Thursday, April 17, 2008

More from Private Hurley...

I must concur with Mr. Lewis. It had been a very hectic few weeks at the university and my life had all but shut down. Perhaps I am getting back to "reality." As interesting as the Nathan Bedford Forrest discussion is, I must digress. Let us turn back to see what is happening in the life of J.R. Hurley back in the summer of '63...

On Picket Six miles from Shelbyville
May 22

Well I will write to you all again as I have just received your letter. I am in very good health, the boys is all in very good health that is here except Dock Wolfe he is not very well [???] to do deuty yet well. This is Clints old box lid I am writing on and it is right greesy and my paper is about to get gressy all over. We have very fine weather here it is getting tolerable dry now, it hant rand in about three weeks. The wehat is very good up here, the corn I cant tell mutch about it it has just cum up. I have nothing to write that will interest you. We get plenty to eat, bacon corn meal and a little flour yeas and some peas we have bin up up here on picket two weeks I don no how long we will stay up here but I dont cear if we stay up here til the war ends for this is a very prety place here were we are and we dont have mutch to do we have to go on guard about evry third day but I dont mind that. You all need not to make me any clothes for we can draw as many clothes as we want and I have drawn a good pair of shoes. I hant drawn but eleven dollars yet but I think I will draw again in a few days and when I do I will send you all some money to pay postage as I cant get any stamps up here and we cant pay for letters with [???] and you can pay for them yourselves. I would like to be at home to eat some of that honey and see all them young men flying around but I hope it wont be long before we all can get to go home I am [???] Jo Talbert went home and told you I was getting low down I think I am as in good health as I ever was in my life. You must take care of my pig and keep it fat and it a great big hog when I get back I think yet I will be their time enough to eat water melons and peaches. Well I cant think of anything of anything to write. The men is deserting very bad here seven left one company a few nights ago from our regiment but two of them was brought back and they keep them tide down flat on the ground four hours a day in the hot sunshine and then they get right up of the ground and disert. I believe I will quit. I cant think of any thing to write you must write to me and for the folks to write to me so nothing more at present.

J.R. Hurley

3 comments:

Patrick Lewis said...

Nice one, Chris. I love those letters when you can literally read the writer's accent. Fantastic.

Was I alone in having to think twice about the "I believe I will quit" line right after the discussion of desertion? I assume that that sentence is better understood in the context of the wrapping up that follows rather than the desertion discussion before it, but I jumped a bit when I thought he might be giving thought to heading home. He doesn't sound too thrilled with the realities of army life, though I imagine with the armies doing next to nothing and a summer farming season looming, many of those deserters didn't see the harm in helping out the folks at home for a bit.

Chris Young said...

I thought the same thing, but upon further observation, I believe he is actually using that sentence as part of the closing as well. I bet if this letter found it in "other" hands, he might have had to explain himself...like the provost??

Patrick Lewis said...

Yeah, I was thinking this letter could be a textbook case of the need for context when selecting and using primary materials. Young scholars, take note!