Document 19: Letter from William Pelham to Marianna Pelham Mott, 1 January 1865, Garrison Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.


      The following letter was written by William Pelham of Alabama (1836-1889), brother of John and Charles, while he was a prisoner of war. Through this letter, he sought contact with his Northern cousin, telling her of the death of his brother John, the wounding of his brother Charles, and other family news. The tone of the letter was very conciliatory, despite the fact that the two cousins were on opposing sides of the war.[21]

                                         Johnsons Island, Ohio Jan 1st 1865

Mrs. Mott:

       I have often thought of writing to you since my imprisonment, but was in doubt, (& still am) as to how you would regard such a step! but having been 18 months a prisoner, & for the last six an invalid, I look with indifference, where once I thought the greater care & circumspection were necessary. You are sometimes asked after in my letters from home, but I have never been able to answer any inquiries.

       My bro. John (whom I have heard speak much of you, & your little daughters as the most interesting children he ever met,) was killed April 17th í63[A]; my oldest bro. Charles is now just recovering from a very severe wound received before Atlanta[B]; bro. Pete.[ C] has been once a prisoner, but now with Hood. Oct. 7th í63 I was severely wounded; at the battle of Murfreesboro I lost my horse (killed in a charge), June 27th was captured in Duck river & since been a prisoner.[D] My Father, Mother, & Sister are still at home in Ala. I would like to write to you on a subject not yet mentioned, if you should see fit to hold communication with one such as I. I will ask a favor that you acknowledge the reception of this, & not leave me in doubt as to its having been received. I can not write or receive more than one page. My long imprisonment I fear has permanently impaired my health.

                                                              Very Respetly. &c. Wm Pelham.
                                                                           Pris. of War, Johnsons Island, Ohio


A. William was mistaken about the date of Johnís death; John was killed in battle at Kellys Ford, Virginia on 17 March 1863.
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B. Charles was wounded at Kenesaw Mountain (see Document 21).
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C. Peter Pelham (1840-1924), like his brothers Charles, William, Thomas, and Samuel, served in the Alabama Partisan Rangers. Peter was captured near Nashville, Tennessee, on 7 October 1862, but was paroled after only a few weeks in a prison camp.
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D. William was most likely wounded in 1862, not in 1863; his military records show that he was captured at Shelbyville, Tennessee in June 1863.
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