Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Friday 15th [January 1864]

I received two letters from Dora & one from Harrie. I was very glad to hear from my dear little child. They were all well. Harrie took Pinck to Columbia with him. Eugenia put some little trinkets in Pinck’s shoe. I thank her very much for remembering my little boy’s shoes as Mother was not there to do it for him. They got to Columbia the 24th & went up to Pa’s the 28th on Monday Dec. 1863. They gladly welcomed my little child. My Field & Fireside came today. I hope it may come on regular as it has been stopped since Sept. on account of paper. Some soldiers stay here tonight. They say our men that went into Tenn. were taken prisoners. I am afraid it is true. If so, it will be a long time before Mr. Henry gets home. I hope ‘tis not so yet fear the worst. Atheline & I fixed the rooms upstairs this morning. I then finished Zona’s cap & began one for myself, working it with turkey red. It looks very nice. No news in the papers today.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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January 7, 1864

Terribly startled this morning by a heavy &, for some moments, continuous cannonading. So heavy was it that in our sitting-rooms, with doors & windows closed, it was distinctly audible, the windows even jarring at the sound. What can it be? We lose ourselves in conjecture & the gloomy thoughts it awakens are intensified by the sad tidings that we yesterday received of the death in action of two of our young neighbors, members of the Scotland Neck Rifles. They were ambuscaded below Greenville & these two, Mr Frank Ferrall & Mr David Camp, killed, whilst Mr. John Baker was wounded & in the hands of the enemy. Their bodies were brought home for burial yesterday. Scarce three weeks have passed since we heard of the death of another, the widow Whitehead’s son & stay, killed at Kelly’s Ford in Northern Va.  Truly this War will be a bloody memorial to us all!

The enemy before Charleston celebrated Christmas Day by a continuous & unprecedented shelling of the city. For hours they kept it up with, however, but slight damage to either life or property; an old man of eighty five & his sister-in-law were seriously wounded & have since died, whilst sitting by their own fire side — a shell bursting between them! Gen Joe Johnston has assumed command of the Army of Northern Georgia. All quiet there. Grant’s movements are wrapped in mystery, as he is retreating on Nashville, leaving Chattanooga strongly garrisoned, however. Have been very busy for the past two days packing boxes for friends in Camp & Major James E, still in Hospital at Richmond, however, Thomas Devereux, & Lieut Skinner, James & Lieut Skinner’s servant being here to take them on. Mr E also sent a box of country fare to his friend Gen Gatlin, Adjt Gen of the State, “a trifle to commence housekeeping,” which he did on the 1st at Raleigh. Finished 2 pr of gloves for Mr & Mrs Haigh of Fayetteville & sent them off by mail today. Quite proud am I of Mrs H’s, knit of Shetland wool with fancy cuffs.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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Camp Gordon’s Brigade

Dec 30th 63

Near Guinea Station, VA

Dear Father,

I received your kind and interesting letter of the 21st inst. was glad to hear that all was well &c. Since the death of my esteem Brother – John, I am more anxious than formerly to hear from home and kind relatives & friends there. Never do I expect to find another such friend or Brother, while I remain in the Army. Many times while on long and fatiguing marches we used to divide the last cracker or bit of meat with each other; it made no difference how small or mean his rations was he would never eat it without being satisfied I had some. And I always divided with him. I miss him very much, but I know it is useless to wish him back again. He was kind generous and agreeable to all who knew him, and was universally loved by his company and acquaintances in the Army. He remarked only a few days before he was killed “that he felt like it was time for him to be wounded or killed; as he had been in so many engagements & never received any wound.”

I cheerfully join you in “thankfulness to God for my preservation from bodily harm in many engagements while many of my Comrades have fell upon the field of carnage, while contesting with the enemy in defence of our homes friends and Liberty.” Don’t give yourselves any further uneasiness about me. I feel prepared to meet my fate whatever it may be. I shall indevor to do my duty to my country; and my God, and I hope to be victorious; and ere long arrive safe at home. We are all as well as common at present. I regret to learn that two of our company have died from disease who went home on detail after horses in Nov. Thomas Howell of Wake Co. and Francis M. Brown of Chatham are the two.

I have heard nothing from JM Hadley since I last wrote to you. He was then near Mortons Ford with his regt. that is about thirty miles from here. I would like to see him but we are not allowed to pass more than five miles from camp. We certainly do have very hard masters in the Army. They equal or exceed taskmasters of the Isrealites. But I hope there is a time not far distant when me will again be upon equality.

I sent by Mr. May John’s pistol overcoat & several other little tricks. Which I suppose you have rec’d ere this.

I presume you recollect that I wrote to you about 2 months before he was killed that I had bought his horse for $300.00 and paid him that amount. He kept the money a few days and handed it back to me to keep yet (subject to your orders). His detail came approved a few days after he was killed. But; alas, too late for him to enjoy it. I asked the privilege of going home on it but was denied on account of being an officer. Gen. Gordon gave it to one of his couriers. And he went home after a horse on it.

When old Rock feel down in the charge at Middlesburg, Va and crippled himself John proposed to swap with me for a sorrel maire that I had captured, which I agreed to that he might be mounted and go on to Pennsylvania with us. But before we reached Gettysburg Pa she lost show shoes & got lame by marching so far on turnpike roads. When he captured the Bay horse, I bought, he turned the mare loose and left he there & told me to keep her or sell old Rock in her stead, which I have done for $250.00.

I desire that you hold my grain and brandy until you see or hear from me again. You need not dispose of any of it unless Mr. B. Carter calls on you. If he does please furnish him.

I still hope to get home soon but I can’t name any time when I expect to be there. This leaves me very well no news of interst all quiet about here.

Your Ob’t Son

Wm. C. Hadley

(Please write soon)


Pencil notes in margins:

We have had a rather dull Christmas. Some have enjoyed themselves very well. I have better than I expected too. Give my love to the family.

Please excuse my changeable ink. I have to keep it … to make it black  all the good goes to the bottom. Good Bye. WCH


[Separate memo enclosed in letter]

Acct of Bro. John’s Burial and effects

Nov 9th 1863

1 Coffin & Plank                                                $29.00
1 Jacket & Pants 12 ½                                     25.00
1 Pr Glove                                                               5.00
Board for detail at Orange CH                      12.50
Cr by cash in Pocketbook                                                                              $30.00
                Drawed from Q. Master for Mo. Pay & clothing                     79.50
                Cash in hand for Bay horse                                                           300.00
1 Order on C. Basel Poe from Alois Biddle                                                  43.75

There is now 8 days pay due him which you can draw at Richmond Va he had assigned the Rolls up to Nov 1st before he was killed & I rec’d the money and have it now.

He is charged with a Saddle Bridal & Halter and I have returned his in the place of the ones he drawed. I have his Saddle pockets is all I have except what is herein accounted for.

Your Ob’t Son

Wm. C. Hadley

He had only 1 Pistol & I returned his sabre & his gun was lost where he was killed

W.C. Hadley


 Source: Hadley Collection, Chatham County Historical Association.

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Monday 28th [December  1863]

Matt & I made Hanes a coat. A very pleasant day. Some soldiers stay here tonight. They were cut off, belong to Forest’s Cavalry. Jinnie is cooking today to let Fannie have her Christmas. I received a letter from Mr. Henry this evening. It came by hand. He thinks he will be at home by New Year’s Day. I hope he may. I am very lonely when he is gone. I wrote to Pinck & Dora yesterday, also Lou. The mail brought no news.

Tuesday 29th [December 1863]

I spent the day with Sister Jane today & enjoyed it finely. The roads are very boggy. Hanes drove me. I took Gus. He was delighted with the ride. I got home about dark & found Mr. Henry here. I was very glad to see him. He will stay at home several days as the Battalion is going to camp up at Hominy Camp ground. Jim Henry & some other gentlemen took supper here tonight. They go for hunting early in the morning from here. Quite cool this evening but clear. I got a letter from Harrie last night saying they got to Greenville the 24th & he was going to take Pinck on to Columbia with him. Mr. Haines called here today & said Pinck was satisfied with the trip. He did not fret any about home & Mother. Bless my child Oh Lord. Bless him with health & contentment.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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December 29, 1863

Just at home from Father’s where we went to spend our Christmas. Came home on horseback with Father & Mr E. Had a fine view of a large Buck which ran across the field from swamp to swamp in full sight of us for more than a mile. Very free & independant and full of life he looked, an embodiment of liberty, but I fear the uppermost feeling in the hearts of all three was regret at his being so far out of range of Mr E’s gun. How sordid! The River has been up again & left the roads anything but pleasant — a sad drawback to the pleasures of locomotion.

Averill, to our disgrace be it recorded, made good his escape from under the very noses of our troops. The devastation & destruction he committed was great, but as usual the Abolitionists, true to their instincts, omitted no petty details. They took possession of a College at Salem & after robbing the boys (for they are all under eighteen) of all their clothing & treating them personally with great indignity, they fed their horses from the trunks of the students from mere wantonness, tearing open the hinges & using them as troughs! But immagination shrinks in horror from the detail of the outrages committed about the 11th of the month by a party sent out from Norfolk by that wretch Butler upon the unfortunate inhabitants of our North Eastern counties, within in fifty miles of us too.

In Camden county they went to the house of a Mrs Wright & entering her dairy against her will drank all her milk. That night two of the wretches were taken violently ill & died, when they returned to the house & accusing Mrs W. of having poisoned the milk seized, tied, & threw her in a cart & sent her to Norfolk for trial. In vain she protested that she was innocent, that the negroes (for the band was composed of them under white officers) had been eating fish, oysters, & every thing else that the country afforded & then drinking quantities of milk it produced its usual effect in inducing cholera morbus. They would listen to no reason, but sent her as she was to Butler’s tender mercies. They did not escape unscathed, however, more than a hundred having been shot by the citizens & Guerrillas in their mad progress through the country. A detachment of men under Lieut Munden having taken some of the negroes prisoner, they went to his house &, without warning of any sort, seized Mrs Munden, tied her, & took her to the Elizabeth City jail where she was confined in a cell with two black sentinels constantly in her room for some days, they sending him word that whatever was done to the negro prisoners would instantly be visited in like manner on her. My God, is it not horrible! Can such things be? The result my informant Mr Leary had not heard, he having left the county during the raid.

Mrs Charles Wood, the sister of my neice Mrs Jones, was surprised by the sudden entrance of her maid servant who had ran off from her to the Yankees some time before. She walked in — & said, “Well Mary (Mrs W’s name), how is Charles? (her master). I have brought some things for your children, for tho’ I do not like you, I am fond of them, but as I see you have moved my things which I left here I shall not give them to them! But never mind, I know where to help myself.” & suiting the action to the word she ascended the stairs, went to Mrs W’s closets & threw from the window what she chose, bed linen, blankets, Counterpanes, clothes, etc., to about fifty armed negro men who surrounded the house. Could I have survived it? “As thy days, so shall thy Strength be.”

One brilliant exploit of our sailors will worthily close the record of this year’s War & I thank God that I am able thus to bring it to an end. A party of nineteen determined men took passage at different times in the Steamer Chesapeake, bound from New York to Portland, & having on board a most valuable cargo of such things as we most need. When a few days out, at the dead hours of the night, they arose & mastering the crew put the Captain in irons & heading the vessel’s head to land, when in sight of it put the whole of them into boats & then steamed quickly out of sight. The engineer of the boat was wounded; with that exception it was accomplished without blood shed. They were acting under Confederate orders and were to report to the Command of the [ -- ] at [ -- ] without loss of time.

Before Charleston the shelling flags & there are signs of abandoning the attack, but whether intended as a feint to throw us off our guard or not we cannot tell. The shells thrown into the city do but little damage. Two women, one white the other an aged black, are as yet the only wounded & the injury to the buildings is but slight. Contrary to my intention of never writing another line of poetry, I copy on the next page a Prayer for Peace with which I last week amused myself. Its great merit is its sincerity & truthfulness at right. Well for me that I left this vacant space, as it is now my sad fate to record the recapture of the Steamer Chesapeake, so exultingly mentioned above. Want of coal seems to have occasioned it. She was lying near Halifax, N S in Sambro Harbor, waiting for coal when the entrance was blocked by three Abolition Gunboats. The comfort in the disappointment is that the prisoners on being landed at Halifax were immediately seized by a boat’s crew in the slip & hurried off by the crowd in attendance on the wharf. Upon Government officers attempting to arrest them they were seized & held by prominent citizens of Halifax & were thus rendered unable to execute their office. The prisoners all were finally hurried down the Bay &, snatched from Yankee clutches, are at large in Nova Scotia. John Bull must settle with the Yankee as he can & will doubtless make Seward beg pardon for carrying them there at all or demand thanks for having rescued them, all of which Seward will with grace perform.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

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December 25, 1863


        The first sound that greeted me this morning was the little negroes in the yard running about before light holloring Christmas gift to the other negroes–Christmas has once more come with its joyous sports. The little chaps enjoy it wonderfully. I have remained at home the entire day, as usual eating my Christmas dinner at home. And although the times are “hard” Mother had provided a good dinner for us. Several dined with us, viz Sam’l McGee, Larkin, Anna & Maggie Agnew. A poor soldier (32nd Miss) who has lost an arm (named Brock, who lives near Parson Scally’s) called this morning wanting a “lift” on the road home. He is weak, having been furloughed last Saturday from the Fair Ground Hospital of Atlanta for 60 days. Pa sent him on a mule to Mr. Armor’s. Wiley went along to bring the mules back. Jno. Martin and Johny and Claudius Nelson were here a while this evening. These were our visitors for the day. Early heard some big Christmas guns but not many.

        Have some news. Mr. Brock gave Pa a Mississippian of the 20th from which I have gleaned some items. The Yankees have made a raid on the Tennessee Railroad at Salem Va, west of Lynchburg. Some trussells were destroyed and Longstreet’s supply route cut. From Longstreet see nothing very definite. On the 14th there was a battle (not general) at Bean’s Station in which the Yankees were driven towares Knoxville. From Bragg’s army see nothing in the paper except that a reported raid towards Athens, Ga. was unfounded.

        From Texas see that Banks is gaining a lodgement in the state having and holding Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Aransas Post and Matagorda. This was in November and Banks is having much more success than I had heard of. In the U. S. Congress F. Wood had introduced a resolution directing the Pres. to appoint 3 Commissioners to negotiate a peace &c. The resolution was tabled by a large majority. This proposal would have resulted in nothing, for they looked to a restoration of the Union, but the U. S. Congress plainly declares they do not want peace now, and are not willing to make such propositions. Mr. McGee tells me Dr. Ford returned from the Georgia army yesterday. He reports them going into winter quarters at Dalton, a portion of the army is at Tunnel Hill fortifying: an attack of the enemy is looked for at Tunnel Hill. Gen. Jo. Johnston has gone on to assume the command of the army, and doubtless commands now in place of Hardee. Heard that it was reported this morning that the Yankees were up on 20 mile Creek, but as I have heard nothing more suppose it was a false report. McGee tells me he heard yesterday that the cavalry are moving up. They are certainly at work on the R. R. repairing to Tupelo at least. The day has been cloudy. Tonight a heavy mist is falling and we have the prospect of a wet night, Pa is reading The Message from the Sea tonight. It is a Christmas Story by Charles Dickens.

Source: Samuel Andrew Agnew Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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December 27 [1863]

By the fire in my room

My own dear little Pinck,

How are getting on at Grand Pa’s ? Very well I hope. How did you spend your Christmas? I thought about you a heap & wished you were here to hang up your sock. Zona & Willie hung up theirs & Zona got a big doll, some molasses candy, some ginger bread & a big apple & Willie got the same. So you see the Yankees have not got Santa Clause yet.

How did you like your Christmas letter? You must be very smart & learn to read so I can come after you. I want to see my little boy & Zona talks about you a heap, says she will be so glad to see you. She don’t comb my head often as she did when you were here to help her. Willie’s sore finger is nearly well. He wants to see little Pinck too & little Gus will jump & crows to see Pinck.

I have not seen Papa since the day after you left. They all left on Sunday after you left Saturday. Aunt Jane spent Christmas day with me. Little Dora & the baby too. She is living in Asheville at John Woodfin’s house. I am going to see her this week. She has been run from her home by the mean old Yankees & tories. They are mean people to do that way.

You must be a good boy & Papa & Mother will love their child so much. You must never tell a story & tell Aunt Dora good night every night for Mother & Papa. I kiss Zona & Willie every night for you. Hanes & Lonzo send howdy to you. Rose says tell Pinck she will be glad to see him when he comes. Mother sends a heap of love & kisses to her little Pinck. Gus, Zona & Willie send love & kisses to you. Be a good boy & write to us often. God bless you with contentment.

Your fond Mother

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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Friday 25th Christmas Day [1863]

I remember this day ten years ago very well. I remember this day nine years ago well. Sister Jane & her children & Mr. & Mrs. Black spent the day here. We enjoyed it finely. Had an eggnog before dinner. Dinner was late. We had turkey & several other things too numerous to mention. They all went back soon after dinner. I felt so sad & lonely. I have not felt cheerful & happy in a long time & then to have Sister Jane with me such a short time. I am going to spend the day with her next week. I miss Pinck so much. I wish he was here tonight. He is a good child. Little Dora is a little bit of a child. The baby is large enough to its age, six months old. Mrs. Black has a boy babe the same age of Sister Jane’s. This has been a beautiful day but rather cold. The mail brought no news of importance. Betsy went home this morning. She cut out the cloth & I began Mr. Henry a blanket. Did but little to it before Sister Jane & them came.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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Thursday 24th December 1863

 I finished my dress about 8 o’clock tonight. Betsey & Matt made Zona & Willie a doll each & hung them up on their little stockings. They will be delighted with Santa Clause’s present. I put some molasses bread & a large apple in them too. One of Mr. Neilson’s little sons was here today. Sister Jane is in Asheville living at John Woofin’s house. She will spend the day ehre tomorrow. The boy wanted some corn & flour. I sent some of both, 3 lbs. of four & 1 bu. of corn. I gave Matt a skeer tonight. She made a dreadful noise hollering.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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Camp near Weldon No. Ca

December 30th 1862

My Dearest Friend

As I haven’t written to you since I left Goldsboro, I concluded I would take this opportunity of dropping you a few lines to inform you that I am still in the land of the living.

We left camp below Goldsboro on the night of the 22nd on board the train but before we got up to town we met with an accident and had to lie over till the next day. There was an empty train ahead of us which was ordered by the Colonel to run up to town and get on the turnout so as we could pass   on her way up she run into a train, another empty one that was backing down to get troops, and broke her engines badly   so there they were on the track and couldn’t get away and we right after the one that had preceded upon a few minutes and crash went our engine into her lifting the rear car on top of the engine carrying away the smoke stack and running back nearly as far as the tinder before we stopped, so there were three trains on the track neither one able to get away. There was two men sitting on the cow catcher up to within a few feet of the collision and they seeing their danger jumped off and saved themselves.

The accident was entirely through carelessness, the train backing down ought have had a light in front knowing that we were down there, and there would have been no accident. There was a detail made from the regiment, went to work and rolled the car off our engine, got all the rest of the trains out of the way by morning and another engine with ten more cars came down and attached to ours, we having thirteen backed down to camps took on the 52nd Reg. and started for this place where we arrived that night. I forgot to say there was no body hurt in the accident. John Patton came to us the morning we left Goldsboro, is with us yet. Port wrote to Mr. Patton that he was here and if he consented for him to stay he would be received into the company.

We had no Christmas.  did you have any.    There is some talk of Leventhorpe getting promoted to Brigadier General, he is well qualified for the position but we would regret very much to loose as fine an officer as he from our regiment. He said after the battle of White Hall he had the best regiment in the service and that we never would be exposed to such another fire during the war.

There has been bigger battles than that by a great deal but I don’t think there has been any regiment since the war commenced under a heavier fire than ours was, from the fact that we took the whole fire of the enemy ten thousand strong with eighteen pieces of artillery we being the only troops engaged. The others held in reserve except the 31st it was ordered down but never got in to action. Cos. B & F who were sent on picket at the bridge early into the morning fought the enemy two hours and half before the remaining part of the reg was ordered down. The only think that saved us from all being killed was the heaps of logs on the river bank and the only thing that saved Gen Robinson’s command there was the river, on an open field the enemy would have overpowered us.

At one time during the engagement I was behind a big stump on my knees looking over an a cannon ball went into the root of it, which made the dirt and chips fly like everything and which made me get low. A man from Co I was severely wounded by my right side in the shoulder. I tell you it made me feel bad to see the poor fellow bleed the way he did. When Walter Duckworth was killed he fell over on Pinks leg and bled a considerable amount on his pants before he knew he was shot in the head and died instantly. I have lost one of my front teeth, it was filled on each side but under one of the fills it had decayed in to the nerve and hurt me so I had to have it extracted.

I’m not very well as I have been sueffering with a cold ever since we came to this place and yesterday I had a chill the first I have had since I’ve been in the service.

Devotedly yours



Margin notes:


I haven’t subscribed for that paper yet, reckon you think I’m a long time doing so. We have been expecting orders to Petersburg and I thought I would wait and see if we did go and if we did I could see someone that I knew going to Richmond and would send the money by him – don’t like to send by mail.


There is several cases of small pox in Weldon  there were two cases came down on the train from Petersburg on Christmas day, a young lady and little boy were examined and isolated sent to the hospital. I saw the boy and his face was broken out all over like one that had the measles.


We haven’t got our tents yet – don’t know when we will get them   they went to Goldsboro and are there yet. We have little huts made of split logs and dirt something like a potato house that we are living in now. A man don’t know what he can stand till he trys it. If we thought there was any probability of us staying here we would put up winter quarters.

Sources: Mike and Carol Lawing, eds., My Dearest Friend: The Civil War Correspondence of Cornelia McGimsey and Lewis Warlick (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2000). Original collections of the papers are in the Laura Cornelia McGimsey Papers and the George Phifer Erwin Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.

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