8 December 1864: “the darkest and most gloomy time we have experienced since the war”

Item Description: Letter dated 8 December 1864 to Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Garrett Lenoir of East Fork of Pigeon, Haywood County, N.C.


Item Citation: Folder 155, Lenoir Family Papers, #426, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Wood Lawn, N.C.

Dec. 8th 1864

My dear Lizzie,

What will you think of very long silence, – No doubt you have been abusing me at a terrible rate, but certainly you will pardon me when I have the best of reasons. I wrote you when I was at Catawba – Springs in October, but never received an answer, suppose you never received it. I received your letter which was written in November, a short line offer it was written, but I have had the sore eyes so badly that I have not been able to anything, but sit in a dark room, with my bonnet on. I took them at the Springs and have never gotten over them yet. They are still sore, but I can do anything. It is the first time I have ever had anything of the kind in my life. Well I suppose you will wonder what I was doing at the Springs. I went precisely for my health, my health was wretched in the Summer (but it is very good now). I think they did me a great deal of good. I have been improving ever since, I weigh 142 lbs. Oh! Liz I am so sorry to hear your health is so bad. What ever did give you dyspepsia – the most wretched of all diseases. You were so stout and healthy when you were at school. I feel really anxious about you. Why in the world didn’t you come down here in the first of the winter. We are having very disagreeable weather now. It has been sleeting, raining & snowing alternately. We had beautiful weather in November.

I was surprised to hear you had met Col. Lowe. I knew he had been assigned to Asheville, but had no idea of your seeing him. Liz I want you to tell me your reasons for not wanting me to marry such a man as Col. Lowe. The family were very much opposed it. Brother Madison & Bruce were very much hurt, but they objections were they did not think him good enough for her. You know (if you didn’t I do). The Houstons have an exalted opinion of themselves, but not anymore than they should have. Brother Madison brought me home from the Springs. We had a very pleasant ride together. He is very good company, not very lively, as you know. I suppose by experience that persons in bad health are generally despondent. But I have got to be such a sedate quiet creature that I like to be with anyone that is interesting and don’t have much foolishness. No doubt now you take it for granted that I am in love with Brother Madison, but that is not the case, for as I have told you again & again that I shall always esteem and respect him as a brother in law. We hear from brother Wade once or twice a week, he is still in the trenches before Petersburg, and has been for the last eight or nine months. He has endured and undergone a great many hardships. I have lost all hopes of the war ending soon. I think this is and has been during this campaign the darkest and most gloomy time we have experienced since the war. Are provisions, goods & everything is advanced with you & everything is awful high with us. They are asking $10,000 (ten thousand) for horses and everything else in proportion. Jane and I went to Charlotte last week. I got a handsome pair of congress gaiters at $120, pair of silk gloves at $25.00, a dress at $400.00. Liz do write soon, tell any news you may hear about Lenior. I have not heard from Mat Jones since her father died & I wrote her last & I didn’t intend writing until she does. Where is she living now? Suppose she has left her house in Lenoir. I had not heard of your Mother’s death I’ll write soon Liz and a good long cheerful letter perhaps I may write more cheerfully when I write again. I suppose Mr. Lenoir feels very lonely without you. I will direct this to Forks of Pigeon, suppose you will be at home by the time this reaches you. Yours with much love–


My love to Mr. L. What has become of Mat your sister that ran away & got married? We have not heard from Sister & brother in two years this last November Bettie

[At top of pages 2 and 3, written sideways]:

Liz, I have just finished reading over this letter & know you will think I perhaps say that I think as Caldwell has not written me in such a long time she might have ? me with a respectable written letter but But Caldwell must be excuse when her eyes are sore. She would take her excuse but is so often the case, even when she had good eyes to write so badly that you will must be surprised

[Side of first page]:

If you manage to read this that will be sufficient. I can scarcely read it myself. Liz please burn it. Liz I hope when I hear again from you your health will be improved. 


Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 December 1864: ” he too, like me was expecting to go home Christmas, but his hopes are all blighted and I am affraid that my chances is very slim”

Item Description: Letter from William D. Wharton to his future wife Mary Eliza Wharton.  He mentions Union action in the area and talks about his friend who was taken prisoner. He also tells her talks about a mission he led which saved him from being captured. W. D. Wharton served as a major of the 67th Regiment North Carolina Militia. Wharton then enlisted in Company K, 5th North Carolina Cavalry Regiment (later called the 63rd Regiment North Carolina Troops).


Item Citation: In Folder 7 of the W.D. Wharton Papers, #5059, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Stony Creek Station Va

Dec 7th 1864

My dearest little cousin,

I received your kind letter yesterday evening, for which I am ever grateful, it was a treat to me for I did not expect to get another from you directed to this place. I wish I had never told you to stop writing to this place, but I thought, that as the post office was burnt up that the mail would stop coming here, but it still continues to come. I have heard some news of the Yankees coming again this evening but I do not know anything about it, there are one division of Cavalry and one Brigade camped very near here and I heard through Lt. Heath a few minutes ago that Genl Hamptons Head Qtrs were in a mile of us but it is to late to come after all the damage is done, I feel perfectly safe now for I will not  have to go into the fight if there is one for my men  have no arms, nor ammunition and if they come, I will make tracks, but I did not go off the other day when they were here. I went to Mrs. Shands while the Yankees are burning up the houses and ct and she and Mrs. ? begged me to go off into the woods but I told them that I was not affraid of all the Yankees that were down there, while I was on Jinnie for I knew that they could not get me, and I wanted to see what they did. I stayed with Mrs. Shands that night for a safeguard as I did not have any blankets for I sent them and all of my things off with the horses, I do not know what I would have done for something to eat, if it had not been for her. I spent the evening with Miss Virginia yesterday, gave her your message, she wanted to hear the remainder of the letter, but I told her that I was affraid that it would not interest her, but she firmly believes that I am engaged. I do not feel towards ladies as I used to do, is it the case with you, I feel like my fortune is made, and what a fortune I hope the time will soon come when I can take hold of my fortune- Lt May one one of my best friends that I had down here was taken prisoner, I wrote to his wife the next day, I have got three letters for him since, I opened them and read them and burned them up, they were very nice and affectionate letters, he has one little babe that he never saw, he too, like me was expecting to go home Christmas, but his hopes are all blighted and I am affraid that my chances is very slim, even if I stay here until that time. Their is no Capt. that will take the responsibility of giving me a pass to go home as my poor friend Capt. W would have done. I was the only officer that liked Capt. W, the men all hated him, but liked me. I have heard some of them say they that they wished I had been in command, that is before the Yanks came. This makes four letters or notes rather that I have written you since the tear up. I am going to alter my hand so that the post master wont know who they are from, I am writing in a great hurry, for I have but a very short piece of candle.

I would like for it to be said that Fannie has kicked me, nor I do not believe it will be said, just between you and myself, I do not believe I would be if I was to try it do you?

When you are writing to me on Thursday morning, I was out with thirty-three men blockading ? found, I hated mightly to get up two hours before day that morning but it was the thing that saved me. I told Capt W. that morning when I went to his office, that I felt very much complemented to be chosen from so many officers at that time of night to do that piece of work- but little did I think, what that day would bring forth.

I think what Sister Mary wrote was right funny, I laugh a good deal of it. You say that you never will consent to marry until you know that I am really anxious to, I was going to say something but I will not. I sent a note off to John Cannon today, I hope he can get Mr. ? as Major, his letter was right funny.

I expect you and Mary had some funny talk, I heard of some funny talk you and she had, before we were engaged- but I hope she has forgotten it. I will stop for tonight, as my candle is nearly out, hope you will be able to read this, for I have written it in a great hurry.

Pleasant dreams tonight- goodbye darling- “Will”

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

6 December 1864: “tell him to send your boys some money and something to eate”

Item Description: A letter from a slave at Fort Fisher sending thanks to his master for money and instructions for the care of his family. Despite difficulty spelling due to lack of education, he writes well and enough to communicate that he was experiencing hard times, and hopes that his family will have enough.

18641206_01 18641206_02

Citation: From Folder 41a, in the Ralph Gorrell papers #1520, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


This December 6, 1864

Deare Master, I now seate myself alone(?) to promis to let you no that I am wel at the time and am in hope these few lines may find you the same. I have no nuse to let you no of but hard times and worse a coming. I receaves your letter the other day and the $20 and it was a grate help to me for I had none before it come to hand I hoped to be at home by Christmas if not before but I dont know when the time will come I hope befor long.

pleas have my corn save and sold and do the best you can til I get home if you plese and tel my wife to tak care of my children and all the rest of my thing thing tel L(?) to by lathe and have my wife and and save me a mes of bows and clutchlings. So no more at this time yours til deth Robert Goil to his master

and send this to Mr. C(?) and tel him to send your boys some money and something to eate if it is conveiat and let me heir from you to let us no what to do.

Dos C(?)

Direct to forte fisher in hand of Robert More.

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

5 December 1864: “Stuck on the Bar, was fired on, when the crew abandoned her.”

Item Description: The DeRosset family lived in Wilmington, NC during the Civil War and many of the family’s men were in the confederate army and navy. Much of the letters in the collection deal with the blockade, refugees, and the health of their slaves. This letter describes events around stolen mercantile goods, and the movements of naval ships.

18641205_01 18641205_02

Citation: From Folder #63, in the DeRosset Family Papers #214, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Wilmington, N.C.
Dec. 5th, 1864

My Dear Love,

I wrote you a hurried note by Capt. Reid on Saturday, and sent papers by him and the “Wild Rover.” I only had time to mention the trunk being broken and robbed on board “The Wild Rover.” My loss was my ?, which were all taken. A little piece of the box cover being left to show they had been there. Of your things were taken 2 cases-2 lb. blk- 2 cases- 2 lbs white cosmetics 1 lb. small fountains 1/2 lb large bitts- 1 lb pieces worsted braid.

The ribbons are 1 bolt short, but the number of yards eight 126 3/4, are even in the number of bolts. In addition to the robbery the cheese for “paine” had rotted and the trunk was filled with vermin which “I am sick” soiling-more or less-nearly everything that could be injured by them. I shall however be able to sell the things that are left at a profit over all cost and as soon as I close out will remit you- in the meantime send ? as much worsted braid as you can. I can close out this small lot at retail for about 8 dolls. a piece- it is quite coarse – the best braid is selling at retail for $15 each. Gold is selling very high say 30 to 38 for one today. I shall of course sent you a draft if I can secure one. If you get a chance to send another trunk fill it with braid in prefence to everything else. No chances of over stocking the market, there is more here, and I will pay you better than anything you can send.

The “Ella” was lost Friday night 2nd inst. off Baldhead vessel Total loss part of the cargo will be saved. Mr. Mitchell in despair. “Carolina” is in at Georgetown S. C. “Falcon” came in last night. Petersburg started out Saturday night. Stuck on the Bar, was fired on, when the crew abandoned her, but were sent back, and on the next tide she was brought in. Neal went out on the “Old Dominion” he goes abroad to be educated. All well. Love to Nanie + baby.

Your sincerely,

Chase D. Myers

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

4 December 1864: “he is really suffering for want of clothing”

Item Description: Letter dated 4 December 1864 from Catherine Roulhac to her father.


Item Citation: Folder 91, Ruffin, Roulhac, and Hamilton Family Papers, #643, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Hillsboro Dec 4th /64

My dear father!

If it is in your way and will not trouble you, please pay Major Wm_ Graham $10.00 (ten dollars) for a blanket he purchased me for Tom and if you think about and see the govr or the proper person — I do not know who that is ? if Tom is entitled to an overcoat and if it can be had. I received a another letter from him this morning and he says he is really suffering for want of clothing, and if it cannot be got from the State I must try and see if the Messrs. Webb will not let me have it form their factory.

I hope you did not take cold this morning at the “depot”,  you had to wait some time for the cars, I was glad the weather had moderated tho they have been hauling ice to day- I hope you will be able to stop a day with us as you return, and I shall ? you to stay with me- Love to all my friends that you meet particularly the Mordecais, Manlys, & Rayners – Please give Willie Graham the note enclosed when you pay him-

Your loving daughter,

Catherine Roulhac

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

3 December 1864: “Everything indicates that our campaigning is at an end for this season.”

Item Description: Letter from William Thomas Humphrey to his wife Mary.  He writes that he sent some of his belongs with a friend traveling to Osceola, PA. He thinks that his unit, the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, is done with their campaign for the year. He also tells her to save their clothing. He served as an Army Surgeon with the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, alternating between service in the field and in various hospitals.


Item Citation: Folder 4 in the William Thomas Humphrey Papers, #4681-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Hd Qr 149th P.V.

My Dear Wife

Frank Loveland started for home on Tuesday. I sent by him my carpet bag with a few things in I could not send much as he had some things of his to carry. He will stop a few days at his Father-in-laws in Bradford Co. but as now as he arrives know he will bring them to Osceola. He did not obtain a situation here but was quite anxious to do so. Our troops are all busy building winter quarters. Everything indicates that our campaigning is at an end for this season. Sherman’s grand movement may possibly call our forces out but not very probable. The weather is quite warm and pleasant some indications of rain this morning.

“Sleepy Dave” (my heavy horse) is gone, not dead but “traded off.” I made a deal the other day even for a bey pony 6 years old and wish he was at home for Willie, but think I shall not bring any home. It costs to much. I shall sell both my horses as soon as I can. No Pay Master yet. Shall come home soon after he comes. Frank will give you the particulars.

Our new Penn Regts including the 207th 208th 209th 210th and 211th have moved again. They are now on our right about 2 miles. “Our boys” in the 207th are here visiting every day. Ed Parkhurst has returned to his Co- well. Milton Lewis has been sent off sick to some General Hospital. The boys are cooking fat and hearty and are generally well pleasant. Are you troubled any for wood? Let me know. You did not say how your tulle fits or whether they will answer. Of course I want to hear of all these little affairs. Where has Jim gone to work? And what is he doing? Don’t let any more of our old clothes go unless something that is unserviceable. Though if Teddy wants one of those blue overcoats to the farm and will draw wood I think you had better let him have it for 10 or 12 dollars. They are both good as new and cheap at $12. Clothing will be very dear for some time. I shall find another home. This is the 2d letter since your last. Dr. Harshberger sits on my right writing a “love letter” to his wife. Give my regards to all.

Yours affectionably,

Wm T Humphrey

After finishing this letter I found I had written on 2 sheets thinking there was but one. But I guess you can track it out. I remember each page.

Wm T H

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , | Comments Off

2 December 1864: “I will now tell you how I made my escape.”

Item Description: A letter from W.D. Wharton to his future wife Mollie. Wharton was from North Carolina and served in the Confederate Cavalry in Virginia. Here he describes a narrow escape from Spring Creek, Virginia, and thanks God for sparing him.


Citation: From Folder 7 in the W.D Wharton Papers, #5059, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Spring Creek Va. Dec 2nd 1864

My Dear Mollie, 

Fearing that you will hear of the capture of Spring Creek & all the men there, I send a man to Belfield Station to mail a letter to you to relieve you, I will now tell you how I made my escape. Capt. Waldhauer just – as the Yanks came in eight – ordered me to camp to bring out men that had not reported, & just as I got in about two hundred guards of the Depot, they made a charge, & captured the place, with all the men that were there. & I left there. I feel my thankful to & all wise providence that I am spared. I have not time to write more. Will write you soon, if you write direct your letter to this Brigade, & I can get them from there.

Good by my Mollie, “Will”

Direct this way,

W.D. Wharton
Col. 5th N.C. Cav.
Barringer’s Brigade
A.Ct. Va.  

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

1 December 1864: “We are ordered to the war”

Item Description: Letter from Peter Adams to John Steele Henderson.  He is being sent off to serve in the war.


Item Citation: Folder 36 in the John S. Henderson Papers, #327, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Chapel Hill

Dec 1 1864

Dear John,

We are ordered to the war; shift for yourself and watch out well.

I leave here tonight.

I have just seen Bernie he is nearly dead.

Yours in the bonds,

Peter Adams

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , | Comments Off

30 November 1864: “Thou hast nobly done thy duty, In thy Country’s holy strife, And thy soul of Christian beauty Hath assumed immortal life.”

Item Description: Letter from Polly Tunstall to her cousin Jane Alston, lamenting the death of her brother George Dudley Tunstall.  She also worries about the health of her father and her brothers Nathaniel and Landon who are serving in the Confederate Army.


Item Citation: Folder 22 in the Lucy Tunstall Alston Williams, #4351, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Home Nov. 30th 1864

My dear cousin,

Can it be or is it a horrible drama? Can it be that my first my good my precious Brother is no more? Something says it is unalterably truth. Oh! what must I do in my sorrow! I am no longer myself; my very being seems to sink beneath the power of this unexpected stroke. Why was my heart’s Idol so soon torn from me?

Who will fill the void in our hearts? But O blessed, comforting reflection that he is now resting in the bosom of the one, who sweet lackings have ever blessed him, enjoying eternal light and felicity, free from the tortures of an earthly existence.

“Thou art gone, my darling Brother.

Called from earth in youth’s bright bloom;

Gone to join our sainted Mother, Though death’s awful, silent gloom.

Thou hast nobly done thy duty,

In thy Country’s holy strife,

And thy soul of Christian beauty

Hath assumed immortal life.”

It may be well that in life’s bright morn he should pass away from earth so dark and clean. He was too sensitive to bear the many ills which must inevitably meet us all before the end of Time. His mission is fulfilled, the page of his life’s history is unsullied.

Even in our hearts will he live, and his memory will be cherished and interned with the charcoal flowers of affection whose delicious aroma will ever awake to the recollection of our loved one, bidding us look away from earth to those bright regions of eternal day where all the “pure in heart” shall dwell.

A Power Divine makes our destiny and we his helpless creatures creatures must submit. It does indeed seem that God has withdrawn his arm from around our family but let us remember:

“Judge not the Lord, by feeble sense

But trust him for his grace

Behind a smiling fairing Providence

He hides a smiling face.”

God’s chastisements are never needlessly inflicted upon his children.

He has always some object in view, either to incite us to reflect on our utter dependence on him Him or to arouse us from a lethargy or to arouse lukewarmness into which perhaps we had fallen; get it is hard for us to recognize His consistent decrees. “Thy will be done O, Lord not mine.” Could our hearts at all times respond to that sublime expression, life would be stripped of its vicissitudes.

Cousin Jennie will you pray God to give me strength to bear ? by this, my first great sorrow. I am trying to do so but it is hard to still my heart-throbbings; yet I know it would almost kill my poor grief-stricken father to see me so distressed. I am young and all that he has with him, so it ? on me to endeavor to [illegible] sweeten if possible his cup of not which is now ? once flowing. My poor father! He cannot survive many more crushing strokes; That ere long he the noble the generous man the best of fathers will soon sleep sweetly beneath the soil and his spirit will wing ito flight to realms of everlasting light. Poor Bro Nat is now a captain as well as my noble Cousin whom I shall always love [illegible] good to me. How much it would incur his anguish to know that my darling Brother is dead. “Dud and Hugh” precious names which will ever linger in my ear. And dear little Landon! is there not a thought for him in the midst of our anguish, for him who was snatched almost from his father’s arm and left all alone in this unfeeling world. No good brother to protect you now and supply you every want.

I feel that soon I will be left to trudge life’s rugged thorny pathway all alone with nothing to cheer me in my pilgrimage. What a sudden transition from happiness to misery, mine has been.

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

29 November 1864: “The thieving scamps have broken Mr. Hunt, the Lipscombs and most everyone else in our county completely up.”

Item Description: Letter from H. R. Moore to Smith Lipscomb.  He discusses looting by Union Soldiers, wounded men at home, and contemplates joining the Army.  He also asks Lipscomb to secure his cotton to protect it from the Union soldiers.

18641129_01 18641129_02

Item Citation: Folder 5, Lipscomb Family Papers, #429, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Bay Springs Mipi Nov. 29th 1864

Smith Lipscomb:

I have recently come out of the Yankees lines for the first time since soon after I left your house. The thieving scamps have broken Mr. Hunt, the Lipscombs and most everyone else in our county completely up. If John and Tom are still with you, say to them John Day Lipscomb will go after them soon. If he don’t go I will. Take as good care of my cotton as if it was your own and I will satisfy you when I move it. I think it would be best to have it in a house, securely fastened if there is as much thieving there as there is in most parts where I have been. Spare no paines to fully protect it from waste and from rogues and I will be satisfied. The Factors for which it was purchased has not yet been burned but does but little good inside the enemy’s lines.

Should Hood relieve our oppressed country I will want the cotton removed. My health is not good but think of going into the army. I am here on a visit to my Father’s family for the first time since the evacuation of Corinth. I found two Brother’s wounded and a sister’s Husband who has lost a leg and other broken. We have a much distressed world but we will have better times after awhile.

Our family was well when I left home. Give my best respects to your family.

Very Truly,

H. R. Moore

Posted in Southern Historical Collection | Tagged , , , | Comments Off