1863 June 5: “The rebels will cling to Vicksburg till all hope is gone”
The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Grand Gulf, Mississippi
June 5th, 1863.
Last evening’s mail brought us no letters, but we received several days since a letter from you of the 19th ult and one from David Burr. I see you have got that money; also that the postmaster compelled you to pay additional postage on that book. You say one end should have been open. Well in accordance with our postmaster’s own directions I tore the wrapper open full 3 inches that the postmaster might see what it was, & it seems to me if he were a well-disposed man, he would have been at the pains of examination. Really, I feel like “blowing him up” and should do so, were I not reminded of the Scriptural saying about the fool — that though you bray him in a mortar with a pestle yet will he return to his folly.¹ One thing for certain! — his paytriotism shall hereafter supply his pockets with spending money from some other source. [paragraph break added]
Our baggage has all come to us. There is now every appearance that we shall evacuate this place and go up to Warrenton or Young’s Point. The transports are busily loading with mules & horses, negroes, siege guns, baggage & convalescents. When these are off we shall go. The gunboats can take care of this place. There is no late news from Port Hudson or Vicksburg, both places are completely invested by our forces and the rebels can not get out. At the former place, the negro troops were used & report says they fought bravely, but lost heavily. I believe they can fight when trained in the drill & manual of arms. They save us an immense amount of fatigue duty also. The 1st Miss. (black regt.) has gone up the river. Grant’s rear [Ulysses S. Grant] is so threatened that it is feared he will have to back out of his position unless heavily reinforced. Not much firing has been done lately, except in the rear where Grant’s forces whipped Joe Johnson [sic] recently [Joseph E. Johnston]. I think his rear will be made secure. You must have patience up there — you have but little idea of what war is, or the difficulties to be encountered. Large armies move slowly. The rebels will cling to Vicksburg till all hope is gone,—we have only got to keep pricking away & then they will give themselves and all up. [paragraph break added]
A few days since 4 men, 76th Ills. were shot dead by guerrillas near Port Gibson while foraging. They surprised our boys, who had no arms with them, killed two instantly & wounded the others, & afterwards killed them also & this in spite of their entreaties not to do so. These are the kind of enemies with whom we have to contend. The 28th Ill. are out after them & probably the rebels will be made sorry for their misdeeds shortly. [paragraph break added]
We are feasting now [on] blackberries and plums & whatever else that comes in our way. The people & negroes have all left the country this side of Port Gibson. I am glad you like your mare so well. Of whom did you get her? Mr. Miles has been in Prescott, but by this time he must be ready to start back. When you have a good chance send us a lb. of good tea. At present we can get none at all. But I will close. Direct as before & write soon. Yours in health & affection,
P.S.— Cousin Louisa wrote us that 3 sons of Rev. J. Wilcox who died in Chicago 10 years ago, are in Grant’s Division, and that their mother lives at River Falls, Pierce Co., Wis. She wishes to know what connection they are to the Prof. and I refer who questions to you for an answer.
Homer wishes me to say he is on guard and can not well write to-day. You must not think him forgetful to you. He might write more, but like Mother, thinks he can’t. Let us know whether you have received that last money; $40.00 sent you the other at Prescott Bank. Yours in health and love, Edwin
1. Proverbs 27:22 “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” (KJV)
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” (NIV)