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A Wartime Letter From William Thomas

From William Thomas to his brother-in-law, Matthew Kreisle, and his sister, Sophie T. Kreisle, about the Union bombardment of Corpus Christi. Translated by the Dept. of Germanic Languages, Univ. of Texas at Austin, retyped and edited by Harold Mueller, 1987. Italicization indicates added comments.

Corpus Christi
August 20th, 1862 [Wednesday]
Brother-in-law and sister

To keep my promise I will take the opportunity and drop you a few lines. I want to tell you that thank God I am still sound hoping the same for you. I guess the few lines I wrote to you at Sunday informed you about the fight we had. The Yankees came at Thursday [Aug. 14] and the bombardment began Saturday morning 3:30 A. M. [Aug. 16th] and lasted till around 5:00 P. M. Sunday [Aug. 17] was ceasefire but it started again Monday morning and continued till Tuesday evening [Aug. 19]; yesterday morning they fired one shot and sailed away. I do not know when the Yankees will be back, probably soon; I think the next time things will not be passing off as well as this time for we have only one dead and two or three casualties. The Yankees certainly will come back with reinforcement to give us another idea of their warfare. I wish this war would be over for bad beef and bread embitters life; wheat coffee is our daily food and I am not pleased with that. Thursday night at twelve o'clock, which was the time when the enemy came, we had to leave the town carrying all our stuff on our backs to get protection in a ranch nearby Corpus. Bombs and shells flew around, but our protection was too good, they could not do anything [to] us. It was totally a cannon fight. The most of our paraphernalia are stored five miles away from here, because we feared to lose them. At first the enemy fired about 350 shots, answered by about 150 shots on our side. Without the fortification which was constructed by [Gen. Zachary] Taylor during the Mexican war, we would have had to give up Corpus Christi, but as the case was, the enemy had to sail away in battered boats; two companies are still here together with our battalion. Major Hobby got 2 shots, one in the hat the other one hit his forehead, but not dangerously.

Do ask Mr. Schoneberger whether the war will be over soon; from my point of view down here, it is going to last for quite a while.

The houses here are heavily battered; some of them got 5 or 6 charges. The matter turned out totally different from what I thought before at the time when I left you. I hope that the Yankees do not come back because I have respect for gunpowder and lead as it is very dangerous. I do not know when I will see you again, but I hope to meet you soon; I would like to hear from you soon.  Please excuse the bad handwriting, but the letter was written in a great hurry. I want to finish my letter in the hope that I will see you again soon.

Many greetings to the whole family L. C. Willi H. Ea. M.
Remind Schoeneberger and family Seidel of me as well as Eggs, Goldman, if he is still alive and all friends of mine who ask for me.

I remain your friend and brother-in-law
       Yours Thomas Feller
       [Your Thomas fellow?]
Maybe the Yankees will be back in one or two days. Perhaps it takes longer, but if they come back many a person probably will have to lose his life as they will be better equipped than the last time. I hope it is not my fate to die then.

Answer soon please.

Notes from Harold Mueller

Thomas was with the 8th Texas Infantry Regiment under Colonel A. M. Hobby. Hobby's Regiment was composed of 6 companies of infantry, 3 companies of artillery, and 1 cavalry company. From Wm. Thomas' obituary, he was a member of Ireland's company.

A copy of William Thomas' letter was sent to The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. The account of the engagement by Thomas is virtually identical to official reports. The Union forces were commanded by Lt. John W. Kittredge. His fleet consisted of the steam gunboat Sachem and four sailing vessels.

See the article by Alwyn Barr, "Texas Coastal Defense, 1861-65," The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 65, July, 1961, pp. 1-31.

Owner/SourceBob Mueller
Date20 Aug 1862
PlaceCorpus Christi, texas
Linked toWilliam THOMAS

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