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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

A Need for a Letter in the Midst of War, 1862

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

by Gordon Thorsby

Link to Part One.

Summer heat was oppressive along the Mississippi in the summers but lack of fighting was a desired balance for Hugh Martin Childress. Union forces had taken New Orleans in April and Baton Rouge at the end of May. Confederate planners were threatened by the Union advance up the river. Something would have to be done to reverse their progress.

The second letter to Hester Ann Chandler was dated 45 days after the first. Were there other letters that Mart sent in the intervening times? It is probable that may have been based upon his opening Hugh sent an additional letter that Hester did not keep or that was never received. Here is the letter that Hettie received and one that was kept. He had not heard from Hettie.

State of Mississippi; camp near Vicksburg, July 18th, 1862

Dear Miss,

It is with pleasure that I again endeavor to write you. I have written three letters and sent to you two of which you must have received but I have not received any answer though I recon [reckon] you haven't had the chance that I thought you had. You may guess of my sad disappointment when Robert J. Wright came and I received no intelligence from you. O I was so sorry that I could not hear from you. I did not know what to do. I felt like I was forsaken away from home and friends with no one to console me. I studied and reflected and thought and then concluded that if you had had the chance you would have written. I am now well and do hope when this comes to hand may find you enjoying the same blessing. I have nothing of interest to write you. I have not heard from your brother in a long time. Your Uncle Samuel is with me all the time. He is tolerable well at this time. He wants to hear from you all very much. O miss, if ever you have a half of a chance write to me. I am a poor wayfaring soldier away from home and friend, no voice to cheer my lonely way with the howling cannon every day to tell of death and danger near. O this is the place of solemnity and should be a place of prayer but this God forgetting world will have it's sinful ways. Remember and pray for me that I may live a christian life while I am permitted to stay here upon earth and if I should see you no more in the world that I may meet you in heaven. Will you sincerely pray for this? If so begin now as soon as you hear this if you have not commenced before that time. I would like very much to see you. It has been so long since I saw you. O it makes me so sad to think of being so far from my hearts idol, the only thing on earth that I adore. It causes me to sign [sigh?] and moan and many long days and night of sadness have I passed in thinking of the condition we are now in. Oft have I thought of the time and place that we parted and how it grieved me to think it would be so long before we would meet again and since I left to think that my probation has been prolonged to three times it's original length makes it still worse. Tell my friends howdy for me. Tell them I have not forgotten them nor never will. They have my prayers, hopes and cares. I think often of my old friends far away in Old Alabama and long to be once more in peace at home with them.

I would stop writing if I knew how but not knowing when I will get the chance to write any more I don't know how to quit. You must write to me as soon as you can. Don't delay if you get the chance to send a letter don't wait for me to answer for I may not have the chance to send letters.

Tell Mary and Hete howdy for me when you see them. So I will close for the present. When this you see remember me though many miles a part we be. May God bless you and make your pathway bright and help you to live a happy life. May peace and love abide with you forever is the prayer of your unworthy lover. Remember the one that loves and cares for you.

Written for miss H. A. C. from Hugh M. Childress

This letter was now almost devoid of descriptions of fighting or army life. It was much less about friends or family. The letter was quite clear. He feared he was losing Hester. Hettie was reality and normal life. He expressed his love for her in the hopes she would reply in kind. She was all that mattered.

As the two lived on through 1862, family members around them were struggling to survive the war.

The members of the Childress family in the war.

Twin brother George Burton Childress (1833-1862) Private in Co. K of the 31st Alabama. He would be killed in the initial assault at Corinth, MS 10/3/1862. His body was transported home and buried in the family plot in Moontown.

Cousins Gideon Childress, Private in Co. F. 49th AL. No further information.

Isaac Childress, Private, Company F. 49th AL. No further information.

Samuel C. Childress, Private, Co. K 49th AL. No further information.

Hester’s brothers who served:

Brother John Chandler Private, Co E. 37th Tennessee, by early 1862, he served as hospital steward, was captured March 25, 1864, while home in Madison County on furlough. He remained in prison in Ohio until the end of the war.

Brother Nathaniel Green Chandler (Nathan) (1841-1918) Private, Co. C, 50th Alabama. He was captured on Missionary Ridge on 11/25/63 and spent the rest of the war at Rock Island, IL. He was released after the war returning to Huntsville.

Hester’s cousins. Soldiers from the Moon family:

John William Moon, (1843-1862), Private, Co. E 37th TN, enlisted in records at 16, died of Typhoid Fever, Tupelo, 7/25/62.

William RD Moon (1844-1862) Private, Co. E 37th TN. Died at 17-18, unknown cause or action.

James L. Moon Corporal, Co. E 37th TN. Served as Hospital nurse, and hospital manager.

John P. Moon, (1828-1910) Corporal, Co. E 37th TN. No further information.

Nathaniel Moon, Co. F, 37th TN. Wounded severely by a shell fragment in back at Hoover’s Gap, 6/24/1863.

Richard Moon, (1832-1862) Private, died at home while on furlough, Jan. 9, 1862.

Samuel W. Moon, Private Co. K. 49th AL, No further information.

This is the End of Part Two. During the proceeding next day, the remaining letter will be published and attached.

Link to Part Three


Special appreciation to Ginny Dunleavy Young. Two people who gave humanity to war.

Transcription of three letters Ginny Dunleavy Young.

Brewer, William Brief Historical Sketches of Military Organizations Raised in Alabama During the Civil War. . Cartersville, GA. Eastern Digital Resources.

Rigdon, John C. A Guide to Alabama Civil War Research, Cartersville, GA: Eastern Digital Resources, 2011.

Fold 3,

Confederate Military History, vol. VIII, p. 207

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