Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Louisiana Confederate's Last Letter Home

This is a photo of a soldier of the 16th Louisiana
Infantray, but identification has been lost.
Confederate's Last Letter Found by Oakdale Resident
                OAKDALE, La. - A letter written May 10, 1862 by a Confederate soldier following the Battle of Farmington, Mississippi, May 9, 1862 gives a fresh eyewitness glimpse of what battle was like for soldiers in the War For Southern Independence. The letter was first published in the Lake Charles American Press on April 11, 1962 soon after the centennial of the  Battle of Shiloh.
                The letter was written by Private Silas Griffith of Company H, 16th Louisiana Infantry to his brother John in Bayou Chicot, St. Landry Parish (modern day Evangeline Parish) Louisiana:
                May 10, 1862
                Dear Brother: I  take these few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living and enjoying good health and hope this finds you the same. John, I was in a fight yesterday [the Battle of Farmington, Mississippi], it lasted about an hour and there was but one of our  company who got wounded and he was  shot through the hand.
                I, and C. K. O'Neal, old Burns' son-in-law, were detailed as infirmary corps to carry off the dead and wounded. There was about 15,000 Yankees and our force was about 2,500 when we charged on them. I never saw fellows run so in my life.
                It was one of the awfulest sights I ever saw . . . to see the poor fellows dying on the field. There were two men shot dead within ten feet of me but I never got a scratch. O'Neal got his canteen shot all to pieces and he had his overcoat rolled up and tied in front  of him and a ball struck it and went  through two doubles of it. It would have killed him but the coat was all that saved him. All of our company stood fairly well but about four who left when the balls began to come pretty thick. There was a Mississippi regiment that ran when the enemy was pouring the fire in on us. I expect they will be brought up today.
                General Ringgold took the flag and rode ahead of us and hollered "Hooray for the Louisianians." I tell you we made them Yankees kick up the dust. The Colonel of the 11th Louisiana [Colonel Samuel F. Marks] run up and down  the lines when the balls were coming as thick as hail and he would tell us to give them boys hell. I thought once that he was struck and I asked him if he as hurt. He answered, "no . . . a damn Yankee" could not kill him. He is just as brave a man as I have ver seen on a battle field.
                John Montgomery stood  right up to them. It is the first battle that he and I was ever in, but John and I never expect to get that close again and come out alive. There were some balls, I am certain, that did not  land more than two  inches from my head. I am telling you actual facts. I was a little scared about that time . . . but after they fired several rounds, I did not mind at all.
                The Yankees had the advantage of us in one respect. They were all in deep  washes and it was an old field about six miles from here where the fight began from a little town called Farmington. We set fire to that place and came back. Everybody  had left there, sometime. The Yankees had just put them up a telegraph from there to the river so they could telegraph back to their  main force but we tore it down as we came back night before last.
                The enemy was within a mile  of our breast works and we thought by our going outside of breastworks and attacking them, that they would come up and give us a fight so we could use our big guns on them. But they  know we are fixed here and I don't think they will ever attack us here. I know that was their intention, to starve us out and which I don't think it would take more than six months. They  say we have got provisions enough to last about that long.
                Cyrus  is at the hospital yet but I have not  heard from him since he left camp. There is no way to get a letter to Louisiana without sending by somebody out there. There are two men out of the Big Cane Company that we are going to start for  Washington [La.]  tomorrow. I thought I would write you a few lines tolet you know that I am not killed yet.
                You must write to me if you have any chance of  sending a letter. I must bring my letter to  a close as I have to cook.
                Give my  respects to all
Yours most truly,
Silas Griffith
                The old letter was found in the old abandoned O. C. Griffith home at Bayou Chicot by Mrs. Josie Griffth Horne of Oakdale. The Griffith family settled in the Bayou Chicot area in the late 1790's.
                According to his military service record, Silas Griffith was a private in Company H, 16th Louisiana Infantry. He enlisted on September 29,1861 at Camp Moore, Louisiana. Griffith was present on rolls to October 31, 1861. On rolls from November 1861 to February 1862, he was listed as absent, sick, in hospital. On rolls from May, 1862 to October 1862, Present. On Federal Rolls of
Prisoners of War, Captured Stones River, _, 1862. Died Dec. 31, 1862, Murfreesboro.


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