I have in my possession some half dozen letters, as well as letter fragments, from one George Southern, who fought under the command of George McClellan in the Civil War. George Southern died on June 24, 1862, somewhere in Virginia. He is, apparently, related to my mother's family, though I am not quite certain where the branches connect.
 
I think George's daughter, Jane Matilda, may have married my great grandfather, Lawrence Dugan. My grandmother, Laura Dugan, married Harry Stebbins in 1910 and my mother was born circa 1912. If all that is correct, I guess "Uncle George" is really my great, great grandfather.
 
The letters are written to George's wife, Mary, as well as his four children, George, Jr; Ellen Marie; Rosabell; and Jane Matilda.

N.DiF '98

 
 

 

Letter #1


 
Federal Hill
Dec19/61

Dear Mary,

I Write this hoping it Will find all Well as it leaves me. I arrived Safe on tuesday and at my own request was assigned to Company I the skirmishing or Scout Company of the regiment --We carry Sharp Breech loading rifles and Sabre Bayonet. The bayonet We Carry as a Sword When We go alone into the town. The boys use Me Well and as soon as my uniform is Complete Which Will be Soon I Shall enter Upon Active garrison duty. We are Allowed $42.00 a year for Uniform So it depends upon how Careful We are Wether We get any of the 42 dollars in Money in addition to our Monthly pay. if We get into an engagement our Company Will be thrown in Advance So I Will have a chance to Win a Commission or a Soldier's grave I am Satisfied if you all are at home although I Miss Many Comforts but I don't mind it. So Make Yourselves easy give My love to Mother and all the folks and kiss the children. if you Can Send My Directions to your Brother


Geo Warren Southern
Camp I Duryee Zouaves
Federal Hill Baltimore, Md
 

tell Mother We get Under clothes tell all My Friends to Write immediately the More letters I get the Better. If you See Mr. Breese tell him I Will Write to him to Morrow Friday tell Joe and George I Will Write to them this Week and believe me to be


Yours Truly
George


George W. Southern
Camp II Duryee's Zouaves
Fernod Hill Baltimore
Md
Geo
 
 
 
 

Letter #2--written on lined paper that has "JEFF. DAVIS' PASSPORT" printed in an arc across the top of the page. Underneath is the drawing of a hand holding a "pass" that says, "Mr. Jeff. Davis and friends are permitted to leave the State of Virginia. GEO B. McCLELLAN"


Reg't. Co. I
Camp Federal Hill 1962
Feb 7/62
 

Dear Mary

I rec'd your last letter and Was Very glad to year from you. I hope you are all Still Well as it leaves Me So, on the first of this Month they paid the Men off and as they keep a Month a head of us, Why they Owed Me a half month up to the first of January Which half month I got and I put Away a five dollar treasury note to Send to You and I lost it, hard luck, but they talk of paying off every Month. Now if they do do it Will Come More frequent I am sorry about you having so little money and Wish I could help you but I am in hopes the War Will Soon be over those Who enlisted in the rebel Army their time Will be up Soon And they talk of going home as they are Sick of it and I hope they do I sent you a picture for Franklin and a paper to Abe let me know if they have been rec'd the picture I paid the postage of So they must not charge it to you. give my love to Mother and all our friends tell Mother I Would like to hear from her Soon I Wrote to Geo Ellis but he never answered me tell Joe I Would like to hear from him give me all news and believe me to be yours


Affectionately
George
 

P.S. I send a letter to father the same time I send this Enclosed I send you a pass I had in Baltimore

 

 

Letter #3


 
Fort Federal Hill
March 2nd, 1862

Dear Mary

I rec'd your letter after long wait by for one And I was glad to hear from you And I hope this Will find You all Well I am a little under the Weather yesterday being our guard day I Went to the doctor and four More of had to do duty. I took Some Medicine and laid down and I feel Smart to day the Army of the Potomac are making a forward movement --The government has taken possession of the rail road and telegraph lines, So We can get no news at present Which we are Anxiously Waiting for. I have rec'd neither letter nor box for Some time Which I Wonder at. I feared there was Sickness there hoping to hear from you all Soon I remain


Yours Affectionately
George
 
PS Give my love to Mother the children& all enquiring friends. tell them to Write. tell Mother I have rec'd no letter from Mr. Ketcham

 

 

Letter #4


before Yorktown
May 8/62

Dear Mary

I Wrote and Sent a letter to Mother for you With 2 $5.00 Bills in yesterday, now I Send you $10.00 more and will immediately Send $5.00 Write instantly on the receipt of the Whole $25.00 I Sent it this Way because many of our boys have So not being able to get Express Carriage I think We Will Soon be in Richmond the Advance are following the rebels up. We are Waiting Marching orders and are now [two illegible words] now if we go we take transport part of the way up the York river look out for another letter and believe me to be


Yours Truly
George

PS tell father I found Woodruff Spears [uncertain mark] a Middletown file cutter in the pennsylvania Cavalry also one in the Tickles Brigade

 

Letter #5


Virginia
1st April
 

Dear Mary

We have left Baltimore and gone to this place between fort Monroe and Norfolk I rec'd a letter from you previous to leaving Baltimore I hope this Will find you all Well it leaves me So. We have rec'd no pay as yet. We are at present held as a reserve You Must Write Soon and I Will do So at every opportunity I Would have Wrote Sooner only I expected to leave and did Not know Where for. the Weather is very nice and here you Must give My love to Mother and all the folks and accept the Same yourself kiss the children for me and believe Me to be


Yours Affectionately
George
 
Direct Geo W. Southern
Co. I Duryee's
Zouaves
Near fortress Monroe
Virginia
 
PS We passed Henry Tagg but I did not See him
 
 
 
 
Letter #6


Camp Lobell
Between NeBridge
& Gaines Mills
 

 
Dear Friends
 
On thursday last I Sent in a letter to Franklin $5.00 and on the Morning Would have Sent $10.00 more but I thought I Would await a letter from you So received one yesterday I feel at liberty to Send it. our regiment is in a fearful Condition from Sickness one man died this morning and more are not expected to live and I am Well Oh I am thankful. I bought a pound of cheese this morning and intend to go to the Cook fire and make a rare bit on my tin plate for Supper Oh the experience I have bought if I live to get home. the [uncertain word that looks like "Fritters"] take advantage of poor Soldier 40cents pound for cheese 50 for Butter but that I Will not buy. Henry Tagg and myself are in one brigade and I can befriend him I Will do it and trust he Will do the Same for Me our regiment is not 500 Strong one of our doctors has been Carried home Sick I think those Who have Stood it thus far Will get along it is getting acclimated that does it We have done Nothing Since but chase rebels but Cannot Catch them Mary let me know about the relief money I See there has been more appropriated please find enclosed the $10.00 Write as Soon as you get this for I shall be anxious accept My love all and believe me to be
Yours affectionately,
George
 
Sunday June 22nd/62
 
the rebels are in great disorder in Richmond.
 
 
 
 
(Records indicate that George died a few days later.)
 
 
 
Letter Fragments from Four Different Letters
 
Fragment #1:
 
the Men went fishing to get rid of guard duty but I Was the only on excused, having the reputation of going my duty When I am Well. the other four he Would not Accept on the Sick Book so they . . .
 
 
and
Fragment #2:
 
. . . knows. Tell Joe [uncertain name] if he Sends Me Anything I Would rather it be Otherwise than a box, as there is a Set of leeches in the Army Who Luck all they Can, out of You. give him and all My love. if You See that Breese tell him I think very little of either him or his pretended religion tell mother if she knows of any of her folks in Baltimore to let me know . . .as soon as you . . . any news, and Show him this, and believe me to be
Your Affectionate Brother
George
 
let me know how the children are get along.
 
 
and
Fragment #3:
 
Muster 600 effective men for duty and our officers nearly all Sick and I think many Will resign at Richmond. I am quite healthy but feel very Sad at times We have Meetings in Camp every Night our Adjutant and Some of our line Officers and privates are christians I attend all I Can from duty tell abe I am thankful for his letter and Will Write to him next.
Yours Affectionately
George
 
PS tell the children to be good for I often think of them our reg't was reviewed today by Mac and the Spanish Gen'l [uncertain name or word, beginning with P----] and Went through our Noted Bayonet Exercise.
 
 
and, finally,
Fragment #4:
 
 
I asked her Why Oh She Says you Will find your Master & there I told her I Could Not See and Shouldering my rifle Marched off to join my Company Such is life in Ole Virginny When We once open our batteries upon them they Will Wonder Whats the Matter We Cannot buy Stamps here No More at present.
from Yours Affectionately,
George
Co. I
N. Yorktown, Va
 

Remaining existing correspondence from the Southern family consists of the attempts made by George's children and siblings to verify that his marriage to Mary was legitimate and that Mary and the children were deserving of the government pension they claimed.

 

7/12/00 Postscript: I received communication from Brian Pohanka of Alexandria, Virginia. He is the historian for a group that recreates the story of Duryee's Zouaves, the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry. He has informed me that "George Southern was killed in action in the battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia, on June 27, 1862 -- a very fierce engagement and one that made the colorful Zouves famous for their bravery under fire."

Mr. Pohanka's organization has a website dedicated to Duryee's Zouaves. The address is: http://www.zouave.org