1861: Charles Ogden Crocker to Friend William

This fascinating letter was written by Charles “Ogden” Crocker (1841-Aft1880), the son of Mary Ellen Kellogg (1820-Aft1880) of Mobile and Henry A. Crocker (1811-1853) of New Haven, Connecticut. Ogden was a member of a recently formed state militia when this letter was written in early February 1861 but he later served as a private in Co. A, 21st Alabama Infantry. This regiment was formed in Mobile in October 1861 and served there until March 1862 when it moved to Corinth and subsequently played a significant role in the Battle of Shiloh. The regiment lost 31% of its 650 members at Shiloh. Following that engagement and retreat, they returned to Mobile and were utilized as artillerymen in the coastal defenses. Crocker’s papers indicate he was detached from the regiment shortly after the Battle of Shiloh and utilized as a nurse. In April 1863 he was stationed as a hospital nurse in Dalton, Georgia.

Ogden’s father was a partner with George Flagg in the firm of Flagg & Crocker as early as 1837 in Mobile. Their store was at the corner of Dauphin and Royal Streets. He died in Mobile on 14 August 1853.

Ogden survived the war and returned to Mobile where he was enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Census as a liquor store clerk in Mobile’s 4th Ward. In 1880, he was enumerated as a clerk residing on St. Francis Street in Mobile.

Ogden wrote the letter to his “friend” William whom I suspect was residing in the vicinity of New York City. The mail service between the gulf ports and the Northern states was not suspended until May 1861.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]


Mobile [Alabama]
February 10th 1861
Confederated State of N. America

Dear William,

I was glad to get a letter from you and to hear that all was well. I will tell you how matters get along here. We are no longer in this United States but a free Confederacy of ourselves. ¹ The Confederacy was formed Saturday by electing Jeff Davis of Mississippi President & Hon. A. H. Stephens of Georgia Vice President, and with God to guide us, we will ride the storm and be the happiest country on top of the earth.

Things are getting quiet here since the republic was formed. One hundred & one guns was fired in honor of this republic. Alabama gave half a million of dollars in cash to help form the republic and if the other States [will match] — which I think will — that will make 3 millions of dollars. So you see that we are determined in our views. Ask those republicans how they feel. [Do] not tell them for me.  It was them that brought this country to what it [is] today. The South only ask[ed] for her rights in the Union and she could not get them — and she is willing to do things that [are] right and honorable.

Our convention is still in session to attend to foreign affairs, finances, military and naval affairs, judiciary, postal offices, commerce, patents and printing. Montgomery will be the Capitol for the present. I think Augusta, Georgia, will be the permanent capitol. If the North will let us alone, we will do things. But if they want war, then we are for war to the knife. We are enlistment men for a three years service unless soon[er] discharged. I have the honor of being a corporal of the Frankly [Franklin?] Guards. We have about 75 members [which] includes non-commisioned officers.

I received the Tri-States Union — and [I] wish he would change that word as there is no such thing now — but not that song you spoke of. They do not allow the Tribune in this place. I send you [the] Mobile paper. I think I have told you all I can think of just now. When you write me, direct your letter thus:

Ogden Crocker, Box 821, Mobile, Alabama, Confederated States of North America. That is my direction now. Write soon again. I would like you to ask the old gentleman why he does not write. Tell him I would like to hear from him and show them the Mobile Register under Telegraph. Heard of the forming of this new government. So I will close. Goodbye. Give my love to all. I will send you the Alabama flag as soon as they adopt the State Flag. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your friend, — C. Ogden Crocker

Don’t forget my direction. Hurrah for the Southern Republic of North America — with 6 states and 3 million of dollars. Tell those abolitionists to put that in their pipes and smoke it! ²

¹ The Alabama convention to consider secession met on 7 January 1861. Four days later the delegates voted 63 to 39 to take the state out of the Union. On the afternoon of 11 January 1861, when the news reached Mobile, widespread celebrations broke out in the city and the militia fired one hundred guns in salute. The bands played and there was a huge fireworks display that night.

² One source claims that the phrase, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it” was first recorded in R. B. Peake’s two-act comedy Americans Abroad (1824). Apparently Dickens used the expression in the Pickwick Papers also.


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