1859-1890 (bulk: 1860s)
Epperly, Christian M. (1837-1904)
Title: [Collection of Christian M. Epperly, 54th regiment, Virginia, artillery] [decimalized]
The collection contains 136 letters (122 war-date) mostly from Private Christian M. Epperly to his wife, Mary Epperly, living in Floyd County. The collection also contains a few letters from Mary Epperly to her husband. Throughout the war, Epperly's units consistently managed to avoid major engagements until the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. In his letters, Epperly frequently discusses deserting the Confederacy. His wife Mary also encourages Epperly to desert and often tells him about friends and relatives who successfully left the army (GLC02715.065, 69, 70). In September 1863, Epperly finally deserts the Confederate army but returns in late November. His only punishment is time in the guard house. Epperly's discontent with the army continues to grow throughout the war and his desire to desert evolves into a belief that the South should return to the Union. In GLC02715.087, Epperly discusses seeing the South as wicked and disobedient and hopes that God in his righteousness will return the Southern people to the Union. Other highlights also include a mutiny that took place in December 1862. Several of Epperly's letters discuss religion and God's mercy and benevolence. Letters GLC02715.015, 24, 43, 54 & 80 contain especially long and eloquent religious passages. A number of the letters emphasize the plight of the Southern people, who must cope with the vast destruction caused by the war (GLC02715.011, 43, 98 & 103). Mary Epperly's letters (# 52, 53, 65, 69, 70, 114, 118 & 122) provide an interesting glimpse into the home front on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Like her husband, Mary is not a fervent supporter of the Confederacy. Letters GLC02715.065, 59, & 70 encourage her husband to desert. Letter GLC02715.114 blasts a recent draft of all men aged 17-50. She condemns secessionists in letter GLC02715.118 and in letter GLC02715.122, claims that the Yankee army can treat them no worse than the Confederate army has.