Letters 1 Starting Out

Starting Out

The first letters show Milo, now in his late 30s,
starting out as a soldier.

Camp Davis [Georgia]
March 16th 1862

The officers’ tents are situated a short distance in front of ours in a long row and are considerably larger than ours and are double– that is they have an awning or sheet over them, which makes them much drier and more comfortable than ours. Our encampment reminds one of the big house for master and the little houses for servants on the plantation.


My dear Lullie,

I hasten to write to you by the first opportunity after my arrival here. We arrived here on the morning following the day on which your father left us in Albany after riding all night. The cars were very full and our ride was not very pleasant. We are encamped here with four or five thousand others in our little tents which are three breadths of osnaburgs [a heavy, coarse weave of cotton cloth] in length and about two in breadth at the bottom. The bottom of them is covered with pine straw and our blankets and so forth are packed up on one end which with the camp chest forms our whole furniture.

We drew from the government two tin pans like our milk pans and a zinc bucket which is all we have to cook or eat with. We are entitled to more but the state officers say they have not got them. The cooking, which is not easy for us at any time, becomes very troublesome with only these implements. We drew yesterday a hand full of salt another of sugar a little coffee and rice and meal and beef and a little bacon and some soap and half a candle.

Our tents are scattered for two miles along the Rail Road. Our company has dug a well and cleaned up the ground for our cap which is all they have done. The officers’ tents are situated a short distance in front of ours in a long row and are considerably larger than ours and are double– that is they have an awning or sheet over them, which makes them much drier and more comfortable than ours. Our encampment reminds one of the big house for master and the little houses for servants on the plantation.

Our company and field officers have not yet been appointed. Slaughter of Albany will be Colonel of the Regiment. Today is Sunday and while I write a company is amusing themselves by trying to excel in jumping before my tent and another is shooting at something in the woods on my left. On the whole I find everything very much as I expected and not disappointed.

Buly and Billy seem in very good spirits and are getting along very well. I am very anxious to know how you and LeRoy are getting along. I hope you are not made sick by our departure. And how do you get along with your school. I am afraid you will not like it much. Your best course is however to keep busy with your mind and attention employed and you will be much happier.

Picture of one of the original letters
The original letter you have just been reading here.


I am solicitous about you lest your health should suffer on account of your anxiety about us who are in the war. You need not be uneasy about us as I think we shall not be sent out of the state. We are getting along very well. I should be very glad indeed to see you and the baby. Write immediately and I will endeavor to keep you informed about us here. When you write tell me about all the friends at home. Uncle Richard and your own folks and any news that you may know. We have not been mustered into service or received our money yet. We are expecting Jake to come on from Albany in a few days. He will be of much service to us here.

Receive with this letter my love to you and kiss Le for me.

Your Devoted Husband,

Direct your letter to Camp Davis care of Capt. Hopkins.

[Editor’s Note: This letter was dated March 16, 1862, three days before her 27th birthday.]


Let me impress upon you to sew with thread of iron. My coat is beginning to come to pieces already at some parts of the sewing.

April 12th 1862

Dearest Wife

I did not know that Sheffield was going home till now and I have not much time to write. I have just returned from Charleston and Savannah. Went there on business for the company. I can not tell you much that I saw there. I stayed one day with Gus Lewis and we walked all over Savannah together. He is in good health and spirits. He will be at home in about a month.

The enemy made an attack on Fort Pulasky on the 10 and fired all day and a greater part of the night and til after noon the next day. I was there nearly all the time in Savannah. The report is that the fort held out and was not taken. I would like to write you many particular but have not time.

We were all highly gratified at the box of things sent us. They were excellent. I was very glad to get my tooth brush as I tried to buy one in Charleston and they asked me 50 cts for it. Paper is from 60 cts to 1.00 dollar per quire in Savannah. I do not think you could see it at that price. Rice is 6 and 7 cts per pound in Savannah. If you and your father think best I will buy some at that price. How could you get it from the Railroad?

Buly says do not send his trunk and he would be obliged to leave it if we should move far. I was so much pleased to get your letter sent by Sutton. Did you receive one sent by mail containing ten dollars? This is the fifth or sixth letter that I have written to you.

You can write to me about the school books. The best way is to let some other person as Dr. Wilkin get them for the school, as if you get them the money will have to be paid for them and you will not get it back. They will want you to charge it to them to be paid with the tuition when due I always found the best way to make selection of books was to find what kind of books of a kind you had the most of in school and then adopt that kind and require all to get them.

The company have agreed to have a uniform and have made some arrangements with Sheffield bout it. They have sent to Davis to furnish wool and have it carded and supply all the families with it. You can get Mrs. Dees to weave mine. Crouch will cut them I suppose and you can make them. It is to be of light Grey. You had better see Mr. Sheffield an inquire of him about it. Let me impress upon you to sew with thread of iron. My coat is beginning to come to pieces already at some parts of the sewing.

Talk with Sheffield and find out the whole arrangement. Get it as cheap as you can. I will send you enough of our clothing money when we draw it to pay you at least for the expense. We shall draw about June.

If we should send the box back we should have to pay freight and it the same as a box of provisions and this would not pay. I wish you would send my Geometry by Sheffield also one volume of Olmstead Philosophy– the one which has the treatise on Gunnery in it. The Geometry I expect is at Uncle Richard’s. Billy had it.

The boys are well but can not write as I have the pen. My gold pen has come to light this morning. Buly had it. I think I will send it by Sheffield. Ask him for it else he will not think of it. I am very anxious to see you but can not tell when I can. Write by the first opportunity. I read your letters with the utmost pleasure.

from your devoted


Camp Calhoun May 1st 1862

Dearest Wife

I have just received your letter by Mr. Sheffield. It gives me the greatest pleasure to receive a letter from you and I watch with as much interest any arrival of one from Colquitt as you do one from here.

I was very much hurt that I could not write by James Hopkins and also by John. The first went away so suddenly that I had not time to write and when the last went I was away about twelve miles from here on picket guard [sentry duty]. I have received three letters from you since I have written any.

About twelve o’clock one night the drum beat and the camp was all bustle and we were ordered to fall in lines immediately and were marched hastily off twelve miles to the coast where we arrived before day. We supposed a battle was going on and we were going to it but at length we found we were only going on picket guard.

Six companies of our regiment were stationed down on the coast and we sent detachments of ten or twelve men to different points on the shore to keep watch and give notice of the approach of the enemy. We were in sight of Port Royal or Beaufort Island and could hear the beat of the enemies drums and see their flag. We were out more than a week and yesterday the company returned.

There are some beautiful residences and situations down there now deserted and not a white person there and very few Negroes. An order was issued that all the Negroes should be immediately removed and the guard is now withdrawn and the country is about to be given up to the enemy. We ordered to be removed to Adams run about eleven miles from Charleston. We expect to start about Monday.

My health is good and I stand the camp better than most of the men. They say my face is getting very fat. Some of them call me “Big Face.”

Your letters have afforded me great pleasure. They are the only treasures I have here. Nothing could afford me so much pleasure as to come home and love with you again but I am not so anxious as to incur the expense of going home to stay for a few days and then return as little satisfied as before. I think the camp would only become more repugnant to me.

You know I always get puny in the summer and I think I shall come home some time in the summer. I think I shall try to find some plan to get out of the service after a while unless I can make arrangements to please me. I do not intend to quit it but will it more to my liking. It is very hard to do but I think perhaps I can fix some plan to it.

Capt Hopkins has been very kind to me and has been very prompt to assist me in every way that I have wished. We could not well have a better Capt. He is much respected in the Reg. I shall tell him to call upon you while he is there. He goes home to get recruits. You need not mention to anyone what I said about getting out of the service. If I get out it is only to change my situation and I do not expect to get out soon. There is nothing doing now but war and the whole country is convulsed and I think I ought to be in the war.

The boys [Billy and Buly] stand camp life remarkably well. There are thirty in our company now sick some very sick. George Collier is dangerously sick with pneumonia. The boys have nearly always done duty when called on And I believe I have never failed.

Mr. Sheffield says Lee can stand alone for he saw him. I am glad to know he is so smart. Every body that has seen him says he is a remarkably fine and healthy child.

You did not say anything about the paper or books. If you want me to buy them let me know. I will try to buy some rice among the planters soon as I can get the opportunity. It is hard to get out from camp long enough to go any where.

We send by Capt. Hopkins quite a number of books– some of them excellent, one which we found where our pickets guard. They belong to all of us. Billy has written his name in his and I think I will write mine in mine before they go. There is an atlas which will be very useful in your Sunday school and a good many other books some I think you will like. It is not worth while to send books of poetry here to Buly as he has no opportunity to read them and they are certain to get lost.

We were talking about sending home everything that we cannot carry on a forced march. Buly says he does not wish his mother to send him any more clothes yet. The box you sent has not arrived. Mr. S had to leave it to be forwarded.

We are not starving through the commissary department sometimes gets quite low and we live short a while. I shall need some socks before very long. I learn that Mr. Davis denies offering his wool at 24 cents. I am sorry to learn it, for he did offer it and say that he would furnish the company with it at that price or for 40 cents mixed and carded. I think the Capt will make some arrangements about it while there.

You know not how anxious I am to be with you or how much I think of you. I would like to see you all. Tell Mother that Buly shall be taken care of in sickness. I am sorry to hear of Pick’s sickness. Tell Cousin that I will think of her when I wear her socks. Our comforts have saved us from many a cold and are very comfortable. I would not part from mine. They will sell well here at a dollar I think. If they could be made some good color they would show dirt less and look better.

Is Neely as fat as ever or has she been sick, too? I expect [ ? ] go together all the time and care little about the war. Has Aunt Sarah come yet from Baker.

Do you get my papers. I wish you to get them out of the office. Do not miss an opportunity to write and if you have no opportunity send by mail.

Did you get the 10 dollars I sent? I have never heard. I have written on what is called lawyers paper and do not know as you will know how to follow it. But as you are a lawyers wife I think you ought to learn. One sheet of this is equal to two others.

I do not wish to have you let your spirits droop nor loose your health. Continue your prayers and let them be sincere. I wish every act of yours as well as mine dictated by the true spirit of piety. Then we would not despond and you would be sustained. You need much support and it the proper support for you. It fits your sensitive feelings.

Your Affectionate husband
Love to all

Milo’s Letters from The Battle of Charleston
(May-June 1862)

Milo Grow’s Letters from the Civil War

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