Thursday, January 14, 2010

Supplies to and from the Texas home front

The flow of supplies to soldiers in the field is of interest to me. An important source of supplies was the home front. And, although it is not often considered, what supplies did soldiers send to their families? I hope you’re not weary of the correspondence of Theophilus and Harriet Perry, but their letters provide some interesting information on the type of supplies that flowed to and from Confederate soldiers in the trans-Mississippi. Theophilus served in the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted) that was part of Walker’s Texas division. His wife, Harriet, lived in and near Marshall, Texas, throughout the time period of her correspondence with her husband. Below is a list of supplies that the couple sent to each other via courier with the date of the letter that mentions the item. All of the quotes are from Widows by the Thousand: The Civil War Correspondence of Theophilus and Harriet Perry (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000).

October 4, 1862: Harriet sent a beeswax candle.

October 26, 1862: Harriet sent “a bottle of Tomato catsup, [and] a few dried peaches”, “candy and apples”, “over pants”, “three pair of yarn socks, comforter & cap”, and “red pepper to cook with your fresh meat.” She sent Norflet, Theophilus’ slave, two pairs of socks and his suit. Also she gave Theophilus “patches for Norflet to mend his clothes & yours too if they need it” and “your pistols”.

Feb. 1863: Theophilus sent “Sugar Lumpy [his daughter] a great sheet of paper filled with pictures of animals.”

Feb. 19, 1863: Harriet gave Theophilus “one pair of pants, two pair of drawers, a few candles & a little coffee (all I had) a towel which I designed for you to use in wiping your dishes & a piece of cloth to wash them with”.

Feb. 19, 1863: “Your Mother sends Norflet one pair of pants, two pair of drawers & a shirt—Fanny, Norflets wife sends him two pair of socks & the comforter.”

March 8, 1863: Theophilus reported that he received gloves and winter clothing in November including “overhaul pantaloons”.

July 28, 1863: Harriet mentions sending items to Theophilus, but she does not detail the items that she sent.

Dec. 18, 1863: Theophilus sent her a handkerchief, a baby’s blanket, sheepskins, bed ticks, pecans, and some cloth. Harriet said she would send him some tobacco and some shoes as well as paper if she could get it.

Dec. 20, 1863: Theophilus gave Harriet “the balance of the fifteen yards of cloth I bought.” In his January 29, 1864 letter he says that 10 yards of it was calico that he paid $10 a yard for and 4 ¾ yards were “Government Cloth” that he paid $5.50 a yard for.

Jan. 20, 1864: Harriet refers to recently sending him socks.

Jan. 29, 1864: Theophilus mentions receiving candy, apples, and pound cakes.

Feb. 14, 1864: Harriet had a bundle prepared with “flannel drawers” and “Sugared fruit” [this consisted of “figs, pears, and two qualities of Peaches”] and “two shirts nicely done up” plus a “cravat”.

Feb. 14, 1864: Theophilus reported buying “six yards of Cotton ade for pantaloons at a dollar & half a yard” that he planned to send to Harriet.

Feb. 21, 1864: Theophilus purchased “two large fine Combs & one black toilet comb” for Harriet and mentioned purchasing “Ware Cloth” and “Overcoat cloth”.

March 9, 1864: Theophilus received pantaloons from Harriet.

March 27, 1864: Harriet sent “bacon and flour” to Theophilus.

April 5, 1864: Theophilus asked Harriet to send him “two cakes, sponge cake or pound cake. Gingerbread is unhealthy.”

The correspondence ended with the death of Theophilus on April 17, 1864 as the result of a wound received at the battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana.

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