5 May 1863: “We met the yank’s 8 miles above Fredericksberg, and had a morning fight … in which we killed a great many yankees with but slight loss on our side.”

Item Description: Letter, 5 May 1863, from JD Joyner to his mother, Julia Joyner, recounting events surrounding the battle of Chancellorsville. Members of the Joyner family were planters and professionals from Franklin County, North Carolina. While William Joyner worked at the Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C., during the late 1850s, his wife and family remained on the plantation in Franklin County. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Joyner left his position in Washington and joined the CSA Commissary Department in Goldsboro, North Carolina. In addition to William Joyner, nine members of the Joyner family actively supported the Confederate cause. The war affected the Joyner family profoundly. Julia Joyner lost her husband, two sons and two brothers-in-law. Nevertheless, the family stayed in Franklin County and the surviving children raised families of their own.

Item Citation: From folder 11 of the Joyner Family Papers #4428 in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription: 

Army Northern Va
May 5th 1863

Mrs. J. H. Joyner
My Dear Mother,
That you may have no uneasiness about me, as the battle has commenced in this quarter, I will write you a few lines, to let you know where I am. I am in good health and about six miles from the battle field. On last Wednesday we [had?] orders to march from “Camp [Grigg?]” and reach Fredericksburg that evening. I next monday … … the enemy for a few minutes, but finding that the crossing of the enemy at that point was a … to cross higher up the river, we left there at 3 Oclock on Friday morning and met the yank’s 8 miles above Fredericksberg, and had a morning fight of about 4 … in which we killed a great many yankees with but slight loss on our side. They having reached a strong position Saturday our army took up line of march up the river in order to flank them, which we succeeded in doing, & attacked them about half an hour by …, & drove them 3 or 4 miles with great slaughter taking several batteries, our men made a charge on the first line and pushed it so close that the other lines could not fire on our men for killing their own, consequently they had to flee for safety. The fight continued for half the night. Stonewall Jackson and Genl A. P. Hill were wounded in the [action?] at night by our brigade, Jackson I understand has had his arm amputated, & Genl Hill has taken command. Genl Jackson … was killed by Genl [Stuart?]. On Saturday night the yankees having a strong position on the heights in our front fortified them. Soon Sunday morning our army assailed their works and after a severe loss on each side succeeded in taking them. our loss was heavier than theirs here. Genl [Larkins?] aid says if the 37th had have gone with the 7th at first that the works would have been taken the first charge but not having support the 7th had, after taking the battery, to fall back with great loss. In our regt Col Haywood had 2 ribs broken, Lt. Col. J.L. Hill was killed, and Maj Davidson was shot through the breast. Our regt out of 5 Capts present had 2 killed & 1 wounded Lieutenants present 24, killed 2, wounded 8, missing 1 & men in proportion. out of 15 field officers of our brigade 13 men were killed & wounded. Lt [Lane?] aid to Lt [Lane?] says it was the severest battle that we ever engaged in. We are yet victorious yet; with fair prospects. Our way on train being in the rear on the march came very near being captured but were saved after a small fight, in which we got a good shelling. We have taken between 4000 and 6000 prisoners

J. D. Joyner

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