1863: John Fox to his Father

This letter was written by John Fox but I can’t be certain of the middle initial which was probably either a J., I. or a G. He does not provide any names or places in the letter, only to imply that his father—and perhaps many of his relatives—were Copperheads, which is the principle target of his anger. Given that the letter was written from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and that there were many Copperheads living in southeastern Ohio, my hunch is that the author was from an Ohio Regiment. There are several by the name of John Fox who served in Ohio Regiments that were posted at Murfreesboro in June 1863 and given enough time, one might narrow it down to the one who wrote this letter. The best personal clue he gives is that the family at home consisted of his father, brothers and sisters. His mother was most likely dead and his father was courting a woman that John did not like.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]


Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
June 17th 1863

Dear Father,

I take the pleasure of writing you a few lines in answer to your very welcome letter than came to hand a few days ago. I was glad to hear that you was all well. I am well and in good spirits too. Just came off of picket yesterday. We had been on picket ten days. I hope that when this comes to hand that it will find you all well.

We have warm weather here at this present time. But then we have nice weather, [even] if it is warm. I expect that you have pleasant weather in the North at this present time. But then I will quit on this point at this time. I have considerable in my mind that I would like to talk to you about, could I have the privilege. Now I have (although I hate to say it) and that is I hear that there are a great many of my relatives that have turned out to be Copperheads. Now that I do not like to hear. Now I do not want you to understand that I charge you with that treasonable doctrine for I do not, although I say what I think of Copperheads. Although I do not wish to offend anybody but, “Away with Copperheads!” For me, they are traitors.

Now you may ask who we term as Copperheads and with kindness, I will tell you. All that we term as Copperheads and traitors knows this that are crying for peace and an armistice. Such that are afraid that their Southern brothers, as they call them, will get hurt. And these men of the North that are kicking and finding fault with our officers and Abe Lincoln & the Administration, & the Emancipation Proclamation & find fault in general, such men as these are Copperheads & traitors, for they are seeking to overthrow the government in every way they possibly can. Now would you not term them as Secesh? I most assuredly would.

No perhaps this won’t suit some of you so well as it might, but I can’t help it for I am going to say what I have to say and then quit. But who is to blame, you or I? I do not think that I am for I am yet as true a patriot as ever I was and am in for the war until all these Copperheads & traitors—both North and South—are subdued. A man has but two sides of which he can select. His choice [must be] either for the Union all out & out, or Secesh out & out. Now which of these are they all going to take? I will take the Union side. So will all loyal men. And if they take the loyal side, let them advocate loyally throughout the world and not Copperheadism as the most of them of the North do. Let them come out and own [up to] what they are and let them not be so deceiving as the monstrous Copperhead be.

I say let a man come out & say what he is & then we will know in what way to take him, and he will then know what to depend on. But then these government traitors in the North—such as Vallandigham & his friend Vorhees of Indiana, and their followers—they do us more injury than the whole Southern Confederacy. And why? Because they are sneaking & low degraded human beings. They are afraid to come out in front and face the cannon. No, they dare not come. They are cowards. But they they are like a dog that will kill sheep and more so. If they can do everything sneakily, they will do it. Everything to injure the government and the army, they will do it. If they could demoralize the army by sending their damned secesh, low-lifed, low-degraded, dirty sheets [flyers] in our camp and let them advocate treason, they would like it very well. But then they don’t have much effect in the army.

I am in hopes that they will arm all the African race in the United States and let them fight for their liberty until death for it is at this present time a military necessity that we should pursue that course and take all that they have (that is, from traitors), both North and South, & let it help to pay the national debt. The traitors of the North, they should have their property confiscated as well as the Southern traitors. Had the South behaved herself, she could have had her property. But no, that was not enough for her. She wanted more territory & thus far she has waged a war against us and what will she gain? Not anything. But then she has lost her membership of the United States. She has no right to ask protection under the bylaws of the United States whatever. In the least, they have no right to ask protection under that flag—those Stars & Stripes which they seek to destroy. No right at all what ever.

They first laid aside the Constitution and the bylaws of the United States to commit depredation & fiendish and outrages and haven’t we a right to use every means possible. Whether it is constitutional or unconstitutional. I say we have. I say any way to put down treason. If that would take the last man in the world. Let us defend that flag as long as one of us remains, in honor of the brave that have fallen by our side.

Now Father, I ask in the name of a true and faithful patriot soldier, will you forsake me after enduring the hardships of a soldier that I have now. I hope not. Now I am honest of what I have said, and it is for the love of my country and the love of the Stars & Stripes, and the love of you and my brothers and sisters. It is for all them that I have left home adn have left my young company and have left all that is near and dear to me, and I have offered my life as a sacrifice and who can ask for more. Well, I guess that I will have to close.

P. S. Well, Father, I hear that you do not make the best of use of my money that I have sent home. Now I have this all from good authority. I would not say it if I did not have a good reason so to do. But then I hear that you have used it in buying presents for that Miss Roberts. Now my dear and kind mother used to say to me that a man that had to buy presents in order to get a young woman to love would never amount to anything. That is what I think of that thing you are going with. I never thought anything of her. But then I will have to come to a close for I think that I have written enough today. I remain as ever, your son, — John J. Fox.

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