December 9, 1863

Hd. qrs. 11th Corps Athens (Tenn.)

My dear Sister Ella

This is rather a delicate sheet upon which to begin a letter to a young lady I acknowledge but besides the fact that this is the only kind of paper I have and the last of that, you will find before I get through (if your patience holds out) that I have enough to tell you even to fill a “foolscap” sheet.

Hd. qrs. are at the hotel of this town – the county seat and most considerable place in the vicinity. [...] Athens is partially at least a merry town tonight. There are quite a goodly no. of Union families and besides the natural exhilaration from the presence of U.S. troops. I have had the 33d Mass Band playing up on the balcony of this house all the evening until a few moments ago and I now hear there is a distant quarter giving bad dreams to Miss Secession by playing “Yankee Doodle” that most detestable of all tunes to the genuine Rebel. [...]

Did I mention coffee and sugar? It weighs upon my mind – not the coffee and sugar but the astounding announcement made by our mess-man tonight that it was all gone from our larder (ambulance). We have taken most of our meals with the good union people or other choice families on the march in hopes to keep up our supply. The people have wheat coffee or sweet milk and some few have a little coffee with a great deal of dried sweet-potato – but that our right royally loyal family I have mentioned at sweet Sweewater had the genuine article of coffee – the real old-fashioned Rio. You might know they belonged to the Constitution as it was and the Union that shall be. But the inquisitive mind of my sister must be satisfied – and know that Mr. H. was wise enough to get a quantum sufficit of coffee and like luxuries from Louisville at an early stage of the war and the supply still holds good. Continue reading