Bethania Forsythe County
Nov. 10th 1862
I have been busily engaged since my last communication to you, but have not a great deal to show for it. Those iron works I alluded to in my letter from Salem have been visited and have an outward appearance of honesty, but there are some rumors afloat against them, which I could not race up as true. The one owned by Stephen Hobson is situated in Yadkin County, he has a present 50 employees, detailed to him from Forsythe, Iredell, Davidson and Yadkin Counties by the Cols. Of the Regts to which they respectively belong. In addition to these he has 17 others, who have not been enrolled, being between the ages of 18 & 45 now, but were under 17 & over 35 at the last enrollment. He has no state or Govt. contract, further than a sub Contract, from Jno. P. & J.J. Nisson of Waughtown, who have a Govt. Contract for wagons and horse shoes, which sub Contracts Hobson agrees to furnish 3000 lbs of iron every two weeks—He now runs two fires and one forge—is interested in 3 other new forges now being erected, and wishes to have some 38 hands more in addition to the 50 he now has detailed, Thinks he will be able then to furnish 1000 lbs iron pr day The opinion of some of his neighbors is that he is erecting the new forges for the purpose of screening some of his friends from the army, as he is a Quaker, but my own opinion is he is doing it for the dollars and cents he can make by it, as he employs these conscripts for $10, pr month He has a foundry also—and has been engaged in the manufacture of Iron with one forge for the last 20 years—You can make your own calculations whether the amt. which he now produces to the Govt. (3000 lbs. in two weeks with 50 hands) is a paying business or not, and whether it will pay to raise the number of operatives to 88 for the sake of 1000 lbs, pr day—Jesse Wooten near him has one forge completed and at work, & two others on the way—will be in operation in a few weeks—15 conscript hands—a sub contract with Nisson—and furnishes 15000 lbs, every two weeks—at least that is his contract. Neither he or Hobson however quite reach the stipulated amt, Wooten has been at the business some eight years—and has as he says only the same number of hands that he always had—some of them are new however, oweling to the fact, that a part of his men went to the service in the early part of the war I would not have visited either of these establishments, had I not heard that they were fruads upon the Govt. Hobson has been heard to say “That he would ease the conscience of as many of the neighbors as he could, from fighting in the war. Both of these establishments are in the bounds of the 75 N C M. Col. Cowles.
I visited also the Shoe Shop of Mess Kerner & Gentry at Kernersville, Forsythe Co. find the working 13 hands—12 whites, I Blk. 11 Conscripts, Contract with State, for 1000 prs pegged and sewed shoes. Stipulation pr month 200 prs. Date of Contract 23 of May. Average pr day to the hand 1 ½ prs. was another contract just made with Q. M. Sloan for which he has not yet gotten the papers from Mr Sloan—Enclosed find if you please, the report of Mesr Fries & Fries, Salem, for woolen goods—and Mesr Hine & Co—for Leather, The report from the Cotton factory of Gray & Wilson, Salem has not been made out yet owing to the absence of Mr Gray—It will reach me at Greensboro—and will be for in my next. I am authorized and requested by Chief Justice Pearson, to lay before your Excellency the following facts, There is a man in Yadkin county near Mount Nebo—75 Regt, N. C. M. named Elkanah Willard, who openly defied the law, first, By rescuing his brother who is a conscript (he himself is not) from a guard who had him in custody by a display of arms and open force. Secondly, by putting Capt Flemming of that district and the men accompanying him at defiance, in such a way that they were obliged to shoot him down or rush upon him armed as he was at the imminent danger of their lives The Capt says he could have shot him down or at the risk of his life have attempted to arrest him but as he was a man of most desperate character and has 5 other brothers as bad as himself, the better plan he thought was to let him alone—It is the opinon of the well affected neighbors in order to avoid bloodshed that the best policy would be to send an officer with 12 or 15 armed men—to arrest him, supposing that this display of force would let them see their resistance was hopeless and that they would surrender without opposition Whereas it tampered with and not put down at the start it may result in some dreadful evil. The effect of armed men in the neighborhood, would be wholesome in many ways, as there is some disaffection in that part of the County. This man Willard has said he would rather join the Federal Army than ours—The above statement are facts, vouched for by Judge Pearson. Any thing else coming to my knowledge will be promptly reported to your Excellency.
Sources: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 1. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in Governor Vance papers, North Carolina State Archives.
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