These letters were written by 58 year-old Temple Franklin Cooper (1805-1864) who served as captain of Co. K, 52nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Temple entered the Confederate service in early March 1862 and was captured at Champion’s Hill, Mississippi, on 16 May 1863. He died of erysipelas at Johnson’s Island, Ohio, on 2 February 1864. He was buried there in Grave #141.
Temple was the son of Joseph Perrill Cooper (1777-1842) and Sarah Anne Franklin (1778-1874). He was married in 1841 to Unity Love Patrick (1825-1896) and resided in Franklin county, Georgia, where he worked as an attorney before the war—his office being in Carnesville.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
June 10, 1862
My dear wife,
I write you in haste as I just now returned to this place after an absence of six weeks. I got off a sick bed three days since & have marched day [&] night & am here feeble but much better than I expected to be. It is what is here called camp fever which is caused by excessive exposure in rain, night air, & then lying in camp in idleness, living on rich, strong diet without any vegetables. Why I believe I was nearly cured by one mess of lettuce. If I only had some vegetables that you have, I could get well.
I have received nothing from you for a month nearly. I suppose it was owing to my not directing you to address me at Knoxville as there is no mail above this place. But I do not know where I shall be in another day as our troops are being forced to Chattanooga where we hear they are fighting now. I shall start in the morning if I am no worse than now as my company has gone & there is not a commissioned officer in the company. [Crawford H.] Little is sick at home. [Richard Green] Gordon in the hospital. And [William M.] Bagwell just got so he could go. Out of 30 Lieutenants in the 52nd Georgia, only three reported for duty the last report & only 2 Captains out of ten so that you can see how we are suffering from mumps, measles, & camp fever.
Write me how they are doing up at home & how all our vegetables & oats are doing, so soon as you cut your oats. If there is a season in the ground, lay off the ground three feet in deep furrows & drill one furrow with little yellow corn & the other in the whippoorwill pretty thick & cover them with a small plow—not too deep.
When did you hear from Calhoun? How is daughter & J. P. studying? Send me a paper occasionally & write fully about all things, public & private. [My attendant slave] Buck has been sick a week—a pain over his eyes. I am going to take him to Chattanooga with me, I think. He sends you all howdy & says he is better. I am tired of this war indeed.
When Arminius or any other person comes down, look in my bundle of papers marked “Infirm Court Papers” (I think) & get a bond signed by Asa H. Ayers & Thomas Morris suing for a bastard child of Martha L. Westbrooks (I think) & let A. give it to Mr. Langston to collect, & take Langston’s note for it & you put in away & keep it.
Your affectionate husband, — T. F. Cooper
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Addressed to Mrs. Temple F. Cooper, Athens, Georgia
January 23, 1863
My dear wife,
Thinking the letter I wrote & sent you a few days ago by mail might have miscarried, I send this by Capt. [John Owen] Gailey of Co. A, 52nd Regiment Ga. of Habersham county who has been detailed to gather deserters & any others that he can to fill out our much thinned ranks in our army everywhere.
The enemy has appeared again in his boats on the Yazoo river about ten miles above. We are on the alert & watching the river day & night. As I gave you some considerable account of the geology & topography (look for these words) of Vicksburg. I can add but little on that subject. Has that batch of notes on Green & Isbel been found yet? Look in my Birds papers & send me a transfer signed by your Pa to a fi. fa. John H. Patrick vs. Clark W. Temples & John Bird. It may be in my pocket book or Hart Court papers. Send me also the bill of sale from Bird to your Pa & myself for Willis, As, & Wes. Draw off copies of them & keep the copies safely when you find the originals. The bill of sale from Bird may be with my bills of sale for negroes.
Has Calhoun ¹ written to you to sell his watch? If I should not return, send Willis with a pass to bring As & Wes back next October & sell Martin for $1500. Jas. for the same if you can. Direct Harrison Adams & Co. to send you $50 at the end of two months for McKin. If they send by mail, best cut the bills. Dr. Willis F. Westmoreland will have due you $70 at the end of two months, if Ben goes to Atlanta. If he don’t go, Jordan’s hire will be $16.50 per month. I have hired Buck to Lieutenants [Samuel H.] Vaughter, [James M.] Bagwell & [Richard Green] Gordon at $21 per month. He is to serve me also. They are to feed him & pay his transportations from place to place—I to clothe him—but it is all in writing if I don’t return. But all these hires of Martin, Ben, Jordan & Buck are uncertain as to their continuance as the termination of the war, the change of hospital, work shops &c. may stop their wages & the servants be returned on your hands &c.
Answer this & my other from this place fully. Tell Ben to preserve his health & J. F. his mind & to keep in mind & practice my last request. Viz: ‘Ama deum, Honora patum a matrum.’ [Love God, Honor Father & Mother]
Farewell. Your solicitous father & husband, — T. F. Cooper
P.S. Send 1/8 sheet papers & envelope occasionally. — T.F.C.
¹ Calhoun was Temple’s son, Lafayette Calhoun Cooper (1842-1880), who served in the Troup Artillery.