“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 14 November 14, 1862 – Henry K. Douglas Writes Tippie . . . Longingly by Jim Surkamp

471 words




Friday, November 14, 1862 – Cold and Imprisoned, Henry Kyd Douglas persists in writing Tippie Boteler though she was having her head turned by Dudley Digges Pendleton, the Rockbridge artilleryman and family friend.

My Dear Miss Tippie –
You won’t. I will: which means if you are so extremely formal that you cannot write to me because you have seen me since I have written, you need not think you are thus to get rid of me. But I am in too good humor to quarrel or even to scold, and even now when I am disposed to write you a good humored and lengthy letter. Mr. Adams has sent thru special messengers to say that he is about to start immediately and can’t wait etc. So you must imagine these few lines to be “limited sweetness, long drawn out” and answer as I would have written. For it is just this moment I have returned from Winchester where I was summoned to Court (Martial not civil, I assure you). Yesterday I bid goodbye to Lieutenant General Jackson (for a while at least) and assumed command of Co. B. I hope if I remain here long enough, to regain some of the discipline and efficiency which used to characterize it. But I hardly hope to succeed as the material is far from being what it was when it just went into service. I must confess that it was with regret that I left the Genl. especially as he expressed an unwillingness to relieve me and was exceedingly cordial in his expression of good will at parting. But I thought it was my duty, under the circumstances, to take command of the company for a time, at least so expressed myself to the general and took my departure. So much briefly. I saw your Pa before he went to Richmond and thought he looked badly. I would express my sorrow with you in the recent bereavement of your sisters and family, but am not used to such things and have always had an idea that such remarks of condolence were generally ill-suited to allay or satisfy grief and consequently misplaced. But Mr. Adams is becoming impatient and won’t wait. Remember me to your Ma and family and please write soon and at length. Goodbye. Yrs., as always, Henry Kyd Douglas. I did not notice this until I had finished my letter. It will be sufficient excuse to say that it is the autograph of Lieut. General Stonewall Jackson, as it really is. HKD – (1).

After the Antietam Battle that September, and the month-long sojourn for both armies, the Federal army finally recrossed in large numbers into Virginia and wended its way south until the next great, tragic battle – Fredericksburg – took place, but with a new Federal commander, Ambrose Burnside.

References/Image Credits:

Chapterette 14: November 14, 1862 – Henry Kyd Douglas Writes Tippie Boteler . . Longingly.

1. Henry Kyd Douglas Papers, Duke University.

NEXT: Chapterette 15. Click Here https://civilwarscholars.com/uncategorized/thy-will-be-done-chapter-15-dec-1862-dudley-digges-pendleton-is-in-fredericksburg-fight-by-jim-surkamp/

“Thy Will Be Done” – Chapter 19 Henry K. Douglas Writes Tippie From a Cold Island Prison by Jim Surkamp.

690 words



Chapter 19 – December 17, 1863 – Imprisoned Henry Kyd Douglas writes Tippie Boteler from his deep-frozen island prison on Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie.

Douglas wrote another: “Johnson’s Island is just the place to convert visitors to the theological belief of the Norwegian that Hell has torments of cold instead of heat. (This winter) two men would squeeze into one bunk so as to double blankets, would wrap themselves up heads and feet, and in the morning break through the crackling ice, formed by the congealing of the breath that escaped, as one has seen on the blankets of horses at sleighing time. – (1).

Needing a woman to dream of in his adverse state, Douglas continues to write Tippie from his freezing and harsh prison. It is the kind of letter from a man who is pushing uphill against the gathering evidence that the woman he continues to write to has wearied of him, and even has become hostile to his very chiding, very – however contradictory – self-absorbed attentions. One senses that she has turned her heart toward her future husband, Dudley Digges Pendleton who is also away at war.

My Dear Miss Tippie
Circumstances have prevented my answering your last (letter) sooner but it makes no difference, for neither my precepts nor examples seem to have the slightest effect in making you more prompt. The fact is that on that subject you are perfectly incorrigible. And, moreover, who had riled you so thoroughly that you were compelled to vent some of your temper upon my unoffending head? In your last, you certainly laid aside your good humor and reminded me of a certain character in romance that I’ve read of lately who used to display his indignation by demonstrations that meant a great deal but did really little harm. He was a good-natured fellow withal. And here let the comparison stop. All this by way of preamble.

On his sub-freezing prison:
This is great country up here, – or at least that pent-up part of it that I inhabit – and of most remarkable climate. Snow, rain, ice, and winter generally. The normal condition of the thermometer is below “freeze.” I will mention an instance illustrative told me by the reliable gentleman himself. Several gentleman were engaged in rather an earnest conversation near the woodpile one day after sunset. The next morning, a cook collected chips, sticks, etc. and placed them upon the fire. Directly afterwards, there were heard to proceed from the stove disconnected fragments of oaths, cuss words, intermingled with several laughs and a few sneezes — all in the well-known voices of the two gentlemen aforesaid. What was it, think you? Nothing more than part of the conversation of the said gentlemen, which had frozen as it was spoken and was now being melted and dissolved into sound and space. Maybe you will doubt it? If you do and will come up here, I can show you the stove. I dare you to test the matter. Indeed I could tell you many similar facts, equally reliable and illustrative of this icicle isle . . .

Bravely, or maybe blindly, Douglas continues:
You call my effusions attacks and seem to imply that you think the muses are ill treated and imposed upon: next, you tell me that you have an “omnium gatherum” in which you keep all the absurd ridiculous productions that reach you and gravely ask me to contribute to it. No, I’m obliged to you. I have recovered from the scathing criticism you inflicted upon me in our salt-box days (referring to a small academy that was a salt box structure in Shepherdstown located on the north side of New Street between King and Church streets before the war.-JS).

Douglas continues concluding with a remark certain to achieve his demise with Tippie Boteler – he denies Christmas:
Xmas is apace. I always despised the time of year and shall in all probability drop it very pleasantly.

Yet he persists to the end:
Can’t you get me up an individual poem on the subject? When you next write, don’t forget to send me your carte de visite – please.
. . .Yours as usual Henry Kyd Douglas. . . Write! And at once! – (2).

References/Image Credits:

Chapter 19: December 17, 1863 – Imprisoned Henry Kyd Douglas writes Tippie Boteler from his Deep-Frozen Island Prison on Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie.

1. Henry Kyd Douglas Papers, Duke University.

NEXT: Chapter 20 https://civilwarscholars.com/uncategorized/thy-will-be-done-chapter-20-april-1864-u-s-colored-troops-stop-at-the-lees-home-by-jim-surkamp/