FOUR PAGE LETTER BY CONFEDERATE SOLDIER TRAPPED IN PORT HUDSON-MAKES MENTION OF GRIERSON’S RAID

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Item Code: 1054-2237

Letter is four full pages written in period ink that is strong throughout. Text is readable. The letter was written by Private Andre Hamille Beauchamp of Company F, 1st Alabama Infantry.

Andre Hamille Beauchamp was born in White Oak, Barbour County, Alabama on November 8, 1827. On May 28, 1845 Beauchamp married Sarah A. Lowman. The details of this marriage are not known but the records show the in 1854 he married his second wife, Margaret Euphemia Allen and had five children.

Beauchamp enlisted in the Confederate Army at Eufaula, Alabama on February 24, 1862. He was captured at Island #10 on April 8, 1862 and confined at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois. In September of 1862 he was sent to Vicksburg to be exchanged. From there he and his regiment were sent to Port Hudson, Louisiana where they endured the famous siege of that city and were again captured on July 9, 1863 and paroled. From October to December of 1863 Beauchamp is listed as being absent without leave and from February to April of 1864 he is listed as absent on detached duty at home, unfit for service by order of the Secretary of War. No date or method of discharge is found in the records.

Sometime after the war Beauchamp moved his wife and family to Texas. He died there in Streetman, Navarro County in1887. He is buried in Eufaula, Alabama.

The letter offered here is dated “PORT HUDSON MAY 1, 1863.” Beauchamp begins by telling his wife that he has not heard from her in a week and does not expect to “IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE CAVALRY RAID OF THE ENEMY INTO MISSISSIPPI…” “IT IS A MOST DARING THING EQUAL TO ANYTHING STEWART OR MORGAN HAS DONE AND IF THEY GET THROUGH SAFE IT WILL GIVE THEIR PAPERS SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT FOR MONTHS TO COME.”

Beauchamp tells his wife that he thinks General Pemberton is going to get a hard time from the newspapers and he mentions an attack by gunboats at Grand Gulf. He then mentions night firing at logs floating down the river by pickets thinking they were gunboats. There were men stationed on the river in small boats who would row out in the dark to get a closer look. Beauchamp says “THE MEN IN THE BOATS GET QUITE WRATHY WHEN THEY FIND IT ALL A FALSE ALARM, FOR IT IS NO EASY TASK TO ROW UP AND DOWN THE BROAD MISS. AS I HAVE FOUND OUT BY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE…” “MY BUSINESS IS TO ROW MAJ. KNOPP ABOUT IN THE DAY TIME, GENERALLY UP THOMPSON’S CREEK TO GO BATHING, WHICH IS PLEASANT WORK BECAUSE I ENJOY IT AS MUCH AS HE DOES.”

As soldiers usually do, Beauchamp gets around to discussing food. “WE ARE SEEING HARD TIMES NOW IN THE WAY OF LIVING. WE GET BEEF OF THE POOREST DESCRIPTION, ONLY HALF A POUND PER DAY TO THE MAN, WHICH WE EAT AT ONE MEAL. THEN FOR THE OTHER MEAL WE HAVE SYRUP AND MUSTY CORN MEAL. IN FACT WE HAVE NEVER HAD ANY FLOUR SINCE WE HAVE BEEN HERE…” “THE MEN SAY THEY ARE QUITE SATISFIED SO LONG AS THEY GET THAT.”

The letter then moves to a discussion of pay and the need for postage. He then mentions some home front matters such as planting potatoes. He closes the letter by saying “MARGARET, I HAVE DESPAIRD OF BEING ABLE TO SEE YOU THIS SUMMER. THINGS DON’T LOOK LIKE IT JUST NOW. LET US HOPE FOR THE BEST. DON’T DESPAIR. I WILL USE ALL MY MEANS TO GO WHEN I GET A CHANCE. I LOVE YOU. GIVE MY LOVE TO ALL AT HOME. KISS THE BABIES AND TELL THEM I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN THEM.”

The letter is signed at the very bottom of page four simply as “HAMILLE” which was Beauchamp’s middle name.

Within two weeks of writing this letter a major assault would be made on the works of Port Hudson by the besieging Union Army. This attack would be repulsed but the city would surrender on July 9th.

As a matter of interest, the website FOLD3 displays several other letters written by Beauchamp from Port Hudson and a very nice image of Beauchamp in Confederate uniform can be found on Ancestry.com in his family tree.  [ad]

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