EMOTIONAL EARLY WAR LETTER BY 2nd ALABAMA SOLDIER LATER KILLED AT DALTON, GEORGIA WITH THE 38TH ALABAMA

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Item Code: 1054-2226

Letter is three and three-quarter pages written in period ink that is strong throughout. Text is readable but silverfish have gotten at the paper eating various sections so that the paper looks to have been shot numerous times with a BB-gun. The letter was written by Private Hiram Talbert Holt of Company I, 38th Alabama Infantry.

Letter is dated “FORT MORGAN, ALA. NOV. 3, 1861” and starts off with Holt’s answer to his wife Carrie’s letter which he received the day before informing him that their daughter was very ill. Holt says “… WHICH BROUGHT ME IN THE SAD NEWS OF MY LITTLE BABY. CARRIE, YOU DON’T KNOW HOW SAD AND LONELY I FEEL THIS MORNING. I SEE NOTHING BUT MY DEAD OR SICK BABY AND YOUR TEAR WASHED FACE…” “CARRIE LET US BOW IN MEEK AND HUMBLE SUBMISSION TO THE WILL OF OUR GOD. IF DEAD, SHE IS AN ANGEL IN HEAVEN, FREE OF THE TROUBLES AND TOILS OF THIS LIFE!” Holt then continues to praise God and offer comfort to his wife. He closes the first part of the letter with “CARRIE, WOULD TO GOD I MIGHT BE WITH YOU, BUT I CANNOT, NO ONE CAN GET A FURLOUGH EXCEPT IN EXTREME BAD HEALTH. MY HEALTH IS GOOD. WE HAD AN ALARM LAST NIGHT. WE WERE AWAKENED BY CANNONS FIRING FROM THE FORT. YANKEES WERE LANDING. WE DID A HEAP OF MARCHING AND COUNTERMARCHING FOR A WHILE… GOODBYE MY POOR WIFE. TILL THEN, TALBERT.”

Holt then picks up the letter on the next day, November 4, 1861. He begins by discussing his health and mentions 28 men of war are said to be at Pensacola. He reassures his wife that he is not angry with her and says “ON THE CONTRARY HAD YOU NOT BEEN A SENSIBLE GOOD WOMAN, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ANGRY WITH ME FOR DEFENDING MY COUNTRY! SOME POOR DELUDED WOMEN ARE. I RECKON THEY WISH TO BE SUBJECTED TO SUCH TREATMENT AS THE WOMEN OF MARYLAND ARE, BUT WHILE I LIVE, MY WIFE SHALL NOT HAVE THAT TO SUFFER. WE MAY SUFFER FROM POVERTY, BUT NEVER SHALL MY WIFE HAVE TO COMPLAIN OF OUTRAGE TO HER PERSON FROM MY ENEMIES WHILE I HAVE A STRONG RIGHT ARM TO WIELD IN HER DEFENSE.” Holt closes this section of the letter assuring his wife that he will send along postage to pay for his letters when he gets paid.

The last section of the letter covers November 5, 1861. Holt begins by stating that the boat is coming to pick up the mail so he must finish the letter. He tells his wife that no news has come from Pensacola but he has heard that there are 23 vessels in line off Savannah, Georgia. He then relates to his wife the details of a shame battle he took part in the day before. He says “YESTERDAY OUR LT. COL. MARCHED US UP TO CAPT. FOSTER’S BATTERY 2 MILES FROM THE FORT AND MADE US CHARGE AND TAKE IT. IT WAS GOOD FUN TO US CLIMBING UP THE LARGE SAND HILL. I GOT THERE AMONG THE FIRST, BUT IN CHARGING UP SOME FELLOW FELL DOWN AND STUCK HIS BAYONET IN MY HEEL, SO I’VE FELT STEEL ON A SMALL SCALE. ANOTHER FELLOW GOT HURT WITH A SHOVEL. IT WAS GOOD FUN AND HELPED TO DRIVE AWAY THE MONOTONY OF THE PLACE.” He ends the letter by returning to the subject of their baby. “CARRIE, WHEN THIS REACHES YOU OUR BABY MAY BE SLEEPING IN THE GRAVE. IF SO DON’T GRIEVE AFTER HER. WE WILL HAVE JUST GIVEN AN ANGEL BACK TO GOD, BUT IF STILL ALIVE KISS HER MANY TIMES FOR ME. MAY GOD GIVE YOU PEACE OF MIND AND HAPPINESS, WHILE I REMAIN, YOUR AFFECTIONATE AND DEVOTED HUSBAND, TALBERT.”

Existing records show that Talbert Holt (also listed as Hiram Talbert Holt) was a school teacher by trade. He was a member of the Suggsville Grays from Clarke County, Alabama before enlisting in the Confederate Army.

Holt’s records found on the FOLD3 website consist of only three pages and do not shed much light on his service. He enlisted as a private in Company D, 2nd Alabama Infantry on April 1, 1861 and served with that regiment at Fort Morgan until discharged in April of 1862.

On May 1, 1862 Holt enlisted again, this time in Company I, 38th Alabama Infantry with whom he served until he was killed on picket duty in Crow’s Valley, Dalton, Georgia on February 24, 1864. Records show the Mrs. C. A. Holt was his widow and received a pension from the state of Alabama.

If Private Holt was present with the 38th until his death he would have seen action at Hoover’s Gap, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge.    [ad]

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