8, Depredations committed in Warren County environs by Morgan's command
Morgan's men are behaving badly here, and Morgan himself is losing character by the way they go on stealing--pressing--burning etc. There the old farmers say they had quite as leave have the Yankees in here. They have torn up a great deal, but still I feel secure to what I would if there were Yankees about us.
War Journal of Lucy Virginia French, entry for February 8, 1863.
8, Letter of John F. Couts of Clarksville to his brother Cave Johnson Couts in California
John F. Couts Clarksville Feb. 8, 1863
To: Cave Johnson Couts
My dear Brother,
I have been thinking of writing for a long time, but fearing you never would get the letter, knowing too that any letter has to be perused by a Yankee [sic] before it poped [sic] into the mail that I had but little heart to write & beside of any thing was written which they considered contraband the letter would be suppressed.
We have no mail to this place & I hope never will have, at least a so called [sic] Lincoln mail. I shall send this letter to Russellville or Louisville to be mailed.
We have been under the Federal & Confederate government alternately since the fall of Fort Donelson, at present under Federal rule. Col. Bruce from Lexington Ky. [sic] is our present federal commander, and is a brother-in-law to the celebrated John Morgan of Ky. & both from the same place. Morgan is one of the most terrible fighters you have ever read of and has never lost a battle notwithstanding the many lyng [sic] Yankee newspaper reports of victory over the "guerrilla" John Morgan. The Yankees call nearly all our cavalry "guerrillas." I would like to have you extended notice [sic] of John H. Morgan, but you are doubtless familiar with his many so-called raids into Ky. & Tenn.
He is at present at Tullahoma about 45 miles from Murfreesboro under Gen. Bragg. Quite a number of young men from this place belong to his command. John B. Dortch is Capt. and Geo. B. Hutchinson (son of old Squire H) is a Lieut. in his command.
Poston was taken prisoner at Fort Donelson on Feby. Last and remained in prison at Camp Douglas near Chicago for seven months, he was thence sent to Vicksburg for exchange & is now under Gen. Price in Mississippi.
I have not seen him since Nov. 1861. I had a letter from his Col telling me he was one of the very best soldiers he ever saw. I am very anxious to see him.
We have declared an everlasting and eternal separation from the Yankee nation. This I do assure you is as certain as the waters of the Mississippi flow the Gulf. [sic]
Their treatment to us has been so fiendish, savage & brutal, where ever they have had us in their power, that no civilized nation on earth would ever blame us (particularly if they know what we do) for declaring eternal separation.
Let what will come, whether weal or wo, you may rest assured that the separation is final. They may raise & arm Negro Regiments. They may try to excite insurrections. They may murder, in cold blood, many of our wives & children, but we are prepared to stand all this, and to fight them until the last one of us is exterminated before we will ever submit to the Tyrant that at present occupies the "White House."
He has boasted of his 20,000,000 free white people and his ability to subjugate our 8,000,000, but with al his boasting & with the great preponderance of population in his favor, and with the finest equipped army & the best Navy in the world, he is at the end of two years not half so near conquering us as the first 6 months of his effort so to do. I would tell you something of our personal trials & sufferings but I scarcely know where to begin.
Julia lost two of her negros , Bailey and Anderson, they doubtless may join one of "Lincoln's" negro regiments & return for her murder. These are all the negros [sic] that have left the family.
George has turned out to be one of the worst drunkards you have ever saw [sic] and affords his sisters no comforts or protection what ever. He made a first rate soldier whilest he was in our Army in Virginia, but since his return he is a much worse drunkard than you can imagine. I do most heartily wish I had sold out & gone home with you, but then I had no idea of any such trouble, nor did I believe the Yankees were half so mean. I have seen much said in some of the Eastern Papers, about a grand California Cavalry Co., that arrived at N. York & reported themselves to Old Lincoln for duty. They purport to have some from San Francisco. I think I have some idea of what sort of men they are. I see your Legislature is having quite a squabble over the election of a Senator. I hope they may elect a good & true Democrat. You must write me if ever you get this letter & tell me what you are doing about your cherished object in establishing your fine Republic of California, New Mexico & Oregon. This would be one of the best countries of the world. Uncle Cave is quite well & believes confidently that the Confederate Government is a fixed fact. His three boys are in the Army & all have been wounded, "Hick" quite severe in the foot. You must both write & write often….
"Toni" has been in the army in Texas for more than a year. I do not know whether he is living or not. His Col. (Young) was killed. I wrote you a long letter some time last year but do not know that you ever rec'd it, and if replied to yours was never rec'd, for we have had no mail here for a long time. We have many exciting rumors in town today….
We however have no confidence in any move they [i.e., Federal forces] may make & rely solely on our own strong armed [forces?] in the maintenance of our independence. There is no use in talking about republican form of Government, the Old Union, the old Stars and Stripes, Constitution etc., for the Abolitionist[s] have destroyed all & never on earth was any government so bankrupt as that Lincoln gov't now is. Your gold is now worth 160 at N. York and billions of indebtedness hanging over them, which is daily increasing at the rate of 3,000,000.
You are aware that the present is the first Abolition Congress that has ever been in session since the foundation of this government, and will most assuredly be the last.
Your bro. John
Winds of Change, pp. 54-57.
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