The Copperhead Movement

In up coming letters, you will start to hear William discuss the local “Copperheads”  The Copperheads or “Peace Democrats” were northern sympathizers to the confederates.  They were defined by being anti-war, pro-slavery, and very vocal about their stance.  Historians note that many Copperheads focused on political activities such as organizing anti-war political rallies, opposing pro-war and abolitionist candidates, and fighting against the draft.  Some Copperheads attempted to talk Union soldiers into deserting.  There were also indications that some Copperheads had been planning to assist with the escape of Confederate prisoners and sometimes served as paid informants to Confederate agents.  A series of trials in 1864 accused prominent Copperheads of treason.

The majority of Copperheads were in the southern Midwest in southern Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana which is likely why they feature so frequently in letters between William and his family in Darlington, Indiana.  Demographically, members of the Copperhead movement consisted of former Southerners who had moved north of the Ohio River, the poor, and merchants whose businesses were suffering due to loss of business down south.  The group also consisted of many German and Irish Catholics from mill town and mining communities.

There remains a fair amount of debate among historians on the effect of the Copperhead movement on the war as well as the extent of their loyalty to the Union and the depth of their racist views. 

 

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Undated – Dear Father and Mother

Dear Father and Mother

I don’t know wether I can think of any thing to rite or not as I have rote about all I can think of but it makes no difference wo I rite to. You all get to se what I rite. I am always very glad to hear from any of you.
I can’t think of anything els to rite so I will give you a short discription of the country. Hear it may be interesting to you. Murpheesboro has ben a prety smart town but like all the rest of the Southern towns they are going to ruin. In the place of improving farm 4 to 5 miles and in some places father around merfreesboro the land is level and torable good. Where ever the land is level it is inclined to be rather smampy and for that reason the roads are all graded but in agreat many places the roads are ruined. There has been so much wagoning done. I believe about one half of the timber in this state is sedar. Nearly all the rails are made of sedar. I have saw hundreds of acres of sedar so thick a man could not ride threw it and again I have saw acres in a body that could se nothing but rack. The farmers turn thier attention generaly to the groth of cotten but thier will be but very little of any thing raised this season for the men are nearly all gon both white and black. I shall have to close for the time hoping to remain your loving sun and brother.

Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard and all the rest.

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Be sure to rite whenever you can and tell me all the news

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Murfreesboro, TN

Murfreesboro TN

Dear Father and Mother.

I take the opportunity and rite a few lines to you as I haven’t told Sarah whare we are now. We have mooved back within half a mild of town in side the breast works. Their is a fite expected hear and if there is one it will be a big one and I think if we whip them hear it will about test the tale for them. We are well pirs (?) for them. We are on the east side of town and there is a line of breast that is 7 milds long on this side and it extends clear around the town and then their is some of the toulest breast work on the North West side of town I ever saw and they have got a lot of seage guns planted in there but a nuf of that. The peach trees are in full blossem but it turned cold last nite and the wind fairly blows today but it is to late in the season hear to freeze. I will have to close for this time hoping to remain your loving sun in law and brother while if that lasts.

Wm Forder to G & C Hubbard and Children and all the friends rite soon

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Rite soon and tell all me all the news you can

Transcription Note: The word “pirs” was an enigma and remains so even after several attempts by myself and Alysia to determine the actual word. In context, a word such as “prepared” or “ready” should have been implied. But even going over assumed misspellings, abbreviations or slang options, we couldn’t really determine what exactly William had written. His “h” sometimes tended to drop below the line or it could have been an “f” or “p” which also appear similar in William’s handwriting. In short, we are unsure exactly what word he had indicated, hence the question mark following it.

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March 8, 1863

March the 8th, 1863

Dear Sarah

I again seat myself to rite a few lines to you in answer to your cinde letter that came to hand yesterday. I was very glad to get such a large letter or letters I might say for it was from you and your pap. It and the shirt was mailed the 5 and I got them the 7. The shirt came rite a long with the letter. I got the minitures and the socks all rite but I told you about that in my other letters. I sent 5 dollars in my last letter and and I want you to let me know as soon as you can wether you get it or not. I rote it the 4th of the month.
We are still laying in our old camp yet but I can’t tell how long we will stay hear for. Sunday as it is thier is heavy firing going on West of town and it can’t be over 7 or 8 milds from the way it sounds. There is scouting partys out all the time and they they are running in to prowling bnds of rebs every once in a while. They say they was a party of our men atacked yesterday by 4 regiments of negros but the negros got baddly whiped thank fortune.
This is in the afternoon and every thing is quiet. The firing that was heard this morning has ceased. I have just come from a buring. There is a fare fellow has to take his leap of death every few days by sicness but that is nothing in compareason to the deaths carried by powder and lead. It is aweful to ce how this country is being strewed with graves. You can’t go any place hardly but what you can se graves fore fellows. They are sleeping their long sleep and I am a fraid their is but very few of them prepared to met thier god for this is the awefulest place for wickedness I ever saw. It seams like they think they can’t be a soldier unless they can sware, play cards, drink whiskey allthoe Their are some are captains. Thank god the trepassing part of our croud from our Neighborhood are all dooing as well as can be expected under existing circumstances. I will now tell you that I am well and all the rest of the boys except G Sands and Jim has ben to ce him to today and he is getting some better but he is not able to set up yet. I hope this will finde you all well. Ciss our little girl for me. I will have to quit for this time. Rite home soon and often.

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I hope to remain true and loving husband while life shal last. Wm Forder to SA Forder

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