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An Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida, Dr. Mahon was formerly with the Office of the Chief of Military History. He is now a consulting editor of Military History and a trustee of the American Military Institute. Peter Dekle's Letters JOHN K. MAHON These are the few letters written by Peter Dekle, a resident of the vicinity of Thomasville, Georgia, which have survived.1 When Dekle wrote the first one, on April 29, 1862, he was a private in Company F, 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His regiment was in the state service for only seventeen days before being formally mustered into Confederate service on May 16, 1862.2 Even when once on Confederate rolls, it was still the fate of Dekle and of his outfit to sit out the war for the balance of 1862. The 29th was assigned to the Military District of Georgia, Brigadier General H. W. Mercer commanding, and stationed in the neighborhood of Savannah, Georgia . Its duty was to aid in guarding that city against attacks from the sea. While great events were in progress elsewhere, Dekle and his associates were obliged to endure the dull treadmill of life in camp. The critical actions at Fort Donehon and at Shiloh took place in the West while they stood guard and pined for home. In the eastern theater the Peninsular Campaign began and ended; Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg were fought while they still lay idle. If Peter Dekle's letters are representative, these momentous actions occurred completely outside the ken of the Confederate enlisted men who guarded the coast of Georgia. The letters are the property of a great-grandson of Peter Dekle, James M. Byrd, of Gainesville, Florida. Georgia Confederate Military Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C. The data was very kindly supplied me by the Georgia Department of History and Archives from microfilm copies of the originals. 11 12JOHNK. MAHON Dekle's letters add nothing to the story of the tactics and strategy of the Civil War. Indeed, they represent what soldiers in World War Il called "the worm's eye" view. But they are more intimate than most of the letters which find their way into print and, in consequence, reveal more clearly than usual the yearnings, fears, and motivations of a Confederate private. These letters also illustrate the bond uniting citizen-soldiers in all American wars: the longing for home, and the desire to get the war over and get back to their own affairs. Spelling and grammar are copied eocactly. Savanah April 29th 1862 Dear Susan I resume my seat this morning to drop you a few lines. . . . Susan I am surprised at you the way you treat me I have written you some three or four letters and I have not herd from you yet. . . . when the male come and no letter for me it fills my heart with sorrow to think you have forgotten me, if you cant wright get some person to wright for you as I want to here from home if it are the expenses you are thinking about you need not mine that as I want to here from home once or twice a weeke any how when your paper and stamps gave out I will send your more. . . . they no excitement here now about the Yankes now things quiat and smoothe we have some excitement in camp about reorganizen our company it will burst up I think and we will be conscrips and sent to some of the western states I am affraid they are a great stir here about the state troops being mustered out and in the Confederit Service all the states troops are mustered out but two or three Companyes ours and two more I am in hop they will muster ours out and let us go home but they [illegible ] they say that we will have to stay our time out and be conscrip after our time expire. . . . I remain your loving husban until! death parts us * * * Mac Key Point May 16th 1862 Dear Susan I with pleasure resume my seat this evening to drop you a few lines. ... I never saw as many men have as much...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 11-22
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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