1864: John Mornington Raines to Carrie (Young) Raines

I could not find an image of John but here is a one of a young Georgian thought to be Thomas Blount Bowen but is unconfirmed (David Vaughn Collection)

The following letter was written by 19 year-old Pvt. John Mornington Raines (1845-1899) of Milledgeville, Baldwin county, Georgia, who enlisted in October 1863 in Co. G, 45th Georgia Infantry. He was taken prisoner on 25 March 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia, and released in June 1865 at Point Lookout, Maryland. John had a brother who served with him in the same company—Thomas Turner Raines (1838-1865)—who was probably the individual he referred to as “Bud” in this letter. I believe there was another brother names James Cadwallader Raines (b. 1840) who may have served the Confederacy in a different regiment.

John’s military records indicate that he had brown hair, blue eyes, and that he stood 5 feet 7.5 inches tall. His parents were Robert Cadwallader Raines, Jr. (1808-1860) and Matilda Caroline (“Carry”) Young (1810-1883) who were married in 1832. Cadwallader Raines died in September 1860, leaving 50 year-old Carrie with seven children and a plantation to run.

Three months after this letter was written, when the left wing of Sherman’s army marched through Milledgeville in late November 1864 on its way to Savannah, “Mrs. Cadwallader Raines, a widow and the mother of three Confederate soldiers,” found herself in the center of the Federal encampment. “She had been bedridden for several months and was attended only by two young daughters [Ellen and Mary]. Her plantation suffered complete devastation, having been depleted of all fences, livestock, and food.” A neighbor named Terrell Barksdale later wrote that, “They did not leave a living animal on her plantation…they have nothing except what the neighbors give them and they have but few of them that have anything to spare.” [“Sherman at Milledgeville in 1864” by James C. Bonner, published in The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 22, No. 3, August 1956, page 280]

I can’t be certain of the date of this letter as it is illegible on the letter itself. There were several attempts to capture the Weldon Railroad before it was finally accomplished in mid-August 1864.


In Line of Battle near Petersburg
August [ ] 1864

Dear Mother,

I now take my seat this morning to answer your kind letter that I received a few days ago, and would answer it before now, but I was looking for a letter from sister. I wrote to her about a month ago and also Sis. I just rec’d the one that she wrote to Bud.

I was sorry to hear that the Yankees has been so close there and was sorry also that they taken the neighbor’s mule, and sorry to hear that the rebels got Sam. If he had to be taken, I am glad the rebels got him before the Yankees. You must make Green take good care of the one that they left in his place. If you get him fat, you must keep him in the Spring lot, for if you let him run out in the pasture, there may come along some more  Yankees and take him. I am in hopes that our men will keep them back from that part of the country, for they will destroy things as they go. I hope that Gen. Hood will whip them clear out from Georgia.

There was a fight here yesterday on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. Our men whipped them back and taken a good many prisoners. We have a fight every day on some part of the line. The Yankees is tame in front of me. We are are close enough to talk to each other when I am out on [the] skirmish [line].

I went over to the hospital this morning to see Bud. He is getting along finely. He will be able for duty in a few days. This leaves me in good health at this time, and hoping this will find you up and about and also the rest of the family. This is the 5th letter I have wrote to you since I been at this place. I only received one. I have wrote to Puss and Sister and Sis and have not got any answer from them. You must tell them to write. I will close. I will send this letter by hand with the yarn. I remain your son, — John M. Raines

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