Charles Henry Smith (1826-1903) was a Georgian, graduate of the State University and practiced law afterward. He mingled the occupations of the lawyer with the activities of the politician and of the farmer. Thus he had varied opportunities for careful and critical observation of Georgia life.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
“I’ll Bet on Dixie as Long As I’ve Got a Dollar”
“Smith began his letters of mixed wisdom and humor, wit and sarcasm, scorn and defiance in 1861. The first publication of these in book form appeared in 1866 with the title, “Bill Arp, So-Called; A Side Show of the Southern Side of the War.” Its motto was “I’m a good Union man, so-called; but I’ll bet on Dixie as long as I’ve got a dollar.”
In the preface of his book, explaining his pen name “Bill Arp,” Smith said: “When I began writing under the signature of Bill Arp I was honestly idealizing the language and humor of an unlettered countryman who bears that name. His earnest, honest wit attracted my attention, and he declares to this day that I have faithfully expressed his sentiments.”
Smith’s first letter is addressed to Abraham Lincoln in April, 1861. In view of the latter’s proclamation calling for troops, “Bill Arp” thought “Abe Linkhorn” ought to be informed of how the Georgian regarded it. He intimated that things were getting too hot for him, and he would like “to slope out of it.”
Speaking of the boys about Rome, Georgia he says: “Most of them are so hot that they fairly siz when you pour water on them, and that’s the way they make up their military companies here now — when a man applies to join the volunteers they sprinkle him, and if he sizzes they take him, and if he dont they dont.”
(History of the Literary and Intellectual Life of the Southern States (Vol. VII), George F. Mellen, Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909, pp. 85-86)