Camp 59th Georgia Regiment, December the 2, 1864

To Mrs. Rebecca Harrison, My Dear Mother,

Agricola Community, Washington County Georgia

I seat myself this beautiful Sabbath evening to write you a few lines to inform you that I am yet in good health,  truly hoping that these few lines may soon reach and find you and all the rest of the family enjoying the same good blessings.  Mother, I have been thinking for several days that I would write to you, though put it off hoping to hear from home soon but can’t get any letter from home so I will write anyhow.  I haven’t heard from home since the Yankees went through that settlement.  I don’t even know whether they went to Father’s or not.  It looks strange that I nor Alfred can ger a letter from home when all the rest of the boys can get letters. The last letter I received was written the 18th of November.  There has been several letters come through for our company.  William Pilcher had a letter since the Yankees was there, but his letter never said a word about my folks and John Daniel has had two letters also but they did not say a word about home.  W. F. Osburn received a letter also but it was the same.  Mother, I reckon that you and Pollie and all the rest must think that I am dead and won’t write. I have heard of my death several days ago but it was a mistake.  I received a letter from Sallie a few days ago about home afores she said that she supposed that I had heard all the news from home.  Mother, I was sorry to hear of the Yankees getting Billy a prisoner, but it can’t be helped.  I hope that they will not keep him for long for it is a bad time to be a prisoner in the winter.  I was very sorry to hear of the Yankees burning Hamburg Hill and Shoals Mill, though I suppose that there was some few mills left.  I am glad to hear that they left the Rock Factory for it is a great help to the Confederacy.  Mother, I will stop writing about that afore without I knowed something about home.  I want to hear from home very bad and I shall look for a letter every day until I hear from you.  I am certain that Pollie has wrote to me that is if she is living and doing well but the mail don’t all come. Mother, it is Christmas now and we are getting along very well.  William Burgamy has made us a big pig for supper, so I will have to come to a close for this evening.

Well, I have quit eat supper and I have had a plenty this day. Mother, I can say that this has been the best Christmas that I have seen in a long time.  I have enjoyed it better.  We have had two sermons preached to us today.  Mother, we have good meetings here every night and also every day when we have nothing to do.  We have a preacher off from Georgia, a member of Conyers, to preach for us today.  Mother, I feel very thankful that we can have good meetings here even in camps so far away from home.  They are having meetings tonight, but I will stay and finish my letter.  I have nothing to write that will interest you.  All is quiet along our lines at this time.  I hear this evening that the Yankees have taken Savannah, but I hope that is not so. It is getting too dark to see how to write.  I will try to finish in the morning.

December 26, 1864

We are all well this morning.  I am doing well, Mother.  We are not faring so very so well at this time about something to eat though.  We got enough to make out on.  We get plenty Sugar and Coffee.  We give Sugar for meal and have plenty bread.  We wrote home some time ago for a box of provisions.  I don’t know whether the letter went through or not.  I shall still look for a box from home unless the Yankees went there and taken off and destroyed  what you all have there.  If they did go there and do such, I shall not expect anything from home.  I hope they did not. We have not drawed any money yet.  I would like to draw some. The Government is due me over three hundred dollars at this time.  Mother, it is raining this morning and it cold as it has been.  We have had one light snow this winter.  Mother, I have wrote all the news, so I will make this letter short, hoping to hear from home soon.  Tell Jus that I have wrote to her since I have not had any letter from her.  I write Polly every week and I write to you or Jus or some of the family nearly every week.  I don’t reckon that you can send letters every day like you could before Hamburg was burned.  There is s good many of the boys in my company that sends their mail to Warrenton in care of Dr. Gibson.  I don’t know if my letters would not go through just as soon that way, but I will try it to Culverton again.  Mother, write soon and tell all the rest to write to Joe.  Give my love to all and receive a fraction for yourself.  Mother, I dreamed of being at home last night.  I wish my dread could come to pass. If I could be there I could tell you all I have to write and a heap more, boo.  I hope that this is the last Christmas that I will have to spend in service.  Excuse short letters and bad spelling and writing.  Nothing more.

I remain as ever your son until death,

Joseph W. Harrison

Joseph Washington Harrison was born in Washington County, Georgia in 1841.  “Pollie” is probably a nickmame for his wife, Mary Curry Walker Harrison.  His descendents still live in Washington County.