This letter was written by 46 year-old Joseph T. Curry (1818-1881) late in the Civil War while serving as the Captain of Co. B, 58th Alabama Infantry. Though he served as a Methodist minister in northeastern Alabama before and after the Civil War, Joseph did not lack for confidence in leading men into battle. He initially entered the service as a 1st Lieutenant in Capt. Avirett’s “St. Clair Sharpshooters” In June 1863, Avirett’s company was combined with Cox’s Battalion Sharpshooters to form the 58th Regiment Alabama Volunteers. Joseph was promoted to Captain in April 1864 and remained with the company until he was wounded in August 1864 before Atlanta.
In this letter, Capt. Curry seeks a position in the “Mounted Brigade” being raised in northern Alabama. It does not appear that Gen. B. J. Hill accepted his offer, however, as he was mustered out of the service on 10 May 1865 still in the 58th Alabama after having been held prisoner.
The only post war newspaper notice I could find for Rev. Curry was published in the Mobile Daily Register on 24 February 1868, which read: “The house of Rev. Joseph T. Curry near Talladega was burned a few nights since, during his absence, his family barely escaping in their night clothes.”
The letter was mailed in an “Adversity Cover” which was an envelope fashioned out of miscellaneous scraps of paper due to a paper shortage in the South. In this case, it appear to have been made from a letter.
February 20, 1865
Sir, I see a notice in the Rebel that you are authorized to raise a Brigade of Mounted Men in North Alabama. I would like to get a position in a “Mounted Brigade” as Captain or authority to raise a Battalion for the Brigade. I [am a] captain of a company in the 58th Alabama Regiment Infantry and have been in service since the 15th of May 1862. I am not drilled in Cavalry Tactics but being well informed in Infantry drill, I have no fears as to my ability to comprehend the other.
I would like very much to get authority to raise a Battalion or unite with some man in raising a regiment. For my character I will refer you to Gen. D[aniel] C[lower] Turrentine, Gadsden [Alabama]; Gen. J[ames] G[randison] L[eroi] Huey, Talladega, Alabama; and Hons. J[abez] L[amar] M[onroe] Curry & [Edward Quinn] Thornton, Talladega, Alabama.
For my competency as an officer I refer you to Col. [Bushrod] “Bush” Jones, 58th Alabama Regiment, Mobile, Alabama, and Brig. Gen. James [Thadeus] Holtzclaw, Pollard, Alabama.
I am a resident of Talladega county, Alabama, and acquainted in the surrounding counties; and think I can be successful in raising a command. Please write me as early as convenient. Address me Capt. Jos. T. Curry, Co. B, 32 & 58th Alabama Regt., Holtzclaw’s Brigade, Mobile, Alabama
I am, General, your obedient servant, — Jos. T. Curry
To General B[enjamin] J[efferson] Hill, Gadsden, Alabama