June 1, 1861
To: Pvt Mance Walker Prater
1st TENN Infantry Regiment
Army of the Shenandoah
From: Ethel M. Prater
My Dearest Mance
I no how busy ya must be and that ya have not been able to write. I was so proud of ya when I heard ya left to enlist in Tullahoma. You was one of the first to sign up even before Tenn succeeded. Now my eldest son is on his way to Virginia to defend our soil from yankee aggression. I pray to the Good Lord that yall whip them federals all the way back to Washington.
Mance I have to tell ya that I was not for this rebellion when you left to join up and I fear for your soul but my spirits lifted when our boys were victorious at Fort Sumter. When Mr. Lincoln called for volunteers to invade our land really it upset me bad. Then your Uncle Harold said that he listened to Governor Harris in Murfreesboro and he said that the federals were going to come and take our rites, our land, and our negros. All the residents of Woodbury met and over 1,000 residents voted for succession. Just up north in Liberty they voted to not to join and ya no we got kin folk there.
Our county has raised up 7 infantry companies and 2 cavalry companies. Mance I was proud of our boys as they marched out of town to join their regiments. We all wore our Sunday best and fed the boys a feast of chicken, ham, pork chops, chitlins, black eyed peas and cornbread. Every family has at least 1 soldier. All 5 of the Brandon boys went. Mr Sullivan and their 2 boys went and left Mrs Sullivan with the baby and the farm. Your little brother Donald left to sign up in Murfreesboro with Uncle Harold. I pray extra fo him since he is only 17 and that the Good Lord he be with Uncle Harold.
Mance I pray each nite that the Good Lord will keep ya close and will bring you and Donald back to me. I pray for all our boys going off to fight the invader. May the Lord see fit to bring them all home to their mothers, sisters, wives, and girl friends. I pray to that He will put an end to this war by the new year and those federals leave the south alone. Let us live in peace.
I love ya Mance
TO: Ethel M. Prater
FROM: Pvt. Mance W. Prater
Company I/1st TENN Infantry Regiment/Tennessee Brigade
Army of Shenandoah
July 20, 1863
I no I aint been a writin but we been trainin hard and on the move. Now we be at Manassas Virginia. I sorry fo not tellin ya I was leaving but I needed to get away. I went to Tullahoma and signed up in the 1st TENN Regiment under Colonel Turney. I am in Company I the Tullahoma Guards! We moved out to Winchester in April to train but we had no weapons. In May we moved out agin by railroad to Virginia. Momma ya no I aint never been on a train and it went so fast I almost lost my vittles.
Word is the federals are going to attack us and move on Richmond. Momma we are going to smash em yankees and send em all the way back to Washington. They aint ever gonna invade the south again. O yankee Abe better watch out! Tullahoma Guards are comin for him!
Sarg says we might be fixin to fight tomorrow so we gotta rest. I will rite agin soon momma. Thanks fo ya prayers. I been prayin to more than ever here.
Your lovin son,
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