Baptists and the American Civil War: March 16, 1864

Civil War States MapUnion forces on the Red River, having captured Louisiana’s Fort DeRussy, continue their campaign to expand their presence in Louisiana.

Meanwhile, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest initiates a cavalry raid into West Tennessee and Kentucky. The goal is to put Union forces on the offensive during the open days of the spring campaign season.

On the intelligence front, Union naval officials are concerned about rumors of a new Confederate ramming ship being built somewhere on the Roanoke River. Word is that the ship is covered in two layers of iron, rather than the typical one. The CSS Albermarle is believed to be on schedule to set sail next month.

In the midst of these minor war-related developments this day, in Virginia Thomas C. Cheney, soldier in the First New Hampshire Voluntary Light Battery and a member of the First Free Baptist Church Manchester, New Hampshire, writes a letter to his brother, Luther.

Camp 1st NH Battery
Brandy Station, Va March
16th 1864

Dear Brother

Yours of the 6th was rec. last Sunday with pleasure, and found me enjoying good health and in in good Spirets. To Night I rec. a letter from Kitt. She is in NY again has been at work one Week. She gets $7.00 a Week. She said She had a good visit at your house and at all the other Places she visited. I have not heard from Laura since they Moved to Lake Village. That is a thrifty place and I hope Alf. will do well there. Well!! you did give the Copper Heads thrashing Election, didn’t you. Bully for you, it is a good thing and will be a Death blow to the hopes of Rebes of rec. help and encouragement from the North. I Cheered as loud as I could when I read how handsomly you whiped the Sneaking Skunks, the rebel Sympathisers. There was some hurraughing for a while in our Camp you better believe, when we had assertaned the result of the Election. Then the Miserable Traitors did not like it to see the Soldiers going home to vote did they. Well they might dislike to see them going home for that purpos, for they well knew that the Soldiers had been Battleing against Armed Traitors in the Field to long, to stand much to the blarney of Traitors at home. Soldiers know what their fighting for, and have gone through to many hardships and periled their lifes to many times for the great Princaple of Liberty and the [?], to have their feelings trifled with to much, by the base Cowards. We Soldiers rejoice as much over the victory you won as you do, it gives us new encouragement, hope and Strength, for we feel that we shall be sustained by our Friends and the Gov. at home. I am very glad to hear that buisness is so good in Nashua, and also to hear that have done so well the past year. I believe I might lay up a little something now if I was at home. They pay big pay now adays. I heard that they have got a job to buildn Locomotives at the Big Shop in Manchester. That will make buisness tip top there. They will find it hard work to get help enough for a while I reckon. Wouldent I love to get a Job there about now if my turn of Enlistment was up. There is nothing new as regards us as a battery of special interest. There is some talk of our geting 2 more Guns but it is not sure, but I hope we shall, according to the late Orders of the President it looks as though Lieut. Gen. U S Grant was to Command this Army, place for him! yet he may do well, all this Army wants is a Good Gen. and let him handle it after his own stile. There is no indications of there being a forward move for several weeks to come, yet there may. I think the Army will move about April sometime during that Month. I rec. a Tribune from you a while a go. I am very much obliged to you for it. Give my love to your family.

Write me again Soon, from your Affection Brother

T C Cheney

Sources: “Confederate Ships: CSS Albemarle (1864-1864),” Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy (link); Thomas Carleton Cheney, 1831-1900 Papers, University of New Hampshire (link); Thomas C. Cheney letter to Luther, March 16, 1864 (link)