5 December 1862: ” I have no doubt but what several hundred of conscripts are lying out in those mountains, but I think that most of them are cowardly…”

Item Description: Letter, 5 December 1862, from Thomas Isaac Lenoir, to his brother, describing his volunteer company’s march into Tennessee and the search for conscripts and the capture of prisoners.

[Transcription available below images] 

Item citation: From the Lenoir Family Papers #426Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription: 

The Den Dec 5th 1862

Dear Brother,

W. Hartgrove & young Negroe arrived here safely on Wednesday & I suppose they are well this morning but havnt been out to see any body yet as it it raining, & I am nearly sick with a bad cold. On last Tuesday week the Militia were ordered out & on Wednesday we started toward Tennessee with four days rations to capture ten scamps who came down Ten. a few nights before W. Hartgrove started Caldwell, went to the Jail in Waynesville[?] demanded the key, & turned out & took away with them, one Franklin who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to be hanged . On Friday we crossed the State line unto Cooke County with five companies of white men averaging about 30 to the company under command of Col. Rogers & about 30 Indians under the Command of Maj. Stringfield & Capt. Matthew Love (youngest son of James R. L.). About 20 or 30 of the Milish were mounted and had been traveling without regard to orders on discipline, & when we arrived where we were told we would meet the enemy Col. Rogers requested me to get the horse[?] together & take command of them. I ordered those who thought they could control their horses to fall in & told the balance (about half) that I had no use for them & they must stay behind. You may be sure that I had the awkward squad. Well about a dog or 20 Skirmishers (part Indians) were thrown out on each side of the road, & the Cavalry ordered to advance between, & all were instructed to fire upon any men who would not halt or lay down his gun when commanded to do so. We proceed a few miles, when the Skirmishers on one side saw two men running from a cabin, ordered them to halt, but as they continued to run the two fired at them & shot one dead & the other got away. They both proved to be jail breakers. Well we proceeded to march on examining the cabins & taking various prisoners until we reached Liberty Meeting house on Cosby’s Creek & here we camped, & were joined the next day by three Haywood Companies sent from Morristown Ten. (Capt. Wilson’s, Capt. Turpen’s, & Capt. Rogers’) to subdue the [?] said to be in force in that neighborhood. before we got to Cosby’s Creek we heard their numbers variously estimated at from 800 to two thousand & were told that they had from 70 to 100 pickets out all the time & that we would be fired upon [?] & that they had [?] works thrown up & were ready for a big fight. But we could neither find pickets or embankments. I have no doubt but what several hundred of conscripts are lying out in those mountains, but I think that most of them are cowardly & will be hard to find by armed men. They have frequently of late robbed men of their guns, & make great threats, & seem to be very bitter in their feelings toward the Southern men. Scouting parties were sent out in various directions, & a good many prisoners taken. Some conscripts, and some will probably be tried for treason. The Militia started back on Tuesday, & Betsy & I got home last night. She went with me to her Father’s & remained there until I returned. I slept two nights without shelter & next day got very wet & have been much troubled with aches & pains every since. I have not been at home long enough to hear any neighborhood news except a case of small pox in Waynesville. Two of the Doctors pronounced it small pox & I fear it is. It is terrible to think of its spreading through this Country. If I can be allowed to stay at home some now, I hope to look after my business & yours a little more than I have lately. I fear this will be too late. Lizzie joins me in Love to you all.

Your affectionate bro.


Write often

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