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Civil War archive of seven (7) letters from Confederate States of America (CSA) Colonel John Amenas Fite (1832-1925), 7th Tennessee Infantry, Company B, captured at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, plus one (1) photocopy of memoir (8 items total). The letters were written while he was a prisoner of war at Johnson's Island, Ohio, and dated July 23, 1863 to August 3, 1864. The autographed letters signed (ALS) are all one-page and written to various family members, including his brother Judge Samuel McClary Fite (1816-1875). 1st item: ALS from John A. Fite, Johnson's Island, OH, to his brother and sister, dated July 23, 1863. He begins his letter by detailing the events of his capture at Gettysburg and the status of a mutual friend, writing "…On the 3rd July 1863, at Gettysburg P.A. It was my misfortune with others of my regt. to be taken prisoners. I do not know who exactly of the Regt were taken or killed I have only seen a few of these Capt John Allen was wounded in the back of the head…". He mentions the conditions of the prison, stating "…This is [the] most pleasant prison by far I have seen…". John also writes of the unlikely possibility of being in involved in a prisoner exchange, writing "…All exchanges of officers has been stopped and here I expect likely to remain perhaps until the war is over…". 2nd item: ALS from John A. Fite, Johnson's Island, OH, to his brother, dated February 26, 1864. He begins the letter by acknowledging others that he has received from family members and stating that he is in good health and spirits. John also writes of his fellow prisoners, including Captain Allen, stating "…four hundred of my fellow prisoners from this place have been sent to Point Lookout, Md. They write back that they are very much pleased at the change among them was Capt Allen…". He ends the letter by detailing the guidelines of letters received by prisoners, writing "…Write only one page as we are not allowed to receive more…". 3rd item: ALS from John A. Fite, Johnson's Island, OH, to his brother Samuel McClary Fite, dated August 3, 1864. John addresses the subject of prisoner exchange again, writing "…It looks very much like we have settled down here for the war, as the subject of exchange seems to be forggotten[sic]…". He also mentions his health and the conditions of the prison in general, stating "…I have been quite unwell for the last two weeks, but I am now about well again. The health of this prison is not quite so good as it was for sometime past, but is still greatly better than it was last Winter & Fall. The principal complaint is Diarrhea very few deaths occur…". 4th-7th items: Four (4) ALS from John A. Fite, Johnson's Island, OH, including three (3) to his sister(s), dated March 1 and 6, and April 24, 1864, and one (1) to his brother, dated March 29, 1864. The letters primarily address correspondence that he has received from family members, or lack thereof, and his health. His letter dated May 20 does state that "…Capt Allen…[has] gone to Richmond on exchange…". 8th item: Photocopy of MEMOIRS OF COL. JOHN A. FITE 7TH TENN. INF. C.S.A. FEB.10, 1832-AUG. 23, 1925", 125 page typed document of John Fite's life, including his military career and time in Johnson's Island prison. Housed in a brown cardstock folder. Note: This archival material has been documented by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. (see: https://sos-tn-gov-files.tnsosfiles.com/forms/FITE-JAMES_FAMILY_PAPERS_1814-1879.pdf) and published in "Colonel John A. Fite's Letters From Prison" by Raymond D. White, Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 1973, pp. 140-147 (8 pages). Biography: Col. John A. Fite, Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Tennessee, was born in 1832, in De Kalb County, a son of Jacob and Matilda (Baird) Fite. The father, of German origin, was born in North Carolina, and with his father came to Davidson County, then Smith County, and finally settled in De Kalb County, where he passed his days. Jacob married there, and was merchant at Alexandria as well as farmer. In 1846 he moved to nearby Lebanon, and died at the age of eighty-three. The mother, born in Hickman County, Tenn., died in 1876. Four of their eleven children were Dorcas R., widow of Leonard Scott; John A.; Dr. J. G. of Lebanon, and Edwin C. John, who went to Wilson County when he was fourteen years old and was educated in the university at Lebanon, and at Irving College. He began studying law at twenty-two, and in 1855 graduated from the law department of Cumberland University, and immediately began practice with his brother, Samuel, at Carthage. His brother was elected circuit judge in 1858, and he formed partnership with Hon. W. D. De Witt, now at Chattanooga. In 1861 John enlisted in Company A, Seventh Tennessee Regiment, Moore's Guards, was elected captain, and fought in Seven Pines; promoted major in 1862; he was in Mechanicsville (where he had two ribs broken), Chancellorsville, Cedar Run (where he received a wound in the leg), Fredericksburg and Gettysburg (where he was captured and taken to Fort McHenry), thence to Fort Delaware, thence to Johnson's Island, where he was retained for nineteen months, and paroled in February, 1865, but remained in North Carolina. After the war he resumed practice with his brother, and in 1871 was appointed clerk and master of chancery court holding it for over six years. In 1878 he and H. M. Hale became partners; in 1882 he was elected to the State Legislature to fill an unexpired term; and he was elected to his present position in 1886. December 29, 1866, he married Mary M., daughter of Leroy H. and Eliza Mitchell, and born in Smith County in 1841. Their two children are Bettie and Mattie. He was a Master Mason, and he and Mrs. Fite were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. For years he was one of the leading lawyers of Smith County bar.
PROVENANCE: The Estate of Raymond White, Nashville, Tennessee.
CONDITION: All items in overall good, legible condition with light toning, few areas of dampstaining, minor tears and areas of loss to edges of letters. The April 24 letter is separated at the center fold line.