Letter From John R. Hardy to Relatives - 1863
This letter was written by John R. Hardy to his mostly female relatives in Arkansas in March, 1863 while he was part of the Confederate garrison defending Port Hudson on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, awaiting an attack by the Union Army. His regiment, the 15th Arkansas Infantry (Johnson's), defended a vital position on the Confederate line which came to be known as "Fort Desperate". The Confederate garrison was encircled and cut off by May 22nd, and after much heavy fighting and a siege of 48 days, the Confederates surrendered on July 9th. John was wounded and captured in the battle, and his regiment suffered a 46% battle casualty rate, with many more falling victim of sickness and disease.
In the letter, John writes that he believes the war is nearing the end. He seems confident that the "Yanks" will not be able to take the fortress at Port Hudson. He expresses his anticipation of the coming battle and his hopes of seeing his family again, if not on earth, then in heaven.
The letter is addressed to Mrs. Julia Hardy, widow of his brother Molias, sisters Martha, "Carry" Thomas (Susan Caroline Hardy), Sarah Merritt (Sarah Jane Hardy), and his step-mother Elizabeth Hardy.
Thanks to Stephen Jones for providing to me the copy of this letter, and other materials.
The letter was transcribed line-for-line as it was written. It has no punctuation and little capitalization. I added only periods at the end of sentences to make it more readable. The original leter was obviously in poor condition at the time my photocopy was made. The pages had separated into pieces at foldlines, and there were holes in the paper. These flaws made some words impossible to read with certainty. I used underscores to represent words or word groups that I was unable to read.
Scanned images of the original letter: Page 1 Page 2
the 8 AD 1863
seat my self to drop you a few lines
let you know that I am in good health at this
hoping these few lines may find you all enjoying
same good blessing.
I have received the few lines that
wrote to me.
I was glad to hear from you and glad
hear that you were in good health.
Fayett1 is well at
was glad to hear that brother ____ had got home.
I have more(?) news(?) to write to you. I think the war is closing
fast as time will permit (?).
it is not to be stopt in a day
a week nor a____
for the ____ to be. I think
I will get
to take Christmas if god lets me live and I hope he may.
Fayett has quit swearing(?) and is as study as any man in camp.
would be glad to see you all again and I think the time is come-
ing fast when we will meet again. there is a mail(?) goes up red river2
we can get letters to each other ever 2 weeks.
I want you all
write often as you can.
I have sent a _____ you $85 dollars
I will draw again soon.
I _____ and if you need any more I
send it to you.
We donít aprehend any danger of the yanks
Martha3 I donít want you to marry till
get back for I want to be at your wedding.
Martha I want you
give all the girls my best love and regards.
I have received
sox that some of you sent to me and was glad to get
them for I had just gave 2 dollars for a pair. li____ to god and if I never
you again on earth I hope to meet you all in heaven at last.
if you can get to go to school I will pay your board
-- March the 10
-- Sarah I want you to tell me how
Eldorado4 and the baby was.
ask Eldorado if she has
me tell her that I want to see her myty bad.
have forgot the babyís name tell me what it is.
I may never see you again on earth but I hope I do(?).
I had rather dy than to submit to any negro clan.
I dy I will dy in the defense of my country.
I have many
and troubles in camp life but I try to live so that
god sees fit to call me away while(?) I am far away
you all that we may meet you all in heaven at last.
Martha that I will send her______ ______.
my best respects to all the girls and tell them that
will fite as long as I live rather than to see them equal-
with the Negro race.
Carry your dady an law (?) has
got hear and I think you ought to send James if I was
woman and my husband wouldnít fight
for me I would quit
Mar 11 --
the few lines that you rote to me
was glad to hear that you was all alive
Billy and James6
to be good boys and work hard for to make
all of your ______ friends my best respects.
Juley7 you can tell Nancy that John is in ____8
must close give all the girls my best love.
present but remain yours truly until death.
R. Hardy to Mrs Julia Hardy
farewell for the time.
1 I'm not sure who "Fayett" is, may have been Lafayette Hardy (from 1860 Census, AR, Columbia Co.), relation unknown.
2 The Red River was the main link between Port Hudson and the western Confederate states. This link was effectively severed when Admiral Farragut succeeded in getting two ships past Port Hudson on the night of March 14 (three days after this letter was written), which blockaded the mouth of the Red River. This letter may have been John's last to reach home.
3 "Martha" is Martha Hardy, John's 13 year old sister.
4 "Eldorado" is the 4-year-old daughter of John's sister, Sarah Merritt.
5 This line addressed to sister "Carry" has puzzled me, but I think he is saying that her Father-In-Law has just arrived in camp, and she should send her husband James Thomas to camp. John's remark seems to show disgust at James not being there. According to records James was also in the 15th Ark. Regiment and was captured there at Port Hudson. It's unclear why he wasn't in camp at that time, possibly he was home on furlough. The records do in fact show that Carry's Father-In-Law William P. Thomas was at Port Hudson serving with the 15th Ark., Co. C, and was captured on July 9 .
6 "Billy and James" are Willam E. and James W. Hardy, John's young half-brothers, sons of Elizabeth Hardy.
7 "Juley" is Julia Hardy, the widow of Molias Hardy, John's brother who died at Camp Butler, the Union POW camp, in March, 1862.
8 I believe that "Nancy" is Nancy Malone, Julia's sister, and that "John" is John Malone, Nancy's husband, who also served with the 15th Ark. Regiment. I can't quite make out what he is saying about "John".
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