With Notations by Marvin Sowder Dalton Civil War 150th Commission
Inez James was the 12-year-old daughter of John S. James, a resident of Varnell’s Station. Here she is writing to her childhood friend, Anna Rauschenberg, whose family had relocated to Atlanta after the fall of Chattanooga. The “blue coats” to which Inez refers were part of a reconnaissance force sent to scout the area as a prelude to William T. Sherman’s May 1864 offensive.
The original of this letter is in the Anna Rauschenberg Jordan Collection at the Kenan Library, Atlanta History Center. It is reproduced here exactly as it was written.
Varnells Station Ga Feb 29th 1864
My Dear Anna
I received your much wished for letter this morning. You cannot imagine what a pleasure it is to me to receive a letter from you when I have so few associates. Well Anna I must tell you the latest news first. Last Wendsday was a day long to be remembered by the citizens of Varnells Station and vicinity. The long looked for Yankee actually honored us with a visit. When we got up in the morning we saw that the place was full of blue coats and soon after breakfast two or three came and asked very politely for breakfast. While we were getting breakfast for them about seventy five or a hundred come gallopping up and dashed past the house and down to the crib where they dismounted and commenced feeding and while their horses were eating they rummaged about all over the place and tore up things generally. They rode all over the fields hunting buried provisions but they did not find any thank fortune. The house was full of them but they did not take many of the things in the house. They did not talk saucy to us but then they acted saucy and looked so saucy and impudent. Some of them would Speak to us when they come in and some would not. Oh! they are so hateful. They Stole a pair of new gloves of mine that I had just finished. I had turfed them and finished them off nicely. I regreted the loss of my gloves worse than all of our corn and fodder. They took Dr. Frederics horse and his hay and some of his meat and several little things in the house. But they treated Mr Robins worse than any person in the Station. They said all of us that they treated badly had been reported as Rebs but Mr Robins had been specially reported. They had been told that he had once run one of their men from Dalton to Charleston with blood hounds. They tried to tell them that he was not the man they thought he was but they cursed him and told him if he said another word they would blow his brains out. They tore every thing upside down, empted every trunk and drawer in the floor and took every thing they wanted, all his tobacco, and soda, and meat, and corn, several blocks of thread, several quilts, two or three dozen pine combs (Arlevia said they were welcome to them for she knew they needed them) two of Arlevias dresses, her black silk one and her new muslin one, and a hundred other things tedious to mention. They treated Mr Varnell very badly too. Besides taking as much provisions as they wanted they took all of Judges cloths and his likeness. I could not begin to tell you the fourth of the mischief they did all over the country but one thing is certain they played smash with the “rebs.” Anna you ought to rejoice every time you think about it that you got away before they came in. After they were gone and our own rebles came in I can tell you there was some rejoicing. Mrs Dannel shouted when she saw them. One of our men captured a Yankee that had a silk dress on for a shirt. He said the Yankee said that it belong to his Mother. Your Uncle Frederic was acquainted with some of them in Germany. The most of them were Germans. We got dreadful tired of our own soldiers before the Yankees came in but I dont care how long they stay now if they will just keep the ugly blue coats away. I could tell you as much again about them and then the half would not be told but then I am afraid you will be as tired of this long rigmarole as we were of the blue coats. So let us bid them good bye for the present and may itch lice our worst respects and a good thrashing follows them. Anna I will send you a book mark. If it is not well done you must remember that it is my first. I will send you a few more seeds. If you have got any kind of seeds we do not have up here I would like for you to send me some. It is plenty time to plant some seeds up here yet. I have nothing more to tell you at present. You must not forget to write again. I remain your friend Inez James
“Dr. Frederic” was Frederick Rauschenberg, Anna’s uncle.
Henry Robins was a local farmer and Confederate Home Guard member.
Arlevia Robins was the daughter of Henry Robins.
Mitchell P. Varnell was founder of the town and a local judge.
“Mrs. Dannell” was Margaret Daniel, a neighbor.
This article is part of a series of stories about Dalton and life in Dalton during the Civil War. The stories run on Sunday and are provided by the Dalton 150th Civil War Commission. To find out more about the commission, go to www.dalton150th.com. If you have material that you would like to contribute for a future article contact Robert Jenkins at (706) 259-4626 or email@example.com.