Skip to main content


Special Collections Online at UT

Matthew A. Cowden and George A. Gammon Letters

Identifier: MS-3209

  • Staff Only

George A. Gammon's letter, written on 1863 November 19, gives a Confederate perspective of the Civil War. At the time the letter was written, Gammon was stationed in Dalton, Georgia with the Department of East Tennessee. The letter is addressed to his father, but Gammon's hometown is unknown. In the letter Gammon expresses his objection to the Union's imprisonment of Southern property holders and makes clear his hatred for the Union Army, saying that They are such a mean, despicable, barbarous race of beings. Gammon is also concerned that his family will be taken by the Federal Troops. Gammon mentions that he is still under the command of Captain Bennett, but notes that Bennett is currently in West Tennessee with General Nathan Bedford Forrest. He speculates that he will soon be moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, but goes on to say that he really does not know. The postscript to the letter asks his father to pay a debt he has incurred and assures his father that he is owed enough money from the Government to eventually pay him back.

Matthew Cowden's first letter, addressed to his family in Pennsylvania, is dated 1863 December 17. In it, he discusses General James Longstreet's reinforcement and his push on the Union Army. Cowden states that Longstreet has pushed the Union Army to eighteen miles outside of Knoxville. Surprisingly, Cowden feels that there is no cause for alarm, since the Union Army is prepared for any Confederate troop surge. Cowden is, however, very negative about the loss of a supply train containing coffee and sugar. The train was captured by the Confederate Army and Cowden fears the short supply of coffee they have left. He also wishes his family good tidings for the holidays and describes his Thanksgiving dinner, stating that he hopes his Christmas Dinner is better.

The final letter in this collection was written by Cowden to his sister. The letter is written from Blaine's Crossroads, Tennessee, an area approximately eighteen miles from Knoxville. The letter is dated 1863 December 29. Cowden describes the trip from Knoxville to Blaine's Crossroads as being difficult. He and his Negro driver were plagued with various transportation problems along the way and were forced to stop for the night in an unoccupied house near the railroad, where they lit a large fire to combat the blistering cold. Cowden arrived in camp on Christmas Day and described his dinner as being good, but in no way luxurious. The conditions at Blaine's Crossroads are cold and horrible. Cowden also includes in this letter a piece of poetry written about General Longstreet's visit to Knoxville.


  • 1863 November 19-December 29

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection houses several letters written by Union soldier Matthew A. Cowden to his family in Pennsylvania and by Confederate soldier George A. Gammon. Cowden's letters illustrate the hardships of being a soldier, his longing for home, and his confidence in the Union Army's ability to defeat the Confederates. Gammon's letter shows an extreme hatred for the Union Army and speculates on movement of the Confederate Army in the coming days.

Biographical/Historical Note

Matthew A. Cowden enlisted as a Private on 1862 August 14 and mustered into B Company of the 45th Pennsylvania Infantry of the Union Army. He was listed as wounded on 1864 May 6 in Wilderness, Virginia. He was discharged from service 1865 July 5.

No biographical information other than that available in the letter is available for George A. Gammon.


This collection consists of one folder.

Acquisition Note

Purchased by Special Collections, 2007 May 24.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA