A letter which was written by Hanibal Paine to his sister, Mary Louisa (Mollie) Paine in 1863 can be found in the Rhea County Historical Society publication, A Personal Look at the Civil War in Rhea and Meigs Counties, Tennessee. According to research, Hanibal Paine (1839-1867) joined Captain John Crawford’s Company during the War Between the States; it was known as the 26th Tennessee Regiment. Paine was elected Lieutenant, then after reorganization, James A. Cash became Captain of Company E. Hanibal never married, and contracted consumption (Tuberculosis) from exposure during the war. He is thought to be buried in Paine Cemetery near Evensville, along with a number of other family members. This letter, written during February of 1863, was one hundred and fifty-eight years old on February 4 of this year. It gives the reader insight into life during the War Between the States. The letter appears as it was written, with any changes or clarification in parentheses.
LETTER FROM HANIBAL PAINE
TO MARY L. PAINE
Feb 4th 1863
Yours came to hand a few days since informing me of the arrival of Lieut (should be Lieutenant) Knight and safe delivery of my letters and ammunition. I can’t say much for his personal appearance or shrewdness, but I presume you found him sociable and communicative according to the extent of his knowledge. Upon the whole as it was not convenient for me to take the trip myself, I judged him to be the best selection I could make in our company, and hope he will perform the task allotted him satisfactorially (should be satisfactorily) to all concerned.
As for the candy stew, I had a brief sketch of it from one who said they were present in person on that festive occasion. They represented it as a brilliant affair, rather on a small scale. Said tho (should be though) that they had quite a merry time of it. I hope myself they enjoyed themselves well, “for whatever fate betide me” I always wish the virtuous and good prosperous and happy.
As for Bean, like yourself I always have a contemptable (should be contemptible) opinion of all such persons. I well knew before the fact was written from home that he was not in the battle, I learned that he was sick and went to the wagon yard beyond the reach of danger the day before the fight began. I never saw him myself, but some of my men saw him the day he rode out there and was telling me what he said, but you had better think when the retreat commenced he was able again to get himself out of harms way. I saw him myself on the retreat, he passed our Regiment about noon the first day riding his roan horse. At the time I was trudging along in the ranks through mud almost knee deep. I perceived that he never saw me and so I let him pass without calling him to attention, for I would not at that time have stepped one step out of my way to have shaken hands with Jeff Davis. I am of opinion that he thinks himself about as high as it possible for him to climb (and I have no doubt but what he ranks higher than he deserves) and he now wants to live in glorious ease, and reflect the honor and glory of our brave soldiers without sharing their toils, privations, and dangers, though for aught I know he may be really sick and bad off, and I can at the same time allege nothing disreputable against him, I merely write what I do to make you think and to let you know that I take slight notice of events transpiring around me. And take notice at the same time that I want the contents of this letter not to go beyond the family circle.
And there is another nice man just returned home, Mr. H.A. Crawford who has never been the least advantage to the cause since the war began. Can you tell me how him and Miss Ann (Frazier) are making it? I am of opinion his star is waning. I understand he says Mr. Jasper Lillard is all the man he fears (is Martha Frazier at Washington now?) I think from what I can learn that Jasper has been making his life quite an uneasy and unhappy one of late. He used to write to Ann and Mollie both and used to say he could easily get Mollie. I reckon he thinks if he can’t get the one now he will not be choice and so will take the other. But I would not be surprised if he fails yet in the end to get either of them.
Well I have almost consumed my space, and given you but little current news. But at the same time I can say that I have but little to write. A few days since I heard cannon in the direction of Shelbyville, and it has been reported that the Yankees are advancing by that pike, but I don’t believe one word of it. So allow yourself to suffer no uneasiness on that account. General Johnston is here now, and I suppose will assume command.
We have some cold bad weather now and occasionally some snow. Why don’t Jane write to me, I have been expecting a letter from her for some time, that is the reason I have not written to her before now. (Jane was another sister of Hanibal and Mary.) I must close by bidding you good night.
According to my research, Colonel Onslow Bean was the son of Edmond and Lucretia Locke Bean, and was born February 11, 1831. He was a Methodist minister and never married. It is stated in one Regimental History that Bean was part of the Sixteenth Tennessee Battalion as a senior officer, and commanded Vaughn’s brigade. He was killed at the head of his battalion at Marion, Virginia in December, 1864, “while resisting the enemy.”
From information gathered relating to a candy stew……….candy pulls or candy stews were popular during the nineteenth century, and involved “young women, aged fifteen upward, several dudes and non-dudes-none over twenty-five.” This event also needed a large supply of white aprons, a larger supply of table-napkins, a well-heated cooking-range, and two or three copper stew-pans. Candy Stews were also written about in the diaries of a number of young Virginia ladies, who wrote about candy pulling and supper being a part of the social event. Some of these information sites even gave recipes for Molasses Candy and Molasses Taffy.
It is hard for us to imagine a social event like a Candy Stew being held in today’s world. However, during the War Between the States, most all the men were gone to war, and the women were left at home with boys too young or men too old to fight. That was a time when food and other items were almost impossible to get, and families left at home had to accept what they could get and be thankful for it. The Candy Stew probably began in this manner, since sugar and other ingredients were plentiful in the beginning of the war, but not as the fighting progressed. Therefore, the Candy Stew more than likely evolved to compensate for the lack of ingredients.
As we read this letter and note the information involved relating to the War Between the States, the Paine family, Onslow Bean, the Crawford family, and Rhea County, we can realize that we are opening a window into history. As your Rhea County Historian, I encourage you to learn about these past events in order to help preserve our history so that that we can live in the present and prepare for the future.
Pat Guffey can be reached at email@example.com