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Head Quarters, Camp of Instruction
Tuscumbia, Alabama
December the 19, 1861

Mrs Mary Ballenger:

It is with emotions of pleasure that I write to you this fine evening of the 19th inst.

This leaves me well at the present, and I hope this will find you in the enjoyment of health. I have not been very well for the past two or three weeks, though I Think I can give a reason for that, and it is this: some four or five weeks ago, I was sent on orders of Colonel Wm. R. Smith, on a recruiting expedition. After I had gotten used to sleeping on blankets, and then lying on beds while I was gone, and then changing back again to blankets, when I returned to camp, these changes, I think, caused me to take cold, which is very common in this Regiment. Several have died recently from Pneumonia and Typhoid, and some from measles. One died last night.

Cousin John Ballenger, Jasper Ballenger and R. C. Rector are all here in the same Regiment that I am in. They all send their respects to you. John wants Calvin to write to him, and I am sure that he would be glad you would write to him and tell him how Calvin is getting along.

I received your very kind letter dated December the llth, 1861, and I was glad to hear from you all again, specially to hear that you were all well. Hope that you are all doing well.

I am sorry to hear of sufferings and deaths of those poor fellows mentioned in your letter. Please write me what Goodlet that is mentioned in your last letter to me.

I am very sorry to hear of those two thousand troops (Nothern) being landed on Sullivan's Island. But I think the Yankees will smell gun powder very strong before they get on the Charleston shore, and not only so, but they will have the joy of walking over the dead bodies of some of the Southerners, if they ever get there.

Your Intelligence in regard to Old England, and mine is very, different. According to a Telagraphic dispatch received here today Old England has demanded the delivery of Mason and Slidel, our Southern Ministers. According to the way I have been informed they intend to blockade the Northern ports if they do not give them up.

I am now going to write you something that I very much regret. There were nine men deserted the Camps, here the other night. The Colonel sent a squad of armed men after them the next day, but I cannot inform you wheather they have captured them or, not, as they have not returned as yet, and therefore, I do not know how they will come out. There is one thing certain, they will get them, if it is possible. There is a man here to be tried Saturday for desertion. He has been hand-cuffed for nearly two months. The most of the people, who know anything of the case, say that he will be shot; and those who recently, deserted will be shot also. God forbid that I, Or any of my people, should ever come to this. Even if they are not shot it will visit their children down to the third and fourth generations.

I must close by asking you to write to me soon; give my respects to all of my relatives and aquaintances. I would fain write more to you, but I shall soon have to go on Dress Parade.

Hope that you will answer this at the very earliest opportunity.

My Colonelís name is William R. Smith. He is a member of Congress.

Believe me to be,

Your affectionate son,

David Ballenger

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