Civil War Love Letters: October 10, 1864

10, October 2014

Since writing his last letter, James was moved to a prison in Columbia, South Carolina. At the end of September 1864, due to the spread of yellow fever among prisoners at Charleston and the movements of Union general William T. Sherman’s Army, Confederate authorities decided to move prisoners to Columbia. Approximately 1,400 Union officer prisoners were moved from Charleston to Columbia, including James. He arrived at the new prison camp on October 6, 1864. In this letter, James writes that he was “camped in a fine healthy place.” James may have used these words because he had only been in the camp for a few days, or he could not share the whole truth with Molly. Camp Sorghum, as it would come to be called, was neither fine nor healthy. The camp had no shelter, no tents or barracks, and the men received meager rations. The rations for a five-day period consisted of 2 tablespoons of rice, 2 tablespoons of salt, 5 quarts of cornmeal, and 1 quart of sorghum, which gave the camp its name. James mentions that he received a box from home, but prison officials removed the groceries and blamed Union general John G. Foster. By this time, both Union and Confederate officials believed the other side was not providing adequate food and other supplies to prisoners, and retaliated by taking food away from their prisoners.     

Drawing of Camp Sorghum in S. Carolina during Civil WarIn October 1864, James was moved to a new prison camp, shown here in a drawing made six months later. “Camp Sorghum, opposite Columbia, South Carolina.” Harper's Weekly, April 1, 1865.

Camp near Columbia S. Ca.
October 10th 1864

My Dear Molly

In consequence of sickness I believe principally, we were all moved out to this place on Thursday last quite unexpectedly.

I have been in good health so far, and as we are now camped in a fine healthy place, with common care I hope to continue so. I have not yet received a letter, but I received a box about one fourth full of clothing, tin ware &c. No groceries or money. These were taken out (it is said) by order of Genl. Foster. At any rate I did not get them. As it is I can get along fairly to January next before which time there should certainly be an exchange effected, else I shudder to think of the suffering and death that will ensue among the old prisoner's, from cold, want and the loss of hope; whether we are well or ill treated by our Confederate guards. There are and has been so many exchanges going on that in Gods name I cannot see any reason why all should not be exchanged soon. There is a large mail awaiting us some where, and I expect a letter from you. Pray write at every opportunity, for I am nearly crazy for a letter, without reference to news.

I pray often for your health, welfare and peace of mind. With much love to you my dear girl, and a kind remembrance to all friends, this cold weather.

I am as ever
Yours Sincerely
James E. Love
Capt. 8th K.V.

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