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Gilmer Letters Civil War Letters of Russell County
Monterey July 31 1861
Dear Martha;
     I received your letter with Pa's and read it with delight. I wish I had something good to write to you in return. I like to answer letters, and will always do so if I can. The weather has been very cool for the time of the year, for several days and we had to keep a fire before our shed all night. We have about burnt all the rails in this neighborhood - there is not a fence standing in sight. I was up on a ridge this morning and saw two piles of rails which our squad will seize on for the rent tonight. We can't keep a fire of nights now for we have got a tent and cannot have fire close enough to it to do us any good. I think we will do very well in respect to a shelter till the weather commences to get cold. You ought to see us cooking. You and Sarah would kill yourselves laughing if you could just see us making up bread in the old chestnut bark tray; and Peg would be obliged to shw her teeth to see us beating coffee in a tin cup.
When we get meal, we don't sift it at all; but we make very good bread. Some of the boys went down to town and got us a half bushel of dried fruit the other day. I stewed one mess a day or two ago, and toward the last, I was not paying good attention to it & it got scorched. We had fun talking about it - it was black to do some good.
You know I am a great hand for berries & all kinds of fruit. I am thinking that we will not get to enjoy ourselves much in that line this summer and faill. I got one good mess of dew-berries at Petersburg in Hardy county which on that retreat. We stayed there about four hours. They are the only berries that I have eaten this year. There are a great many huckle berries round about here and they are just commencing to get ripe. Apples will soon begin to ripen but I see no signs of apples here. There are too many of us together to stand a chance to get apples. I reckon you think that if we ever get back home safe, it is enough and so it is. I don't know whether I told you about that blanket that I brought from home. The Yankees got it certain and an old shirt and pair of slips Aug 1st/61. Drilling prevented me from finishing yesterday. I stood camp guard last night. I was on guard four hours and didn't sleep more than two hours. It thundered all night and commenced raining this morning about daylight, just as I was released. I didn't get wet; but we neglected to make a trench around our tent and everyting is wet in here now. It is now 11 Oclock & we have just eaten breakfast. Hawkins Thompson is very low this morning, I fear he will not recover. James Jessee is no better. Capt Hunt talks of starting home tomorrow on furlow. I brought the blanket that Aunt Polly gave me from Laurell and would have saved Nancy B's present - that sachel, but Bob prevailed on me not to carry it further after carrying it 2 days and nights. I did hate to leave it as it was a present. I opened it - took out first my testament, then the letters that you wrote to me and a pocket map and some other little things. I then threw it away. I hope this will find you well running about in your chair, and all the rest well and hearty. Tell Cum I want him to write to us. I wish the children would be going to school. I reckon they all have to work hard. Tell Uncle Vincent to write to us as soon as he can and Charlie.
We cannot write to all that we would wish to. We have recieved no letters, except those from home and Uncle Billie's. I have looked for letters from certain friends, but looked in vain. The letters that we get from home are a great satisfaction to us indeed. After a weeks delay I would rather get a letter than a half bushel of milk and pound of light bread, yes and a cake of shugar to boot. Write soon. Your affectionate Bro. M. J. & S Gilmer               J. E. & W. R. Gilmer
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