An Angry Confederate Soldier
Six months have passed when we again read letters between Theophilus Perry and his wife, Harriet. If you did not read the last post, start there.
On November 4, 1862. Theophilus wrote: Every time I stay from Camp a night at a good house I feel badly at the thought of having to go back to my tent. Though I ought by no means on earth to murmur. I am doing well. I have a good large Sibley tent with a good fly, and it will keep men dry as a house. I have no tent mates except Nathan Ward and Norflet.
It is reported that Gen. Hindman is falling back from the Federals. He is somewhere around Fayetteville. I believe it is regarded as reliable, that the Federals are in force near him and have advanced another column to Pocahounton.
I do not think the great purpose of this war as the dispensation of Providence will be accomplished simply by the victory of either party. The People must be brought back to the acknowledgement of Law, which the Spirit of democracy had almost worn out of their minds. In order for this, Law will show itself clothed in new garments and embodied in new forms. Heretofore Law has been an idle word, and almost a myth amongst our people. It was laughed, eroded, dodged, and had become contemptible. But my dear before this revolution closes, there are many probabilities that Law will be incorporated in the person of some great Man that will strike off the heads of all and any that presume to disregard it. That Man will be a Despot, but such are the necessities of government when law is badly interpreted law always and will always regain. While I speculate in this way with some feeling of unhappiness still I shall not regret like some the disappearance of the Democratic form of government.
This statement is the only time Theophilus expresses these ideas. It could have been triggered by a specific incident or, more likely, may come from discouragement on the progress of the war. In previous months, the battles of Shiloh, Antietam, Pea Ridge in Arkansas, and the Federal capture of Memphis had taken place.
In December, Harriet’s baby was expected momentarily. On December 3, 1862, she wrote: Mrs. Tom Coleman died on Sunday morning of child-bed fever, she left a little daughter a week old—it alarmed me very much –I could not sleep that night if such a strong stout woman as she was could not stand it. I thought there would be little chance for a frail delicate one like myself.
I wish you could be with me at Christmas. I shall be very much afraid here alone. Aunt Betsy speaks of staying with me, two weeks after I get down. I know that surely will be before many days.
On December 14, Theo wrote: I would give all I have to be with you, I know not what is to become of us my dear. The future is thickening with darker and stormier weather than every yet beclouded the American sky. Oh! Harriet God grant I may pass unscathed through it all and live to die in peace in the midst of my little family circle, sustained by your love and smiles. But, my dear, I am sorry that I have troubled you with gloomy thoughts.
On December 24, Mrs. M.C. Marshal wrote to Theophilus: I write to say to you that Mrs Perry is the mother of another baby—a fine boy weighing 8 ½ pounds which we have named Theophilus, both mother and child are doing well and I trust that in a short time Mrs. Perry will be up, she wishes me to say to you that she did not have the Doctor with her.