23 September 1864: “the officers are blamed more than the men were”

Item Description: Letter dated 23 September 1864 written by John H. Speed to his daughter Kate(?). Speed was a member of Company G, 3rd North Carolina Cavalry Regiment (also called the 41st Regiment, North Carolina Troops). During September 1864, Speed’s company was on picket duty in Virginia, guarding the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad.


Item Citation: Folder 1, in the Edmondson and Speed Civil War Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Camp 3a NC Calvary

Barringn’s Brigade

Hampton Corps Calvary

Sept 23rd 1864

My dear daughter,

Yesterday was a happy one to me considering where I am. I received your dear Mothers letter of the 14th Sept. I am in hopes that your health continues good also your brothers & still enjoying the same blessing my health so far continues good. Tell your mother that nothing so far has been done in the way of punishment to the company they have retrieved the lost character– if they even lost any– the subject is a mooted question, a majority- and a very large one of the regiment consider that the few done no more than the service requires, and self preservation dictated I think that the officers are blamed more than the men were.

It is distressing news to learn that you uncle Alan is at last compelled to go in service but I hope that he will be enabled to get his detail extended for I do not know what gain mother will do for help if he is compelled to go away. I can only hope for the best, remember me kindly to your Aunts, Mr Grimes and the rest of those who think enough as to ask after me– There is to be a detail from this regiment to pick Fodder on the Roanoke River. I am trying my best to get in the ? so that I can have the pleasure of seeing you once more. Tell your mother that cannon firing of such daily occurrences in the vicinity that we hardly notice one days firing from another. Yesterday morning at sunrise the enemy charged into Petersburg but were repulsed with heavy loss. The big fight is looked for daily and when it does take place it will be a big one, also tell your Mother that they have not paid me off since my last so soon as it is done I will do as I stated that I would do for I know it will be of great help to her. Tell Johnnie that I am looking for a letter from him kiss Charlie & Kate for me– and I will pay you back I hope at some future day not far off, ask your Mother if she received a Jacket and towel by J White when ever she can get a chance she can send me the towel back for I have to use the one which I have left for a pocket half give my love to your dear mother tell her not to feel slighted– I will write to her in a few days. I would be pleased to hear from you at your earliest convenience + believe me yours

affectionate + loving father,

John H Blessed

PS Genl Rhodes is killed- in the valley- his remains have been brought to Richmond the valley army is suffering– the enemy is heading in that direction.

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22 September 1864: “I guess Hood will have us all in the saddle tonight”

Item Description: A letter from Thomas Clayton to his wife Emma regarding a friend who got a leave of absence, poor weather conditions, and troop movements. Thomas Clayton did not enter the military until January 1864. Before that he served as acting military storekeeper at the Confederate Armory in Asheville, N.C., and assisted friends in the Confederate army with their financial and personal business. In January 1864, Clayton was ordered to report to Columbia, S.C. After serving there for about a month, he was assigned to an engineering unit in General Hood’s Corps. Clayton was stationed in Georgia during the Atlanta campaign, writing letters from Dalton, Dallas, Marietta, and near Atlanta. He later moved to Jacksonville and Florence, Ala., where he was a member of General [S. D.] Lee’s Corps.



Citation: Folder 9 in the Clayton Family Papers, #4792Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



Head 2nd Lee’s Corp

Near Palmetto, GA  Sept 22nd, 1864

My Dear Emma,

Since writing you this on West Point and Atlanta RR, ? Nash Hardy has got a leave of absence for sixty days and goes home this evening. I have included to draft you a few lines by time Thursday it will reach you earlier than by the mail. I am very tired though and have but little more to write in the way of news than I had this morning.  The indication today is that we will cross the River. In fact we have orders just received from Mjr Hd 2n to recommend the crossing of the River and I guess Hood will have us all in the saddle tonight and I dread it for it is now raining and will be very dark. But such is a soldier’s life if he does his duty and I will try and do mine. But some of our Buncombe friends do not ? much about this but I spec he don’t care. There is great dissatisfaction in his Regiment at his going away, and I expect many of the officers to resign or try to do so. The weather has been very bad for several days. Rain all the time and very dark my eyes are nearly out from hard use in making maps in such dark weather. It is now so dark I can hardly see where I am writing. If we should cross the River you must not looks for many letters from me. I will have little time to write and no way of sending my letters when written so you must not be weary about me if you do not hear from me often. I hope the campaign will soon end for this year. Then I will get to go home. I don’t want to go before then, and Thomas and Col Preston have both promised me that I might go home. I have never asked for a leave nor I never will as long as I am needed here. I received your letter of the 12th.  Ed Berry had not heard of Joe’s marriage until today I told him. It was the first time I have seen him since we commenced to war.  I think his opinions of ? is about like yours.

Thomas sends his love says tell them all he would write by Nash but has not time did not know he was going write this minute and has just come in from the line. Nash will start in a few minutes. I will close you my love to all at home so take good care of the children, God help them I wish I could see them. Farewell my dear and may the Father of mercy watch and protect you and then in the ? ? of you.

Devoted husband,

T. C.

Geo West is with me now don’t forget to make the gloves for him. I feel under many obligations to him and he is a very clever man.

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21 September 1864: “My sleeping quarters will not be quite as comfortable”

Item Description: James Gifford writes to his parents about his journey home to them in New Bedford, Massachusetts . He was a Naval officer stationed off the coast of North Carolina.


Citation: Folder 3, in the James Gifford Papers #4493-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Brooklyn Navy Yard

September 21, 1864

Dear Parents

I write you these four lines to let you know I am thus far on my journey. I arrived in Providence about 6 O’clock last evening and had to wait four hours before I could start again. We started at ten O’clock for New York and arrived here this morning at 5 1/2 O’clock. The Newborn sails tomorrow morning early and I suppose I shall be in Beaufort next Monday or Tuesday. My expenses thus far have been $11.00 and I think sixteen or seventeen dollars will take me through to Beaufort. I shall have a little change to look around some today. My sleeping quarters will not be quite as comfortable as they were when I came home. I think I shall have to sleep in a hammock. The Navy Yard is full of vessels repairing. We have got a monitor along side. I think she must be a new one. I have seen on N.B. fellow since I have been here and that is William Kempton A.M. mate. I will be glad when I get clear from this damned old vessel. They don’t put themselves out any for the accommodations of others. I wish we were on our way now for the sooner I get out of this ship the better I will like it.

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20 September 1864: “The bloodiest battle I have ever witnessed”

Item Description: A detailed letter from John Paris to his wife describing The Third Battle of Winchester.

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Citation: From Folder 5, in the John Paris Papers #575, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Strasburg, VA. Tuesday September 20, 1864

My Dear Wife, The bloodiest battle I have ever witnessed according to number, was fought by us yesterday at Winchester. Our men fought like they intended to die rather than yield. The Yanks attacked us at daylight with overwhelming odds Commanding and Sharp Shooting continued until half past ten. when the Yanks  advanced their line of battle. The most furious artillery fight ever looked upon raged until half past eleven, when the action became general. Both parties fought without any breakthroughs, the enemy being the awaiting party. I looked upon the scene with sorrow and joy. About 12 our line gave way, fell back about ten hundred yards, and assessed the line; the Yanks advanced but the steady aim of our line was such that the ground was totally covered with Yankee dead, at length the enemy gave way. They fled in disorder and our line advanced and occupied the enemies position. 

I though the victory complete, and engaged in assisting in carrying our wounded into the city. About half past 2 O’clock the Yankee Cavalry made a demonstration on our left; and Imboden’s Brigade of (Buttermilk rangers) Cavalry, without any cause gave way without fighting, and came shouting wildly through the streets crying out the Yankees are coming. This started waggons, ambulances, carts, niggers, boys, skulkers and many others to flying in a push of perfect confusion, without sense or reason and and taking off like a storm, and our dear fought victory was lost. General Early had to fall back to this place, giving up the town. I reached here last night as our One Oclock with the baggage trains. The troops marching at liesure will be here by noon. Our life is truly dreary. Major Gen. Rodes, and Brig. Gen. Godwin are both killed. Col. Ellis of the 34th has his arm shortened a few inches of the bone taken out. Lieut. G. W. Wills, son of Rev W. H. W. is killed. Lieut. T. R. Hanett of Alamance, nephew of Aunt Millie, I left mortally wounded in the town. Our loss in killed, wounded and missing will sum up  I fear to 3,000. The Yanks lost no doubt 5000 men. We brought of about 500 prisoners. The only dead we brought off the field was the two generals. We lost two pieces of artillery and no baggage. The prisoners state that General Grant commanded, and that that ?? was killed.

My health is very good. We will stay here in the fortified towns, I presume to see if the Yanks will attempt to attack us. The position is one of great strength, and I think we will hardly be disturbed. I remain your affectionately, 

John Paris

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19 September 1846: “He desires your immediate attention”

Item Description: A dispatch to General Logan asking him to comply with general orders.


Citation: From Folder 33, in the George William Logan Papers #1560, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


#244B.                                                                                                                                 Head Quarter Dist. Wn. La.
Alexandria, Sept. 19th 1864

Lieut. Col. Logan


I am instructed by the Major Genl. Commanding to call your attention to the fact that the requirement of General Orders No. 91 current series from these Hd. Qr. have not as yet been complied with. He desires that you will give this your immediate attention both for the present and the future.

I am Colonel
Very Respectfully
Your able Srvt

H.S. Foote Jr.

A.W. and L. Genl.

To Lieut Col. Logan
Windy Battn. 2nd La. Hy Arty.

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18 September 1864: “I believe a great many have left our Country for the North lately. I heard forty left Goldsboro last week.”

Item description: Letter, dated 18 September 1864, from Kate Chapman to Mary Ferrand Henderson of Salisbury, N.C.

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Item citation: From folder 36 in the John Steele Henderson Papers, #327, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Mrs. A. Henderson
Salisbury, N.C.

Alamance Sept. 18th ’64

My dear Cousin,

I should written you long ago, but I know you have so many correspondents and my letters are so uninteresting that I do not like to tax any one to read or answer them. I have felt and truly sympathized with you in your deep affliction and would do any thing in my power to give you one moments comfort, but this I can not do. Mamma has gone down to Raleigh. We had a very sick negro there and thought she ought to go see him attended to. Miss Rowena Hines has been on a visit to us and she returned with her. Mamma wished me to write you that as soon as she returned, she would go up and make you a short visit. We have had a handfull of company all summer. Mary and I are alone now, and I can tell you a little quiet is very pleasant. I have not been at all well this summer, but hope now cold weather is coming. I shall feel better.

We have been haveing very good weather for the season, fires have been very comfortable. General Beauregard passed the Shops Friday on an extra train “En route” to Petersburg by Danville. I was so sorry to hear the Yankees had taken the Advance – she has been such a fortunate vessel, but I hope we will soon have a better one in her place. I believe a great many have left our Country for the North lately. I heard forty left Goldsboro last week. I am suprised that Mrs. Waters should wish to go, she was such a strong Southern woman. I do not think Sam is any more negligent now than he has always been. I have heard of his being very much so long before she left Washington. I do not believe he will break his heart about her going. I am very sorry to hear Mrs. Henderson’s health is not good. I hope it may soon improve. I do hope John will stop and make us a visit. We have not many inducements to offer him but I will do all in our power for his enjoyment. Sunday is always such a dull day. No Church to go to. That is one of the most disagreeable things we have to contend with up here. We have had several letters from New Berne lately, they all write as if they were having miserable times there. I do not not think there is much else but miserable times every where now. Give my love to Mr. Henderson, and his Mary and Dick for me – tell them they must not forget me.

Your affect. cousin,

Kate Chapman

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17 September 1864: “I hope this dreadful war will soon be over”

Item Description: A letter from William Dudley Gale to his sister Anna regarding his wife, and troop movements between divisions.

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Citation: From Folder 5, in the Gale and Polk Family Papers #266, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


H. General Stewart’s Corps
September 17th, 1864

Dear Anna,

Your letter as well as one from Kate and one from May have all been received within a day or two . They were very  welcome, as they were the first for just over a month, no 3 weeks. I knew they were on the way. Our retreat from Atlanta caused everything to get into confusion. Your letter was very acceptable indeed as you spoke more of the children. How I would to see you and to share a moment with the dear little fellows.  It seems I have been unfortunate when I have been with you, being sick. It give me intense pleasure to hear you speak of dear Kate in the manner you do. I am not surprised that you should love her as you do for it seems to me that she is “altogether lovely.” I have always known any one in my life who possesses so many charms as she does. I thank God every day of my life for giving such a fun minded, loving devoted wife, what can I ever do to repay her for what she done for me and mine? I feel sure that if it had not been for her loving heart, I should have been in my grave, years ago, instead of a strong useful man. You cannot tell how much I love her, and how much I lean upon her. I hope this dreadful war will soon be over and then I will by the tenderest devotion of my life endeavor to repay her for all she has suffered and done for me and mine. It is a source of great pride to me to feel that her influence has not been confined to me, but every member of the family have experienced pleasing and derived some good from her affections. Oh sister, loving devoted wife, tender unflinching , patient, conscientious noble mother, respectful and devoted daughter,  how can it that she will not profit(?) in life, and her dear devout labor, God help and protect them I pray. 

Joe spent two days with me a few days since. He was quite well and although a little mortified at the condition(?) of his Division [smugded] will please God. Edward Johnston now commands the Division, a fine soldier and grandmaster, Battalion(?) Brigadier has now about 400 men. General Watthall is doing his but to have him and his men transferred to this Corp. I hope he will succeed. Joe got the bundle from Mary which he seemed delighted with, I am very much pleased to know she sent him the things. I must now stop. 

Love to all and kisses to the dear little brats. Your loving brother, 

W. D. Gale


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16th September 1864: “They report the Lincoln officers in the army as very uneasy.”

Item Description: An article under “War News” from the Weekly Standard in Raleigh, NC describes news of the presidential election in the north, as well as troop movement.




Citation: Weekly standard. (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 Nov. 1864. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045706/1864-11-16/ed-1/seq-1/> A copy is in the North Carolina Collection.



From Richmond and Petersburg.
There has been no change in the two armies since our last.

A telegram from Petersburg of the 9th says that
the Yankee videttes report that on Tuesday last
Warren’s 5th corps voted for McClellan for Presi-
dent overwhelmingly, and that the army of the Po-
tomac has done the same thing throughout They
say New York City gave him 40,000 majority, and
Kentucky has gone for him by an immense vote.
They report the Lincoln officers in the army as
very uneasy.
The Yankee pickets in front of Richmond states
that a telegram has been received at their head-
quarters, announcing the capture of the Privateer,
Florida, off the coast of San Salvador.
Nothing additional from Wilmington or Georgia,
except the statement in the Macon Telegraph that
the federal garrison at Atlanta has been largely re-
inforced recently, and the trains are running through
from Chattanooga. It is rumored that Gen. Thom-
as, with 40,000 men is confronting Gen. Hood, and
that Sherman has four corps in Atlanta.


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15 September 1864: “The attention of Engineer Officers is called”

Item Description: An order from the Confederate War department to engineering officers.


Item Citation: From Folder 13,  in the Clayton Family Papers #4792, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:


Confederate States of America

War Department, Engineer Bureau

Richmond, Va., September 15, 1864

 The attention of Engineer Officers is called to Army Regulations, Art. 45, p. 1,375, requiring the following returns to the forwarded monthly to this Bureau, viz: 




 Appropriate forms for these Returns are laid down in the said Article 45. All Engineer Officers in charge of works or disbursing funds for other purposes, will hereafter forward these returns promptly for each month. 

Estimates for funds for the succeeding month should accompany the monthly Money Statement, so that requisitions to meet the estimates may be forwarded from this Bureau as early in the month as practicable. 

By order of Maj. Gen. Gilmer, Ch Eng’r Bureau
J.H. Alexander
Major and A. A. G. 

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14 September 1864: “Genl Stannard’s 1st Division”

Item Description: Illustration dated 14 September 1864, by Herbert E. Valentine. He was a private in Company F of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers. Valentine made birds eye view sketches of the towns in which he was stationed, as well as sketches of their principal buildings such as hospitals, churches, warehouses, and private residences that served as military command headquarters and as officers’ quarters.


Item Citation: From volume 1: folder 78b-79a in the Herbert E. Valentine Papers (#04397), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Genl Stannard’s 1st Division 18 A.C.

Bermuda 100 1864 (Sept 14)

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