Letter, 31 December 1861, of Confederate soldier Chris C. McKinney, Camp Pocotalig[o], [Beaufort District, now Jasper County, S.C.] to his wife, Mary [McKinney], Petersburg, Tenn., conveys details of his service in coastal South Carolina and is particularly revealing for its comments on military discipline. Written on “the last night of 1861” as a “New-Years gift,” the letter indicates that McKinney, a first lieutenant in Co. B, Eighth Tennessee Infantry, had earlier that day inspected and mustered two companies of soldiers detached and “throwing up fortifications as fast as they can.”|
The letter complains of problems they were experiencing with “officers and men leaving without leave” and notes that, by order of Gen. [Daniel S.] Donelson, McKinney had arrested three commissioned officers and the quartermaster sergeant, all of whom were likely to be brought before court martial. Continuing on, it voices McKinney’s hope that Col. [Alfred S.] Fulton would “make hast[e] and come for I want him to hang some of the drunken and unruly rascals in this Regiment for I tell you if there is not something done and that soon we will quit the Service disgraced....”
While “we are making great preparations for a fight here,” McKinney wrote, “ I think it is all in the eye and the yanks are not coming out here and if they do my opinion is they will get whip[p]ed in dou[b]le quick time if our Regiment should happen to be sober enough &c.”
McKinney, who wrote of the esteem in which Gen. Donelson held him, was subsequently promoted to the rank of major in 1862 and to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1863.