This letter from Archibald L. Simpson was written to his cousin, Henry Root, in 1865. Archibald was 17 and had just entered the war. Henry, then 16, had not enlisted and was still living with his family. In the letter, Archibald describes his first experience in combat, and advises Henry to stay out of the war as long as possible. I began <this letter> on the wrong side
Camp Near Mount Pleasant January 12, 1865
Dear Cousin Henry, You must really excuse me for not writing to you before for I have not had time to write to any body but the home folks. I have not forgotten you for I have started two or three letters to you but have failed to finish it every time we would have to move or something would occur to prevent my writing.
I have now been in the army nearly seven weeks and I am very tired of it already. You must stay out of the war as long as you can – that is the advice that I now give you.
I have been in one fight since I have been out. You had better believe that I was scared at first but after we got at it pretty hard I began to feel relieved as there was scarcely any of our men getting killed. But you had better believe we gave it to the Yankees. I never want to be in another one as long as I am in the army. We have got to a very good place at last but I don’t know how long we will stay here. We are on an island now and I expect we will stay here all winter. I tell you Henry it don’t feel good standing Videt at 12 oclock at night a hundred yards in front of the picket lines right in the face of the enemy and looking for them to rush on you at any moment you will feel right rusty in spite of yourself.
Well how is the Girls coming on pretty well I suppose tell them that as soon as I get out of the war I will come and see them. Give my love to Maggie and tell her that I will come over and see her as soon as I can get a furlough. Women are as scarce as hen teeth down here. I have not seen a woman in a month. Only infant I have seen was one since I left home. If I was to get with a parcel of girls now I would not know how to behave myself.
I have been to a great many places since I left home and seen a good many big citys in the bargain.
Jim Ried is in the same Co that I am in and we are together nearly all the time.
You must excuse bad writing for I just have to write on my knee. I take my knee for a table in eating and writing too. I must close. You must write to me as soon as you get this for I would not be a bit surprised to hear that you was in the army.
A. L. Simpson Co. H 1st Regt SoCa Militia Charleston SC