Letters from Henry. M. Misemer to his wife Martha, 1865

I will present the results of my transcription and research on two letters from H. M. Misemer to his wife. The two letters provide us with an insight into the life of prisoners of the Confederacy at the end of the Civil War. The letters were written about 2.5 weeks apart from each other. Both were written in order to provide his family with information about his well being, updates on the war and to ask for updates from home.

The first letter is dated March 28th, 1865, the second one was written on April 14th, 1865 – just days before the explosion of the steamboat Sultana (in which he was killed). In both letters, H. M. Misemer mentions communications with people that have experienced Andersonville prison and shares the information he has acquired from them. He reports less about his imprisonment at Cahaba Prison but lists several soldiers that died while being there. Camp Vicksburg, where many Union soldiers where waiting to be exchanged, is described as: “it is almost a heaven” (Misemer Civil War Letters HL_MSS_21-07_02_50). This might also be due to the support of the Sanitary Commission.

During the winter of 1864-1865 the situation was tense in Tennessee. In addition to the encounter with the enemy’s organized troops, the Federal troops had to fight rebel guerrillas as well. The war was about to end and H. M. Misemer was well aware of that. Apparently, many soldiers have been looking forward to being exchanged and going home, but H. M. Misemer is not convinced. And as it turns out, he was right – only a few of his comrades would reach their homes again.

Victoria Marth

Western Carolina University