Confederate General Richard Griffith Writes from Leesburg, Virginia, December 24th, 1861, Christmas Eve – “When the children and Negroes bless others with their smiling and happy faces!
Richard Griffith had fought with Jefferson Davis in the 1st Mississippi Rifles during the Mexican War, so when Mississippi seceded Griffith enlisted as Colonel of the 12th Mississippi on May 1st, 1861. In November 1861 he was commissioned Brigadier-General and reported to General J. E. Johnston. The Confederates held the area in Virginia from where the battle of Bull Run was fought, west to Winchester and in that area Leesburg was a key town. The letter is headed, “Hd. Qrs. 7th Brigade, 1st Corps A. of P., Leesburg, Va. Decr. 24th 1861”. Griffith is writing his wife in Mississippi:

• “My Dearest Wife: This being Christmas eve and no probability of seeing you in the morning, you will allow me to give you and our sweet children the compliments of the season as customary wishing you all a merry and joyous Christmas and a very happy New Year.”

• “How much of pleasure and happiness is lost to me in not being at home during these gay and happy holidays, when the children and Negroes bless others with their smiling and happy faces! And then how much of good things I miss, usually enjoyed on such occasions! But no matter, our military family, pretty large by the way being 12 in all, expect to have pound & sponge cake with egg & nog in the morning and eat and drink to many returns of this usual happy season.”

Griffith then goes on to mention his wife, two boys and daughter writing him:

• “At the same time the thought occurs "do they miss me at home?" Such thoughts however are but seed and should be banished. Since my last to you, dear wife, two more of your love messengers have been received, one of the 9th the other 12th inst., both in same mail; besides one from little Whitfield yesterday of the 14th for all which my thanks are due. Assure little Whitty I am determined to write to him soon, as well as to Jeffy. They should both write frequently. Lucy as soon as she can.”

• “You refer to the Brigade and myself being mutually pleased with out positions. That is certainly so if I am to believe all that officers and men say. Thus far all works very smoothly. Gov. Whitfield did not exaggerate in his description of this bountiful region, and I have no fears now of the Yankees quartering in London during this winter. They are quiescent just now and have been since I wrote you last, except day before yesterday they threw a few shell, and all fell short of us. The range is long & I counted 12 seconds from fire till the shell exploded.”

• “The Yankees opposite here will not attack us I think. They seem to fear we will attack them. This we are unable to do at present. We have done much in the way of fortifying, and feel decidedly stronger than when we arrived here, ere long we can bid them defiance. But little reliance can be given to common rumors and newspaper reports.”

Griffith then comments on the health of their plantations overseer and Tom, one of his Negroes would do a good job:

• “Regret to hear of Mr. Woodruff's bad health & hope he may still recover. Tom will answer pretty well for overseer until opportunity is offered for the employment of one. Good Negro is better than a bad white man. Give him a Christmas gift and caution him to behave himself, if he wishes to live with us still and retain our good will and wishes.”

• “Thus far, dear, my duties as Brigadier have not been diminished from what they were as Colonel, and entire relief from duty I do not expect during my continuance in service. Often annoyance has prompted the wish to exchange situation for that of a private.”

• “The soldier that introduced himself to you in Jackson was Hal McGehee, almost our neighbor, and a remarkably clever young gentleman. His companions in arms are looking for his return here in a short time. He is in the same Company with San. Virden and others of our near friends.”

• “Very glad am I to hear you remaking flannels for Cephas; and the new morning gown to me will be truly acceptable. Until a recent date the weather here has been remarkably fine, sometimes quite cold. Night before last it commenced raining, accompanied with sleet that in the morning was really beautiful, trees and bushes covered with ice and every branch pendant with little icicles and larger one dropping from the eaves of the houses looking much like winter. Snow following this and then a terribly strong cold northern wind, bringing a severe freeze. This day is more moderate, and I fear in the morning we will have rain again, spoiling all Christmas spirit.”

• “Do you get any morning Bitters now, dear, and nice Brandy toddies at noon and eve? Perhaps not, having nobody to make them. Speaking of Brandy reminds me that the gallon you sent me arrived at a most opportune moment when Dr. Craft had ordered Brandy for me and none good was to be had in our section. How I thanked you for it.”

• “My red flannels are nearly worn out, but I am still daily looking for those you sent me. All in wash now and I am wearing two pairs heavy cotton drawers instead; and those, fine, large and heavy under shirts you sent are most excellent, and I believe warmer than the red flannel. You may be sure I am very comfortably provided for and not suffering from the cold. That nice neck comfort you sent, and my boots from Richmond are all I am essentially in need of at present.”

• “Whenever you are in want of money you must let me know. Can send you at any time you desire it, and name the amount, providing it don't oversize my pile, say 3 or 4 hundred.”

• “Report reached here yesterday that my old 12th Regt. (Mississippi) had been ordered to this point in my Brigade. Hope it may prove true. Would like much to have it under my command again & it would strengthen our force here greatly, a thing that is needed and highly desirable for the interest of the service.”

• “The possession of this county would be of vast benefit to the enemy, and equally important to us to retain it. The enemy has troubled our force opposite this place, but he don't seem to be aware of the fact. Evidently deceived as to our numbers and in this blissful ignorance it is our policy to keep him.”

• “We are obliged to adopt many deceptive modes for deceiving & misleading, as about and around us there are numbers of disloyal and tory citizens.”

• “Last Friday Genl. Stuart with a body of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery attacked the enemy in force at Drainesville, and was repulsed with a considerable loss. In fact, Stuart was badly whipped and compelled to retire from the field leaving the enemy in possession. That night however he withdrew his forces also. No official report of the fight has been published.”

• “Well, dear, I am writing rapidly and at random, scarcely knowing what I have said or am going to say with but little time. Last Sunday I attended the Episcopal church and heard a most excellent sermon, the discourse being addressed to the young soldiers of the Army and for their especial benefit. He preaches again tomorrow, but I will be unable to hear him, having accepted an invitation to dine in the country with a lot of old maids.”

• “After tomorrow furloughs will be granted to our troops at the rate of one field officers, two Captains and five Lieutenants to each Regt., also ten non-commissioned and privates to each company. Of course, applications are very numerous and exceedingly troublesome. In the order nothing was said about Generals being furloughed. We have ordered our command here into winter quarters and they are now busily engaged in making themselves as comfortable as possible for the cold weather, as winter has now fairly commenced.”

• “We have commenced messing yet. Boarding in much cheaper, but messing is decidedly more pleasant and we expect to begin it ere long, notwithstanding our very large family.”

• “For myself I would like to have 2 or 3 prs. very heavy, large coarse woolen socks to wear over my shoes, as a protection against cold in riding about. In want also of a nice cloth buff colored military vest. Afraid Mr. Shaw cannot fit me - never has in a vest but once, long time ago. Perhaps you can get me the material and trimmings and send me - satisfied I could get it neatly made here to suit my notion. Another thing I desire most is that of a new set of teeth in heavy plate, as my old plate is literally worn out, but may hold together until I see Dr. Lemman. Such a thing you can't send me.”

• “Dear Wife, continue to let me hear from you frequently & make the children write oftener. It will learn them much. Your friends here send their warm regards. Remember me most kindly to my friends, and kiss Lucy for me often. God bless and protect you all. Your affectionate husband, R. Griffith”

A beautifully written letter from a rare Confederate General in excellent condition. This would be Griffith’s last Christmas. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Savage’s Station, June 29th, 1862. The book, Autographs of the Confederacy, lists him as “A Rare Signature”.

#CG504 – Price $695