Item description: Letter from Walter Waightstill Lenoir, written to one of his brothers.
Item citation: In the Lenoir Family Papers #426, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Five miles East of Kinston, Mch 30th 1862.
I wrote to brother Joe day before yesterday, stating that we were marching in this direction, and that our destination was doubtful, I being under the impression that we were to go to the vicinity of Trenton in Jones County. We marched to this point yesterday, and are encamped in an old field within a mile of the rail road, and on the south side of it, and of the Neuse, which we crossed near Kinston. I learned from a remark of Col [Dearing?], that we have further marching order for the present. But it is probably that we will soon and perhaps often be in motion. I infer from what I can see of the situation, the Gen Ransom’s brigade is to constitute the advance of the army of Pamlico, and, in case of active operation in Eastern North Carolina, that it will, of course, be kept always on the alert, and often in motion. The brigade consists of six regiments of infantry, including ours, four companies of artillery, and one regiment of Cavilry. And our encampment has become quite an extensive affair, compared with Camp Lee.
It is probable, from the reputed stern character of Gen. Ransom, who was an officer of the old regular army, that we will come under stricter discipline than has been required since I came to the regiment. This will go hard with most of the men; but for my own part I am prepared to submit cheerfully to all that the army regulations require, and would hail with delight the reign of strict discipline throughout the armies of the South. Owing to our advanced position, the difficulty of obtaining transportation, and the probability of rapid movements being required of us, strict orders have been issued to reduce our baggage to the strict regulation limit, which, to a private, beyond a very scant allowance of cooking utensils to each mess, is what he can carry. Captains & Lieutenants, besides what the choose to carry, can have eighty pounds transported for them. Our regiment was very rich in personal effects at Camp Lee, & after depositing a large amount at Goldsborough, have still much more than they can carry. This will, I suppose have soon to be thrown away or destroyed, which will go very hard with the men, though manifestly a military necessity. I have but one coat pants vest & shoes with me, having sent the other suit shoes & boots, & some books paper bedclothes &c to Goldsborough, with great doubts as to whether I will ever see them again. I have a change of shirts drawers & socks, which will keep me sufficiently comfortable, I hope, as long as I can keep them & my outer garments whole. And I will try to get a few little extras along with Tom’s? assistance as part of his eighty pounds. We are still so rich in bed clothes that I am afraid we will have to leave some behind. Our stock of provisions is, fortunately low, for we would have to give it up, if forced to march suddenly. Nor would there be any propriety in our having it much augmented, by presents from home, for instance, or in any other way, for the same reason. Brother Tom will, I hope, join us day after tomorrow. I wrote to Joe that we had left him behind, in a quiet pleasant country house convalescing from an attack of influenza, which seized him a week ago yesterday. He was so evidently getting well that I felt no hesitancy in leaving him. My only fear about him is as to the effect upon his delicate constitution of the rougher phaze of a soldier’s life that seems to await him on his return to camp. Our move from Camp Lee gave me a cold & cough which I have nearly worn out, & I have stood the marches, & the weight of my heavy Knapsack & accoutrements in a manner which has rather surprised myself, as well as others who notice my scant pattern, for though materially stronger & hardier than when I left home, I am little or no fatter or rather less lean, and lost by the cough & hard journey most of what I had gained in flesh and looks at Camp Lee. I have now a full appetite again, and if I have no back set from to much exposure will try to commence filling up between the ribs again. My experience so far is by no means discouraging as to my capacity to endure the life of a soldier. I will, of course, be liable to fever in the summer, if I continue in camp during the summer, & I fear that an attack of fever would leave too little of me to make a soldier of. But that is only a remote contingency, which does not excuse me from doing a soldier’s duty now. I think it not improbable, from the number of forces collecting in this quarter, that the authorities intend to strike a blow at the Yankees in Eastern N.C. even if they refuse to advance. I hope that a blow in the direction of Washington will form a part of the next campaign & that it will be so delivered as to be a stunner. Uriah is doing very well, & has come on with me & the Messors Cathey, which seemed better than leaving him with Tom, who was not needing his aid. His good conduct has been such that if I should not live to reward it, I hope it will recommend him as a faithful servant to the family
I have from the first been prepared for the reverses which we have of late been suffering as being by no means very improbable. My unwavering confidence has only been in the final result, not in the intermediate steps which will lead to it. We may have yet enough of the same sort to endure to bring us to the verge of the precipice But we will save ourselves when we exert all our strength.
My paper is all gone & I must close. My plans are quite disconcerted by [Mr. Francetto's?] seeming failure to get up a company of them is now I suppose no hope. I suppose our offices will be Kinston for a while
Love to all. Your brother