Missive Preserved for Over Half a Century by Recipient
WRITER ONE OF NINE BROTHERS WHO ESPOUSED THE
CAUSE OF THE
CONFEDERACY - THREE KILLED -
One of the most interesting things the Democrat
reporter has seen for
many days is a letter written by a Confederate soldier, serving in Georgia
is 1864, to another brother serving in Mississippi. The writer of the letter
was a Bates County man, Oscar A. O'Neal, and the recipient was S.A. O'Neal.
Two weeks after writing the letter, Oscar O'Neal was killed in a battle at
Love Station, Ga.
The letter was written on a slip of paper 9x11
inches in size. It is yellowing
with age, and some of it is impossible to decipher, as the writing is growing dim
and the creases in the paper have worn through in places. It shows the same
indomitable spirit that the letters from our boys in France show today, thus
again proving that American manhood has been of the same sterling character
in all stages of the history of our country.
The letter was handed to the Democrat by S.A.
O'Neal, of Washita County,
Oklahoma, who is now visiting old friends and relatives near Johnstown.
Mr. O'Neal removed to Oklahoma about eleven years ago. He is the son
of the late Oliver O'Neal, and came to Bates County with his parents in 1856.
He was born in Morgan County. He served throughout the war between the
States in Parson's Brigade of the 16th Missouri Infantry, Company 1. There
were nine boys in the O'Neal family, and all of them were in the Confederate
army, three of them being killed in action, and one disabled for life. They were:
William, John, Claiborne, Barton W.S., Oscar (author of the letter), Richard,
George, Peter, and S.A. All the persons mentioned in the letter, with the
exception of Nannie Compton and John O'Neal were Bates County people.
John O'Neal was killed at Vicksburg, Mississippi.
In a number of places, the writing is so dim
with age that it is almost impossible
to decipher some of the words, but we give it as nearly as we can make it out.
We know that the old letter will prove of great interest to every reader of the
Democrat, and especially to those who were familiar with the trying times of
the great struggle between the States. Mr O'Neal prizes the letter above most
of his earthly possessions, and carried it in a pocketbook for more than a half
a century. The letter follows.
RE-TYPED BY PATRICK O'NEAL ON OCTOBER 30, 1997
The O. A. O'Neal Letter
your letter dated August the 1st, while at Atlanta, which
gave me much pleasure to hear from you all. I have since received a
letter from Huts Martin, dated March 6th, also a short letter from you. From
these letters I gained considerable Information concerning how things are in
"At the time
your letter first-mentioned came to hand, it found us
all alive and well, but I have since been made to the loss of a dear brother.
Brother Claiborne was mortally wounded and died in a few hours on the 5th
inst., directly after we had got into position after falling back to Atlanta. I
cannot tell you how much I miss him. My attachment to him was more
firmly fixed than the usual ties that bind brother to brother. He was endeared
to me by ties of affection that could only be fostered and kindled in the heart
by the trying events of hardships and privations such as we had endured
together for the past three years. But alas! He is gone and we too, must soon
follow. His dying request was that we all might so live as to meet him in heaven,
and I beg you dear brother, to be careful how you live. You are surrounded
by evil influences. You are young and apt to be led astray. I would be glad to
know that Pe (S.A.) Had become less reckless and has conformed more to the
advise that father and mother ever gave him, and all of us.
"Well, I am
now alone. I only, am left out of four, to carry a musket,and
I have been wounded twice, and who knows but that the next ball that pierces
me may not lay me in a lonely grave, if I be so fortunate as to get a grave?
These may be the last lines I shall ever be permitted to pen you. If so, I hope
that we may so live that we shall meet in the land of bliss. I did my heart good
to learn that you had such revivals over there. I assure you that we have a
like revival going on.
" I receive
letters from home regularly. The last was dated August 10th,
from Nanny Compton. Our folks were all well. Crops were very good. I sent
you a letter that I received from Sack. Buck was with us a few days ago. He
has discharge papers on the way. If he succeeds..., he will soon be on the
retired list. Bill.... Page, Bill Finley..are also well. Bill Finley is
also on the retired list.
"We have heard
war rumors a-plenty. One is that Grant has defeated Lee
and taken Vicksburg. We hear rumors of the success of our forces in Missouri.
We are now having a little rest after one of the hardest campaigns of the war.
Up to the 15th of September, we were continually under fire of the enemy
from the time we joined this company, May 18, 1864. We have given them the
great prize for which they commenced the campaign - Atlanta. Out losses have
been heavy. Our brigade has lost 500 men in this campaign. A brigade numbers
"Tell Cap and Martin that I have seen Rube Willard."