Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia

Union or Secession
  • "Only let the yankees be driven from our soil"
  • "Only let the yankees be driven from our soil"
Charles Lewis Anthony described life as a soldier in a letter to his cousin Callie Anthony dated July 23, 1861, two days after the First Battle of Manassas.
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My Dear Callie

"Only let the yankees be driven from our soil"

Charles Lewis Anthony to Callie Anthony, July 23, 1861, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Callie Anthony says: My cousin Charles Lewis is the son of Pa's brother Abner Anthony. Charles Lewis is twenty-four years old, and he and his brother Pickney enlisted in Company B, 10th Virginia Heavy Artillery Battalion. Charles told me about the good health of all the men in his company. I'm so glad he hasn't been sick much; it is so easy to fall ill when you are in the army. I hope they get all the volunteers and new recruits they need.

It terrified me to read about the battle at Manassas. It happened over July 21 and 22. In that first big battle in Virginia, we showed the Yankees just what Virginia boys are made of and won the battle easily. But knowing that Cousin Charles is so close to fighting that he can hear the cannons is scary. I hope he isn't in danger. They better whip those Yankees fast and get back home!

Charles doesn't complain about the food they've been eating, but if getting fresh green beans, beets, and potatoes in the summer is such a treat, provisions must be pretty poor. I'm glad he got some fresh shad. That's a fish Pa thinks is a great delicacy.

I guess I was a little sneaky in telling Charles about the gentlemen who have been calling on Katy, but I didn't want him to be surprised. Now I get to be his proxy while he's off being a soldier. I don't know what kind of a beau I will make!

Charles Lewis Anthony to Callie Anthony, July 23, 1861, Anthony Family Papers, 1785–1952, Acc. 35647, 35648, Library of Virginia.

Jamestown July 23 /61
Dear Cos Callie
I have just returned from fatigue duty and before my time comes around again I will reply to yours by yesterdays mail. The report you heard about Mat. Hensley is untrue although he is very low. I went down to see him before he left for home and unless a considerable change takes place I think his recovery very doubtful. There are two or three others belonging to that company whose condition is nearly is bad as Mathews, but they are at the Hospital. Besides these there are some fifteen more who are not able to perform duty. There situation is one of worst on the Island and unless they move there encampment to some other place, the whole company will suffer.
But I think we have great reason to be thankful for our health since we have been in camp. I have only bene sick once of course. There is but one sick man here at this time and that is Dr gordon (assistant surgeon) and he was brought here from the Hospital. With this exception there is not a single man complaining in our camp, but are all looking well and doing well, and anxious for a fight.
From the commotion that was going on below here day before yesterday, I am incline to believe that there was a great battle fought. Although it was one of the worst days that we have had since we have been in camp. The cannoning was kept up all day and until after 8 Oclock in the night. One report says it was only salutes in honor of the victory achieved by our forces at Manasses Another says that Magruder kilt 1600 yankees with but a small loss on his side. which of the two are true I am not able to say, but I am Incline to believe the latter. at least I would hope it to be so. We will perhaps hear all about it this evening.
As Jimmy Lewis is not here of course I cant deliver you message. He and Pen are both gone home but we are looking for them to day since the come we fear the consequence as we were sent for on account of Gran Ma. The last time we heard from her she was verry low. They may be detained on account of the recruits that they except to bring with them. We received 4 last week, and are looking for about 20 to day. I think Bedford is doing well in the way of volenteering, if we could only get a few more in the field.
But to change my subject a little. I am preparing myself for one of the best dinners ever had since we have been here. We have just bought some snaps, beets, and Potatoes and if you have no idea how a soldier appreciates such things I would only say it is just like eating Wedding cake after eating ash cake. But we have no reason to complain of any thing when we consider the times. I say endure any thing, put up with every thing, only let the yankees be driven from our soil and enjoyment will be ours in the future.
From the intreats you gave me I have no idea who those Gentlemen were. I am such a dunce that I cant takes hints or anything of that kind, and to get me into the thought of any thing, it must be put down in plain English. But one other point in refference to your remark about those fellows falling in love with Kate and if I didnt mind I would loose her. I wonder Cos Callie, what reasons from you brought the declaration, are you in reality or not. If there is any reality about it and I lay claim to Kate, I would ask you to represent me in my absence, and if you cant, I reckon I.d better report to headquarters.
Tell Uncle Charles I bought a shad the day for my dinner, and I thought about him all the time I was eating it, and before I finished I came to the conclusion that he is about right in asking for Shad. How has his leg got, and is he going about. Give my love to him and Aunt Martha, also Cous Ben & jenne and If you will give me Johnys direction I will write to him.
I have been trying to make up a great long message for Cos Emelia but some how or other I couldnt get at it, any how you may tell her. she must not be suprised if I should drop her a line, or two from this place.
Our Capt has gone to Richmond, to see about some Light Artillery If he should get it, I expect we will remove this place, but I think his jouny will prove a useless one.
As my dinner is ready and I have to go to work after, I must close. May god bless and you all is the wish of question