Blacks in Civil War Letter

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, describing how he and his fellow soldiers were preparing for the upcoming winter. He also offered his thoughts on using blacks in the army.

“…The most of them are busily engaged preparing for winter, which is fast approaching here. Instead of building huts as formerly, they dig a hole in the ground about 6 feet deep and 10 ft. square, put over the top a layer of large logs. On that a layer of boughs and leaves, and cover the whole with dirt which they pile on till it is shaped like a potatoe hill. They then fix a chimney and are not only very comfortable but protected from the enemy’s shells. … The Conscription of negroes in the South is freely discussed now. It is a serious and momentous question. I am not competent to decide which is the best for us. I had much rather gain our independence without it but if necessary I say put them in and make them fight. But I hope it will not be necessary. …”

Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), pp.181-182.