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In Their Own Words

November 21, 1864

Soldiers Gathered Corn

From Camp Marion, Va., Georgian J.W. Rheney wrote his father about an aspect of duty not usually associated with a soldier’s duty:

“… We have been for twelve or fourteen days down on the bay gathering corn, fodder, wheat, &c. There was between 3000 and 4000 of us at the business. I suppose we have gathered about 75,000 or 100,000 bushels of as fine corn as I [have] ever seen. It will average from 25 to 75 bushels per acre. There are some of the prettiest farms on this peninsula I have seen. The land is almost level, and is of a rich red brown color. The object of having so many to gather was to guard the wagons. For we went below our line of pickets. Therefore, it being so close to Newport News, the wagons would have been liable to be taken by the Yankee scouts… .”

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. 87.