Item description: Letter, 8 October 1861, from D.G. Cowand to William S. Pettigrew. Cowand’s detailed letter gives his opinions on the defense of eastern North Carolina, especially in the wake of the Battle of Hatteras Inlet. Near the close of the letter, Cowand reports on the fate of Peter, one of William S. Pettigrew’s slaves who was being transported by Cowand to William’s brother, James Johnston Pettigrew.
[Transcription available below images.]
Camp Carolina Va.
Oct. 8th 1861
W.S. Pettigrew Esq.
My dear Sir,
According to promise I take pleasure in dropping you a few lines. I got home safely and found our Battalion with orders to leave for Roanoke Island in three days; these though were countermanded the evening before we were to go. We now are out of the 2nd Regt, and form and independent Battallion. It is said in Camp that we shall all go to Missouri. I am also informed that our Lieutenant Col. is anxious to go and is going to Richmond to get more Companys to make a Regt. and orders to go to Missouri. I hope not for I hate to go so far North this winter, as it is getting late, and no doubt all will suffer if we go; we have all had such an easy time here that it will go very hard with us. We had hoped to go to the old North State to do service near our homes, but I think the Confederate States does not intend to allow any more troop to go South. I shall however go to do my full duty. If I can get any other post that I can do my duty and full share of service, I should prefer it, though my company say they hate to part with me and I also hate to leave them. If I could get our people in the notion of retaking Fort Hatteras, I should like it.
I do hope yet that the good people in Eastern North Carolina will build the floating battery I spoke of. If they will go to work properly it will cost but very little. Allow me to ask you if something cannot be done. I assure you it is all important. If we do not get possession of Hatteras this winter we shall certainly have eastern N.C. over run by the Yankees. I see that large numbers of boats are being built to suit the waters of our state, and I think it certain that they will be there soon. Every thing looks like it, and I am anxious to do something for our homes and state. Let Eastern men take things into their own hands. The [Government?] does not seem to do it, and I say it becomes us all to go to work and that at once. I feel very anxious I assure you for our part of the state. Our ultimate success I am satisfied of, but I fear very much that eastern N.C. will be over run, and it will certainly be so, if some action is not taken. Will you once more allow me to make a suggestion. Let our men in each [county?] or in one [county?] if no other will not and appoint a committee and then some competent man or men to go to Charleston or some other place and employ competent men to build or rather superintend the building of a Battery. I think it should be build of logs and cotton bales, or rail road iron. I think the iron can be had here. If not cotton bales will do. Let each man furnish so many hands and enough provission to feed them also enough money to pay the workmen and other expenses. We have logs, cotton & every thing necessary. If I was at home I should be glad to go to Charleston with any one to look after men, or any thing else that could be done. I should like so much to go on such a battery to blow up the Yankee nest in the Old North State. Will not our friends do something. If we could get five hundred hands or even two hundred for a few weeks we could build it in a few weeks. I care not for pay only let me know I can serve my native state and I shall go willingly. I shall spare nothing my humble self can do. If our part of the state is to be over run by Lincoln traitors, I wish to be there to aid our brave Boys to drive them out, and if need be my my all, yes my life shall go in the good cause. I [speak?] my friends [thus?] to you knowing you can appreciate my feeling, being interested in our cause, and [?] our part of the State. Let every man be up and doing his full duty. I am so anxious to know our people have their interest fully before them. They should see they are in danger, and some step must be taken to bring them up. They are failing in their duty, and I am afraid will suffer for it. Scuppernong can do for her full duty and I know will if the proper step is taken.
I assure you Roanoke Island will be taken by the Yankees if our people do not take some step to take Hatteras back. They will land and fortify at other points.
It is true they were badly whipped at Chickamacomico, and our brave Southern men did well, yes [?] a high position for them. No one could have done more than they did and it was a very valuable prize to us. What we were in want of. I am sorry we did not succeed in getting those who had landed. We could not make the time.
I have nothing now to tell you, so far as the movements are known of our [?]. I hope and think some change will soon be made. We are daily gaining ground and think now is the time for attacking [W.City?] Lexington was a grand victory to us. All are anxious to hear of Beauregard & Johnson at [W.City?].
Please say to your brother that I sent servant boy Peter in charge of Mr. Houghton from Edenton. Ask him to let me know if he went safe. Give my kind regards to him & family, also to Miss Annie.
Present my kind regards also to Rev. Mr. Murphy.
If I go to [?] will let you know, though I must confess I hate very much to go. We have had such an easy time here that I know we shall suffer much then.
Shall be truly glad to hear from you often when you can make it [convenient?] It will give me much pleasure to write you at any time. I often think of home and friends behind in my leasure moments, but such will not do to think much of at this time, as we soon become home sick and do not make good soldiers.
Hope this will reach you in due time and find you quite well.
I am your true friend,
I must really ask you to excuse me for writing such a scratch as I am very busy and have but little time before I have to send this.