From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

The Anthony Letters

Army Is More in Danger From Whiskey Than Leaden Bullets

Leavenworth Times, Apr. 14, 1957


Rienza, Miss.

August 19, 1862

Dear Mother:

Your short note was received a few days ago, Aaron writes me you are again troubled with the asthma, but thinks it is caused principally by your attention to the peaches.

I don't think you need work so very hard, now that all danger of your having to go to the poorhouse is passed. If there is any real danger of such a catastrophe happening I pledge myself to furnishing a few dimes to save you from such a fate.

I just came from Merritt's tent--found him sound asleep alongside of his 1st Lieutenant A. M. Pitts. Their bed is made by driving stakes in the ground and placing poles across it and on that is a husk matress[sic], stolen, or I would rather say "jayhawked" from a Secesh.

They with their company in the command--were out yesterday and all night on picket duty on the main road south and towards the enemy.

Have heard nothing from my resignation yet. Trouble seems to be brewing in Kansas, or on the Missouri borders. I want to be there.

Mother, would you like a description of my house? Well, say you see a square tent, 8 feet square 4 feet high at the low edge, ridge 8 feet high, the stumps cut smooth with the ground, a fine nice crumb cloth for a carpet.

On the right as you enter the tent is my saddle, bridle, and blanket placed on a pole resting on two crotched sticks driven in the ground. Next, my trunk placed on four sticks 12 inches high to keep it dry. Next, in the corner ia s hole in the ground 18 inches square and deep which I use for a cellar to keep my fruit, vegetables, wine, etc., in. It is very cool and neat. Across and in the back of my tent is my cot, which keeps about 18 inches from the ground, with matress and two double dark blue blankets, two sheets, with my overcoat with large cape for a pillow.

In the middle is a fine table made by driving two poles in the ground and nailing a box on the top, with my waterproof blanket for a table spread. In the other corner is a small stand 18 inches high with a water pail and basin on it and a crash towel hung on a pin in the side of the tent, my small round mirror hung in similar manner close by.

I keep two servants who sleep in a tent close by and a mess chest under the shade of some trees nearby. Major Herrick and myself mess together. My dinner today was ham, mashed potatoes, good light cold bread, dried apple sauce, butter and coffee with sugar. We sometimes have beef, mutton, pork, or salt beef or salt pork--and then we have tea, peach stews and dumplings and sundry other dishes got up in good style.

Yesterday we had claret wine with our dinner. I keep whiskey, and we often have good whiskey punches, lemons costing about ten cents apiece--whiskey only 50@ a gallon. The whiskey we have it is said will kill a "regular" in three years. On an average it kills many more than the leaden bullets and from my observation I am inclined to think our army is in more danger from it, next to idleness and consequent ennui and tedium, it is the fatal.

My "biles" are getting better. I take salts epsom three times a day. They say it is good for the itch and I surely have it and so has the whole Army of the Mississippi for that matter. They call it "heat."

Merritt makes a dashing officer in a fight. The boys have confidence in him. It is funny to see old men put their trust in young, but they do, and they all admire boldness and prefer such a leader.

My horses I keep just south 5 rods from the tend under a bower of oak and sassafras limbs. I have a good, fine appearing black stallion, heavy built and one of the best. I want to keep him and take him to Kansas again.

Last night we had a fine shower which cooled the earth. The dust was perfectly awful -- similar to Sophia Street during the State Fair years ago. Today, the weather is cool and vigorous.

Our camp is near a heavily wooded lowland swamp through which a stream should run but which is now filled with pools of tadpole water. It is not overly

My man Griff is with me again. Can't do without him. Our camp here is in a very pretty grove, but water is scarce. With love to you and all I am as ever, your son

D. R. Anthony

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