General J.E.B. Stuart's cousin, assistant adjutant general, and trusted friendConfederate Officer R. Channing Price 1861 Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages, 7.25" x 12", on lined bifolium, Ship Point, York County, Virginia, August 26, 1861, to his sister. At the time, Price was a private in the Third Company of the Richmond Howitzers. Writing from near Williamsburg just a month after his enlistment in the Confederate Army, the eighteen year old shares news of his activities and camp life, in part: "...During last Thursday rumors were prevalent in Camp that a move was in contemplation, & the men were joking all day about being sent away just as their pay was forthcoming... It is considered I understand from what we have seen of it, it is one of the most pleasant we have been to. Fish here are very abundant & every day some of our boys go out fishing and generally catch enough for the detachments dinner or supper as they come in early or late. We also can get plenty of sweet potatoes, corn etc. and with the com meal & mess Beef furnished us by the government we live very well... Please direct your letters to Yorktown as someone is always passing to bring the mails etc. Write soon and good bye your devoted brother. R Channing Price." One line in the letter is particularly poignant: "Already I feel the advantage of the life to me & if God shall spare me to return to my loved home, it will have been one of the most useful years of my life, that spent in a tent." Price died May 1, 1863 at Chancellorsville. Very fine. A full transcription of the letter is available on our website.
Ship Point, York Co. (VA) August 26th, 1861
Dear Sister: You will no doubt be surprised to see the name of the place from which I write, and as Ma in the last letter which I received asked me to write as soon as possible to let her know if I was getting better or not, I thought this evening as I would have a chance tomorrow to have my letter mailed, that I would drop a line to you in answer to your several letters. I received Mama's letter & bucket through Mr. Wynne last Thursday & was sorry to see that she thought that I was sick much. I had entirely recovered at that time & Now I am in excellent health, though burnt so that you would scarcely recognize me. During last Thursday rumors were prevalent in Camp that a move was in contemplation, & the men were joking all day about being sent away just as their pay was forthcoming the Paymaster had been in our Camp for several days preparing to pay the men off & Thursday morning all had signed the receipt for the amount they were entitled to, which was the last form to be gone through with before receiving the money. Friday morning orders were received dated the day before ordering the 1st and 2d detachments of Standards Battery to march with 6 companies 1st N.C. Regt (Hill's) to Ship Point to repel a contemplated attack at that place. Appended to the order was a short additional one, stating that this order had been neglected to be sent to us the day before, & directing our pieces to move directly. We then had to go to the work getting ready provisions 2 days. The men were then called up to Capt Stanard's tent & those going on the expedition were paid off their wages (12 dollars a month & 21 dollars for clothing for 6 months) amounting for a private since the 21st April to 1st July to $49. The most of the money was in Virginia Treasury Notes. Soon afterwards we started from Yorktown, followed by 4 companies of the 1st N. C. with all their camp equipage, we came about 11 miles to this place & reached here at 5 oclock in the afternoon. It is a very prominent place on the Poquosoin River, which is a sort of arm of the sea, and is distant some 4 or 5 miles from the Chesapeake. We found here the Hampton Artillery & 300 militia who have been drafted from this county & the neighboring ones to defend this point. They have some right strong defences here & 3 pieces of artillery. It is considered I understand from what we have seen of it, it is one of the most pleasant we have been to. Fish here are very abundant & every day some of our boys go out fishing and generally catch enough for the detachments dinner or supper as they come in early or late. We also can get plenty of sweet potatoes, corn etc. and with the com meal & mess Beef furnished us by the government we live very well. Until today we have been cooking for ourselves but now we have employed a Negro from Williamsburg who drives a wagon which is appropriated for our use, to cook for us. Yesterday I was one of the cooks & I wish you could have seen me parching coffee, boiling a ham & other duties of the kitchen. Already I feel the advantage of the life to me & if God shall spare me to return to my loved home, it will have been one of the most useful years of my life, that spent in a tent.
Until today we have been sleeping out the woods, but Saturday evening a letter was received by Lieut Ben Smith who is in command of us, from Capt Stanard, saying that General Magruder orders us to stay here for some days, & directing us to send the wagons back for tents, provisions etc. They came last night, but as it was a clear pleasant night, some of us (I among them) preferred to wait till this morning to pitch our tent & took it on the ground. We are in sight of Chesapeake Bay & on Saturday morning the smoke of a steamer became so distinctly visible that I began to think that perhaps some prowling Yankee vessel was going to venture up the river to see what was to be seen. She soon however passed around a point of land, distant some 4 miles & we were told by some of the residents that is was only the Bayline steamer from Baltimore to Old Point. I have been acquainted with a very respectable old gentlemen who lives near here, & who on enquiring from some of the men the evening we got here if there was any one who could tell him of Mr. Hudgins who lived with T. R. Price & Co in Richmond, I was called up and he told that Hudgins was his nephew & he was anxious to know where he was. I told him as much as I knew & had some general talk & he asked me to come to see him, which I promised to do. I suppose you have seen Hugh Powell before this. He had applied for permission to leave & been refused & was getting ready a few days after to go to Gloucester when a message was sent by Gen Magruder for the name of the young man who wanted leave a few days since. He immediately sent him a permit and he went off before I knew that he had gotten one & hence I could not send a message by him. Alsop was left at Yorktown & is quite sick I am afraid. Joe Fourquean is along with us & it is his first trip as he could not come the last time as he wanted to do. Tell May that profiting from my experience on my last excursion I determined to live more comfortably this one: so I packed up a box with the things that I got from home last & some others & brought a knife & forks, plate & cup I have lived comfortably. The blackberry preserves especially were a great treat to me & my most particular friends. Aunt Ellens box was very nice & lasted us some time & I brought some of the ham & pickle with me from Yorktown. Please direct your letters to Yorktown as some one is always passing to bring the mails etc. Write soon and good bye your devoted brother. R Channing Price.
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