Here is the letter I’m thinking about working with for my project. It is written by Margaret Murray to her brother Harmar Murray depicting her take on the shelling of Carlisle.

Carlise, July 3, 1863

Dear Harmer –

I wrote to you Tuesday morning, after the Rebs had nearly all left; but on account of there being no mail, either to or from Harrisburg, I could not send it until yesterday, when I gave it to a gentleman to post it in the Harrisburg P.O. We have not seen a newspaper for a week, — the cars made their appearance at the edge of town today, the first time since yesterday week; it was a freight train, bringing commissary stores for the soldiers quartered here, and also timber to build the bridge. They can’t come farther that the Fas House- or rather where the Gas House Stood, it having been burned by the Rebs. We will have to do  without gas for some time to come, as we though the Rebs had taken their final departure, my last letter was written in rather a hopeful strain, and we never dreamed that the very evening the Rebel demons would attend (?) to shell the town, and that too, without giving the usual warning.  A number of regiments N. York, Philadelphia, and others from the country, amassed here on foot from Harrisburg, stopped here to rest themselves and partake of refreshments provided by the citizens which were sent to the Market house for their use. They were on their way out the Baltimore Pike after the Rebs and did not expect to stop here longer than necessary. A great many citizens-ladies ad gentlemen- were down at the Square looking at them, and talking with them, Mary and I among the number. We were having a very nice time, when the cry “the Rebels are coming” was raised, Syre enough it was true; the Rebs were in sight- just bellow the ramains of the Gas House; they had come in the Trindle Spring road and as we had not sent the Scouts out in that direction owing to the fleet that they ( the Rebs) were out towards Holly, and our scouts were in every direction, but the one in which the Rebels came. Such a stampede of women and children you never saw in your life. You cannot imagine the confusion that ensued. It was a disagreeable surprise. Officers calling to their men, who were scattered in all directions, some eating, others worn out with their long march, fast asleep on the square and on the pavements; soldiers loading their pieces; the gunners away from their armour and no where to be seen; the excitement was intense, Uncle Joe and Pappers( ?) helped to draw one of the guns out and place it in proper position. Mary and the rest of us ran up the 1st Church alley, as far as the Senseman’s (?) stable, and I proposed we should go onto Main St. to see if it was really true that the Rebs were in sight, and our men drawn up in line of battle. We go as far as Mr. Mile’s store, and were gazing down Main St. when a shekk came whizzing over the town, right above us; we all rushed into the house, but as we were two squares from home I could not stay there. We got out the back way, tore up the alley like wild people, then accross to Maine St, then home. The shot and shelll were coming tick and fast, and we all retreated to the cellar for our safety, the sound of the shels as they came over the house and exploaded near by was terrific. I cannot use a more significant expression  that to say they had an infernal sound. I liked the booming of the cannon but the whizzing of those shells, I hope to never hear again. The firing commenced about ____? and lasted until 11; there was a short cessation about 11 we thought it best to go out of the town, as a great many were leaving and our houses were just in the rage of the guns. (Besides we did not know but the town would be completely shelled before morning). We took a few valuables with us and went out to the ——-. Mr. —-?—. where we met a great many citizens who had left the town; we stayed all night and next day went to the Meeting House Springs and then game home this morning. A few shots were fired after we left town and the enemy retreated after burning the Barracks and Gas house. Several houses in town were damaged by the shells, but not to a very great extent. I think the attack was the most inhuman and barbarous I ever heard of, attempting to destroy a town with the women and children in it. Fitzhugh Lee was the comandr of the Rebs: it just shows what they would do if they had the opportunity…We have a great many soldiers in town, and many more are expected – they are coming as fast as they can. Henderson’s warehouse is used by them for a depot for provisions. The College West is used for a hospital, where the wounded were taken after the engagement, we had not more that 15 or 20 wounded and none killed. There were 42 Rebel prisoners brought into town this evening captured by Capt. Boyd’s cavalry, near Shppensburg. They will be taken to Harrisburg. It is late and I will close for tonight. Saturday Morn, July 4. I hear the drum and fife this morning and understand 8 or 10 thousand men have just passed out the Baltimore Pike to the mountain to the Gaps. Everything tells us we are in the midst of the war–that this state–Pennsylvania is a battleground now. We were afraid you might be anxious about us and come home, but Mother says stay where you are;  we are perfectly safe and if Carlisle should be attacked we can leave the town. If you have been getting late papers containing an account of the engagement here, save them for us, and sent them when the main is regularly established again. Write us soon and as often as you can. I hear we are to have mail today, and will close in time for it.

Your sister,


N.B We have not yet receive and word from you since the Rebs were here; June 22 was the date of the last one. All mail matter to Harrisburg, from East to West was sent to Philadelphia but we expect it to be sent back, and we in Carlisle look for ours today; your letter will probably arrive today. It is now 9 o’clock, and the news from Adams county is very cheering; there has been heavy fighting for the last tow days near Gettysburg and Cashtown, the Army of the Potomac has been driving them back towards Benderville: ot os saod tjh(?) are slaughtered terribly- the devision that stopped in Carlisle is among those who suffered most – I rejoice to hear it. I mentioned Costa’s bill in my last, but for fear you have not received it, I will remind you of it again; attend to it, if it is possible to do so. We need all the money we can get.


Potential topic

While reading everyone else’s idea’s for their topic, it seems that reactionary papers are popular. During my search for scholarly articles and primary sources, I came across some articles dealing with the re-evaluation of Civil War African Americans after the 1960’s civil rights movement and the transition African Americans were going through then. This has helped scholars to better understand how Civil War blacks felt and how difficult/eager they were to gain more rights as time went on, and the struggles they faced doing so. I hope to gain some more primary source documents, such as letters, in this particular aspect. Therefore I think Im going to focus my paper on Civil War blacks and their attitudes or reactions after the Civil War and their transitions into society.