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John M. Elam

Here are 2 letters written by John Monroe Elam, son of Hiram Elam to his wife in Bibb County during the Battle of Vicksburg.

This letter was written by John Monroe Elam at Vicksburg, Mississippi during the Battle of Vicksburg.
Letters are owned by J. Bryant O'Neal

Vicksburg, Mississippi

11th March 1863

My dear Wife...

I once more undertake the pleasing task of wrighting you a few lines to inform you that John and I are quite well...There is little or no news siring here only I saw a deserter shot on last Friday. The circumstances were as follows: he had deserted over to the Yankees and had spiked one of our cannons but we took him prisoner fighting for the enemy at the battle of Chickasw bend some two months ago. The Yankees are constantly sending down flat boats on dark nights by our batteries, I expect with the intentions of fooling our men.

I don't see any more prospect of a fight here yet. I have sold John Meggs one hundred pounds of Bacon at 40 cents a pound and he paid for it and I want you to send it down to his house for him. There is some talk of us going to Mobile and a Louisiana Brigade coming here in our place But I don't expect the exchange will hardly be made. All the neighbours boys are well except Jack Avery who is sick in the Hospital but is getting better. Bud and the rest of the boys are under arrest yet but I don't expect from all I can learn that they hurt them bad. Whenever you write let me know how John Meggs family are as he can't hear from home. This is the wettest and muddiest countries I ever was in. Every two or three days it rains until the day before yesterday when they gave us half a pound of Bacon to the man. We had not got a morselle of meat of any kin in over ten days and we had to live on course corn bread and water. And you can't buy anything hardly here. Bacon here is worth one dollar a pound, Beef Eighty cents a pound, Mutton Sixty cents a pound, Butter two dollars a pound, Lard the same, Eggs two dollars a dozen, Milk two dollars a gallon and Sweet Potatoes five dollars a bushell and hard to get at that.. Congress I understand has passed a act allowing us five dollars a month more on our wages to procure provisions for ourselfs with. A letter has come has come here to Jack Avery a few days ago which informed him that his brother Mack Avery was dead.. He died in Virginia so no at present only write soon..

I remain ever your
affectionate Husband

John Elam

Camp near Wanenton, Vicksburg, Mississippi
5th May 1863

My dear Wife,

I take this opportunity of dropping you a few lines to inform you that I am quite well and so is John and I hope and trust you are well also. Since I last wrote to you we have had a dreadful battle but I was not in it for when the regiment started to Fort Gibson 35 miles for here where the battle was fought I was very unwell and was not able to stand the march but John was in the fight. The battle commenced at one oclock in the morning of the 1st of May but the battle did not become general
all along the line until seven oclock. About the second round General Tracy was willed. He was shot by a minnie ball in the back whilst giving some orders to the artilleries. His last words wre when he ws shot was turning around to our Brigad and said "remember the State you are from" and died immediatly. After his death Colonel Garrott commanded out Brigade and the whole right wing of our line of battle and a most able General he made and tghe boys say he was as calm and cool even whilst passing along the line under a perfect storm of bullets as if he was on dress parade our company was during the day deployed as skirmishes and sharp shoters on the right wing of our army to prvent the enemy flanking us and a desperate time they had as they were constantly under fire of the enemy from nine oclock in the morning until five in the evening. Our loss was as follows" James R. Haines was killed, dead on the field, Newton Gentry, his fate we don't know but suppose him to be wounded a a prisoner, Jery Brid well was shot in the arm an dtaken prisoner, James Hayse his fate not known but suppose him to be a prisoner and William Fikes was very slightly wounded in the arm and is now all right. Some of our companies in our regiment suffered badly from what I can hear....Captain Pratt company lost fourty men amongst whom is Hill James. We also lost two of our field officers...the brave Col. Pettus who was shot in the thigh and taken prisoner and Major Pickering who was mortally wounded being shot in the lower part of the bowels. Of company officers our regiment lost as followers" Capt. Leroy Davis shot in the thigh and taken prisoner, Capt. Prat his fate not known but supposed to be killed on our retreate and Lieutenant Montgomery shot in the wrist. Our loss as far as known in our regiment was about 84 men, but we had to fight about forty odd thousand with only five thousand men. The 23rd Alabama suffered very severly having lost a one hundred and sixty men killed and wounde. Just as I am wrighting this, Colonel Pettus has arrive. He made a most wonderful escape from the Yanks even after he was taken prisoner. He saw Capt. Pratt he was taken prisoner but not wounded in the least. Yu ought to have heard the boys cheer him when he arrived. It was like seeing one risen from the dead. We have now retreated here to near Warrenton ten miles from Vicksburg and formed line of battle and now that we are strongly fortified and reinforced, if he Yanks attack us they will be well whoped. I think John Barnes and Bob Barnes came out safe. I received the stamps you sent me. Azri Fikes is also safe so nothing more at present only with love to you all..

I remain ever your
affectionate Husband
John M. Elam





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