These three letters were written by John H. Slaughter (1838-1862) of Clarksville, Montgomery county, Tennessee. He wrote the letters to his older brother, Guilford Hamilton Slaughter (1828-1897). They were the sons of Henry and Sarah E. (Carter) Slaughter.
John enlisted as a private in Co. L, 14 Tennessee Infantry at Clarksville, Tennessee. During the Battle of Seven Pines on 31 May 1862, the 14th Tennessee was brigaded with the 1st Tennessee, the 7th Tennessee, and Braxton’s (Virginia) Battery (a. k. a., the “Tennessee Brigade”) under the command of Brig. Gen. Robert H. Hatton. This Brigade was placed in Gustavus Smith’s Division under the temporary command of Brig. Gen. William H. C. Whiting due to Smith’s illness; part of the left wing of the Army of Northern Virginia. In the battle, General Hatton was killed and General James Archer took command of the brigade which was subsequently transferred to A. P. Hill’s Division. The Tennessee Brigade, fighting in the misty twilight of evening in the swampy lowlands near the Chickahominy River suffered numerous casualties—44 killed, 187 wounded, and 13 captured or missing. Pvt. John Slaughter was among those killed at Seven Pines.
[Haynesville, Tenn. (present day Johnson City)]
July 18, 1861
I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I think that I am in better health now than I ever were before. Brother, we got here Monday evening about three o’clock. We expected when we left Nashville that we were going to Cumberland Gap but we come 160 miles beyond to a small town called Haynesville in Washington county, Tennessee. We passed through Alabama and Georgia and passed with three miles of North Carolina in coming.
They say it is five hundred miles from Clarksville. The First Regiment is also here from Camp Cheatam and there will be a regiment here in a few days from Camp Trousdale. A regiment passed here last night from Miss[issippi] on their way to Richmond, Va., and I saw a regiment in Knoxville as we pass[ed] through on their way to Va. They were from Louisiana.
We all have had a fine time since we left Nashville. Wherever the cars stopped, the boys would all get off the cars and frolic around until the bell rang and you ought to have seen them running in from ever direction. There was several left on the road but they came up on the next train. We have a very fine brass band of music. It is composed of men from Nashville. They make very fine music indeed.
I wrote to mother Tuesday and expected to send it by Major Gorham yesterday morning but he had left before I got to the depot and I had to send it by mail. Dear brother, you must excuse my bad writing as I have nothing to write with but a pencil and have to sit on the ground and write on my knapsack. Dear brother, I would like very much if you could come up to see me.
As I have no news to write, I must bring my letter to a close. Give my love to all the people out there and reserve a due portion for yourself. Goodbye.
Your brother until death, — J. H. Slaughter
P. S. Brother, you must write as soon as you get this. Direct your letter to Haynesville, Camp Gant
Col. [William A.] Forbes Commandant
J. H. Slaughter
Warm Springs, Bath County, Va.
November 14th 1861
I received yours and Mother’s kind letters this morning by Dr. Bruster just from the regiment. They ought to have stopped here. I was glad to hear you were all well. We are all getting along finely. Dan is doing very well. Bob is getting fat again.
Brother, I am getting as fat as a bear. I weight ten pounds more than I ever did before. I think if we stay in the mountains this winter, I will get to 200 pounds. There is a great stir here now. The 7th Regiment (Tenn.) are camped here. The report is that they will winter here. Our regiment and the 1st are now at Huntsville cutting logs to build winter quarters. Mr. Barnes—the old man—got here last night and he says he thinks they will only stay there for a short time. General Donelson’s Brigade has been ordered to reinforce Floyd and our regiments will remain there to see if his force will be sufficient to reinforce Floyd, and if so, our regiments will move on this way. We heard that the whole army would make a general march to Winchester and from there they would march on Washington City, but there is a thousand reports current and we can never know when we hear the truth.
I was very sorry to hear of the death of Billy Parrish. I liked him very much. Jesse Allensworth has been with us for 2 days but left this morning for Millsborough. He will be back tomorrow and him and I will start to the regiment the next day. I intended starting today but he said if I would wait, he would go with me. I expect Uncle Tom and Aunt Eliza will start home shortly. I don’t know whether they can carry Dan home with them or not. Him and Bob are both very anxious to get home.
Brother, I got all my things you and Mother sent. I was very glad to get them. I would like for you to see us but I don’t want you to leave while there is so much excitement near home.
Dear brother, I must close. My love to all the family and kiss Mollie for me. Give my best respects to the girls of my acquaintance and tell them I hope they will have a fine time Christmas. I expect to spend my Christmas in the mountains of Western Virginia. I must close. My love to all.
Your brother, affectionately — J. H. S.
P. S. I send this letter by Mr. Robinson, a man of our company. He has a discharge. I wrote to sister E. and intended to send it by Mr. Moore but he left before it was finished and I had to send it by mail. When you write, direct your letters to the 14th Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, Va. That will be all that is necessary. Goodbye, — J. H. S.
Brigade Camp, Virginia
December 25th 1861
We have just camped and I thought I would write a few lines to let you know I am well and in fine health. I received yours and mother’s letters by Capt. Wagner and was very sorry to hear that sister E’s family had the measles. I hope they will soon get well.
Brother, we have been marching ever since the 10th and you can imagine how tired we are. We have marched 165 miles, are going to Winchester. We will get there tomorrow. Brother, I am so tired and cold, I must close. o only write o let you know I am well. When we camp, I will write you a long letter. I received all the things sent by Capt. W. I was very much obliged to you and mother for them.
My love to all. Goodbye. Yours affectionately, — J. H. S.