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SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION 2001
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Box Family Papers, 1857-1864 [Addition]
Thirty-six manuscripts, 1857-1864, are representative of the collective lives and experiences of the Box family of Laurens District, chiefly during the tumultuous years of the Civil War. The papers center around the family of William Irby Box, a shoemaker by trade, who is identified on the 1860 federal census as a twenty-one-year-old resident of the Simpson's Mill community. On 25 December 1859 William Box married Margret Culbertson. Daughter Rachel Lueller was born on 22 September 1860 and son William Irby, Jr., was born 8 November 1862.

Items predating the couple's marriage include courtship letters to Box and Culbertson from other suitors and an undated letter in which William confronted Margret concerning rumors that she had jilted him. Civil War letters beginning in early April 1862 indicate that William, a private attached to Co. C, Third Battalion, South Carolina Infantry, had arrived at Camp Brooks near Adams Run in coastal South Carolina. Recognizing his own mortality and grieving over their separation, he wrote to Margret on 23 April 1862-"all the pleasure Margret I expect to see while I am from you is Getting letters and ancerning them...and if I kep well and hear from you once a week and hear that you and darling Child is well I think maby I Can keep from Greaving so mutch." "Margret it is a hard word for mea to Say Death and a hard thout," the letter continues, but "if God Calls mea from the Stag of action while wee are apart and You Should be living I want you to have mea put wher you want to be put your self whin you Die and then I want for you and mea and Darling Child to be berred Side and Side. I hope wee will all injoy the fruits of life to gether once more but Death is so Shure that I thout that it would be nothing amiss to rite my wishes to you."

From Camp Furlough, 10 June 1862, William reported that the stores at Adams Run had "filld up with redy maid Clothing for the Soldiers" but that he was unable to obtain tobacco. The letter also tells of confusion during a fight on Johns Island in which Confederates had mistakenly fired into their own troops-"tha kild 3 and wounded 12 tha are all thear in the horse puttle now tha are a going to send the dead home this morning."

Also included in the collection are letters from William's father, Joseph B. Box, who wrote from Laurens District on 26 June 1862 informing William of his involvement in a quarrel over reports that he had incited slaves to mischief while their masters were away. By mid-1863, it seems, Joseph Box was living on the homestead of his son and daughter-in-law, for a 21 July 1863 letter from Joseph alludes to his disagreements with Margret and proposes that William bear the cost for his father to move.

Lueller, the young daughter whom William and Margret doted upon, died during the summer of 1863 and son and namesake William Irby, Jr., also known as Buddy, was sickly much of the time. Writing on 14 September 1863 about religious meetings at Quaker and Poplar churches, Margret confided-"I love to go to the quaker for the sake of the graves that is their oh I can go to that little grave and think of a sweet little child that is laid their but oh how happy she is people ought never to grieve at the death of a child for we know that they are happy or have all ground to believe it." Buddy continued "puny" into the winter of 1863. When Margret wrote on 16 December he had whooping cough and croup, and she feared he, too, might die-"I thought when Lueler was taken that I never could stand it and now if buddy is taken what will I do...he is all the baby I've got."

While Buddy's health remained tenuous and is mentioned repeatedly, issues of farm labor, food supplies, and furloughs came to dominate letters between the Boxes at home in Laurens District and William, who by late 1862 was in Virginia, where he was detailed as a shoemaker for the army. As early as 27 September 1863, William wrote from Richmond of food shortages-"I wish the war would ind and all the Solgers go home...for it begins to faver Starvation a bout this plase every thing Scears and so miserable high." He urged Margret to fatten their hogs because bacon was scarce in Virginia and quickly escalating in price. If she could find enough salt to cure the meat, he speculated, he would be able to sell it in Virginia the following spring. A letter from Margret dated 21 February 1864 notes that she was sending her husband provisions that included a ham, meal, flour, rye, cheese, pound cake, fruit, and thirteen pounds of butter.

Among the last letters in the collection are those dating from the summer of 1864 in which William wrote of his anticipated furlough. By 11 September 1864, however, he was back in Virginia. His final letter included here is dated 12 November 1864 and was written from Chaffin's Farm outside Richmond.


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