6 November 1864: “We wold blo it up before thay shood have it.”

Item Description: Letter from Jerome Rigins, a sailor in the Confederate Navy, to Martin Moser.  He discusses how Union troops have taken Plymouth and will likely take Kinston.  If Kinston were to fall, they would destroy their ship (believed to be the CSS Neuse).



Item Citation: Martin Moser Papers # 3972-z

Item Transcription:

November the 6 1864

Kinston NC

Der frend,

i seat my self Down to write you a few lins to let you no that i am better.  i have been very sick with the fever.  i am nerly well agane.  I am only week now.  the officers pade a good tention to me while i was down.  We have good wether now.  The rivver is low.  The Yankee is taking Plymouth agane.  I expects the Yankee will under take Kinston.  if thay do thay will take it i think but i don’t think thay can take our boat easy.  We wold fight hard it.  We wold di at it rather than to give it up.  We wold blo it up before thay shood have it.  tell July that I will send her somthing if i cand git the chace i will send her nuf prety stuff to make her A bonet if i can.  we have preaching evry Sunday the chuch bell is ringing now for preaching now.  our Capt is got orders not to give ferlow enymore.  now till ellic and Eli howdy for me that i only way one hundread and fifty ponds.  So I mast close by asking you to write soon.  give my respcts to all my frends.  So no more at this time you must excuse my bad writing my hand tremble so I cand half write.

Jorome Rigins

To Mr. Martin Moser

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5 November 1864: “these will be but little security to any thing below the Wilmington”

Item Description: Letter dated 5 November 1864 written by William S. Pettigrew. He writes regarding the charge of his baggage, will, and other personal belongings. His worry over the possibility of a Wilmington invasion informs his instructions.


Item Citation: Folder 270, Pettigrew Family Papers, #00592, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

To Mr John Blekepon



Copy Camp Writing near Wilmington N.C.

Nov. 5, 1864

My dear Sir:

I wrote you on the day after my arrival in camp; which I hope will be received; if it have not already been. In addition to what was then written I would be glad to add the request that you would wet the mucilage on the envelope that contains my will, and seal it up (not with a wafer however, but merely with the mucilage). As it is paper of some importance to me perhaps it would be best to have it closed from the observation of every one but myself. When my baggage is lent to Raleigh, to the care of my Uncle, Mr. James B. Shepard, as I have requested in my former letter, you will please place  the will, my watch & money in the hands of the person who will be good enough to take charge of the baggage, and request him to deliver them to Mr Shepard. Will you please wrap them up securely in paper, counting the money & putting with it strip of paper specifying the amount.

Lest my last letter should not have reached you, I will repeat some of the instructions there given. In consequence of the fall of Plymouth & the probability of raids being made by the enemy, into the counties above, these will be but little security to any thing below the Wilmington & Weldon R.R. you will therefore oblige me by sending my baggage to Raleigh, to the care of Mr Shephard, by the first safe opportunity, even should one offer before Mr Len. Hapell goes on to the Legislation. It will be safer in Raleigh than Edgecombe. The pair of new shoes, intended for my own use in the service, please retain for the present, as well as George’s new shoes & clothes, unless there be reason to apprehend that they will fall in the hands of the enemy if so then please do with them as in your judgment may appear best. My shoes ? we could not part with particularly the former without much inconvenience. The Daguerreotypes belonging to ? son Hines you will please retain until I have heard from my sister Mary, unless there is a probability of their being lost in unsettled state of the country. If there be such a probability, it would be best to send them to her, accompanied with an apology for not accompanying them with a letter.

As to the length of our stay here, I am unable to form an opinion. Some think there is a probability of an attack on Wilmington; others that there is none. The Regt of So. Reserve, that was ordered from this encampment on Monday last to the north eastern part of the State, has been ordered back & is now near here. For what purpose I have not heard. Our Capt, who has just left our cabin, says Maj. Riley, the commander of the post- remarked today that we had as well make ourselves content. It was one of the Lieutenants instead of the Captain. Should a letter arrive at Tarboro from my sister at Richmond in the course of a few days, please forward it to me to the care of Capt. J.M. Hart, Camp Whiting near Wilmington, Company B. Senior Reserves. I commenced drilling yesterday. We have so fitted up our cabin that it is comfortable. With my best respects to your family & the ? Jones, I am, very truly yours, W.S. Pettigrew

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4 November 1864: “Morning Report of 1st, 2nd, & 4th GA, Cav.”

Item description: The morning report of the brigade commanding by Colonel C. C. Crews


???????????????????????????????Item Citation:

From Folder 9, in the William Asbury Whitaker Papers #3433, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription: 

Exhibit 4
November 4th 1864 

C. C. Crews

Morning Report of 
1st, 2nd, + 4th GA, Cav


Morning report of the:                 Regiment of: Crews Brigade            Commanded by: Col. C. C. Crews


1st Cav. lead by Col. S. W. Dailts (?)  (…) Total Present for duty: 611
2nd Cav. Capt. T. M. Mim’t               (…)  Total Present for duty: 468    7 off 48 men prisoners of war
4th Cav. Maj. Stewart                     (…)  Total Present for duty: 361    3 off 109 men prisoners of war
added by                                      (…)    Total Present for duty: 1440
Major Bryan from Memoranda
3rd Gen Col. Thompson                    (…)    Total Present for duty: 536
6th ”       ” Hart                               (…)     Total Present for duty: 379
4th ”       ” Clinch                             (…)    Total Present for duty: 805
Lt. Col. Harris Coring                                                                                         

                                                          (…)                               1720
                                                          (…)                              1440


Date: Nov 4th             JohnPlinkJn A.A. (sic.) Adjutant. L.     Col C. C. Crews Commanding. Maj



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3 November 1864: “I have considerable misgiving as to the question of Negro troops”

Item Description: Letter dated 3 November 1864 from William Porcher Miles to Robert E. Lee. He discusses the use of slaves as soldiers in the Confederate Army.


Item Citation: Folder 52, William Porcher Miles Papers, #508, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Richmond Nov. 3rd/64

Genl Robert E. Lee

Dear Sir,

Accept my thanks for your very full and interesting letter in response to mine asking your views touching secondary matters of Army organization. I confess I have considerable misgiving as to the question of Negro troops- both as to their efficiency and the effect of such a measure when our political and social system. Of course anything is better than our subjugation by such a people as this War has revealed the people of the Northern States to be- and to avert such calamity and degradation I would be willing to sacrifice all the wealth of the Confederate States including Slavery which in its chief element it is not however as I have already initiated merely a question of wealth and property. *

[on the side of the page] *But I do not propose to discuss the subject generally. Looking at it in a purely military point of view

But can the negro in our armies effectively aid us in our struggle? And has the time arrived when our arms-bearing white population can no longer resist the tide of invasion? There are the two present and pressing questions- and I feel that upon both of them you speak with a weight of authority second to no one in the length and breadth of the Confederate States confederacy. Your opinion seems mature and positive decided. In deference however to the circumstances of our people on so delicate a subject– and the violent opposition which the proposition for arming our slaves will excite in many quarters– would it not be well even if Congress should concur in my opinion to proceed guardedly and gradually? For instance suppose Congress were to authorize the organization of large bodies of Sappers + miners- composed of negros- say fifty or sixty thousand in all – and see how that will work, between now and the next session. They certainly would be very useful- as much so perhaps as they could be in any capacity. This and the exclusive employment of negros as cooks, teamsters, Artillery drivers etc etc would constitute practically an addition of perhaps one hundred thousand men to our armies with more stringent legislation on the subject of exemption and details we ought to put from fifty to seventy five thousand additional white men in the field. Would not this suffice for the next campaign? With acknowledgements for your willingness to respond to any inquires I may desire to make concerning subjects connected with the Army, I am, General, with highest respect your obedient servant,

W. Porcher Mills



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2 November 1864: “More serious than even this is the fall of Plymouth itself . . .”



Item Description: “Gone Up” and “Sinking of the Albernarle.”  The Daily Journal (Wilmington), page 2, column 1 (editorial column).



GONE UP.—Our readers will be sorry to see the news from Plymouth, N. C., received yesterday by telegraph. We are in hopes that our people lost few prisoners and little material. We looked for the fall of Plymouth after the Yankees had succeeded in blowing up the Albemarle. Our force there was no doubt small on land, and of course perfectly insignificant on water. Somehow, we doubt whether the people of that section of the State have felt any confidence in our abiity to hold Plymouth and the lower Roanoke country, and hence their indisposition to take any active part in favour of the Confederate cause. We may expect at any day to hear of an attack being made upon the town of Washington, Beaufort co , on the Pamlico. In truth, that unfortunate town is pretty much ruined already, and can’t be much more injured even by Yankee barbarism and spite.

Sinking of the Albernarle.

A few days since a report reached here that the Roanoke iron-clad gunboat, the Albemarle, which played quite an important part in the capture of Plymouth. had sunk at her station in the river. Although we had this report, however, it came in such a “questionable shape” that we felt unwilling to use it without more definite information. The Goldsboro’ State Journal of Tuesday morning contains a statement of the affair, from which we learn that about 2 o’clock on Friday morning, the weather being very dark and stormy, eleven officers of the Yankee Navy, in a torpedo boat, run against the Albemarle, then lying at her wharf at Plymouth ; the second attempt was successful—the torpedo exploded against the Albemarle’s bow, staving it in, and causing the ship to go down in a few minutes as far as the depth or shallowness of the water would permit.

The Yankees on their way up the river had captured a Confederate picket on board the Yankee steamer Southfield, partially sunk by the Albemarle during the attack on Plymouth some months ago. The Yankee party was also captured.

More serious than even this is the fall of Plymouth itself, which will be found in our telegraphic column. It is not impossible that some of the fleet of which a good deal has been said as likely to come here, have gone up the Eastern Sounds of the State with the view of re-establishing Yankee superiority in Albemarle, Pamlico and Roanoke Sounds. Their large double-enders could not come through the Albemarle and Chesapeake Navigation from Norfolk, more on account of their length than their depth. They would have to go in at Hatteras Inlet. Plymouth is 150 miles north-east of Raleigh, and probably had twelve to fifteen hundred inhabitants at the outbreak of hostilities.

Item citation: The Daily Journal (Wilmington, N. C.), 2 November 1864, page 2, column 1. Call Number: C071 Z. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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1 November 1864: “Camp on the Appomattox”

Item Description: Sketch of a camp on the Appomattox near Petersburg, VA.


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

Item Transcription:

Camp on the Appomattox near Petersburg Va

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31 October 1864: “After Ram had been sunk.”

Item Description:  A photograph of a sketch of the naval attack at Plymouth, N.C. on 31 October 1864. Inscription on the back describes the moment the sketch depicts. 18641031_01 18641031_02Item Citation: From Unit 3, in the Confederate Papers #172, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription: (on the reverse of the sketch)

Sketch of Naval attack on Plymouth, N.C. 31 Oct. 1864. 

After Ram had been sunk, fleet is coming down the Roanoke, having gone up the Middle River, and turned down. 

Sketch by A. C. Shrant. U.S.- N. 1864.  

Photo at New Bern, N.C. 


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30 October 1864: “every cloud no matter how dark has a silver lining”

Item Description: Letter from Abram M. Allen, an Ellison slave who was freed before the Civil War, to Eliza Ellison.  He offers his condolences on the loss of her husband.



Item Citation: Folder 2 of the Henry Alderson Ellison Papers, #1432-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Washington Oct 30th 1864

Mis Eliza Ellison

Dear Madam. I Rcevd yur letter and would of answerd it before now but I had a Riseing on my hand and could not write. I hope this may find you and the family will please to give my best respects to the family. Tell Mis Harris her House is Empty and I have taken care of it.  The young Lady Mis Harris that came from Wilson a few days ago told me that you wish me to take your grates out of the chimneys.  I have done so and will take care of them till I see you I have taken the lighting Rod and brought it home to keep the people from carrying it of.  It has been very sickly here this summer but the people are getting more Healthy there is new.  I hope madam your you are getting more reconciled than you were.  Nuthing but Divine grace can sustane us under affliction and if we ask for it, it will be given. I would advise you to Read the scriptures Read the psalms of david and pray to god and he will give you grace to hear all your trials. You have affectionate children and friends and the Lord has promised to provide for the fatherless and widow his word is firmer than the pillars of the Univese. Remember Madam for your consolation that every cloud no matter how dark has a silver lining. I hope Heaven may keep you and yours.

Pray your Humble servant

Abram M. Allen

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29 October 1864: “To leave this God cursed soil behind”

Item Description: Poem written by Maj. McKnight. Oroon Alston Hanner copied this poem into his autograph album while in prison on Johnson Island. He was given this autograph album by a local women’s society. While in prison, he collected autographs of his fellow prisoners as well as copied down poems and other prose such as this poem.


Item Citation: Folder 1, Oroon Alston Hanner album, #04853-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Maj McKnight’s Farewell Address To Johnston Island Ohio

Oct 29th 1864

I leave thy shores of hated isle,

Where misery mocked my days,

And seek the Land where Lovely ones Smiles,

And Summer seasons the heart beguiles,

In jovial blooming rays.


I quit thy Loathsome prison walls,

With joyous sounding heart,

To think again dear Southern halls

To go where e’er my duty calls,

And hear my ? part.


No more! thy sorrows God grant no more

Will save my prison cell,

For ill winds beat against my door,

For storm blasts sound my prison roar,

Within this Northern Hell


No more! Mine ear will hear the cry

Of Suffering braves for bread

For Scenes of Sorrow meet mine eye

Where those fair noise who cannot lie

Than those already dead


But soft All drops a parting tear

In memory of those

Who lost to Loving hearts for e’er

After rest on dreamless slumbers here

Secure from heartless foes


Then haste the storm & friendly winds

To bear me from the storm

To leave this God cursed soil behind

To bear me when my heart shall find

Freedom forever more.



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28 October 1864: “even as I would that of a brother, for such he ever seemed to me”

Item Description: Letter dated 28 October 1864 written by John Francis Shaffner. He gives extensive description of his love for Carrie Fries, who he became engaged to in September 1863. Shaffner also mourns the loss of a close friend in battle. He also provides a description of the evacuation of an infirmary after the Battle of Cedar Creek.


Item Citation: Folder 39, Fries and Shaffner Family Papers, #04046, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Bivonore [?] New Market Va

28th October 1864

My darling Carrie, Under rather awkward circumstances do I now undertake writing you a reply to your most kind and affectionate letter of the 20th.- It is a cool, windy day- our tent has been thrown down by the violence of the gale, and outside writing in the wind is by no means agreeable.- But as I am at leisure, and cannot employ myself half as pleasantly at anything else, I have determined to give you an additional letter to read- I say additional because I fear I have writing too many latterly- well aware however that you my darling will excuse this my weakness, if such it may be termed.- Your last letter afforded me infinite pleasure and I cannot express you the thanks I would gladly extend you.- You know however how highly I prize these missives of love from your hand.- Truly those who have felt the bewitching power of “true love” and the pangs of a bitter separation, can fully appreciate the value- the priceless value of a letter from the hand of the beloved subject. Love belongs to these invisible things which cannot be described, but which must be felt, and felt rightly to be understood; that is felt in such a manner that its key note, if it may be so termed shall strike upon and awaken your pathetic vibrations in the heart of another out of which combined shall sound forth the perfect harmony of the perfect chord.- Whenever this harmony is heard-its perfection is acknowledged, its victims lie prostrate captives.– But I must not allow myself to speculate in this manner. I was much pleased to learn that your united efforts had succeeded in prevailing upon your Mother to visit Greensboro in company with Mary. — You have well remarked that such a visit is rarely indulged in by her and therefore you anticipated I would be surprised. I did feel an agreeable surprise when I read your letter for I am sure your Mother’s health aside of other considerations requires recreation. — Incessant mental anxieties for years not to speak of the physical wear + tear incident to faithful + tender nursing, require some new and different stimuli. Such we have every reason to hope can be best supplied by free + pleasant recreation. I can readily believe that you have neatly enjoyed yourself in the grief of your sister after a separation and my darling, I heartily sympathize with you in your joy.

I will confess I feel a little uneasy until I may hear from you again although I really have no apprehension that “the 110 Yankees at Old Town,” even did exist or will exist so long as we hold possession in this state. And even if they were there is not our Home Guard sufficient to  the entire squad or send them all to “that ?, etc, etc!” ? probably the whole report had its origin from a few escaped prisoners on a squad of struggling deserters + new servant conscripts. I was glad to learn that Capt. H. Wheeler was “cheerful + lively as ever” bearing up mercifully under his afflictions. I feel thankful to have been remembered to him and should convenience allow it, please return the compliment. Perhaps I will write him a letter.–

I write you a short note on the 20th, merely mentioning that a severe battle had been fought the previous day, – a victory won- but subsequently lost.– Then I did not have the time to enter into particulars.- The death, or supposed death of my particular friend Maj. Pfhol staggered me and made me feel very sad indeed. — I cannot well realize that he is no more, yet such is alas too true.– The wound he received was too severe to allow us a reasonable hope.– Sgt. Barrow called to see me several days ago, and told me that it was rumored he had died of his injuries.– I sincerely mourn his loss- even as I would that of a brother, for such he ever seemed to me.- His bereaved family deserves much sympathy- which no doubt is freely extended it. I have written a brief obituary notice of Maj. Pfohl + sent it to our home paper. I intend sending a copy to one of the Raleigh papers likewise. — But let me now say something of the battle. Our army commenced moving at sundown on the evening of the 18th, the larger junction under command of Genl Gordon, making an immense circuit to gain the enemy’s flank and rear. The other portion had orders to advance ? in front and ? attack at the earliest dawn. – Everything progressed admirably- the surprise was thorough and complete. – Two corps were routed and driven pellmell for five or six miles. – Some 20 pieces of Artillery were taken beside many prisoners, and some fifty or more wagons and ambulances. The enemy’s camp was exceedingly rich in spoils, and this was the cause of our subsequent disaster. The enemy rallied, brought forward his remaining corps of infantry, and Calvary and succeeded in pressing back our attenuated line. Our Infirmary was well to the rear + we dreamt of no harm, until the shells of the enemy brought us warning.- These passed well over + beyond us. Quickly I had my wagon loaded- and my wounded placed in the Ambulances.- They were all started + gone when the hostile line of skirmishes appeared on the scene. It did not take me many minutes to leave.- Our entire force had passed in disorder along another road, leaving our Artillery, Medical Wagons, + Ambulances, and Ordnance wagons to shift for their selves on the turnpike.– When I reached Strasburg, the Calvary of the enemy was already in town, having reached it by a detour to our right, and were playing sad havoc with our artillery and other trains. By avoiding the town, I succeeded in getting out with my Medical wagon + five Ambulances with wounded- losing however three ambulances. — The other Brigades of this Division were less fortunate.- Two lost their wagons, and all their ambulances + the third- saved its wagon and three ambulances- losing five of the latter.- The whole affair was very diseneditable[sic]- and to us decidedly unfortunate.– We lost less provisions than we brought away but in Artillery + Wagons we are largely loser.– The papers however have given you abundant information regarding this fight and I will say no more.–

Soon we will try the foe again, + what is more, we expect to whip the next battle. I must haste to a close.- Please give my love to your Mother, and Mary + Emma + Julie- Remember me fondly to all the family. — I am anxious to have another letter from you darling and I trust it will be here soon with news that you are well and doing well. I long very much to see you- but we must have patience. – The times are gloomy- but be of good cheer- a better one will come- perhaps much sooner than we anticipate. – With an offer of all the love I possess, and a fervent wish for your heath + happiness, I beg to remain as every Youts only + truly + fondly, J.


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