23rd Georgia Infantry

Miller Collins Letters 1864

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This is the continuation of letters written by Miller Collins of Co. D
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These letters are held in the Georgia State Archives in Morrow, Ga.

Camp 23rd Ga Rigt
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James Isiland S.C. Jan 19th 1864
Dier Wife it with much pleasure that I can say to you that am well and has got back safe and sound and faring all write but one thin and that was the Col Best was casheard and you now that did suit mee for hee was a grate friend of mine But all is write I shal leave hear that is
I will hed quarters for I wont want one the officers that is hear I shal come home agane soon agane if nothing hapons to mee for I brang _aylor one with mee when i come and when I come to Cartersville I send him over to the enrolin officer and hee gave mee a Recit for him and then an order to fetch him one to the Regt and I done that too and you dont blame mee for taking some trouble one my self to fetch him I thout that you thout hard of mee for not staying at home with But I think I hav done better for one day and nite will make 20 and that is dooing well I cant write much this time and I think I will come home and tell the rest of what I dont write and that wont doo much
I dont now when I will start my furlow when Cos Miles sends his rep if hee sends his and hee is gowing to start in the morning and there names is Gellos R.J. and G.M. Moss and M.H. West Marick Jones and seargent Stakes and that is write smart from one companey
When I doo come home home I intend to stay some time for Capt Stone sayd that hee could fix mee up and ceep mee awhile sow I must soon close for this time and when I doo come I will make things hapon sow nothing more
onley I am yours
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Miller Collins
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Camp 23rd Ga Regt
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James Isiland
Dier D.A.
Feb 11th 1864
after sow long atime I will try to write you afew lines which leaves mee will and I doo hope when this come to hand it will find you all will
I thout I would hav been at home bee fore this time when I wrote bee fore but my furlow never come back and I dont now what is the reason for that is the order yet I think it will come back yet if nothing hapons
I must say to you that the Regt is gone from heare down on Johns Isiland they think they will hav abig fite down thare to gow savannah Ga and 2 Regt went thare. and they had alittle brush on that Isiland I did not sleep none Last nite for I am acting Waggon Master now and wee was halling all night and I feel vary bad now and I hant time to write much this time
I wont you to write soon as you git this letter and let mee hear from you for I wont to hear vary bad and shal till I hear I thout when I wrote bee fore that I would git of home bee fore this time and I did not anything about you writing and I wont to hear sow bad that I cant hardley stand it sow write soon and I will doo the same and when this fus is over I will write agane and giv you the nuse I wont you to tell father wee wont time to gow and see Ben Jordan and by us some Move Bicipts from him and wee will come back home together B.M. told mee to write to him the other day and I did not hav the chance to wrigh we hav rote to Beel But has got now answer from him yet sow I must soon close wee are looking for Boswell the last of this week but I dont now when hee will come Web Mullins told mee last nite that hee was coming I am looking for orders to hitch up now Every minet and I think it will come soon Giv S.B.L my best love and tell hur that I hant forgot hur yet and tell hur to wite soon sow I must close tell the babies howdy for mee for I wont to see them vary bad sow now more onley I am yours till Death
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Miller Collins
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Camp Milton Florida
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Dier D.A.
Saturday March 26th 1864
I this morning hav the chance writing you afew lines in answer to your letter which I Receivd afew days ago and was vary glad to Read and hear that you was all well or tollerable well and I doo hope when this comes to hand it will find you all well I hav nothing to write that will interest you for it some time sinse I got any letter from you your last letter bore date of the 5th of this instant and that is too long but I can look over that for I am further from hear than Ever I hav bin but I hope I will git to come nearer home soon
wee think wee will go to dolton soon But I dont now wee are living hard heard hear now and has aheep of duty to doo and Rashions is vary scearce and the weather is vary hot in the day time and the nites is cool.
I dont think wee will hav any more fiting to do hear but I dont now I hope wee wont for I hant had or done much fiting and I dont wont to hav to doo any more and I Expect if you wose to write to mee you would bee like Mrs G.W. Moss wrote to him you would write that you did not wont mee to Ever bee in another fite shee wrote to him to come home and quit fiting but thare is one thing that I am glad off that is you hav more sense than to write that sort of stuff and Expose Everything like shee has Griffin gone and shee keeps writing to him and you may now hoo gits them all of us and wee Read them
thare is one thing that I can say that is that I am coming home when my time is out if I dont beefore and I wont come by my self. I never am to Runaway and come home and disgrase my self and wife and Dier little Babes for that is Just what I left home for I now I think as much of them as any boddy dose of thares now one can think more and I doo hope and prey that wee may liv thew this wore and hav the privilige of living to gether when pease is made tonge can not Express my feelings or this subject it and worth while for mee to write this sort of thing for you new that beefore without my writing
I wont to hear from you vary bad now and I think that I will git aletter from you this Eavning when the male comes in. I hav some money that I amed to send to you but I had the Chance to Lone it out and git the new Ishare for it but I fear that you are needing of it now but if you are if you can barow it I can pay it soon for I Loned Lt. M.A. one hondred dollars that hee will pay when hee Drause any I thout that would bee the best for us and I think sow yet if wee can make out till wee can git it I wont you to doo just what you think best for you now better than I doo for I ant thare and I hav now dout but what you will doo the best you can must not think hard of mee not writing now sooner for I hant had the chance to wite for I had now pape for some time till now I hav some and I will try and doo better for the time to come
I must soon close for this time for I am in bad fix for writing which you will see when Ever you see this I wont write soon and oftane and dont waite for mee I was vary glad to git that letter from Delanie but sorow to hear of hur bad health I hav bin looking for another from hur but has got none yet I wont you Kiss my Dier little ones tell them that I love them and to bee good Children sow now more for this time sow nothing more onley I am yours as Ever till Death
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Miller Collins
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A word to S.B. I hardley now what to say to you onley that I am weell and hant forgot you yet and I am proud that you are with my Children for I now that you will take ceare of them and you may now till I am dead that you hav one Friend I wont you to doo the best you and write when Ever you can Giv Polley lov and best Respects sow I must Close sow nothing more onley I am yours as Ever
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Miller Collins
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Camp 23rd Ga Regt
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Dier D.A.
Camp Milton Florida April 7th 1864
I injoy this privlige of writing you afew lines which leaves mee will and doo hope when this comes to hand it will find you all will. I Receivd aletter from you baring date of March 27 and was glad to hear from you and hear that you was will and dooing will
I was begining to think long of the time of not hearing from you thow I hant wrote as much as I ort too for wee had to doo sow much duty to doo that I dont hardley hav time to write but I will try and doo better for the time to come I would hav bin glad if you had of wrote all about how you was gitting along in the way of money matters for I am afrade that you need it and if I nod you did I would send you some for I could git some of the old sort but if you can doo with out it awhile that I will hav some of the new and that will bee better than the old but if you kneed it write and I will send you some anyhow
I would giv all the money and Every thing Els that I hav got for a furlow now from what I can hear Father Kneedes mee thare and if I was thare I could help him out some I wont him to kill all them Raskels that fools with him and if I was thare I would help him. this wore wont last always I hope write mee all that sort of newse that you now for I am oneasy all the time and shol bee till I hear fro thare agane it is still thout that wee wont stay hear long but I dont now I dont think wee will hav to fite any more now how and that part of it is good if now other
I can say to you that G.W. Moss and Merick Jones and don Caron has got back to this plase they was taken up near atlanta Ga and brout back hear under gard and they are under gard now and they ant aloud to gow to the Companey now way nor they dont allow any body to talk to them nor them talking to anybody and you now that is latter able till but I dont cear what they doo with them some thinks it will gow hard with them thow I dont now it is abad case I think I will write agane soon and tell you now what is done about them S.B. wrote for mee write what had become of Col Best hee hear now but I dont now what hee has done for I hant had the chance of talking with him none and I dont think hee has told maney what hee has done but I will find out and write agane.
I got that paper that you sent but hant done nothing with it yet but will soon and if Joseph gits his back at home send hoo drawd that land but I think it will doo without. sow I must soon close for this time for my paper is sow bad that I cant hardley write and I am in ahurey sow I wont you to Giv S.B. my love and polley and all my aqutance sow Giv my love to the babies and then any thing that you please sow nothing more onley I am yours till Death
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Miller Collins
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James isiland Charleston S.C. May 25th 1864
Dear cousin I seat my self to Rit you afew lines to inform you that I am will and hoping that the few lines may com to you and find you all well and to in form you that I hav not for gotten you yet I hav not mutch to Rit at this time that wod inter Rest you in the least well we ar seeing vary easy times hear now tha yankees ar sheling the city evr day but tha dont do much damdy I think that we will stay hier for some time and I dont car if we do fore I like to stay her vary well I dont think that we will haft to fiyth her sou you must excuse my bad Ritin and spelling for it is vary bad dou giv all of your family and my friends my best Respts all them to Rit to me for I like to her from them at any time Miller is well and do vary well so I beleive I hav gun throw with all that I hav to Rit this time so I must close for this time so you must Rit and giv me all of the nuse so I Re mane yours as ever
J.B. Collins
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S.B. Langford
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Letter from Delenie Herndon to sister Delia Collins
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N.C. Cleveland Co
Oct the 22 1864
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Dear Sister
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I will write you a few lines to let you know that I was very glad when Miller came I shall not try to describe my feelings when I saw him coming with his broken arm. I thought of his home, wife and children, being so far awy and him out off by the enemy. he has been the subject of my prays especially since he was wounded. I believed he would get able to come and that I should see him. Sister I am a great believer in providence I believe it was entirely of the providence of God that he got here and that he found his Father here when he come, write soon. kiss all the children for me
Delenie Herndon
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Additional Notes on Miller Collins
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Benton County, Arkansas Dec. the 1, 1867
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Dear Son, We write you a few lines to let you hear from us. We have stoped traveling at last. We declined the idea of going to Texas and stoped in this state, We met a great meny people coming from Texas and they tell us it is very sickly there for the last two years, and their looks proved it. There is a great many coming in this county from Texas. They say there has been so much rain there for the last two years is the cause of it being so sickly, although they say a mighty good country. Mr. Registure went on to Texas. Capt. Allred was going to stop at Hot Springs in this state. We left them all at Little Rock, Arkansas. We turned to the right and came on here.
We came mighty out of our way. They call it nine hundred miles from here to there and I know we came over one thousand. We are all here in a house together. We have all rented a place here although we can't get the house till New Years Day. Elick and William and John has to build a house, and also Dock. We think we will like this county very well. There is mighty good corn here and they say it is mighty good wheat country, and it is a great fruit country. There is plenty of fruit here now. We ar all living with Raina chastain, all rented from him and we have got mighty good land. They say it has made forty bushel to the acre this year and we have got good spring water and plenty of it, and the prettiest running creek you ever saw and you may depend we haven't saw many of them since we left. The people say here is as healthy a place here as there is in the world and their looks prove it.
And the best of all they are all rebels and say what they please to anybody. When the people come in here they ask them if they are rebels or feds and if they say fed they can't rent land. We think we have seen hard times but we don't know nothing about it to what they have here. They have nearly all been burned out and eat out. They say here they lived on weeds till wheat got so they could frail it out and then boil it and eat and thought they was doing well, but they have all got plenty now. The people say here is the best place for mechanics in the world. They can get almost any price. I can't tell you much about the country now. When I look around a little I can give you more satisfaction. We both stood the trip as well as could be expected. We all had very good luck to travel so far. We haven't been bothered but very little.
Just before we got here I traded Butler off for a mule. We swapped even. He stood the trip very well and I swapped my oxen for a mule. I have got two pretty good mules. We run pretty shor of money before we got here, but not entirely out. We would all be satisfied if you all was here. We are all wanting to hear from you. Write to me where the baby is and how it is getting along and also all the rest. Jum Turnell owed us eighty five cents, get it and buy something for they baby. Give our respects to S. B. and tell her to kiss all the children for me. Some of us will write again next Sunday. We are all well. Say no more at this time.
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A NOTED FAMILY
A few days ago, the writer had a pleasant call from Wm. J. Collins, the excellent superintendent of our Bartow county pauper farm, and in the course of conversation he gave us the following facts:
In the year 1841, his father, James Collins, moved to this county from Cleveland county, N.C. Fifty-one persons came together in company, and of that number all were related by consanguinity except one young man by the name of Logan. They reached Pickens county (then called Gilmer) a short time before the Presidential election of 1844. The political excitement was exceedingly high, and all along the route these emigrants were saluted and questioned as to politics. Mr. James Collins was a staunch democrat and he decorated his wagon-covers with pokeberry juice in broad stripes. In the front and rear huge poke-stalks were planted, and above all towered a hickory pole, in memory of "Old Hickory" Jackson. Our friend, Wm. J., was only eight years old, but he recollects they passed a farm house where they were engaged in digging sweet potatoes. Seeing the red poke stripes on the white wagon-cover, the farmer insisted on sharing his potatoes with his democratic friend most liberally. These staunch democrats were not allowed to vote, however, by the Whig managers at election time.
The wagons halted in old Gilmer and the new settlers proceeded to build houses. They got all the corn they wanted at fifteen cents a bushel and a sufficiency of meat at two and a half cents a pound. James Collins settled near "Skeerd Corn" church and camp ground ( which the writer remembers very well from a visit made to it in the year 1879.) There was only one grave when the Collinses settled there, now there are between two and three hundred. The mother and two brothers were laid to rest at this spot before the family scattered. The father lies on the hill above the Baptist church in Cartersville.
A Rev. Mr. Lowry traveled the "Skeerd Corn" circuit at the time of their settling in this country, and as a part of his pay for pastoral services Mrs. Collins and several others spun and wove him a suit of clothes. The material was cotton - the warp white and the filling blue. "If some good old sister was to do a like a like deed for some of our fashionable preachers, don't you reckon he'd leave the circuit before he would wear them?" asked Mr. Collins of us.
It was a subject that required thought, and we replied, "perhaps he would?"
But brother Lowry was quite willing to put on his white and blue summer suit when he got hold of it. In those days a neighbor was cared for by his friends if he got sick. they would plow and hoe his crop, harvest his wheat and supply him with wood if cold weather overtook him on his bed of sickness. Would they do it now, when they cry out they are ruined if it rains too much, or they are swamped if their crop gets grassy? Were not the good old times the best?
But time rolled on. The Collins family increased and multiplied. Some died and many moved away, but when the war broke out there was a host of them in Pickens, Cherokee, Gordon and Bartow. They made splendid soldiers. Our worthy merchant and citizen, Miles Collins, was orderly in a company of the 23rd Georgia volunteers when they went into the war and he returned their captain. Martin, Berry, Miller, Boswell, William and Bell Collins, went to Virginia, and there the most of them were in camps and on battlefield at the time of the surrender.
In August, '65, there was held a funeral service at "Skeerd Corn" church. On a seat, some three or four steps from the alter railing, William, Berry and Miller Collins were seated. Before the service began a man by the name of Nally, one of a large family, came up to the three persons named, laid his hand on William's knee and said: "Boswell, step out a minute with me."
As Boswell rose, Miller detained him, remarking: "No, if you have anything to say, say it here."
Nally, his brothers, and a man by the name of Gravely, also present, were Unionists, and had gone out of this country during the war to join the Federal forces. On their return they had made threats that no Confederate should live in their midst. Hence, Miller's reply. Nally instantly put his hand behind him for a pistol, seeing which Berry drew his knife and began to defend himself.
Another Nally also began to shoot, and directly the fray was at its height. Berry was shot in the body, but not before he had cut both the Nally's severely. Miller assisted Berry to hold down his assailants, when Gravely was seen to fire from outside the arbor at Boswell Collins, who sat within the altar, killing the latter dead. The shots became frequent, and when it was over two dead men were lying on the ground. A relative of the Collins', who was only married that morning, was shot through the elbow, and a stray shot passed through a small boy's hip. William was unhurt, and says that he had no fear or dread, and that he was determined to stand by his cousins to the last. Mr. Wm. Collins also says that as Berry staggered out from under the stand he held his hand to his breast where the blood was pouring out. As he passed by the rude pulpit he tottered and caught at it, leaving the print of the bloody palm in plain view. He insists that he sees the death mark on the pulpit whenever he visits the well-remembered spot.
But the end was not yet. Mr. Bell Collins lived in our city, Cartersville. The news of the brutal murder came down at once to the friends here. He reported the fact to the commandant of the post, who sent a squad of Federal soldiers to preserve the peace and arrest the murderers. Mr. Bell Collins went with them and their numbers increased as they drew near "Skeerd Corn." A Captain by the name of Smith was in command. On Tuesday night, (after the bloody deed on Sunday,) they found the Nallys and Gravely entrenched in a small log house between Fairmount and Ludville. The logs had been pierced for loopholes and these desperadoes intended to die right there or kill their assailants if possible. As the Federals and Bell Collins approached the Nally's fired a shot from the inside. The attacking party quickly sprang on the door and burst it in. Smith went in first, and one of the Nally's who had been wounded by Berry Collins' knife on Sunday, raised himself in the bed and shot at Smith. As he fell Bell Collins advanced to avenge his brothers' deaths and he was also killed. A Federal soldier then put his musket through a porthole and riddled the blood-thirsty creature, Nally, who fell back dead in the bed. Gravely ran out and cried, "We give up," but as a Federal soldier approached ramming down a charge in his empty gun, he shot at the soldier, whereupon the soldier fired at once, and rushing on him pinned him to the earth with a bayonet a dead man. The father of the Nally boys also ran out, and he was shot and bayonetted, but he was not mortally wounded by either weapon and made his escape.
How well does the writer remember the funeral cortege that brought Bell Collins' dead body to Cartersville the day after he was killed. The whole country was in a state of apprehension and dismay. Two brothers and a brother-in-law (all of the same name), cold and stiff in death, who were on Sunday before well and hearty, at peace with all the world, and with no evil designs toward anybody in their hearts! Those were dreadful times! At some future time we will give the Courant readers a full account of the depredations committed on the people of that region about that time.
In conclusion we bear testimony to the courage of the brave soldiers who left home and fireside to go into the four years war at the call of the country, but who found a bloody death on the very threshold when the war was over.