The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Pittman (Richard B.) Letters
Collection Number: M251
Volume: .25 cu. ft.
Richard B. Pittman, born July 27, 1828, in Marion County, Mississippi, was the seventh child of John and Susanna Ward Pittman. John Pittman had been born January 12, 1796, in Robeson County, North Carolina; Susanna's birth date was June 15, 1797. Family tradition, cited in Descendants of Captain Thomas Pittman Jr. by James Calvin (J.C.) Pittman, says that John left North Carolina about 1821 and settled in Marion County, Mississippi, in early 1823.
On November 20, 1848, Richard B. Pittman and Mary Ann Bullock, daughter of Richard and Louisa Magee Bullock, were married by J.H. Webb, a Justice of the Peace. Richard and Mary Ann became the parents of six children: John Calvin b. 1851; Daniel J., b. 1854; Mary Jane S., b. 1856; William R., b. 1858; Charles Tommie J., b. 1860; and George Marion, b. 1862. Descendants of this family, as well as a typed copy of the family Bible record, can be found in the family genealogy named above.
When the need for volunteers to defend the southern states became evident. Richard B. Pittman, along with seven brothers and a brother-in-law, joined the 7th Mississippi Infantry. Service records show that John Pittman enlisted on May 8, 1861, and other family members, including Richard B., enlisted on August 10, 1861. They were part of Company F, which was first stationed at Camp Clark in Hancock County near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Company F was originally known as "Marion's Men," and was enrolled in Confederate service at Columbus, Mississippi. From September 27, 1861, until early 1862, Richard and his company were stationed at Camp Clark near Bay St. Louis. In May and June 1862, the 7th Mississippi Infantry was in camp near Tupelo, Mississippi, but Richard Pittman had been sent to the general hospital on April 29, 1862, on a surgeon's certificate. Richard rejoined his regiment by the end of June and marched with them to the area of Knoxville, Tennessee, the site of their camp through October 31, 1862. In November and December, their camp site shifted to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where on the morning of December 28, the 7th Mississippi was ordered into battle. On December 31, 1862, in the first charge, 400 yards in front of breastworks, Richard B. Pittman was wounded slightly. A medical card shows that he was hospitalized in the 1st Mississippi CSA Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, for contusion of the hip from January 13-23, 1863.
By February 1863, Richard had rejoined his unit near Shelbyville, Tennessee, where they were on picket duty for the next several months. Health and living conditions of the troops were good during this period. In early July, the unit retreated from Shelbyville to the Chattanooga area in a forced march through mud and rain during early August, the unit moved further south near Bridgeport in Jackson County, Alabama.
On September 20, 1863, Richard B. Pittman was shot on the field of battle at Chickamauga. According to the Pittman genealogy, he was allegedly buried in the national cemetery near the site of the battle.
The Richard B. Pittman collection consists of 67 letters written between November 6, 1860, and June 5, 1864, by Richard B. Pittman, other members of the Pittman and Bullock families, and family friends.
Richard Pittman wrote 54 of the letters to his wife, Mary Ann Bullock Pittman. These letters begin on September 9, 1861, when Richard and other soldiers were camped in Harrison County, Mississippi. He had joined Captain W.J. Rankin's Company F of the 7th Mississippi Volunteers on August 10, 1861; the unit was transferred to Confederate service on October 6, 1861. During September the letters reflect an expected coastal attack, for Richard describes strict regulations in camp and an anticipated move. After being transferred into confederate service, Richard expected his unit to be moved to the railroad at Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, for guard duty. However, the large number of sick men in the company prevented Company F from being transferred.
The mention of illness in the Hancock County camp site was common in Richard's early letters. Measles struck early; then in November and December 1861 and January 1862, colds and fever were prevalent. The latter problem was referred to as "camp fever." Also evident in the early letters is Richard's concern about sending supplies home to his family.
In February 1862, Richard wrote that he was willing to serve his country and that he left south Mississippi with a lively attitude. From February through July 1862, his company was involved in fighting and guard duty in north Mississippi -- at Corinth, in Tishomingo and Itawamba counties, near Oxford and Saltillo. By August 1862, Richard and his company were in Tennessee, first near Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, than at Chattanooga. He received a wound in his side and leg during fighting near Chattanooga in January 1863 but recovered and rejoined his unit in February.
Richard's 1863 letters contain references to military actions in Tennessee as well as personal comments and directions to Mary Ann. In late February, he wrote that times were dull but food, wood, and water were readily available in camp. By the end of March he described provisions as high and scarce and noted the loss of his extra clothing during a yankee raid of their camp. Letters from home were irregular, causing much concern for him.
A copy of the book Descendants of Captain Thomas Pittman, Sr. by James Calvin (J.C.) Pittman, Sr. (s.l.: s.n., 1988?), is available in the McCain Library, call number CS71 .P6897 1988.