Be­hind the scenes at Pam­plin: Spousal sup­port

The Progress-Index - - LOCAL - By Tim Tal­bott Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion, Pam­plin His­tor­i­cal Park

Harry, the son of fa­mous South Carolina politi­cian James Henry Ham­mond, had re­turned to camp at Tu­dor Hall (present-day Pam­plin His­tor­i­cal Park) and poured out his frus­tra­tions to his wife Emily about the thank­less­ness of his po­si­tion.

How­ever, it ap­pears that in mid-De­cem­ber 1864, Harry re­ceived a fur­lough to go home and visit his beloved wife. He had pre­vi­ously men­tioned at­tempt­ing to get a 30-day leave, and there is about a month’s break in their cor­re­spon­dence at this time.

Harry penned a brief mis­sive on Feb. 1 from Rich­mond, but his next let­ter to Emily, now back “In Camp,” was on Feb. 7, 1865. He men­tioned that he just ar­rived “through a storm that was snow at first and then sleet, and at last rain.” Once back in his quar­ters Harry “found two re­fresh­ing lit­tle streams run­ning across [sic] the floor of my tent.” How­ever, with a lit­tle re­pair work, he was “as com­fort­able as I could de­sire.”

Harry ex­plained that as he ap­proached his camp at Tu­dor Hall he heard can­nonad­ing. “It seems there was a fight on our right yes­ter­day, and that it was con­tin­ued to­day, not how­ever in our im­me­di­ate front,” Harry wrote. In­deed, a sig­nif­i­cant fight from Feb. 5-7, 1865 oc­curred just south­west of Tu­dor Hall at Hatcher’s Run, as el­e­ments of the Union’s Army of the Po­tomac at­tempted to cut the Boy­d­ton Plank Road, and if pos­si­ble, the South­side Rail­road. Harry rightly ex­plained, “this weather must put a stop to any se­ri­ous move­ments on ei­ther side for the present.”

As the Union army elim­i­nated the Con­fed­er­ate sup­ply lines one by one it affected Gen. Lee’s army. Harry penned that “they [Fed­er­als] know that we are liv­ing from hand to mouth, and will try to cut off our sup­plies. We are rather short [on ra­tions], but I don’t think it likely they will catch us without enough [food] to make a fight on.” He went on to tell Emily that while they had stocked enough fod­der for the army’s an­i­mals to last through early April, he wor­ried about the sol­diers. “I only hope that the want of full ra­tions will not affect the spir­its of our troops, and I do not be­lieve it will, their health or strength,” he wrote.

The bleak winter views Harry re­turned to at Tu­dor Hall: “this coun­try stripped of trees and cov­ered far and near with mis­er­able shanties [winter quar­ters] so dreary and cheer­less,” reaf­firmed his de­ci­sion not to bring Emily and daugh­ter Ju­lia back to the army with him. Harry closed out the let­ter with a men­tion of the failed “peace ne­go­ti­a­tions,” at­tempted by Fran­cis Pre­ston Blair with vis­its to Jef­fer­son Davis in Rich­mond. “I never be­lieved in them, but I was quite will­ing to in­dulge the pleas­ant dreams [of peace] that they ex­cited,” Harry wrote.

Never re­ceiv­ing his de­sired res­ig­na­tion, Harry sur­ren­dered with the Army of North­ern Vir­ginia at Ap­po­mat­tox and re­turned to South Carolina where the man­aged his in­her­ited lands un­til he died in 1916.

“I never be­lieved in them, but I was quite will­ing to in­dulge the pleas­ant dreams [of peace] that they ex­cited.” —Harry

[CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM­PLIN HIS­TOR­I­CAL PARK]

Like many fam­i­lies, Ham­mondís let­ters home and those re­ceived from his wife Emily, of­fered relief and sup­port to loved ones far away.

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