Civil War – Letters from the home front

Submitted by C.J. Johnson


Mrs. Roy McCarty contributed two letters from John F. Porter to his parents and family during the War Between the States, which were published in Mrs. Virginia Carlisle’s book of Choctaw County history in 1997.

Porter was a member of Capt. H. L. Halfacre’s Company, also known as “Winston Brothers,” originally with the 5th Regiment, Mississippi Volunteers, 60-day Troops. It later became the 1st (Patton’s) Regiment.

On December 16, 1861, General Davis with two regiments and one battalion arrived at Bowling Green, Kentucky. There the troops were “assigned to command of the fortifications in and about town, his men being stationed as garrison in the various works,” according to the Regimental history. “The men…during the service in Kentucky…suffered intensely from the very severe winter…Most of them came down with measles and many died from this serious camp disease and pneumonia…”

Here is the first letter. Bowlinggreen, Ky. Jan the 5th 1862 – Dear Father, Mother, and family, I take the oppertunity of drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well except a little cold which I had about two weeks. James had same cold, also Henry. I hope these lines may fine you all well.

There is a good deal of complaint in this Regiment of colds, mumps, measles, etc. Some deaths. A man died last night in our Regiment by the name of Dr. Metts. He was chief Surgeon of this Regiment. Also a cousin to M. A. and D. W. Metts. Some companies have half of their men in the hospital.

We have none in the hospital. We have nine unable for duty name of William Tate, William Green, James Files, Napolian Roach, Dr. Hooker, S. M. Bateman, Capt. Halfacre, Henry Johnson, Wesley Miller.

We moved since I wrote to you. We moved one mile and a half down on Barron River, one mile from town. We use water out of a spring. We have wood a plenty here. We have a two horse wagon. It is busy all the time, Sunday not excepted. James Moorehead is driver. He has wood to hall two miles.

They have us working on the forts every day. There is seven forts here in sight of each other. Some of them are done and some are not. We have only forty-six men in our company and they detail four men each day to work on the fort and four or five to stand guard and some sick and by them, means a fellow’s turn comes round about every second or third day.

[To be continued next week]