Jacob Jennings Brown papers  1799-1950s (bulk 1799-1837)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of typescripts of around 70 letters related to David Ballenger, who served in the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment and Hampton's Legion during the Civil War. His first letter, written to a sister from Kingston, Georgia, on December 5, 1858, mentions the possibility of attending a 20-day grammar course.

The bulk of the typescripts are letters that Ballenger wrote to his wife Nancy and, less frequently, other family members while serving with the Confederate Army between December 1861 and January 1865. He spent most of the war in Virginia, though he also traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas, and described his participation in skirmishes and in major engagements such as the Battles of South Mountain, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He sometimes commented on the general progress of the war, including the increasing likelihood of a Union victory. Ballenger discussed his and other Confederate soldiers' deteriorating enthusiasm throughout the course of the war; in September 1864, he noted that he and others would quit fighting should George McClellan win the presidency and make concessions to the seceded states. In his letter of December 12, 1864, he worried that the war had become more about power than idealism and expressed his disdain for its deleterious effects on Southern morality, as evidenced by a preponderance of brothels.

Ballenger's letters often refer to his religious faith, and he often thanked God for seeing him safely through battles. He commented on the hardships soldiers suffered during the war, believing that they far outweighed any difficulties experienced by those at home (May 13, 1863), and reflected on the magnitude of the death and destruction that the war had caused. In his letter of June 12, 1864, he mentioned a visit to the site of the Battle of Malvern Hill, still strewn with bodies.

The collection includes a small number of typescripts of letters that David Ballenger received from other military personnel during the war. Postwar correspondence includes a letter from H. B. Rector to David Ballenger about Reconstruction in Georgia (February 24, 1868); letters of congratulation after Ballenger's election to an unspecified public office (September 1886); and letters from Ballenger to his daughter and two nieces about their education (1888). The final typescript consists of the text of an undated article in The North Greenville Courier about Reverend O. J. Peterson, the principal of North Greenville High School.

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