1861-62: Thomas E. Morrow to his Sister

I could not find an image of Thomas but here is a full-plate tinted ferrotype of a Louisiana soldier—the artist detailed a pelican on his belt plate. Dennis Headlee Collection

These two letters were written by Thomas E. Morrow (b. 1835) of Co. G, 8th Louisiana Infantry. Thomas enlisted as a private on 23 June 1861 at Camp Moore, Louisiana for 12 months service. Muster records show he was with his regiment until mid November 1861 when he was detached to accompany Major Prados (perhaps to take his brother’s body home). He accepted a bounty and reenlisted in April 1862 and was with his regiment until 7 November 1863 when he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Rappahannock Bridge. He was in captivity at Point Lookout, Maryland, until 10 March 1864 when he returned to his regiment, only to be taken prisoner again on 19 October 1864 at the Battle of Belle Grove and returned to Point Lookout a second time. He was finally exchanged on 10 February 1865.

Thomas was the oldest son of James “Madison” Morrow (1811-1865) and Elizabeth B. Kinnon (b. 1816) of Walton county, Georgia. Thomas was born in Georgia in 1835 but came to Minden, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, as a child when his father purchased several tracts in Township 19, Range 8 in 1839-40.

Enlisting with him in the same company were two brothers—20 year-old Edward G. Morrow (1841-1861) and 13 year-old William M. Morrow (1848-1936) whom I believe he referred to as “Bud.” Edward died of disease at Culpeper, Virginia, on 23 November 1861. William, like Thomas, survived the war though he was wounded twice—at Chancellorsville and again on the 2nd day at Gettysburg. William was taken prisoner on 7 November 1863 at Rappahannock Bridge with his brother but he may have deserted after he was exchanged in April 1864. William settled in Caddo, Louisiana.

The brothers were accompanied by one of the family slaves named Dolphus Morrow or “Dolph” for short. In the 1860 Slave Schedule, the Morrow family owned 56 slaves ranging in age from infant to age 58.

Letter 1

Camp Pickens
Manassas Junction, Virginia
July 9th 1861

Dear Sister,

You must excuse my writing as I am sitting on the ground and writing on my knapsack. Camp life goes hard with most of the boys as they never knew before what it was to cook and wash for themselves but me and Bud do very well as far as that is concerned for we make Dolphus do that. This place is about 27 miles from Washington City, 23 from Alexandria, 12 from Fairfax Court House. There is about six thousand troops at this camp. It is said that in ten days we can land one hundred and fifty thousand troops in Washington City.

We do not know at what hour we will be call[ed] on to fight and we will not know until we are ordered to march for a private knows but very little what is going on, but I am pretty certain that we will get into a fight before ten days.

This camp is General Beauregard’s headquarters. I have seen him several times. We drill five hours every day. We have one hundred & twelve privates in our company (Minden Blues). Four have been sent home on account of sickness before we got here. If any get sick now, they will not have the pleasure of going home but will have to go to the hospital. I feel as well as I ever did in my life. Bud is also in good health.

It has been four weeks last Saturday since we left home and have not received a letter but they did not know what point to direct their letters. If you haver received a letter from home lately, write me all the news. Perry [J.] Murrell got a letter from Minden. Mrs. Thompson & Rial Lancaster are married. John Lancaster joined our company at Camp Moore.

You must answer this as soon as you receive it. If you have nothing else to write, let me know whether you are well or not. I would like to know how you are getting on but should like to see you much better for it has been a long time since I have seen you. It seems as if I had been from home three years. Give my love to all of the pretty girls. Tell them I am not a marrying man just now but as soon as the war is over, I will be on hand.

Give my love to Truby C. and accept the love of your brother for yourself. Your affectionate brother, — T. E. Morrow

P. S. Direct your letter thus:

F. E. Morrow
Manassas Junction, Virginia
Care of Capt. J. L. Lewis, 8th Louisiana Regiment


Letter 2

Camp Carondelet, [@ 6 mile from Centreville,] Virginia
January 23rd 1862

Dear Sister,

I got your letter that you wrote to me in Lieut. [Benjamin F.] Simms’s letter. I was glad to hear that you had recovered your health & was taking an interest in your studies & the examination. I would like to be there to see you & as a matter of course all the pretty girls. You seem to regret my not coming by to see you but you must recollect that my furlough was out on the 18th of December and I did not leave home until the 28th December & if I had have went by to see you, I would have lost five or six days & you know Military Laws has to be carried out to the letter so I had to hurry on to camps.

I found Mother very sick when I got home but she was a good deal better before I left. I found everything very dull in Minden & I could not enjoy myself there in the least. I was almost crazy to get back to the Army. You can’t imagine how dull & different everything is in Minden. There are but three young men in Minden—Han. McKinnie, Lynn Watkins, & Ben. Neal. They look like lost sheep. I would not be in their fix for a thousand dollars. I would not go home to stay unless the whole of our company were to go. Talk about staying at home now—it would be impossible for me to do it.

I saw but very few young ladies while at home. In fact, I did not go about but very little. I, sister, and Aunt Frances took dinner & an egg-nog out at Uncle Edwards’ on Christmas. Sister went home two or three days before I left. Jesse stayed but a short time after I got there. I think that sister & Jesse are both dissatisfied with the River.

Our time will be out just five months from today. Everyone is looking forward to a happy time when he gets back home but I don’t expect we will stay there but a short time after we get home. We don’t look for a fight here until spring. It is very cold but we are now in winter quarters—log cabins daubed with mud and dirt floors constitute our winter quarters which are very comfortable compared with our tents.

There was a man killed tonight by another who was drunk. He stabbed him three times. He only lived three minutes. While I was at home, there were two men shot for trying to release a prisoner & trying to kill the Officer of the Guard. 1

Capt. [John Langdon] Lewis resigned while I was at home & the boys elected J[ohn] H. Webb for captain. I should have voted for him if I had have been here. He got fifty-nine votes to Simms’s sixteen. [Benjamin F.] Simms & [William] Rockwell do not like it at all but nobody cares. I wish both of them would resign—Simms in particular. Webb is a good captain & a perfect gentleman. He was our orderly sergeant.

I have changed my mess. There are ten in the cabin I am in, viz: Nunn, L. Wren, W. Morrow, King, Jack Hamilton, Russell Montgomery, McCoy, John S. Williams, G. Collins, myself & Dolphus. We sleep in bunks one bed above the other like steamboat berths. We have a good deal of fun since we got into winter quarters. We have two god violins in the company & the boys have a dance almost every night.

I expect it would amuse you girls a good deal to see us going it on a reel or just to see how we manage everything in general. I am well at present but have been a little unwell since I returned. You must write often & I will try to be more punctual in writing. Since we got houses, it is a great deal more convenient to write. You must write oftener.

Your affectionate brother, — T. E. Morrow

1 The two Louisiana Tigers executed were Dennis Corcoran and Michael O’Brien. Lt. Kennon was the Officer of the Day. The circumstances surrounding the event are described in more detail under the heading, “Tiger execution,” found on the Louisiana Tigers web page.

Thomas E. Morrow’s List of Engagements during the Civil War.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s