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Widows by the Thousand

This is the last of three posts following Theophilus Perry and his wife, Harriet. If you didn’t read the first two, see them below.

On February 8, 1863 Harriet wrote to Theo: It will be seven months to-morrow since you left your little home & family to share the hardships and privations of the soldier, to me, it has been a long dreary & sad time & only one sixth of the allotted for your absence has expired—how sad that we must be separated so long.

I hate to tell you, but I am on the eve of breaking up housekeeping. Your Father says he thinks it is best I should—I told him I would do whatever he said—he told me when he left he should send after me the first of next week if the weather was good & to be ready—I see no likelihood of the war ending & I am tired and afraid to stay here alone & I cannot have any thing done at all –Billie Hinton says he will hire Sam, Rufus & Jane & I thought I would let him have them--

Your father says in a pecuniary point of view it is to our interest, for they will hire for a little & if they stay here they will make nothing

In early 1864, Union forces in northern Louisiana moved to take Shreveport and invade Texas, fearing an alliance between France and Mexico would lead to French assistance to the South through Texas.

On April 6, 1864, Theophilus wrote: I am sorry the people are so alarmed I do not believe the enemy can advance much farther. It is bad policy to run away. Papa ought to take away his negro men rather than let the Federals have them. But there is time enough for this when the army is in your neighborhood. I do not think men ought to move there white families. It is bad policy & demoralizing to the soldiers. They cannot move there families, they must retreat by their homes, and leave their wives & children to the enemy. Why should others move. The soldier’s wife deserves as much as any lady. When all are moving away, he becomes discontented and is tempted to forsake the army to save his family. This is to be feared. You see it is ruinous. The army must be preserved.

On April 7, Maj. Gen Richard Taylor took a stand against the advancing Union force near Mansfield, Louisiana, routed the Federals and captured artillery and a wagon train.

On April 9, men of the 28th Texas and others advanced through an open field dotted with small pine trees After bitter fighting, the Federals retreated to Alexandria. In a vicious struggle involving repeated charges, Capt. Theo Perry fell dangerously wounded. He was evacuated to a field hospital in Mansfield where his leg was amputated. He died a week later.

A eulogy written by Harriet began, “Died –At Mansfield La, on Sunday April 17th Capt. Theophilus Perry of Harrison Co. Texas of a wound received at the battle of Pleasant Hill on the 9th while gallantly heading his Company.

The name of the book of their letters is Widows by the Thousand, edited by Jane Johansson.

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