1861: Dabney Stuart Wier to Betsy (Lipscomb) Wier

These letters were written by Dabney S. Wier (1841-1905) of Enterprise, Clarke county, Mississippi. Dabney was the son of William Withrow Wier (1792-1853) and Betsy Lipscomb (1798-1864). He enlisted as a sergeant in Co. B, 14th Reg. Mississippi Vols., and he rose in rank to Second Lieutenant.

The first letter was written from the Lamar House in Knoxville, seen here (at right) in 1877.


Knoxville, Tennessee
[Lamar House]
September 16, 1861

Dear Sis,

This is the first opportunity I have had for answering your letter which I received about a week ago, just as I was leaving Haynesville. Since that time I have been on the wing constantly & have had no possible chance of writing. You will doubtless be surprised to find this letter dated from Knoxville—the home of the old traitor [“Parson”] Brownlow. I am seated in a comfortable room in the Lamar House & am particularly pleased at the idea of sleeping on a feather bed tonight after a week bivouacked on the hard rock among the mountains of Greene County. Myself & [William M.] Selby arrived here today on the train with a prisoner who was taken in arms and sent on here to be tried.

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Late war image of Col. David Fry and his wife Catherine

The day that I received your letter, Lieut. Col. [Marion E.] Norris started down the road with a detachment of the regiment—Co. B—along for the purpose of quieting the disturbances among the Union men in Greene county. They had formed companies of about twenty or twenty-five under Col. [David] Fry & threatened the lives of all the secessionists in the county. We got off the train at Henderson & immediately took up line of march for the rendezvous of the Rebels. We marched about eight miles that day & camped for the night on the side of the mountains. A hard rain set in just as we were making our bivouac fires & continued all night but I wrapped up in my blanket, laid down with my feet to the fire, & notwithstanding we had our tents behind & had no covering but my blanket, I think I slept as soundly as I ever did in my life.

The next morning we marched four miles but could find no enemy. They had dispersed & hid among the caves of the mountains & it was impossible to find them. Towards evening one or two were captured by scouts but they could give no account of their comrades so we camped for the night in the woods by a beautiful creek & early the next morning turned our faces back toward the depot. We went about halfway that day & camped. During the night, one of the scouts came in with a prisoner—an old Baptist preacher who said he would pilot us to the place where some of theirs were rendezvoused. Our company volunteered to go so at daylight the other companies took up line of march for the depot [while] we struck out for the mountains once more. But the bird had flown again. We captured one of the leaders which is the prisoner we brought down today but could find no others.

We arrived at the depot yesterday in squads of two or three at a time, completely broken down, [and] found the regiment under marching orders & Norris waiting with his battalion for the balance of the regiment to come on from Haynesville. Myself & Selby were ordered here this morning with the prisoner. We will return tomorrow, meet the regiment at Russellville which will probably be there by that time, & thence to Cumberland Gap. I suppose we will not remain there long but go at once to Kentucky as the ball seems to be opening now in that state. We will probably be at Russellville a week. Direct your next letter to that place.

408cd5ccfd4562f5e5a6e83542d7aef7Mr. McLain & family came down with us today. They are here in town somewhere, I don’t know where. Selby has gone to call on B_____. Our prisoner ______ here today & they took him out & delivered him to Gen. [Felix] Zollicoffer. The General is a tall, stern commanding-looking man, speaks cooly & deliberately. [He] treated us very cleverly. I felt sorry for the prisoner. He says he never heard but one side of the question [and] that from his ignorance, he followed the party leaders & was instigated to rebellion by Bob Johnson—old Andy’s son. The latter individual is hid out in the mountains somewhere. It is only the ignorant & lower class of people here that are Unionists & they are fast coming in & taking the oath [to support the CSA]. The intelligent men are all secessionists. The few that were out in the mountains treated us better than we have been treated since we left home [and] sent us wagon-loads of provisions. And one old miller who had four or five daughters, set a table in the open air & gave a splendid supper to our whole company. He had not a single negro on his place. His daughters did the cooking.

Knoxville is an old dilapidated-looking town with some very elegant houses but many more that look as if they had weathered the storms of some hundred years. It is at present filled with soldiers & many have left here within the last week for Kentucky.

Tell Ma I have plenty of clothes [and] will let her know when I want more. I think I have been peculiarly fortunate since I have been out. Haven’t been sick at all but have been getting heartier every day. I wrote by Dr. Kidd. Let me know if you get the letter. Tell Hun to write. I will write to him before long. Give my love to all. Write soon.

Your brother, affectionately, — D. S. Wier

(Envelope not used for this letter)


Bowling Green, Kentucky
December 3, 1861

Dear Ma,

I have been looking for a letter from home the last day or two, but have finally concluded to write you a letter without waiting any longer. I wrote to Ell a few days ago, but as I sent the letter by mail, it is doubtful whether she received it. I haven’t anything new, however, to write, for everything here appears to be at a perfect standstill. For the last week or two we have been doing no drilling at all, except occasionally a company drill, or when the Colonel drills the Lieutenants & Sergeants separately.

The weather has been so very disagreeable that we have occupied out time principally in trying to make ourselves comfortable in which we have partially succeeded. Yesterday we had a considerable snow—the third of the season. But it melted as fast as it fell. I and Tom have been off nearly all day after a load of plank with which to build us a “shanty.” We do not know how long we will be here but have determined to risk it as the chances are that it will be several weeks at any rate. We are going to build a shed about twelve feet square with a dirt & rock chimney. We will cook in this & sit up by the fire until bed-time and then tumble into our tents. We have plenty of blankets and I think with these we can manage to get along swimmingly. Several of the messes have built and are building such sheds. If, however, the Lincolnites oust us from here, we will set them on fire and run off by the light. Stuart has had a brick chimney built to his tent, and with a good fire in it, it looks almost as comfortable as our room in the corner of the yard at home.

There is nothing new or interesting about our army at this place. The newspapers are looking for a fight here soon, but I see no more probability of one now than at first. Scouting parties come in and report about the same thing every day—enemy somewhere in the neighborhood of Green river or Mouldrough’s Hill where they have been all the time.

I hear yesterday that a company for sixty days had been organized at Enterprise and Bud was Second Lieutenant. I’m glad it is for no longer time. I have written one or two letters to Ben but have received no answer. Suppose he has been very busily engaged attending on the wounded from the Battle of Belmont.

Our regiment is in splendid health. Have only one or two sick in our company. Jones our messmate who was sick at Russellville has recovered, but got a discharge and will go home in a few days. Tom says that he took his first dose of medicine tonight since he has been a soldier—syrup of squills. Says send him by the first one coming up a small lump of tar with which I suppose he intends manufacturing some kind of medicine for a cough which he has. Stuart has been sick but is about well again. We are still getting plenty of beef, flour, and coffee, but draw no bacon. Our mess has been living high for the last week on a hog which Stuart bought. Hasn’t given out yet. We have a negro belonging to Holland cooking for us at present. Don’t know how long we will keep him.

Well Ma, I will close until something stirring turns up or until I get some war news to write. My love to all. Let me hear from some of you soon. When did Sue hear from Dr. Parker?

Your affectionate son, — D. S. Wier


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