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In Their Own Words

January 16, 1862

Camp Life in Civil War

From Savannah, J.H. Graham wrote to his wife in Coweta County about camp life early in the Civil War:

“I have been here twelve days, and its seems that I have been away from home nearly twelve weeks. You have no idea how much I want to see you and the children, to be at home once more. ‘Home, Sweet Home!’ There is no place like home… .

“The camp is a peculiar place [with] all sorts of men and dispositions of men. Now, while I write, there is a variety of amusements in hearing, one party playing at leap frog and singing spiritual songs, some dancing, some cursing, some reading the Bible, some drinking whiskey and all sorts and more evil than good. Eight [are] sick with measles, none dangerous, I think.The duties of the office I hold are rather troublesome, but after 8 o’clock I can go to bed and sleep until 6:30 in the morning. I would [not like] to stand guard, for the sentinels have a hard time of it. My bed is straw, but I sleep as comfortable as I wish in camp… . I do think there are men in Coweta [County] that could be spared from home much better than I can or could. I want you to talk to the young men of your acquaintance and ask them what they think of staying at home and having men come here who are sacrificing everything but the camp and battlefield… .”

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. 93-95.