Butternuts – Don’t Care For The Trouble They Are Brewing

Civil War Butternut (bŭt’ər-nŭt’) n. 

Nickname for Civil War Confederate Clothing and Federal Blue Uniforms that have been dyed with butternut and walnut extract in order to lighten then into a tan/brown or sometimes grey color. Primarily because the Confederacy had no means to uniform their army.

Political term for Confederate soldiers or partisans, during the Civil War, in the area of southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois that opposed an anti-slavery war.

16th O.V.I. In Rear of Vicksburg, Mississippi – May 26, 1863

Dear Wife (to Lottie),

I again am permitted by kind providence as to write you again. Oh Lottie, the horrors of war. Since the first of April we have traveled from Milliken’s bend to Grand Gulf below Vicksburg and through the state of Mississippi. To this point during that time seven field battles, in every one of which our arms were victorious, and this is the seventh day before Vicksburg. Besieging the place which we will capture with all the rebels in it.

We have taken up to this time about 12 thousand prisoners and sixty pieces of artillery, with any amount of small arms. Our regiment has lost about 50 men in killed and wounded. So far, our Pioneer Corps has 5 wounded, but none killed as yet.

I have become so used to death and suffering that it hardly seems real to see hundreds of my fellow soldiers dead and dying from fearful wounds. I have been unwell for 2 weeks, and you would hardly know me if you were to see me now as I am in poor health. Our skirmishes are within 100 yards of the rebel’s main works, and our batteries are planted within 300 yards of their works.

We have them completely surrounded on all sides, and it will be impossible for any of them to get away. Our losses have been very heavy in the several engagements, but the rebel loss has been a great deal heavier than ours. We are camped within range of the rebel garret and have the pleasure of having a shell burst in amongst us every day or so, but we are used to it, and do not mind it much.

Dear Lottie, I sent you by the hands of Mr. A. J. Kaufman, of Wooster, of the Times of Botsford Kaufman and Co., twenty dollars, and I have sixty dollars more to send you by the first opportunity.

Dear Lottie, you must not think that I have forgotten you, for you are in my thoughts daily. The reason I have not written was because there was an order from our General to the effect that no letters would be sent North until he had Vicksburg in his hand, and as it is as good as in our hands, I take the privilege of writing to you hoping that you may receive these lines.

The rebel citizens feel very anxious of gaining their independence as a confederacy, but I think their hopes are founded on a sandy foundation. When Vicksburg is ours, which it will be, the Mississippi River will be in our hands from its headwater to its mouth. George McCormick’s regiment has been in all the fighting, but I have not heard anything from him whether he is living or not.

Dear Wife, there will be great suffering in the south the coming winter for their crops are all destroyed and property confiscated. As we approach most of the rebel soldiers, privates are willing to quit, but their officers will not let them. This war is about played out. The rebels say if we get Vicksburg, they may as well give up. I expect, if I am spared, that when we get done fighting, that I will get a furlough, as we have seen and done hard service for nearly two years, and we are entitled to a furlough.

Give my best wishes to all the friends and let them know that I am for God and my Country, for Truth, Justice, and Right, in all things pertaining to this glorious Union. But am emphatically down on Butternuts at home and may God forgive them, but I never care for the trouble they are brewing in our nation. Write, and direct to:

William McCormick 
c/o Capt. Patterson, Pioneer Corps 
13th Army Corps via Cairo Illinois

My unfaltering devotion and love to you and the dear children to whom I send a greeting kiss. Yours ever in the bonds of love,

William McCormick

P.S. Excuse this poor scribbling for I am weak and nervous from disease of chronic diarrhea and dry fever.

(In honor of those who shaped me, and in conjunction with the 2012 Republican National Convention which I am fortunate enough to be able to attend, each evening I will post a blog about my convention experiences, and each morning I will post a personal family document or historical story which will help you understand what makes me tick.  If you read all the historical posts, the last day, I promise you, you will feel the gratitude I do for our patriots who sacrificed their lives and fortunes for our freedoms.)

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