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In Their Own Words

December 08, 1864

Civil War Soldier Hoped Letter Would Reach Wife; Noted Interesting Invention Proposal

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, hoping the letter would get through to her, and hoping Sherman’s army had not disturbed their home. He also told her of an interesting invention proposal.

“…Your letter is the latest I have heard of that did come through. I suppose it got to Augusta before Sherman cut the railroad. I feel in great hopes now that no yankees will invade our county. I have eagerly gathered all the news from Ga I could to find out Sherman’s course. We get nothing scarcely but rumors but from all I can learn he is making his course east of Macon, and I hope, as I said before, that he pass our section unmolested. But I will fear great concern till I hear direct from you again. … We had a change of the monotony of camp life last Sunday. An old gentleman named R.O. Davidson delivered an address on the invention of a bird of Art. He says he made an artificial bird to go by steam through the air that can carry a man to guide it and a number of shells which the man can drop on the Yankees as he passed over them which will soon kill and scare them all away. He first applied to the Government for aid but was refused and he now appeals to private contributions. At the close of his address the boys contributed $116.00 to assist him in forwarding his designs. He proposes to make five hundred of these birds to follow one behind the other, he is taking the lead and to drop bomb shells on yanks wherever found. Quite an idea if he can only succeed and who knows but what he will. Of course it is ridiculed to a great extent, also the idea of steam cars, telegraphic wires and all other great inventions, laughed at at first. …”

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. 187-188.