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Sale 2486 Lot 9
"JEFF DAVIS AND THE DEVIL NEED PRAYING FOR VERY BADLY" (AUTOGRAPHS.) Smith, William E. Pair of letters from an Ohio corporal on Sherman's march. 2 Autograph Letters Signed to his mother Alice Ann or Alyzaniah Webster Smith Searl, each 4 pages, 7 3/4 x 5 inches, on a folding sheet; faint dampstaining and minor wear. Vp, 1864-65
Estimate $300 - 400
William Elliott Smith (1844-1933) enlisted from Darke County, OH into the 94th Ohio Infantry in 1862, and was soon promoted to corporal. He was wounded at Chickamauga but returned to duty for Sherman's March and the end of the war. The first of these letters was written in camp near Atlanta on 21 September 1864. Most notably, he mocked a three-month regiment: "I see that the [Ohio National Guard] have returned, and that the citizens gave them a grand reception dinner. It must be a very nice thing to soldier for one hundred days, and to receive so mutch praise. . . . They are styled as the very cream of the population, and I think as the cream of the country, they ought to come and save their bleeding country, and let the trash go home."
The second letter is dated near Savannah, GA, 6 January 1865, where he offers the clue which distinguishes him from other William Smiths: "How is the weather up in old Darke?" He attended a church service in Savannah: "The minister preached a very good sermon, but he never said a word about the Yankee soldiers, but he prayed very earnestly for the absent ones. He meant the rebels, of course. One of the Episcopal ministers went to Sherman to know if he could pray for Jeff Davis. Sherman said 'Oh, yes, Jeff Davis and the Devil need praying for very badly.' . . . I think Jeff Davis will need somebody before long to pray for him."