James Morris Papers

Confederate Currency, not associated with the James Morris Papers
Image courtesy of a Private Collector

In September 1863, James Morris wrote his wife, Sarah, while camp at Little Rock, Arkansas. Morris served in an unknown Confederate regiment, while his wife remained at their home in Vernon County, Missouri. Morris wrote about the deaths of family and friends in the Confederate Army and urged Sarah to send their children to school. In a previous letter, James sent home $100 in cash and notes for $153 of debt owed to him. Mail routes were prime targets for bushwhackers and organized troops looking to seize valuables, goods and money sent through the mail. Family members often wrote notes of shipped goods and important news in consecutive letters to ensure the recipient received the information.

In this letter, Morris encouraged his mother-in-law to hire a worker with Confederate script to cultivate the family’s crops. With James away at war, the Morris women were left in charge of the family farm. Confederate currency was not as valuable as Union currency, and it was difficult to find someone to honor the script. Missouri civilians possessing Confederate script drew the attention of the Union Provost Marshal, which could lead to questions regarding their loyalty. It is unlikely that the Morris family only had Confederate currency, and more likely James wanted to spend the script he received for his service before it lost all of its value.

Contributed by the The Bushwhacker Museum and Jail

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