Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Washington Tharp to Andrew Tharp Nov. 21, 1863

Nashville, Tenesee Nov, 21 1863
Dear Father,
I take my pen in hand for purpose of writing a few lines to you. My health is improving slowly, and I hope when these few lines reaches you they will find you in good health. Well I did expect to have at least two or three letters awaiting me when I should arrive at Nashvill, but not one have I got yet. I suppose you have been as buissy [sic] as I have been myself, and have had but little time for writing.

Well after a long and tedious march of fourteen days we arrived at Nashvill Tenn. I have had the opportunity of viewing a considerably portion of dixy and of beholding some of the disstruction and desolation that ungody Rebellion has made. I saw thousands of acres of land that had been in a high state of cultivation that was thrown out to the commons, and large mansions that are deserted, and hundreds of others that have been burned. Nothing remaines to be seen of them but the large chimney wich stand to mark the place where the mansion once stood. I think that I love my prairie home the best of all the places that I have seen since I left the far distant West.

We have had nice wheather all fall. We have had but little rain since we left Camp Roberts. The dayes are warm and the nights are cold and damp with heavy frost.  I have just received today that Soldiers Companion. I will name the articals that I received with it. One inkstand one pair scissors one pencil one pen w holder Big without holder and pens four needles one hank thread. Now I want to know what the whole rigg cost. I have taken another look and have found two combs.

Produce of all kinds is verry high here. Corn is 1.50 per bushel potatoes 3.00 per bus. or 5 cts per pound. Salt 16.00 dollars per barrel. Flour 12 dollars per barrel, Butter 75 cts Molasses 4.00 dollars per gallon, and Everry thing else in proportion.

Nashvill is an ancient looking citty. It has a splendid new Capitol. It is the nicest building that I ever looked upon in my life. Allso President Polks mansion in another splended building. 

We have marching orders for tomorrow morning at six oclock. We are to go west on the Tenessee River but to what point I cannot say. I do not think that we will go to the front this winter as they have got more men ther now than they can feed. They are sending away there horses and mules by hundreds to keep them alive. That is they send them north. 

I want to know whether you paid Mr. Phillips my share of the charges due on what I had expressed through. Write as soon as you get this, without fail and no delay. Please give us all the news. So no more at present.

From your obedient son.
Direct to Nashvill.
Write soon,
W. Tharp
A. Tharp.
This is the letter that is pictured behind the blog title on the blog's front page.

I'm a little confused about how to reconcile the letters from Washington with what I can find of the movements of the 8th Iowa Cavalry during the Civil War. He writes from Louisville on Nov. 1st that they're going to Chattanooga, then writes on the 21st from Nashville. Even if the first letter is from Louisville, TN (near Knoxville), it doesn't make sense that they'd march from there to Chattanooga and then up to Nashville--and they'd already been in Chattanooga for 8 days according to this web site (the information from which is replicated everywhere).

If anyone can shed light on this, please let me know! I'll ask some folks on campus tomorrow if I can.


  1. They may have moved by rail. They may also have had their orders changed. What is 14 days march in terms of distance, I wonder.

  2. I really should try to get across campus to ask one of my Civil War historian colleagues (they're pretty thick on the ground here, relatively speaking).