Civil War Love Letters: December 5, 1864

5, December 2014

Conditions at Camp Sorghum were so bad that prisoners escaped nightly. James escaped shortly after writing his last letter on November 19, and spent the next two weeks walking through swamps and living with slaves on plantations. He reached the Savannah River, at which point he was not far from the army of Union general William T. Sherman. Sherman was in the midst of his March to the Sea, or Savannah Campaign, marching from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. On December 3, 1864, Sherman, with part of his army, was at Millen, Georgia, just south of the Savannah River. Unfortunately, there were also many Confederate guerrillas and pickets in the area, and James was recaptured on December 4, 1864, and returned to Camp Sorghum. His second escape attempt had failed.

Section of G. Woolworth Colton’s New Guide Map of the United States and CanadaJames escaped from Camp Sorghum in Columbia, South Carolina, at the same time that Union general William T. Sherman’s army was marching from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. By early December, James had reached some point along the Savannah River, while Sherman’s Army was near Millen, which is just above the letter “A” in the word Georgia on this map. "Section of G. Woolworth Colton’s New Guide Map of the United States and Canada," Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891–1895. Missouri History Museum.

Columbia S. Ca.
Dec'r 5th 1864

My Dear Mollie

Since I last wrote to you, I have been out on a trip to meet Sherman, or visit East Tenn. but I failed to do either, was recaptured and am now back at the old place. We had a hard time out, but a little exercise and starvation even is a change from the monotony of Prison life; and very few feel worse for the trip. All goes on in camp as usual. The weather is again warm and favorable.

I am in my usual health would have nothing to complain of, if I was free. I wrote to Wm. C. last week and intend to send him a parcel for safe keeping till I come myself. I sup­pose you are now enjoying the winter season in St. Louis; and ere you have received this will have passed the usual quiet Christmas and New Year. I did expect to show my face at the festive board about that season but I am born to dissapointment and to be a thorn in the side of all my best friends; but with your good help and prayers I hope this programme will be changed, when this cruel war is over. I must be patient! I know how long suffering you are; and think it needful to again remind you, that your imagination makes me suffer more than I do in reality, and that you are really the Martyr and hero, not I. Pray believe it! It is so I assure you! I suffer but what thousands of poor unfortunates at home and abroad suffer daily and live! And God Willing I will live and meet you in happiness yet. The sick and badly wounded are to be exchanged! Would you rather see me on that list, or in health here?

News I have much, but it is contraband. I wish to be remembered when you can kindly to all. With love dearest to yourself and every kind thought

I am as ever
Yours Sincerely
James E. Love
Capt. 8th Ks. Vol.

Miss E. M. Wilson
Box 1573
St. Louis Mo.

Read the original letter by James E. Love.
Read more letters.
Read more about the project.