courtesy of Karen Lawless via Kaen Hett
The transcription of Peter B. Irvine’s letter was submitted by Karen Lawless in 2003. Recently, Roy Irvine, who inherited the original letter, was kind enough to send excellent scans of the original and to allow us to share them with you. The envelope, or cover, is shown first; then the front and back of the letter is shown. Following these is the transcription of the letter. Roy tells us that a Xerox copy of the letter is housed in the Texas State Archives. Thank you to Karen and Roy for sharing this important document!
Please see Karen Lawless’ notes at the bottom of the transcription. Karen Hett, August, 2004
Return address at the left:
P. B. Irvine of Company
(B) 24th Texas Cav–
Mrs. M. A. Irvine
The cover was post marked at Montgomery, which at the time was the county seat of Montgomery County. We can guess that either someone who was going back to Texas carried the letter as far as Montgomery, or that it went to that point without postage, and that Minerva had to pay postage when it was retrieved from the post office.
Arkansas Post – Nov. 22nd. 1862
I rec’d your letter of the 2nd of this month by Wm. Little and was glad to hear that you was doing well. I had heard that you had been confined and had a fine daughter and that you was not doing well which rendered me very uneasy. This news came in a letter from Mrs. King.
When I got your letter I went to reading in a hurry and read one whole page and saw nothing about the little girl that you promised but at last I found it and was right proud of it but more so when I found that you was doing so well for I was quite uneasy about you from what I had heard. I had never heard of you being cripled until I got this letter. I expect that the fall that you got was the cause of your suffering so much but I am Extremely glad to hear that it is all over with and that you are as well off as you are. I should like very much to see the little fellow that you give such a glowing Description of and I think that it ought to be named Minerva for its Mother and the other name you may put to it if you like.
I should like very much to be with you and my little ones – as much as you wish for me to come back. I certainly think that you can’t blame me for not coming even if I could get off- for I don’t feel that home is the place for me yet -I don’t blame you for wanting me to come back. Your appeals are all very touching. I know that you are very uneasy about me and that you are very Lonesome. I feel a great deal of uneasiness about your situation but I cant help it – now My Dear I don’t want you to look for me until the close of the war for I don’t expect to be able to come sooner and I don’t want to be deceiving you with any false hopes – God knows that I want to be at home as bad as you want me to be there – you seem to think that I wont take care of my health. You are mistaken in this for I will promise you that I will and I will not rush in to danger unnecessarily.
I don’t think that the War will last long but I may be mistaken. Our officers are expecting an attackt here – the yankies are in about twelve miles of here in force variously estimated from five to ten thousand men. We are Receiving reinforcements from Little Rock some four or five thousand – they have us up every now and then by fake alarmes a cooking provisions and digging Rifle pitts but the yanks have not come yet and I rather think we will have to hunt them if we get a fight. I will have to begin to close for it is cold and late at night. I will try and do better in a few days. I am well. I enjoy very good health. I have been in such a hurry I have got my letter tale foremost.
I will tell you something about my clothes. I have seven shirts – three that I have never had on. I have drawers enough to last a year. Of socks I am rather short – if you had known it in time I should like you to have sent a pair of pants by Glass but as you did not get my letter in time I don’t want you to be uneasy and think I will suffer. I will have enough to do very well.
Tell Dack, John and Bettie that I am very glad that they are such good children. I will say something about what we have to eat. We get first rate beef now, plenty of bread, some times potatoes we have sugar all the time. This don’t look like starving.
The health of our Company is rather bad. One death since I wrote by Graham. Tom Wilson he died on the 19th of this month of pnemonia – we have fifteen in the hospital some are quite sick but I think they will all get well but Quick the health of the company is improving – Tell Dack and John they must learn to write and to write to me write often. Your affectionate Husband,
P. B. Irvine
Well about the Money – if you get more then you want and cant loan it out don’t buy property that you don’t want just Keep it I am not afraid of its getting under par.
**The above is a transcript of a letter hand-written by Peter Belles Irvine during the Civil War to his wife, Minerva (Tabor) Irvine, who was back home in Danville, Montgomery Co., TX.
Peter was killed during the Battle of Arkansas Post on 11 Jan 1863 (about 7 weeks after this letter was written). He had come to Montgomery County ca. 1839 with his parents, Benjamin Fielding Irvine and Sarah (Belles) Irvine. He married Minerva Angelia Tabor on 23 Nov 1847 in Danville and they had six children.
Peter enlisted at Danville 4 May 1861 in the Danville Mounted Riflemen and was under the command of Captain Samuel D. Wooldridge. He served as a Private in Co. B, 24th Texas Cavalry, Wilkes Regiment, also known as the 2d Regiment Texas Lancers and as the 2d Regiment Carter’s Brigade Texas Mounted Volunteers.
Peter’s body was buried on the battlefield by Captain Wooldridge.
Minerva remarried 26 Oct 1880 in Montgomery County to Augustus Richards. She died 13 Aug 1915 and is buried in Old Danville Cemetery on Shepard Hill Road.
It is believed by this researcher that the child referred to in the letter as “Dack” is their child, William Fielding Irvine. Other children were Elizabeth Catherine “Bettie”, John Floyd, Mary Susan, Peter Bellis, and the newbom referred to in the letter, Minerva Susanah.