Valley of the Shadow


Hubbard writes to his uncle from Staunton about a variety of topics, including the chances of victory for the South, Confederate policies, the low status of nearby women, the polite and refined character of local "Negroes," the folly of empowering the "rabble," illicit trade in horses and whiskey by refugees, and enlistment prospects in his regiment.

Camp Johnson

My Dear Uncle

I have been intending for a long time to write to you, but having a very large family to look to, and the cares of "public life" too, I have found it difficult hitherto to do so. You and Aunt Sally have no doubt heard about that large boy of mine in Albemarle. Mrs Randolph says that he is a real monster, but I have neve seen him, and only know him as just by reputation. I shall take more interest in "little folks" now than ever, and after the war will add a "Blue Beard" to my library. My wife is well and writes to me every two or three days. She and the rest of the family have been somewhat disturbed about about Lewis Randolph-my brother-in-law-who was at Roanoake Island and was taken prisoner. They have heard however within the last few days that he was not wounded, and was upon the Ocean in a Yankee vessel destined probably for Fort Monroe or some more northern point. He was First Lieut. in a company from Albemarle commanded by Capt Robert Coles. The latter was killed. He was a very promising & fine young man, and was engaged to a daughter of Dr Fairfax, formerly of Alexandria & now of Richmond. He was engaged only two days before he left Richmond, and has left his intended all he had. His loss is the more to be regretted since he is the only child of Gov? Edward Coles of Philadelphia who was partial enough to the "Old Dominion" to live in it. The loss of Roanoake Island, Port Royal, Hatteras, Rich Mountain, Forts Henry & Donelson are as unaccountable to me as the singular manner in which Virginia's favorite General-Robert Lee has been kept in the back-ground, and obscure men put forward. Our convention with a unanimity as unparalleled, as that manifested in the Congress that selected Genl Washington, singled out Genl Lee as if by a presentment of his fitness to lead our Armies. Genl Scott was dismayed at it, and yet this chosen leader and favorate of his state, owner of Arlington Heights, and acquainted with every foot of the District of Columbia was kept merely to organize the Army, and then to [unclear: keep] up Wise Floyd & H.R. Jackson, and then to stay the consequences of the disaster at Port Royal, whilst Beauregard from the swamps of Louisana, was sent to operate against the enemy on the Potomac, & Wise from the beach of the Ocean to manage the Mountain country, with that little Georgia [unclear: Fernin]-Jackson to man a line of mountain defence that honest [unclear: farmer] from the low-lands too could not help from being broken, and we have had old "stone wall Jackson"- a native of Harrison County-exasperated to the point of resigning because he could not be allowed to operate as he believed he could most effectually in a region so familiar to him. There is something about all of these things that is as I have said unaccountable to me. I thinkthat there has been mismanagement somewhere, but of course this is just between you & me. It will not do to express such opinions except to you, or my father, and knowing you to be a great thinker I thought that I would just feel your thoughts about these things to see if mine cannot be bettered by it. I have not felt dispirited by the news from Tennessee. I think that the losses we have sustained there & at Roanoake and Port Royal are mainly attributable to the advantages the Yankees have over us on the water. When we get them out on the land we can whip them. I am glad that our Legislature has at last had the good sense to adopt your suggestion about increasing the number of privates in our Companies to a hundred. I saw an extract from a letter of yours to a member of the Legislature, copied in the Whig a few weeks ago, and the plan you propsed met with universal [unclear: affectation] out here. It ought to have been adopted at the beginning of the War, and the Volunteers ought to have been received only for the War. We will now have only confusion and delay in bracing up, when this would have been unnecessary if we had started right. There are many who will reenlist for the war & many who will have to be forced to go- all this from our morocratic plan- everybody institutions, the prostitution of the ballot box, and the "liberty, equality and fraternity" feeling that has been pervading all classes in this county untilthe government has gone to decay, and our new one is contending against the evil effects of bad associations For my part I prefer the excesses of power to the excesses of liberty, and when the war is over I hope we will have a government that will stand the test of time, and keep the rabble quiet.

The worst population we have in Va is over here. The journey men stay at home, sell whisky to the soldiers, trade horses and groan and complain at their bad lot whenever any service is required of the militia. The best ladies-or rather women for there are no ladies here-work, milk the cows, set the table, and sweep their houses when their husbands are worth a hundred thousand sometimes & the little negro chaps are petted and taken care of in the house with the whites. Indeed the Negroes are as good here as their masters & often more polite and refined. The idea of such people having anything to say in government. It would ruin any country. A good many of the refugees that come over the mountains have come to keep from being drafted in the northern Army, and they ought now to be taken & put in the front rank at Manassa, for volunteering on our side is the last thing that many of them want to do. They would rather trade in horses and whiskey. I have been emptying their whiskey barrels for five miles around & shall keep it up. I just send out one officer & men to search houses & destroy all that they find. Some of these rascals have been selling to my men at $27 per gallon & [unclear: meare ] whiskey and [unclear: dranking ] at that. They have been getting quite uneasy since I commenced the war upon them, and I shall put this rascally extortion & illegal trafic down if I have to break some of their necks. We are in Winter Quarters in a rich little valley called Crab bottom where the head waters of James River & the Potomac begin, our stream flows south & the other north and the fountain heads are only a few miles apart The proprieters are all grasers, and I learn that they easily make from ten to fifteen per cent on their Capital invested in land and stock clear of all expenses. It would be an interesting occupation amongst a different people. Maple sugar and Maple syrup are both made to a considerable extent here, and I have some every day on my table together with fine milk & butter, and then we have rice & coffee &c & live well enough. Our Cabins are all very plain but very comfortable and Old Scott-just like an Old Batcheler- has provided himself with sheets pillows & pillow cases and when he went to Powhatan left them in my charge together with his straw mattress so I am getting on very well with a good bed, Candles, towels, tin basin & a plenty to eat and a little indifferent whiskey which you know I only take occasionally. Col. Scott is still sick in Powhatan & will hardly be back I expect before the first of April. We will all have to come before the company officers in [unclear: time] for reelection I expect of course to continue in the field, and expect to be elected without any difficulty. Most of the regimt will reenlist I expect, and many are ready to do so now The law as regards exempts does not exempt overseers if I remember aught. for I saw the bill hastily. This will put me to great inconvenience & many others, but we will have to make a great struggle in the spring & I shall not grumble. I expect that the war will probably be over by midsummer, unless the English & French continue their heartless course of indifference towards us, and even without aid we may break down our enemies. Their funds must give out. I hope that all of our friends who can will save their tobacco until after the war for it must bring enormous prices. Everything seems to be getting high. An ordinary horse-a common plough-horse- will bring even [unclear: hire] a hundred and fifty dollars, and if the government continues to impress the teams of the farmers they will be be higher after the war than they are now. Our Genl Johnson is in Richmond on a short Furlough & Col. John Baldwin is in command on the Mountain. There are about three thousand troops out here in all, as much as is necessary now & as many as can be supplied at this time. You must give my love to Aunt Sally all the Children and all others at Saratoga & Mill-brook, and I would be glad to hear from you as soon as you can convieniently write-just mention the name of the Regt-44th Va [unclear: Vol ] care of Majr J. B. Watts Staunton & your letter will come by Express. I shall write to Uncle Philip in a few days. You Can let him know at Chillow that I am well. Excuse my bad pen.

Your affectionate Nephew

J. S. Hubard.