1862: Tip Farris to his Mother

Prior owners of this letter have claimed it to have been written by Tip Farris who “served in the Confederate army throughout the war and then returned home to Union City where he died of smallpox two years later.”  There appears to be a 20 year-old young man (b. 1840) enumerated in the household of J. S. Moultrie at Union City in 1860 who was identified as a 20 year-old clerk. A smudge on the record prevents me from making out his first name or initials, however.

There were two Confederate infantry regiments raised in Union City—the 21st Tennessee and the 33rd Tennessee. I can’t find a regiment including a Farris with another soldier named Thomas Buford (named in the letter).

In March 1862, Major-Gen. Leonidas Polk’s 1st Grand Division, Army of Mississippi, was headquartered at Humboldt, Tennessee, where this letter was written. Two Tennessee Infantry regiments that fought under Cheatham’s command at Shiloh were the 6th and 9th Tennessee.


Humboldt, Tennessee
March 7th 1862

Dear Mother,

We arrived at this place day before yesterday evening. We found our baggage on the cars on the Memphis & Ohio Railroad about three quarters of a mile from where this road crosses the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, down towards Memphis. We are encamped on a slight elevation covered with beach timber. There is a large spring between our regiment and Stephen’s about twenty yards from our camps. The ground begins to slope off until it gets down into a cypress slough.

CSA General B. “Frank” Cheatham was a planter from the Nashville area

We never left Union City until Wednesday morning and Gen. [Benjamin Franklin] Cheatham came down on the train with us. We have been living high on sweet potatoes at one $ per bushel. We also got some broomsedge and put in our tents which makes us a very good bed.

Thomas Buford has got back to camp. He says that there will be no attention paid to Governor [Isham G.] Harris’ call. ¹ Nearly everybody is now for the Union. He also says there was three Union flags hoisted by the citizens in Nashville. Rumor says we have evacuated Mobile and Pensacola which I believe to be true. I think we will give the Yankees a genteel whipping now soon and perhaps under the immediate and personal command of Jeff Davis.

All soldiers are greatly exasperated with the people at home in regard to their unmanly conduct during our trials and tribulations.

This leaves me well. Your son, — Tip

¹ Isham Green Harris was the Governor of Tennessee when the Civil War broke out. He defied Lincoln’s call to raise troops from Tennessee to put down the rebellion and attempted to take the State out of the Union. 

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