Letter. Rufus A. Barrier, Camp 8th North Carolina Infantry, James Island, Charleston, South Carolina, to Mathias Barrier, Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina
Barrier writes that they are due that day for a grand review of the troops stationed on James Island. The review is to be conducted by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard (than commanding the Confederacy's coastal defenses). Barrier himself is bedridden with the flux and won't be able to attend. The weather, he reports, is oppressively hot. He's heard of "excitement" in the directions of Washington, North Carolina, and Suffolk, Virginia and also in Tennessee: "Troops are leaving here every day to reinforce General Johnston in Tennessee." He expects that the regiment will move out in a few days, either for North Carolina or for Tennessee. He'd of course prefer North Carolina, but he'll take anywhere over his present circumstances: "I tell you the people of this place are the most ungenerous set I have ever met with. Their chief aim seems to be to fleece the poor soldier of everything that he has in the world. When you go to the city they do not regard a private soldier as much as they do a negro. I think that such a people ought to be left undefended to the mercy of a ruthless foe until they would learn to respect the strong men who have come here in their defense." Barrier has noticed that Charleston is "swarming with young men who are subject to the conscription but they shirk out by some means that is not explained." He contrasts the impunity with which they flout the draft in South Carolina to the way that draft evaders are hunted down "like savages" in his own state: "I reckon Mr. Davis is afraid to enforce the conscript act in this mighty state for fear she will secede from the confederacy and give him some trouble." He believes that "one half of the almighty secessionists of South Carolina" would rather rejoin the Union than continue to fight: "The first man that ever sprung secession in the city of of Charleston in 1860 is walking about the streets looking like a whipped cur." Barrier reports that the health of his company is good, with no cases of fever, but that Major McRae has fallen ill with typhoid. It seems to Barrier that only the worst men remain healthy while the best sicken and die. He asks his father to survey Cabarrus County for eight to ten able-bodied men to join his company, men who have not yet been conscripted. He asks also after his own debt to his father and Henry Barrier: "I want to pay off those notes as soon as possible so that I can be relieved of my debts." He is very concerned about his debts and says that, when they're paid off, he intends to spend his money relieving the pressures of life in camp. Barrier singles out for scorn the wealthy of the South who neither serve in the army nor support its troops: "There is a day of retribution coming when those wealthy lords of the land will have to give an account of their stewardship, if not in this life they will in the life to come. I am fearful that some of them will have to render their account to the careworn and weatherbeaten soldier when he reaches home and hears the sad and mournful tale of his beloved but mistreated family. How they have gone to the men of wealth asking for food to keep soul and body together and have been refused unless they would pay the prices demanded by the damnable speculators and extortioners. Then the tale of sorrow and woe arises that we were sent away to help ourselves or perish. It is against human nature for man to stand idle and listen to such tales of sorrow and misery." He goes on at length about "extortioners" getting rich off the war while their countrymen die for it and fears that the war may be in vain.