22 January 1865: “Tis a melancholy truth, that there is not corn enough in the county for its inhabitants to subsist on, and yet it is being made up into whiskey.”

Item Description: Letter to Sarah (Sade) J. Lenoir from her niece. She writes about a series of raids involving armed women stealing corn.  She goes into great detail about a raid on Pinesville where the women were driven off by a drunk man wielding a brush.  She also describes social functions being thrown in honor of soldiers on furlough.


Item Citation: Folder 156, in the Lenoir Family Papers, #426, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Jan 22nd 65

My dear Aunt Sade

I feel in the humor somehow to write you a few lines tonight, sunday as it is. It has been so long since we heard from any of you, that I have forgotten when it was. We dont write often, and when we do, scarcely ever get any answer. Mother wrote to you during Christmas week. Did you get it? We hear through Tick last letter that the Tories had been at Uncle Toms vc. Mother is very uneasy about him, he surely will leave that country. We lived in constant anxiety and suspense for several months, on account of the miserable deserters and robbers, it has been pretty quiet for some weeks past. I do hope that they will never be suffered to get the upper hand again. The highest move Ive heard lately was a raid made on Pinesville the other day. It consisted of a band of women, armed with axes, came down on the place, to press the tithe corn vc, brought wagons along to carry it off. There was only one man in the place, and he, (Leonidas like) stood in the door of the house and bid defiance to the crowd. You know women generally want to carry their point, and it was with great difficulty that our hero could withstand them. They were happily thrown into confusion, by an old drunk man coming up with a huge brush in his hand, striking their horses with it, causing them to run away with their wagon and some of them in it vc. They didnt get any of the corn. We hear that a similar attack was made on Hamptonsville a few days ago and with more success too. They took as much as they wanted without meeting with any resistance. They were doubtless instigated to this unbecoming behavior by men, who were afraid to undertake the scheme themselves. deserters perhaps or distillers. There are several distilleries in operation not very far from us. Tis a melancholy truth, that there is not corn enough in the county for its inhabitants to subsist on, and yet it is being made up into whiskey. The degeneracy of the times is truly alarming. My faith almost fails me sometimes that God will save us, for are we not sinning in the face of his uplifted rod? We do not deserve His blessings, when we will so lightly regard His chastisements. We have had a shower of misfortunes lately. The catastrophe at Wilmington the worst of all, if the many unfavorable rumors about it, are to be credited. These reverses too, instead of having the effect to unite our people, only make them more divided. We are sure to be free, if time to ourselves, but we are working our own destruction by this disaffection, and this contemptible party spirit, and selfish desire for popularity, which prevails among us in our legislature vc. But you are laughing at me I expect, and I had better “haul in my horns,” unless I knew what I was talking about. There seems to be some “Party” spirit among the young folks around here, have been several parties given in the neighborhood lately given to soldiers on furlough vc. I have attended only one so far, was invited out to Mr Edwards the other evening, but by some opportune interference I didnt get the note in time. It strikes me that such amusements are illtimed now and I dont enjoy it at all, especially when I have to be mixed up with all kind of folks.






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21 January 1865: “the feeling owing on people that negroes right to be considered, is gaining strength daily”

Item Description: A letter written to Walter Lenoir from his cousin W. Bingham regarding the opening of his school, and his hopes for creating the moral character of the boys there. Walter Lenoir was a lawyer during the Civil War, and much of his correspondence relates to the politics of the time. Bingham discusses the outcome of several skirmishes as well as the feelings on the issues that started the war in confederate congress. He feels that many people would be willing to compromise on key issues (i.e. slavery) as long as they can be granted independence at the end of the war.

Item Citation: Folder 156, in the Lenoir Family Papers #426, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Transcription (of handwritten portions):

Capt. W. W. Lenoir Forks of Pigeon N.C. 

Oaks, 21 Jan. 1865

Dear Cousin Wat, 

It is Sat. night, 10 Pm a hard weeks work just finished; but as harder ones are to come for the next Thurs. for a fear, + I am pregnant with a letter + must deliver myself, I will answer you of the 3rd. Glad you approve our plan of a military-classical school. I am doubtful from the experiment thus far made, of the advantage of military discipline hereafter. 

The less rules the better + military discipline creates so many “mala prohibita” which are not “mala in se” that boys’ ideas of right + wrong become confused, + military schools are generally young hells; though this is great measure due to negligence in the professors + the absence of timbers. What Burns says of drink may justs be sain of “birch”

“Leegr me on birch; it gies us man
than either school or college; (without it)
It gies us wit, it gies us lean, 
and pangs us for ‘o’ knowledge” 

We give boys demerit marks on their hides as well as their reports; this, with the help of religious precepts canst much impressed will, with God’s blessing keep our boys right. But I think I have said this before. But if you want to see beautiful order + discipline in a school, come down when we are fairly under way. Men think, apparently, that none but an army man can have enough military education to conduct such a school; but I shall show that this is false notion. I mean to have as good a military school, + as well , disciplined + instructed a corps of cadets as any in the land, as far as I go. 

The English Grammar progresses slowly. I wish it possible to use advanced sheets with the next class, if the Publishers can get them ready for me. I shall make the best look I can, but know far too little of English to make one satisfaction to myself. I am studying the history of the language, + trying to produce a work at once simple, philosophence, thorough, but it is a big job. 

The rascals! what a pity you couldn’t have whipped them off. If I could have taken them in the rear with some of my boys they would have paid dear for the cowardly assault. A house to make a fight in ought to have all entrances removed, + all trees armed it cut down; the doors + windows barricaded with boys, + loopholes made elsewhere. Three men well armed in such a house can hold it against 20; but without fences + trees for cover, there is nothing to do but surrender. Of course when the scoundrels are caught no army is troubled with them. And to think that such knaves are encouraged by men who call themselves legislators! The foolish, traitorous, + wicked attacks upon the Gov’t, which occupied much of the first of this session of the General Assembly, invited the attack on Wilmington, make the Yankees believe that they had what press vigorously other would find friends enough. I was in Raleigh Thursday, seeing bodies whipped. I verily believe that if Gen. Lee don’t clear out the legislators they will call a convention in less than 3 weeks, which, in less than a month its assembly will seel us. 

God made Judas for a good purpose + I suppose these traitors are made for a good purpose likewise. Could I get at the leaders of them, they would never be drowned. The Progress + Standard we braying openly for a convention to take the state back to Lincoln, or what amounts to the same thing. If Fisher fell through treachery + cowardice. Several assualts had been gallantly repulsed, + while the enemy were preparing of the final one, a Cap’t Brogman, with about 300 men of the 3rd reg’t, deserted to the enemy; we surrendered without orders, delivering up the sully-port; whereupon a S.C. reg’t of Hagood’s brig., seeing themselves outflanked, took to their heels. Whiting made a desperate  fight with the rest, several times tearing down the enemy’s flag; but was soon overpowered. Whether Wilmington will fall or not, is yet to be seen. Gen. Bragg says he will hold it at all hazards. 

But dark as the prospect is, I don’t despair, + see, or think I see, a ray of light. Foreign powers are getting alarmed lest the Yankees succeed in a grand military mischief-maker on this continent + summons of an early recognition are rife at the north. From Seward’s manifest + what has lately transpired in the Confederate Congress. I believe that a proposition has been made to abolish slavery on condition of an independence being acknowledged transports opened the assertions on the past Grant that the war is not for slavery, has always seemed to me significant, the feeling owing on people that negroes right to be considered, is gaining strength daily, that among slave holders Emancipation in any shape will be too with to the negro, but best for us, at last in the border states. All well send love. If namesaker’s the handsomest boy in the class. 

In haste, your aff’ cousin, 

W. Bingham



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20 January 1865: “more despondent than I ever was in my life”

Item Description: Letter dated 20 January 1965 by Robert W. Parker. Parker was a farmer in Bedford County, Va. He served as 4th Sergeant in the Virginia Cavalry for the Confederacy. He eventually was killed in action at Appomattox Courthouse, Va., on the morning of 9 April 1865, the same day that Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to the Union Army.


Item Citation: Oversize Volume SV-5261/4, Robert W. Parker Papers, #05261, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Camp 2nd Va Cav

Near Cornersville

Orange CO Va

Jan th 20, 65

Dear Beck

I have been waiting for an opportunity to drop you a fiew lines and I guess I will not have a better one soon so I will try and give you a short note  This leaves me in usual health but more despondent than I ever was in my life prospects are so gloomy here we are sometimes with rations and some times without our horses I might say and tell you the truth starving I have not drawn a year of corn since I have been at this camp and but little of any thing else. The news also from Richmond and down south is also little of any thing else. The news also from Richmond and down south is also discouraging– and my watch stopped last night and wount run a tick and I miss it so much, and another thing that keeps me down in the month I have not heard or gotten a line from any of you since I left hearing from you and the children often is one of my greatest comforts in camp. I wish I could give you an interesting note but tis out of my power our company or whats here is in usual health thougt we have but 14 present more of those who left without leave home returned yet and a good many gone after horses are over time  I have been looking for alick buck for the past day or two but he has not arrived in camp yet

I guess ere this you have heard that co A has been detached from the regimen to procure rations in bedford wish it had been our company but we are unlucky. And as to disbanding thats out of the question and some who have been furlowed by general Russer Has been ordered back to their commands by general… Lee

I will try and give you a sort of list of the clothes I sent to A A belles by sargt Lee  I sent A cap rapped in my shirts and draws to mory also Two shirts Two pair of draws (two pair of socks cotton) two pair of Blue pants the largest pair mine th other pair Bob Johnson and a pair of shoes with my name on them are mine you will also take the jacket and take care of it for me The old Black had in my shoes is bob johnsons please take care of it for him or have it done for him  the shoes with black vamps are sargt Lee  The Rest of the things in the sack are bob johnsons and George Johnsons) besides the things I sent home I drew a good little tent and a good blancet which I have with me you can do as you think with the shirts but I think the draws are large enough for me and I wish to save you all the trouble I can so I drew every thing I could  all that were present in the compay made a good draw for clothing. The cotton socks I thought would last me a while next summer I hope the clothes have gotten to Pas ere this  I forgot to tell you the people of Albermare aimed to give our brigade a big dinner and it made quite a big show altogether but when divided out to the men twas rather a small meal I got plenty being one of the committie to receive it and devide it all in our company got 4 or 5 apples a piece (and meat and bread in Proportion)

Duck as John crantze will come back to the command on the train I want you tell ma to send me several little tricks I want (a piece of soap) (a little piece of talow) also some thread and a little snack if he can bring it and if alick dont bring my coat get john Krantye to Bring it.

he promised to Bring any little thing he could forme I must close for this time This leaves me in usual health  my love to you and the children and all. Remember your Promise to write to me twice a week farewell for this time

Devotedly yours until Death

R W Parker

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19 January 1865: “expressing my sympathy for you in your double sore bereavement”

Item Description: Letter dated 19 January 1865 to the widow of George Hovey Cadman. Cadman was a soldier in the 39th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.


Item Citation: Folder 10, George Hovey Cadman Papers, #122, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Pocataligo, S.C.,

Jan. 19, 1865.

Mrs. Cadman:

Dear Madam: Your letter of Nov. 7th was received by me upon reaching Savannah about one month since. I should have answered it before, but my time has been very much occupied.

I do not know that I can communicate much more information to you concerning your husband’s death. The Surgeon’s name who attended him was Davis. He belongs to the 17th New York, now in the 14th Corps.

George was buried decently in the burial spot occupied by the 4th Division, 16th Corps. A neat head board marks his grave. A fence surrounds the burial spot. It is on the outer edge of Marietta, on the left hand side of the Railroad as you come in from the north.

Again expressing my sympathy for you in your double sore bereavement, I remain

Respectfully yours,

Geo. R. Gear.

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18 January 1865: “I hope the war will be over and the rebellion crushed before another Christmas comes around”

Item Description: A letter from Robert Stuart Finley to his fiancee, Mary A. Cabeen, describing his movements with his Regiment through Georgia and South Carolina. He served in the 30th Illinois Infantry. He describes skirmishes on their way to Beaufort, as well overcoming the African American troops holding the area.

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Item Citation: From Folder 1, in the Robert Stuart Finley papers #3685-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription: 

Pocotaligo S. C. Jan 18th 1865

Miss M. A. C. 

Kind Friend, 

Your welcome letter came to hand last night, and I will try + answer it this evening lest by delay I may not soon have another opportunity, Your letter is the only one I have received from Mercer since we entered the city of Savanah and I was anxious to hear from there, for if any of my folks at home were sick I know you would have written about it. 

Since I last wrote you we have been traveling-not far-enough to get a firm foot-hold in the Paluetto State. 

After stopping in Savanah from the 21st of Dec. until the 4th of January we had orders to move with all our effects + transportation for some other point. Marching down the river for five or six miles we came to Fort Thunderbolt where we took shipping for the town of Beaufort.  We had the pleasure of a six hours ride on a steam Ship over the briny deep reach this place which is a town of respectable size situated on an Island which however belongs to the State of South Carolina. I luckily escaped that much dreaded feeling called sea sickness which more less affected the most our Regt. Those who were the sickest say it was the most unpleasant feeling they ever experienced. 

Arriving at Beaufort we went into camp and received a bountiful supply of almost everything that we needed. We had full rations including soft bread and also were supplied by the Sanitary commission with several barrels of potatoes + onion besides canned fruits + meats-soda crackers-letter paper-envelopes-tobacco and a few housewives. 

I got one of these last useful articles (I suppose you know what they are) containing pins-needles thread and buttons, the handiwork no doubt of some kind hearted, soldier loving girl of the North. 

I regretted that there was no note among its contents revealing the name of the fair donor that I might thank her for it. But all such may rest assured that the soldier is always grateful even for such small favors. The soldiers say that we were getting Potomac rations at Beaufort for they believe that Grants Army fare much better than Sherman’s western Army. 

Beaufort is a nice place but it was garrisoned by negro troops and they ruled everything until our army came there. During the first two or three days we were there our soldiers came in contact with the negroes several times and killed + wounded nine of them. After that they were very respectful and kept their distance when any of Sherman’s men were around. There were quite a number of Massachusetts ladies there teaching the young Africans. 

The island was confiscated early in the war and sold to loyal Northern men, and the soldiers were much chagrined when they found that they were not allowed to appropriate anything that they wished. We had an abundance of oysters while we were at Savanah + Beauffort and I saw yellow rich oranges growing in Beaufort. 

While at Beaufort we had a call from Dr. Bigges he was on his way to Savanah to join his command, We said he had a commission as Surg. of the 102nd Ills., and expected to be mustered in as soon as he arrived at Savanah. 

Our stay in Beaufort although pleasant was destined to be short for on the 13th we had orders to move again + marched out 6 or 7 miles, and on the next day crossed the river which separates the island from the mainland, skirmished with the rebels all day, drove them from out of their forts + halted for the night in sight of their works one + a half miles from this place the next morning the troops were ordered to fall in double quick and move forward. The rebs had evacuated during the night and we reached this Station on the Savanah + Charleston R.R where we are now encamped. 

We are now about forty miles from Savanah and sixty miles from Charleston, The 15th Corps is with us and the 14th and the 20th are reported marching across above us from Savanah. I suppose our destination is Charleston and from the town of Charleston papers which we captured at this place they are already beginning to tremble in their boots in anticipation of Sherman’s visit to their city. 

We have a nice camp here in a grove of Live Oak and a beautiful Magnolia with its bright green leaves strands near our tent + furnishes us during the day with its grateful Shade. You will think it strange that I should speak of shade trees but the weather is very mild here and as pleasant as May, the nights are cool but the Sun is hot enough at midday to make even a shade tree desirable. Fortifications have been erected here and we will probably remain here a few days to bring up supplies + I think that this road will be repaired + held as a line of communication. We may expect to have a rough campaigning this spring but I hope it will end sooner than last summers campaign ended, and I hope the war will be over and the rebellion crushed before another Christmas comes around. Appearances are now favorable for our cause + the termination of the war , Will finish a leaf of rebel paper a fair sample of rebel manufacture. I wonder how the southern ladies of refinement and wealth like to take this kind of paper to write their dainty notes upon, after being used to the finest of gilt edged + scented tissue paper. This is only one of ht smallest inconveniences to which they have to submit since the war commenced, their envelopes are after the same fashion. 

I hope you had a merry christmas and a happy New Year. I cannot say that I had any enjoyment during the hollidays more than any other time. The only thing that the soldier gets as a general thing to remind him of Christmas is a ration of whiskey. 

This they received on Christmas and although there was a good deal of noise in camp I am happy to say that There was no serious disturbance in our Regt. I think this is worse than useless for there are too many of the soldiers get to like it and drink too much whenever they can get a hold of it. The soldiers are all in excellent health and are eager to be in the field. 

Capt. Candor is well and getting along fin. He has a good company and makes a good offices Lieut Prak has not gone home yet. He is now acting Adjt Gen’l of our Brigade. 

D. H. Wolfe is Captain and Jas H Logan is 1st Leiut of G–.  

Our Regt is now without a Surgeon A citizen contract Doctor is assigned to the Regt for the present and our Chaplain is still absent at home, so that our physical + moral welfare are but poorly attended to. 

I must close this letter which is already too long + uninteresting and I hope you will excuse me for writing about some things that may not interest you. You request me to write often. Well I will write as often as you do if that should be as often as once a week. Hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your sincere friend, R.S. Finley


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17 January 1865: “the triumphal march of Sherman through the heart of Georgia to the congress of Savannah are events significant of greater misfortunes in the coming spring campaign.”

Item Description: A letter from Edmund Kirby-Smith to his mother describing plans to see each other in the spring and lamenting Sherman’s march through Georgia. Kirby-Smith was a confederate Army General during the war.

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Item Citation: From Folder 46, in the Edmund Kirby-Smith Papers, #404, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Shreveport Jan. 17 /65

I received your letter of Oct 23rd yesterday, though a long time on the route it, my dear mother, has made my hear glad. We feel for you in the trials you have undergone and the discomforts which surround you Cassie and myself both regret the return of Mr. Calhoun without you had I known of his intentions, uncertain as I regard my position I would certainly have arranged for you to have  accompanied him. How delightful it would be to have you with us and how your heart would rejoice in your secret little Grand children. Unless misfortunes overtake us this winter, I shall endeavor in the spring to arrange for your coming the river, it is a tremendous undertaking, but with your will and fortitude it may be safely accomplished the country is now in horrible, the river overflows and the swamps bottomless  – until the early part of the season the attempt would be worse that foolhardy The bad news from the co. Mississippi has cast a gloom over all the defeat of Hood and the triumphal march of Sherman through the heart of Georgia to the congress of Savannah are events significant of greater misfortunes in the coming spring campaign. The unfortunate exchange of the wise + prudent Johnson for the a general who though bold lacked I fear the judgment + experience necessary under such trying emergencies has produced results that might have been anticipated. God in his mercy + wisdom is chastening us with the heavy hand of misfortune. We must not despair or lose heart, I feel that the will ultimately had us through all our trials to final + complete success. I wrote to you two weeks since, I fear my letters miscarry. You must call on Mr. Booker for funds Cassie + myself both desire + expect you to do so. Say to Mr. Anderson I will send your William’s immediately home. How my heart yearns to Auntie + yourself – when will I ever clasp you again in my arms tell her how I love her May God in his infinite mercy shower blessings on you all in the midst of your trials + adversities From, Your devoted Son, Edmund Jan. 17th 1865.

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16 January 1865: “two of the biggest humbugs in the shape of army surgeons that I know of”

Item Description: Letters dated 19 January 1685 by John Lewis Whitaker to his brother and wife. Jonathan L. Whitaker was a physician from Orange County, N.Y. He served as a United States Army surgeon at a hospital at Chester, Pa., and with the 26th United States Colored Troops near Beaufort, S.C. On this day, he wrote two letters, one to his wife, Julia A. Wells Whitaker, and one to his brother, Peter Whitaker.

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Item Citation: Folder 3, Jonathan Lewis Whitaker Papers, #03674-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

26th Regt. U.S.C.T.

Department of the south

Beaufort S.C.

Jan. 16th 1865

My dear Brother

Since I last saw you I have entirely regained my health, and we have been on an expedition cooperating with the forces of Sherman for five weeks seeing but very little fighting however, though continually in sight of the Rebel picket line and constantly exposed to their depredations. We lost our Colonel whose thigh was shattered by a minnie ball, was amputated but he died ten days afterwards. We lost one of our best captains also a fine noble fellow and the manner in which he was killed makes it a case of a peculiar sorrow. He was on picket & was shot by a private of of the 56th N.Y. Col. Van Wyck’s Regiment. Whether it was carlessness or ignorance or what it was we never could determine. This is the same regiment that stole our baggage last summer, I think we will have cause to remember them by & by.

We have now returned and settled in our old camp. The weather is very mild and pleasant, although now is the coldest season of the years. We have had it to freeze slight scums of ice over our water pail about 5 times this winter. Many a day we find it comfortable in doors or out, sitting without fires. I see Dan Hardenburgh has made an ass of himself by writing lies about himself in the “Tri States” as to his being Chief Operator &c. Poor foolish boy! as he grows older I hope he may grow wiser. He & Fossard are two of the biggest humbugs in the shape of army surgeons that I know of.

The 17th Corps of Shermans army, about 15000 men have been encamped here for the last week, but have now moved on toward the front again. Our regiment has not been paid in six months. When I was home I drew my pay up to the last of Sept. & expecting to get paid promptly every two months, I converted my money into government securities & left it home. The little I got of you & the little I had left, besides what I could borrow here has kept me up so far, but now I am entirely broke, and will be compelled to make a raise some way. It is the same with all the officers here they are all sending home for money. We have to buy every thing we get to eat & pay for it when we get it. So you see the straight we are all in. It costs me when I pinch myself a little about $20 per month. Any thing you can send me from $20 to $50 will be thankfully received and promptly returned the first pay day, not saying when that will be. Perhaps William may have a little he could spare a few months if you haven’t it yourself suppose you ask him. Send nothing but greenbacks, as few bills as possible, in a letter directed as above.

J.L. Whitaker

Peter Whitaker

Port Jervis

Orange Co

New York.

Beaufort S.C. Jan. 16th 1865

My dear wife

It seems to me you are not writing your letter a week or else I fail to receive them. I received none by the last mail four days ago, and I think one week before while on the expedition I missed a mail. You cannot tell how inexpressibly lonesome I feel when the mail arrives and there is no letter. It seems as if I did not know where to go or what to do with myself. The last letter I wrote to you immediately after my return from the expedition was written in bed but as I expected to get up in a day or two I said nothing about it and made my letter short. But I had to lie in bed twelve days. I caught a heavy cold the night we returned and it settled upon my lungs in such a way as to floor me. I am up again now & feel quite smart, but have some cough remaining. All through the expedition I was as well & healthy as I ever was & how I caught cold was a mystery to me. You write as though you were tired writing letters. I hope you are not tired yet, nor will be until the occasion for writing them ceases. How soon that comes we don’t know, let us pray to God to bring peace & quietness out of war & anarchy & restore us all to our friends again if it be His Holy will. I get more & more tired & sick every day and feel to wish & pray more and more for the final conclusion of this terrible war. But our Heavenly Father holds all things in the hollow of his hand and in his own good time he will bring about his own ends to his honor & glory and the best interests of our nation. The mail is waiting & I am again in a hurry. I believe I forgot to tell you in my last the the community of Mt. Hope was surprised one night by the quiet marriage of Mr. Charles Shuart & Miss Jennett Wheat. a complete surprise to everybody as not one in town ever suspicioned such a thing. It is not often young folks can so blind the eyes of the community, and they deserve a great deal of credit for keeping the matter so close.

And now how are you all getting along. are your babies cross or good. How is little baby so fat & lusty when I was there? does she walk yet, and pretty May with her loving hugs, I wonder if she will have any of them left when I come back. And Frankie my darling boy, is he a good boy to mind his mother. He must ever be good and kind to his mother & little sisters and remember his dear papa far away serving his country while traitors are trying to break it up. And how is my own darling wife? still full of the old love? Still thinking of husband above all the care of daily duty? Still praying for his safety & speedy return? I doubt it not. May God bless & keep you all my own darlings, and while I thank Him that my lot was ever cast with you I will pray that soon we may again be united as a family here upon the earth. Every thing goes on here in the same old style. We have not been paid yet. Please write long & often. I would have written more & with more care but the mail closes immediately.

Your loving husband


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15 January 1865: “Nothing could induce me to pass my life in the midst of such strife”

Item Description: A letter from Pauline Semmes to her husband, S. S. Semmes describing some life in Mobile, Alabama.


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Item Citation: From Folder 1, in the S. S. Semmes Letter, #2089-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Mobile, Ala.
Jan. 15 1865

My own darling husband,

Major ? goes to the Army, or rather army-wards, this afternoon and I, ever intent upon gratifying you, am determine to scratch off a few hasty lines for him to take. I have just been to church when we sat still throughout one of the good Bishop long sermons so you can imagine how ill fitted for the task of writing I feel. I have returned from the country this morning not by any means loaded down with game. The weather was far from propitious during his stay at the B–. much of the time it rained in torrents. He like everybody else comes back justifiely disgusted with the scandal which has been poured into his ears wither the past for five or so days. I wish to tell I think that must be a God Jerusalem neighborhood from all the grim stories I hear. Nothing could induce me to pass my life in the midst of such strife and foils. Ms. Bates and Capt. Han and still punish good for scandal mongers by their conduct. Tom Gardner informed me yesterday that he had just heard a “beautiful piece of scandal” Mr. Todd has discovered the intrigue between his wife and Mr. Cudland and that me & the young ladies (Dupas) is also unexpected, and that a grand ? art is expected. Mrs. Bajhard and MR. Hallen are on everybody’s lips. She too I supposed will soon fall a victim to the dispositions of the numerous buy ladies of this place. They walk together  every afternoon, sit together in church etc. etc. We went to the L— yesterday where we met more ladies and gentlemen of our acquaintance those(?) ever before. MR McDannold joined me and escorted me home, much to my relief for old Col. Deas was there and I was in mortal terror lest he should join me, knowing how much you dislike him and how little confidence it ? in him by men generally. Mr. McDonnald called me over a few evenings ago, and of course as he asked but for me, not having the rest of the family, I dare not mention his name, for fear of having taken up. He is very gentlemanly and perfectly horrified at the good manners and customs of this fair city. My Darling do write as often as possible you cannot conceive how my heart yearns for tidings. Your my loving husband. All while with me in earnest love and thousands of kisses.

Your devoted wife,


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14 January 1865: “After all what is the use of “putting men into the Army” whether they be white or black if we cannot keep them there?”

Item Description: Letter from William Porcher Miles to Gen. Beauregard about use of slaves as soldiers in Confederate Army.  Miles goes back on his earlier idea of arming the slaves because he believes that will make them more likely to defect to the Union Army.  He believes that if conscription laws were properly enforced, the Confederate Army would have a large enough army of effective soldier to fight the enemy.


Item Citation: Folder 53, in the William Porcher Miles Papers, #508, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Richmond Jan. 14th/65

Genl. G. T. Beauregard

Dear General,

I recd your letter by Col. Paul and would have answered it sooner but for the great purpose of business which has been upon me for some time past I cannot bring my mind to the conviction that arming our slaves will add to our military strength and the prospective and inevitable evils resulting from the measure make me shrink back from the step as only to be taken when in the very brink of the precipice of ?. At first I was inclined to think we might with some advantage employ negro soldiers but the more I think of it the more disinclined I am to resort to what at best can only be regarded as a doubtful experiment. The Yankees now do not get as many of our negros by absconding to them / as they did at first because the negro knows he will be put into their armies and forced to fight. If we force him to fight he will as between the two sides, go to the enemy because they offer him present strong inducements- (better food and clothing and unlimited whiskey)- and hold out to him as a reward in the future in the event of success- a proprietary right in the soil to which he is attached. He is made to believe by the artful and lying Yankee that he will have a farm given him out of his master’s land, and that he shall be made in every respect the equal of the white man. But I do not estimate him as a soldier likely to decide the fate of battle. We have on our rolls this side of the Miss. 401,000 men, of them there are present and effective some 175,000. We ought easily to keep in the field an effective present force of 200,000. This is as many as we can well feed and clothe and is amply sufficient to prevent subjugation or even the overrunning of on territory and the two things are widely different if our people have the pluck, fortitude and endurance which I believe they have. After all what is the use of “putting men into the Army” whether they be white or black if we cannot keep them there? If we had the absentees and deserters back we would have over 300,000 effectives this side of the Miss. and we have on the other side nearly 70,00 I believe we want reorganization in our army- better discipline and, as a means to that and better officers. If we would feed and clothe our soldiers well- and pay them regularly- if we would officer them properly and this improve the morale generally we would have numbers enough, especially if the Conscription laws were firmly and impartially carried out. What we want is not new and additional legislation in Army matters, so much as a energetic administration of existing laws. There are some few ? things to be done by law, such as “consolidation” doing away with elections and promotion by seniority, a more summary mode of dropping worthless officers. the improvement of the Cavalry arm (the point so forcibly dwelt upon by you) and some stringent remedy for the absenteeism of officers. Upon all these subjects my Committee has been at work and framed bills which we hope may prove efficacious if adopted by Congress. I send you a copy of our Cavalry Bill as it passed our House. It is now pending in the Senate. It was drawn by Genl Wickham a distinguished cavalry officer now a member of my committee and meets with Genl Wade Hampton’s warm approval as well as that of various distinguished Cavalry officers upon we were able to consult. I have written Gov. Magrath concerning the condition of things in So. Ca. and would be glad if you would read the letter which I have requested him to show you.

Very truly yrs

Wm Porcher Miles

Incd your Telegram with reference to Genl Hood and showed it to the S. of W. I fear he will not be assigned to duty.

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13 January 1865: “nothing at all to bother us except the mud”

Item Description: Letter dated 13 January 1865 written by James A. Graham to his mother. Graham, a native of Hillsborough, N.C., served as an officer in Company G (Orange Guards), 27th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Confederate States of America.


Item Citation: Folder 4, James Augustus Graham Papers, #283, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Camp 27th No. Ca. Inf’y

My dear Mother

I received a letter from George, written for you a day or two ago.

We are having a very quiet time in camp now nothing at all to bother us except the mud and that dont bother us much; for we know that as long as the ground keeps in the condition it now is it will be impossible for the Yanks to make any movement. We have had rain about twice a week for three or four weeks past, mixed with a little snow now and then, and now the roads are worse than I ever saw them before.

I am sorry to hear that the late rains have broken the Danville Rail Road as it will interfere with our men going home on furlough, by compelling them to go around by Weldon and they then have to walk to the end of the Weldon R.R. which is some twenty five or thirty miles from here.

George writes me that Father intends trying to get a place for him as midshipman in the Navy. I hope he may succeed for I would dislike very much for him to have to enter the army as a private now.

Robert came down to see me last Monday. He expects to start home next Monday on furlough and I expect, if he succeeds in getting his furlough, he will be at home before this reaches you, for the mails are very irregular now.

How did you like our Band? I miss them very much; for it seems quite likely to have no music at all after hearing the Band twice a day for so long a time.

I had a most delightful time last Tuesday on picket in the hardest rain I think I ever saw, wading about in mud and water knee deep nearly all day, but what fun is there in a soldier’s life unless he can have some such good times as that now and then.

I think there is some chance of my getting a furlough in about two months if all things keep on straight, for the officers of our Regt are getting furloughs pretty fast now and my turn will come after a while.

I must close as it is about sunrise and the mail leaves about that time. Love to all. Write soon.

Your affectionate Son

Jas. A. Graham-

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