15 May 1863: “I am sorry to inform you that I unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy on Sunday the 3rd inst.”

Item description: Letter, 15 May 1863, from Corporal Andrew J. Proffit to his father, William Proffit of Wilkes County, N.C., in which the son described his unsuccessful attempt to protect the North Carolina 18th Regiment’s colors (and himself) from capture during the Battle of Chancellorsville. Andrew also reported what news he had of his brothers Alfred N., who served with him in of Company D, 18th North Carolina Regiment, and William H. of Company B, 1st North Carolina Regiment.

Item citation: from folder 3 in the Proffit Family Papers #3408, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Camp Lee Richmond va

May the 15th 1863

Mr. Wm. Proffit

Dear Father,

I take this kind opportunity of writing you a few lines which will inform you that I am again on the southern Soil, well and doing finely. I am sorry to inform you that I unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy on Sunday the 3rd inst. I will now try to tell you how it happened as we were on the march to the battlefield. I with another corporal were appointed to guard the flag one of the most dangerous positions in battle on Saturday night there fell a bomb in my company & exploded in 4 or 5 feet of me & wounded the flag bearer and five or six of my Co. taking off one man’s leg & wouded my lieutenant when the flag of my country fell to the earth I grabed it with my own hands my Colonel told me to thrown down my gun and hold on to my flag which I did that night the yankees charged on us but we soon repulsed them. next morning we made a charge on them routed them from their first breast works & proceeded to the second was ordered to charge them which part of us did I carried the flag to the breastworks we routed a long line of them & held our position but the 28th N.C. Regt on our right failed to charge them the enemy commenced fireing up our lines and give them a chance to retake their works again which give us no chance to escape I lay there with two lines of battle cross fireing at me at a short distance & three batteries throwing grape at me not more than 3 or 4 hundred yards distant the first I knew the yanks were in five steps when two jumped over the breast works & grabed the flag out of my hand & said to me fall in John ha. ha. ha. John fell in but did not like to do it

They took us to washington and kept us about 13 days they treated us with great respect give us plenty to eat when they brought us from Washington we came down the Potomac through Chesipeak bay by fortress Monroe then up the James river to Citty point near Petersburg where we landed. we came here to camp lee Richmond last night I do not know when we will be carried to our regiments but I suppose shortly I am unable to say what became of A.N. & W.H. A.N. give out the night before I was taken we had had nothing to eat for a day or so & marched hard which made him sick & he was sent back to the rear I think that nothing but fatigue & hunger was the matter W.H. was in the fight some of his Co. is here as prisoners they say that he was not hurt the last they saw of him & I hope he was not. My Col. was killed & my Lieut Col. was wouded. & the great Gen. Jackson was mortally wouded by his own men & is now dead.

father I am getting use to all kinds of hard ships in warfare & though I say it my self I know nothing of cowardice & God forbid that I ever should the lord has been very mercyful to me & I fear I have not a heart to praise him as I ought I want you & all my friends to remember me at a throne of grace I will now close give my warmest love to mother, [Sis?] and all my friends Write soon & direct to Co. D, 18th Regt N.C.T. Richmond Va.

I remain yours with great respect.

A.J. Proffit

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