I believe this letter was written by William Linn Anthony (1842-1931), the son of William A. Anthony, Sr. (1796-1859) and Sarah A. Echols. (1809-1853) of Marshall county, Mississippi. William served in Co. A, 11th Mississippi Infantry during the Civil War and the regiment took up winter quarters near Orange Court House in December 1863 where they remained until spring 1864. William survived the war and married Josephine (“Josie”) Anthony (1848-1937) in 1872 in Haywood, Tennessee. He became a minister and died in Evansville, Vanderburgh county, Evansville. William’s brother, Henry Anthony served with him in Co. A, 11th Mississippi Infantry, but was killed in the fighting at Gaines’ Mill while attached to Law’s Brigade and Hood’s Division of Stonewall Jackson’s Corps.
William wrote the letter to his relative, Susan Austin “Callie” Jane Anthony (1839-1886), the daughter of Charles Anthony (1793-1884) and Martha Davis Haden of Arnoldton, Campbell county, Virginia. In the early 1850’s, William’s brother Homer was married to Callie’s sister Morgianna. Callie attended the Hollins Institute of Roanoke ( a women’s college) before the civil war and corresponded extensively with her many relations. She married Victor Moreau Brandon (1836-1866) in 1863.
Orange Court House was a strategically important location during the American Civil War. Just north of town, the Rapidan River was effectively the northern border of the Confederacy from March 1862 to May 1864. Consequently, the area witnessed countless troop movements, patrols, skirmishes, and encampments. In addition, the town of Orange served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during that time.
Orange Court House, Va.
January 2nd 1864
Your letter of date ==, I am ashamed to mention it for I’ve delayed writing so long, came to hand in due time and was happily received, contents greedily devoured and treasured up to think of windy nights and rainy days & know you expect an excuse from me & I am prepared to give you one. When I received your letter, I was on picket—one of the coldest and most disagreeable spells we have had this winter. The ground being frozen, I contracted a very severe cold which brought an intermittent fever that confined me to my bed for a week or more. I am quite well now.
After performing an incredible amount of labor, we are now ensconced very comfortable in our winter quarters (log huts) six miles from Gordonsville, three miles from Orange, immediately on the railroad. Rations have been reduced to one half what they were in the summer & I find it almost impossible to live. I can demolish a day’s rations at one meal with all imaginable ease and not eat hearty then. The country is completely foraged out within (20) twenty miles of this place.
I procured a horse a few days since and rode for sixteen hours & could not get as much as a dozen onions. I made one or two desperate and gigantic efforts to leave here Xmas and penetrate the interior as far as Campbell [county], but failed signally, much to my chagrin and disappointment. Oh! how I long to see the time roll around when I can go where and when I please without having to get permission like a slave. But eyes like mine failed to see the hole where peace is going to crawl out of with arms full of picnics, mayday celebrations, 4th of July decorations, barbecues, barn dances, together with a thousand other freaks of so called happiness without modifications or deviations. Excuse this nonsense for you know it’s my nature.
I see that [the Confederate] Congress has passed the Substitute Act [making a formerly exempt substitute liable to military service]. I shall regret very much if [your brother] John has to go into service again. ¹
I was the recipient of a letter from [my brother] Homer [Livingstone Anthony] ² a few days since. He was in Georgia. Spoke of returning to Mississippi in a few days. Sister writes me that she thinks he is thinking of marrying again soon but I think she must be mistaken. I know better than that.
W. D. Hurt, ³ son of R. S. Hurt, was killed in a cavalry fight at Collierville, Tennessee, some few months since. Left a young wife to mourn his loss. So goes the world. I think of marrying shortly myself. Were it not for one thing, I would have been married before now. I love all the girls so well, I am unable to discriminate.
I sent my bay horse some five weeks since. I will write you again when he returns Don’t you think by this that I don’t want to hear from you? I would [give] $50 for a letter tonight. Give my ______wishes & _____ compliments to all the girls of my acquaintance and write me soon. My love to Ma & Pa and family. Very affectionately, — Anthony
¹ Calley’s younger brother, John William Anthony (1841-1920) was a member of Co. B, 11th Virginia Infantry from May 1861 to February 1863 when he hired a substitute and was discharged from the service. He later enlisted in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry. He was wounded twice during the war but survived.
² Homer Livingstone Anthony, M. D. (1830-1905) was the son of William A. Anthony, Sr. (1796-1859) and Sarah A. Echols. (1809-1853) of Marshall county, Mississippi. Homer was married five times. He was married first in 1852 to Morgianna Anthony (1834-1852)—Callie’s older sister. He married a second time in 1854 to Maggie Tucker (1835-1857). He married his third wife, Mary E. Bowdre (1846-1872) in 1869. In 1874, he married Martha C. Anderson (1828-1884), and in 1885, he married Augusta C. Shelton (1844-1904). In July 1863, Homer wrote to George Gov. Joseph Brown from Clinton, Jones county, Georgia, offering his services as a surgeon with the Georgia State troops.
³ Lt. William David Hurt (1839-1863) of Co. H, 3rd Mississippi Cavalry who enlisted from Senatobia, Tate county, Mississippi. He received his commission on 6 June 1863. He was mortally wounded in the attack on the Union garrison at Collierville, Tennessee, on 3 November 1863. William was the son of Baptist Clergyman Robert S. Hurt (1813-1889) and Levina Echols (1816-1860). He was married to Europa Antonia (“Toni”) Strickland (1843-1940) in Marshall County, Mississippi, and had a young son named Willie Hurt born on 7 April 1862.