1861 November 06
Fletcher writes to his father that after recovering from pneumonia, he now has a bout of neuralgia, which has caused him to miss two troop maneuvers. There was trouble in the Second Regiment when General Hindman appointed Colonel Marmaduke as commander. Fletcher's men have received blankets and clothing, thanks in part to his own efforts. He believes that a draft is needed and that the war could last 10 years or more.
Elliot H. Fletcher, Sr., was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1805, the son of Thomas Clark and Susan Jouette Fletcher. He received training as a merchant and lawyer in Tennessee and went to Arkansas about 1836 to take a position with the new Real Estate Bank. In 1840, he moved to Mississippi County and settled on Mill Bayou where he built a large and prosperous plantation. In 1848 he was elected to the state House of Representatives from his county. He served in that position until 1852. At the beginning of the Civil War he raised and equipped the Fletcher Rifles. The unit was commanded by his elder son, Elliot H. Fletcher, Jr., and his other son, Thomas Fletcher, became a sergeant in the company. The Fletcher Rifles became a part of the 2nd Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers, and later Company C of the 18th Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers. Both of Fletcher's sons were killed at the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862.
[Page 1] I should like very much to hear from Overton
Rail Road Hotel Bowling Green Ky
Novr 6th 1861
My Dear Father
I have to acknowlege the receipt
of your letter of the 25th Oct several days since, also
the receipt of yours of the 28th Oct. on yesterday.
They both found me in bed. I wrote you on the
30th Oct. I had just got over an attack of
pneumonia but was still in bed when I wrote.
I was able in a day or two after to leave my bed
and walk about the house when I was again
prostrated by an attack of neuralgia in my left
side and left shoulder. I have been laboring ever
since under that attack, but am now thank
God! getting better - so as to be able to sit up
without pain, and my surgeon promises me
this evening entire relief in a few days -
I really am in a very irksome predicament.
Left behind the second time when a forward
movement was projected, and now detained here
by one of these attacks that nobody but a surgeon
can see anything of. I am truly unfortunate. But I
suppose I must submit to my hard fate. Our com-
mand when it first left here proceeded (as
you have seen to Cave City, but a week ago
they fell back to Rocky Hill station, about [Page 2] 12 miles north of this place - I hear it rumored
today that they will move forward immedi-
ately, and hence my chagrin at being confined
here. Even if the army were not advancing
I have other urgent reasons for wishing to go
forward immediately. I must, as you so ably
argue, take steps to get clothing and blankets for
my men - and before Ferring can be detailed
I must take command of my company. Of
course you have found out ere this the resig-
nation of Scott. The thing took place during
my illness, and of course I have no onus to bear.
He asserted to me as his reason for so doing
that Ferring took the command of the company
often leaving here. But between you and I
he barely "saved his bacon and credit", for Col
Marmaduke would have forced him to resign
anyhow before long, for the Col told me so.
Thursday morning Nov 7th_ Owing to fatigue
from maintaining an upright posture I was
unable to finish my letter last night, and this
morning I can write in much better spirits.
Capt Crump came down from Hindman's
command last night and reports that instead
of a forward movement, that the troops will
come down eight miles nearer this place
today. So I can still have time to recuperate
my health in a house, and will not be [Page 3] forced by a morbid pride to take the field when
unfit for duty. Capt Crump's impression seems
to be that our Generals want to make the fight
as near this point as possible. and so it
would seem, for weeks of valuable time have
been wasted already. They are throwing
away all of this warm weather in doing no -
thing but march Hindman's Brigade up and
down the Rail Road between here and
Cave City. And then too there is so much
apparent vascillation. for instance, I saw by
the Nashville Union [and] American of day before
yesterday that Genl Johnston had issued an
order disbanding the Tennessee recruits - and
yesterday that paper announced that
the order had been countermanded.
The soldiers and their immediate comman -
ders (Cols. Capts +c) are crazy for an imme -
diate advance - or else their comfortable
establishment in Winter Quarters here - but
they have taken no steps for Winter Quarters,
and if our army here is kept in tents this
Winter, half of them will die. I honestly
believe that half will either die or be rendered
totally unfit for any military duty in the
future. I also learned by Capt Crump that
there had been a distribution of some
clothing and blankets - which of course I was [Page 4] much rejoiced to hear.
I assure you that I can heartily appreciate
the good advice contained in your letters.
I may be so unfortunate as to slur over
my duties as an officer but it is impossible
for me ever to be guilty of gaming or even
playing cards for amusment. I have
educated myself to look upon gaming as a
crime. Even if I was fond of cards, I would
have but a limited opportunity of playing, for
from the time I entered the army I never
have seen a Commissioned officer throw a
card. I know several that do game for they
told me so, but I never have seen any of it You tell me that you have opened negotia-
tions with Jim Thompson, and think you can
get some recruits thereby. If you do succeed
(which I doubt, especially now that Scott has
gone home ) never send one here if possible
without a blanket, comfort, or something of
the sort, also plenty of clothes. I don't know
that Scott would try to prevent recruits
from coming, but I do beleive him to be a
very unscrupulous man. I have not yet
formed out what made him resign, except
what he told me himself. But let him act
as he pleases when he goes home, he him-
self is in a bad positon for a soldier. To
resign just as his corps was making an advance
of indefinite destination, upon a mere [Page 5] technicality, and in the bloom of robust health
too places him in a bad light. But it is as
well - for he had the satisfaction of doing it
voluntarily, whereas had he waited much
longer he would have been quietly told by Col
Marmaduke that it would be better for him
to leave the service. Poor Campbell will go
next I reckon. The Lord only knows where
I will get material to fill the vacancies. I shall
have to depend on Col Marmaduke.
I intimated to you in my last letter that
there was trouble in the 2nd Regt. This is
the way the case stands. When the Regt. and
Battalion were united after Genl Hindman's
arrival, he forthwith ordered Lt. Col Marma-
duke to take command of the "Legion", (Scaife
was then in command of the Regt.) which
order was remonstrated against by 24 of
the officers of the Regt upon the grounds
that the Colonelcy of the Legion was
one of the national rights of Bocage since
Hindmans promotion, and furthermore that
Arks troops should be led by Arks leaders
and a heap of such stuff. Hindman tore
up the remonstrance indignantly and told
them that Marmaduke should command them,
but the final result of it all was the refusal
of Col Marmaduke to have anything to do with
the Regt. also personal rancor and two or
three difficulties among the officers, the most
serious of which was one between Captain's
Anderson and Warfield, which fortunately was
arrested before the intentions of the parties were
carried out. Warfield was in the wrong. He in-
sulted Anderson grossly (Anderson wanted Mar -
maduke and Warfield did not) and Anderson [Page 6] promptly challenged him. all the preliminaries
had been arranged for the meeting when Genl Hind -
man got word of it and had the parties promptly
arrested. The last news from there says that
Major Scaife commands the Regt. but Col Bocage
passed through here yesterday and I suppose they
will have another fuss. He called on me as he
passed through and seemed in a very bad humor.
He will inevitably quail before Hindman
though. The truth is (but I would not say
this to anyone but you) I have no confidence
whatever in Bocage _ and on the other hand
I look upon Marmaduke (and so do his enemies
by their own confession) as one of the most accom-
plished officers in the C.S. Army. also a very
agreable gentleman in the social circle. I am
satisfied that I have secured his friendship, and
he has mine.
You seem to be uneasy about my status
with my company, and seem to fear the "ad cap-
tandum vulgus " of Ferring, but you need not
fear anything on that score, for he is getting
rather exclusive himself. On the day that I left
camp he was in a terrible humor, and talked of
resigning because Scott would bring so many of the
boys into their tent. Trust to me to manage
him. Thank Goodness! I have gotten rid of
the commutation matter, and the men have
also been paid off - have need some clothing
and blankets and are no doubt in fine humor
with everything and everybody.
Before I was taken sick I never lost an oppor-
tunity to drill my men, and I rather think it was a
protracted comapany drill that made me sick. I
took pains to convince them that I knew what
I was doing and was generally the last one
to march my company off the field. [Page 7] In Battalion and I was learning very fast
when I was taken sick - and Col] Marmaduke
seemed to take special pains to explain the
movements thoroughly to me.
I think that I have as much ambition as
anyone, and when I begin anything take as much
pains to go through with it rightly as most young men.
and if I could only get my health fully restored
I have every confidence of success as a tactician.
Here in my sick bed I study my books, but
I cant get it out of the books half as well as
when it is explained and demonstrated by a
thorough tactician on the field.
This attack of neuralgia is truly unfortunate
but I have a companion in my distress. Our
friend Capt Crump went on home this morning
with 60 days furlough. He intends going to
Hot Springs. He is afflicted very much as I
am. He says that his age won't admit of his
standing upon a point of honor and that the first thing
he will do will be to recuperate his health. Well
he is quite right. at his age, and entirely unused
to Camp life, to temporize would in all probability
I agree with you perfectly in everything
that you say about Genl Hindman, and no
office in his command was more sincerely grat -
ifid [sic] by his return, or gave him a more hearty
welcome than myself. I wish all the Confederate
Generals were of his type. Washington City would
long ago have been ours, and the War would
assume an aggression shape, the only one in my
opinion that will ever bring it to an end.
Hindmans command is small. It consits [sic] of
the "Legion", Lyon's (now Hawthorn's ) Regt, Scotts
light artillery, and Major Phifers Battalion of cavalry - [Page 8] Everything goes to indicate a movement in
some direction by Genl Hardees Division. Quarter -
masters are constantly employed in making out
registrations - impressing wagon's, mules and har -
ness - repairing wagons, shoeing mules and all
the et ceteras necessary to the equipment of an
army for the march. I am confident that I
will be well enough to report for duty by that
time. I would go crazy to have to stay here by
I received also the other day a letter from
Susan, and Mama's and Sister Fanny's letters,
all of which shall be answered in a few days,
I shall indeavor to write home two or three
times a week hereafter. I feel much improved
today. I have been sitting up all day at
intervals - and the pain in my side is grad -
ually yielding to medicine.
I suppose of course Joe Williams made no
collections, owing to the lack of a market for
Mrs Whitmans crop. By the way I see corn
is $1.05 in N. O. would it not be better to
save yours until the Memphis Delegation To
Richmond take off the embargo- ?
I am indeed gratified to hear of the great
improvement in Tommy's health. a months
recreation would be highly benificial to me.
I would advise Tommy to study Military tac -
tics - it would be a source of incalculable
benefit in future - for I firmly believe this
war will last ten years, and in a few years
he would feel the benefit of a military education
when called upon for his services.
And so what we once looked upon as an
exceedingly phlegmatic's [sic] baby turns out to be a
young lady of well developed temper - [Page 9] I think Susan an exceedingly handsome child,
[and] she was always a great favorite of mine.
She is such a remarkably fine child that that
ought in some measure to soothe both Sister Anna
and Mama for untimely loss of the other.
I agree with you about a draft. I want to
see one above all things. I want to see such young
healthy men as Wm Carr, Embry, Sherman, young
Phillips Col Borum Batts and a host of others
forced by an inevitable decree to be patriotic.
The idea of Col Borum's still waiting for
a call upon the militia is at this day in
my estimation a puerile subterfuge, and
reduces him very much in my estimation -
He knows well enough that the militia of
our country is in no danger of being called out,
and were I in his place I would be ashamed to
offer so poor an excuse.
Pray how does Jas Williams talk now - ?
Does he clap his hands when he hears of a
glorious victory, such as the Battle of Leesburg ?
or does he simply yield a dry acquiscince ?
Capt Bridewell arrived yesterday from
Pittmans Ferry, and enters immediately upon
the duties of Qr Master for Hardee's Division.
The sick that I left a Pittman's Ferry
arrived a few days since in restored health.
they came by way of Memphis.
Lt. Col. Patton of Cleburne's Regt was the
man who had the patriotism and charity to
pay for the burial of poor Breedlove at Jack -
sonport. Out of the whole population of
that town, only four men could be formed
who would lend a hand in assisting to bury
him, and it devolved upon Capt J. B. Johnson [Page 10] to attend to the whole matter. He ordered his
coffin and told them to bring the bill to him
but Col Patton (a very poor gentleman too )
happened to meet the man in the street with the
bill and immediately paid it. Of course I
took the earliest apportunity to pay Col P.
and express my hearty thanks.
In the cases of discharged soldiers all
that is necessary for them to do to secure their
pay, is to write a simple transfer on the
back of the certificate which is given to them
at the time of discharge, to some officer of
their company, with the names of one or two
witnesses (one enough) attached and Major
Pape will pay for their services. Don't
misunderstand me. I dont mean what is
called the "Certificate of Disability for Discharge"
but the one which has the form of a voucher.
Lt Tommy transfer his to me and you
witness it and send it to me and I'll collect
his pay/ It would be as well to let the
others discharged from my company know
I'm afraid I've worried you with this
long letter. Jack gets along finely. his
services are invaluable to me during my
sickness. Before our "pet mess" was broken
up he acted a "Major Domo" of the concern
and felt the dignity of his office, with two boys
to wait on him. He wishes to be remembered
to all. Give my love to Sister Anna and all
the family. I think of her and all of you
constantly, especially when sick.
I'll write in a few days. I remain
your affectionate son
Elliot H. Fletcher Jr
5 pages handwritten, front and back, 12" x 7.5"; 9.75" x 7.75"
Civil War; Arkansas; Confederate States of America
Fletcher, Elliot H. Jr.
Bowling Green, Warren County (Ky.)
Elliot H. Fletcher family papers, MS.000063
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
Elliot H. Fletcher, Jr., Railroad Hotel, Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Elliot H. Fletcher, Sr., Elliot H. Fletcher family papers, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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