Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ed Merrit of the 8th Louisiana

This was sent to me by Wayne Cosby. It is an interesting piece about the "Peculiar Institution." From Wayne:

"This letter shows the devotion of a young body servant, Ed Merritt that was sent to war with two friends, Perry Murrell and R. A. Smith of Claiborne Parish. This letter, recounted many years after the war, recounts some of the experiences with Ed Merritt. Perry and R.A. served in Co. G, 8th Louisiana Infantry, the Minden Blues."

Lake Charles, La.
March 13, 1922
Mrs. J. D. Harper
Many, LA

My Dear Cousin Ettie:
I cannot express my joy on reading your letter, and the letter of your dear father Isaac Murrell. It carried me back to days full of sweet sadness. It made me think of incidents and persons whom I loved very much and love to recall them now in the days when I am old, and so lonely at times, for I am almost alone now. There are only one or two that I know of who still survive. I am continually worried of dear ones dropping off. I am happy in God's goodness to me and mine in providing so well for us in our last days. Let me answer your letter.

While I was at school in Homer 1860-61, I knew Perry Murrell, cousin John Murrell's son. He was in business with Jones in Homer. I met little John Murrell (son of John) at the time of election when Bell and Everette ran for President. John ran a horse in the streets of Homer with a big bell on his neck. When the War came on I was at school in Homer, and graduated in April, went to Minden and joined the "Minden Blues" with J. Perry Murrell, John Murrell, Marion Canfield, Kit Kimbel, George Kimbel, Ben Bell and myself made a mess of seven who remained together during life. I am the only one that survived the War.

Cousin Isaac Murrell had a negro boy, Ed Merritt whom he speaks of in his letter as being left sick at Charleston, Va. one time. My father had a negro boy, Ed Boskin. Our fathers were going to send both of these boys with us, but cousin Isaac said it was too much and proposed that my father pay him half of Ed Merritt's value, and let him belong to Perry and me, so Ed was our boy, and a faithful one he was. He was closer to us than a brother. He carried our money, cooked, washed our clothes and counseled us as to health and conduct to the end of the War. He and I were the only ones of the eight that lived after the War. He was left with the Yankees in May at Charleston. He had a spell of fever, got well and cooked for a Yankee officer, and made money to pay his board, although he had over a hundred in gold buckled around his body in a belt. He slipped away from the Yankees and came to us at Orange Court House in Va., in August. I shall never forget the day when Perry and I were cooking apple dumplings and Ed came up dressed in a linen citizen's suit, how I hugged and kissed him.
After the war the youngest son, Willie Murrell married a Miss Bridgeman and settled in Homer where he died over one year ago. For a number of years as long as old Cousin John lived, I went to see him, and Ed Merritt, who lived near would come and visit for a day or two. The last time I saw Ed he showed me the belt that he carried the money in when he was in the War.

Little John Murrell, Perry's brother, was killed at Sharpsburg Sept. 17, 1862. Perry was wounded in the face, having one eye blinded in the same battle. Ed could not find either of them after the battle, I was wounded in the head at the second battle of Manassas - and left at Aldey, a little town in Virginia. Ed was not able to find either of us, gathered up our things and come home. I got a furlough and come home. So we three were at home in the Spring of 1863. He went back to Virginia the following April and got to our company to go to the Fredericksburg battle. And then in May made the march up into Pa. We were both wounded in the Gettysburg Battle.

The last we heard of Perry was when he crossed the stone fence about Cemetery Ridge in the Charge of Pickett's Brigade [Editor's Note: R.A. is incorrect as the 8th La. fought in the twilight attack on Cemetery Hill on the evening of July 2nd and was not engaged in Pickett's Charge. Perry was killed in this attack.] He was reported wounded but never could get any trace of him. I was wounded the first day of July 1863 - a ball through my body, and was carried to N.Y. where I remained 'till Nov. 12, 1863, I was then paroled. After the war, cousin John Murrell took Ed Merritt and they went North to every cemetery and every hospital they could find, but never got any trace of either of the boys, Perry or John Murrell.

Simeon Murrell went out with us in February 1862, when we re-enlisted for the war. He died of Measles when we were going over to join Gen. Jackson's army in the Valley. It was April, we were camped on the Rappahannock River, when we had a severe snow storm. More than a third of our company were down with the measles. Most of the recruits that went out with us died at that time.

I enjoyed Cousin Isaac's letter very much, and would like so much to have a copy of it, but do not feel I can make it now.
Anna and Ione and I are living here in a nice home with Walter gave us. We are well, write again,
R. A. Smith

- from Historic Claiborne, 1965.

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Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375