Civil War Love Letters: January 29, 1865

29, January 2015

After not writing a letter since December 5, 1864, James finally let Molly know that he was doing well. In mid-December, after dealing with almost nightly escapes from Camp Sorghum, the Confederates moved James and the other prisoners to Camp Asylum, a walled enclosure located on the grounds of the State Lunatic Asylum in Columbia, South Carolina. The prison camp became home to approximately 1,200 Union officer prisoners. In this letter, James briefly refers to his previous escape from Camp Sorghum in November 1864. He also mentions that the prisoners could no longer receive boxes from home, which he blames on the U.S. government. During the final months of 1864 and early 1865, Union officials treated Confederate prisoners as they believed the enemy treated Union prisoners. William Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners for the Union army, ordered a reduction in rations and ended the delivery of packages from home. This order certainly could have made life more difficult for James and the other prisoners if the Confederate officials retaliated with a similar order. However, by this time conditions in the prisons, especially prisons in the South, had become extremely dire after years of overcrowding. The Confederacy did not have the resources to adequately and humanely care for all the prisoners.    

Drawing of Camp Asylum in South Carolina during the Civil War. In December 1864, James was moved from Camp Sorghum to Camp Asylum, both in Columbia, South Carolina. "Asylum Camp, Columbia, South Carolina." Courtesy of the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, Columbia, SC.

Camp Asylum
Columbia S. Ca.
January 29th 1865

My Dear Molly

As no mails have left the camp that I could hear of, for several weeks I have failed to write as usual. The last rec’d from you is over three months old and so I indite the first Epistle of the year not knowing when it may reach you. We have had a spell of very cold weather for The Sunny South. Cold enough in fact for St. Louis and making me wish very much for a box at times, but it seems that the days of boxes have gone by, and our imprisonment becomes thus more sombre, dreary, and hard as it progresses. Under Providence I have enjoyed the blessings of good health so far, with the exception of a slight cold and some other little ailments to which I am liable from time to time. Our spirits are kept up from day to day by the good news, and progress that we hear the cause is making North & South. We have been excited and amused by rumors of Peace and Armistice lately but put little faith in them as we fully expect another summer of hard fighting ere that happy day can yet arrive!

I hope you received all safe my letter of Decr. first and the parcel of Nick Nax, letters &c. I sent by Lt. Reynolds, for safety, and safe keeping. As I told you when I made up that
parcel containing all my effects I had made arrangements for escape. I did escape, but as before failed to make it good and was recaptured. We are too closely confined now, to permit any such dreams, even if the weather was favorable. All hopes of  Exchange for the present has died within us, though we know not what a day may bring forth, and we have yet failed to understand the cruel order by which our Government stop'd our boxes while it allowed Rebel Prisoners North to receive all manner of comforts that could be purchased by Cotton.

I hope my dearest girl is well, and enjoying the seasons parties and Sleigh rides. Let not your heart be troubled on my account. I am in good hands. Trust in God and in me. All is I hope for the best, and in Gods good time my release will come. Love to all. Much love to you ever darling.

Yours Sincerely
James E. Love
Capt. 8th K.V.

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