Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Soldier writes from Pensacola: "Worn out with our duties and cares"

Pre-War Christ Church in Pensacola
On March 31, 1862, a soldier from Alabama wrote of falling morale and hunger in the ranks of the Confederate troops at Pensacola.
His letter is all the more startling in that it was written just two months after another soldier described how the men in the lines at Pensacola were living a luxurious life and eating extremely well (see Eating Possum by the Pound at Pensacola).

...We are nearly worn out with our duties and cares here; there is no life, no animation among us. Our regiment has been constantly on duty for two weeks, and we are now under orders to proceed this evening to Live Oak plantation, where we will remain on picket duty for three days and nights. To add to our misery we have been placed on short allowance - being allowed three soda crackers, meat, peas, and coffee once aday. We go to bed hungry, get up hungry, and remain hungry all day long. But we hope to receive additional supplies in a short time, when we will be certain to satisfy our hunger at once. Destitute as we are, though, we feel no disposition to neglect our duty. - Soldier from Alabama, CSA, March 31, 1862.

Naval Live Oaks Reserve
The "Live Oak plantation" mentioned in the account was the Naval Live Oaks Reserve designated by President John Quincy Adams in 1828 to provide a source for high quality oak timber for use at the Pensacola Navy Yard. It was, in fact, one of the first managed national forests in the United States and is preserved today as the Naval Live Oaks Reserve area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The soldier went on to describe how exhaustion and the lack of food were taking their toll on the Confederates remaining in the lines in Pensacola:

Pensacola Bay
...Two members of our company have been arrested for sleeping while on guard. They plead weariness and fatigue, having been on duty so often and so long, when placed out they begged pitifully to be released, fearing that they would fall to sleep; but it was a time when we were all needed to protect the place from a surprise of the enemy, and they were not released. The trial has not yet come off, and I hope they will not be dealt severely with. - Soldier from Alabama, CSA, March 31, 1862.

The hungry and tired soldier sounds like so many soldiers from so many wars. He was exhausted and living on barely sufficient rations, but was determined to fight on. He could not have known at the time that the Confederacy's hold on Pensacola was nearing its end.

Learn more about the Naval Live Oaks Reserve:

Learn more about historic Pensacola, Florida:

1 comment:

Nicole said...

You have a very interesting topic. It's great to bring those entries to life. Thanks.