Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1861 December 27 Winchester

My Darling Wife –
I will write you to day a short business letter about some
matters which I had intended to have attended to in person if I had
gotten home as I expected to have done. I enclose a diagram which will
explain to you the work which I propose for the farm next year. It shows about
eighteen acres for corn and about twenty acres for oats. To do this you will
require (in addition to the services of Jack and Fitzgerald) a boy some 15 or 18
years old who can be hired for some $60 to $75. I have written a letter to Wm.
White to hire such a boy for me. Send it to him by Jack and direct Jack
make inquiry and find one who will suit. I have written to Col Paxton, Nelson
and Page who hired negroes to me last year that I will pay their bills as soon
as the crops which I raised last year can be sold. Hay, I understand, is now worth
Lexington about $1.25 per hundred and straw some 50 to 75 cents. I wish you would
use the corn stalks in feeding your cows, which make a very good feed so as to have
as much hay and straw to sell as practicable. I think it might be arranged so as when
the wagon went with a load of hay or straw it might bring back a load of manure
to be thrown out on the poor land opposite the avenue gate now in wheat
You had better have a pair of hay ladders made so as to answer the purpose
and at the same time with some thin plank put at the sides and bottom to
haul manure. The manure I have been in the habit of buying at $1 for a
four horse load & the load of straw would bring at the rate it is now selling
for some $10 or $15. The manure would be worth as much on the land as the
straw would be.
I have written to Pa requesting him to buy for me some 10 or 12 stock hogs and
send them in to you. Enclosed you will find the letter which you can send to him by
the first opportunity.
I suppose you have from our wheat crop an abundant supply of bran

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to keep your cows this winter. The old cow which I bought at John G. Hamiltons sale
is very indifferent and I doubt whether her milk will pay for her feed, and you
had better ^ ‘get’ Jack to sell her for you. You will still have three left and her
feed added to theirs will give more milk than you get from her. Are you milking
the two Durham heifers? I know they both lost their calfes. I wish good care taken
of them.
You will need for the land which I have directed to be sown in clover
some 60 acres about eight bushels of seed. It will not be needed until
about first of March and I will make arrangement to get it before that
Helen said in one of her letters that you had made 600 bushels of corn. This is
not as much as I expected. I thought the 12 acres by the side of the avenue would
bring about 50 bushels per acre and 35 acres on the other side of the plank
road would bring about 20 per acre which would make some 300 bushels
I hope the hands were able to get the crop gathered before Christmas
If so the plows had better be started as soon as the weather is favourable
leaving the fencing and other work to be done when the weather is
not suitable.
I have generally bought all the ashes I could get at about 8 or 10 cents
per bushel. I think you had better get all that may be for sale at the
Institute, College, and Hotels, and they can be hauled by the wagon
which can take in a load of hay or wood. I desire to have plaster
and ashes sown upon all of the land which is in clover and grass
This must be done in the spring and I will make arrangements to
have the plaster provided before it is needed.
I have thus given you my plan of next years campaign on the farm
You had better call a council of war consisting of Fitz and Jack, read
over and explain my letter and diagram, and I know they will do
their best to have the work done as well as it can. If they suggest anything
as impracticable in it write to me about it. Find out from them and
let me know how much corn they think has been made after fattening
the hogs & how much there will be for sale after keeping enough for
our own use next year. How much hay they think there will be for
sale after keeping enough for our own use.
I still have a hope of getting home before very long. I have no doubt
the General will close operations when the first snow falls and I know
you will concur with me in the hope that this may be very soon.
I hope by the time this reaches you, you may be able to write to me
I will write to you again on Sunday not on business
Goodbye Ever Yours
E F Paxton
[The above letter does not appear in Civil War Letters of General Frank “Bull” Paxton.]

Elisha Franklin "Bull" Paxton, University of Virginia alumnus and Confederate General, commanded the 27th Virginia Infantry and later the 1st "Stonewall" Brigade at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

MSS 2165

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