Posts Tagged ‘boots’

Tuesday 23nd [September 1864]

Very little news this morning. Till Morris was here a short time this morning. Rained nearly all day. Mr. Henry in the house all the morning & at the mill in the evening. Matt & I made a shirt for Mr. Ball today. He stays here today waiting for his boots. He lets Mr. Henry have a pistol for the boots. He is a nice little soldier. Tena has been making some starch this week. She has not put it to sun yet as it has rained so much.


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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Wednesday 16th & Thursday 17th [March 1864]

My head ached badly all day yesterday. I was in bed part of the day. I sewed a little on my under body & finished it today. Mr. Henry went to Asheville yesterday & today, also Col. Ray is selling off. I have made two towels today since I finished my under body & wrote some letters. One to Sister Frank, one to Lou & one to Stockton & Co., proprietors of Field & Fireside. I sent 8$ to Stockton for the paper. Fayette Jones got some leather here this evening to make a pair boots. He has gone to have the cut now & will return the leather that is left. Billie Cook is here waiting for Mr. Henry. ‘Tis supper time so I will stop this time.

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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Child’s boots. Black high top boots with laces and scalloped tops.  Marked inside “McKay Sew. Mach. Association, ½, 137271, Pat, Aug. 14, 1860”

Boots, North Carolina Museum of History, Accession number 1947.21.9-10.

Boots, North Carolina Museum of History, Accession number 1947.21.9-10.

Gordon McKay partnered with Lyman R. Blake and together the two worked to make Blake’s patent for a sewing machine that attached shoe soles to uppers a successful enterprise. The men began in a small shop in Lawrence Massachusetts and by the Civil War, the company had expanded and eventually made large profits by manufacturing boots for the military.

Source: North Carolina Museum of History, Accession number 1947.21.9-10.


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December 14, 1863

Prices are almost fabulous now & yet we hear of but little distress & tho’ when I was in Richmond Corn meal was $18 a bu. yet we did not see a street beggar. Work is scarce, money plenty, prices high, & almost all those who wish can make a livelihood. Men of fixed salaries, clerks, clergymen, etc., & invalids are the sufferers. Miss Myers told me that she paid in Danville $750 for a barrel of Sugar & moveover feared to have it all brought down to Richmond, such was her fear of Burglars! Mr E got me last week a pr of fine French boots in Clarksville for which he paid $60, but I consoled myself for the seeming extravagance by resolving to send 12 or 14 lbs of butter to Petersburg where it is from 4 to 5 per lb. With cotton at 12½ the boots would have cost in good times 48 lbs of cotton. Now with the staple at $1.00 in Halifax they cost only 12 more, viz., 60. The box of supplies which we sent Amo last month (for a list of which see ante) was valued by the insurer at $100! But the most ludicrous instance of high prices is the value put by the Express Agent on my night gown & cap and 1 lb of Hyco smoking tobacco left by us in our room at the hotel in Richmond & sent after us — viz., $40 — & bear in mind that the gown, tho a neat one, was made before the war — three years since. I view my wardrobe with more respect since.

I have always forgotten to give Lt Gen Polks command. Altho solicited by the President in person he persisted in refusing to serve under Gen Bragg & was therefore transferred to the Department of Mississippi under Gen Joe Johnson where he now is, Hardee taking his command and he Hardee’s. All uphold him in condemning Bragg, tho the clerical Gen has not a great military reputation in the Army himself. I know not how it is. We hear so much in praise or in derogation of almost every officer in the service that it is hard to form an unbiassed opinion. Each subaltern has his favourite & all the rest are incapables!

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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Thursday 29th & Friday 30th [October 1863]

I had the headache very badly yesterday evening & last night. I was very sick but got better after vomiting. I finished the haversack just after dinner & my head pained me so badly I did nothing else. ‘Tis a nice haversack. Harrie went to Asheville yesterday, heard no news. Lt. Welch brought the bodies of the killed to Asheville yesterday evening, all but one. He is buried in the garden at Warm Springs & they did not know it till after they left the Springs. The yanks have all left the Warm Springs. ‘Tis reported we have whipped them near Greenville. I do hope it may be so. In the fight last Monday they fought hand to hand, knocked each other down with their muskets. Our forces fought well. Harrie got Pinck a hat yesterday in Asheville for which I paid ten dollars. Tom Cook came by here this morning & says Mr. Henry was well yesterday evening. I am always so glad to hear from him. Cook took some leather & Mr. Henry’s old boots home with him to fix. He is to make me a pair shoes also. He has to go back on Monday or Tuesday. My head has ached all day, a little better since supper. I began a cap for Mr. Henry. It is too small. I shall have to make another crown. Tena & Atheline spinning for Mr. Henry’s overcoat & pants. I cut the jeans out of the loom last Wednesday, 15 ½ yds. I will make Mr. Henry a coat & pants next week & Pinck some clothes as I want to send him down to Pa’s for Dora to teach. I wrote to Dora today. I sent Mr. Henry’s haversack by Russell Jones on this morning & put some molasses bread in that Atheline baked yesterday evening. She got dinner yesterday & Jinnie washed. May kind Heaven protect my husband I pray.

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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Blacking from China Berries

The Columbus Sun recommends its readers to preserve the following recipe: if you want good blacking, take a half bushel of China berries, and having them well picked from the stems, put into a kettle, and add three gallons of water; boil down to one gallon, then strain the liquor, through a sieve, from the seeds and skins, and add as much pine wood soot (the richer the better) as will make a good black, and it is ready for use. A pint of good or a quart of weak vinegar (or stale beer), first mixed with the soot, will make it better, and if you add the whole of one egg to a half gallon of the liquor it will best and equal any Yankee blacking. This blacking costs little besides trouble, and we have seen boots cleaned with it inferior to none in gloss, and it will not soil a white handkerchief. Let stand several days before you bottle it.


Source: Southern Confederacy, May 16, 1863 as found in John Hammond Moore, ed., The Confederate Housewife (Columbia, SC: Summerhouse Press, 1997).

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Camp Branch near Martinsburg, Sept. 25th, 1862

My dear Wife

You will probably be surprised to receive two letters from the same place, and in fact we have been surprised at remaining here so long, but our Generals seem to have realized at last “that tired nature needs repose, etc.”  We may be here several days yet, as the last report I have heard places McClellan still on the opposite side at Sharpsburg.  They admit a loss of 13 Generals and 30,000 men killed and wounded.

Ham has just left me after a long harangue on politics and war.  Ham is always ready to argue about the merits of Jackson and the election of Vance [as Governor of North Carolina].  He had received your father’s letter of the 7th in which not one word was said  about you or the children.  I am getting very anxious to see a letter from you once more.  I sent off a courier three days ago, with orders to go until he got me some letters.  Do you know, Honey, I am afraid ambitious notions are getting into my head and that I am aspiring to another step.  And between us I do not see that it is so preposterous for me to look forward to promotion.  It hink my chances pretty fair if many more should be made.  But really and truly if the Lord will be pleased to bring me through this war safely, I will be satisfied to end up as a Brig. General.

You have no idea how anxious I am to see Jake for really I am without any assistance.  Brewer is here but seems so much dissatisfied at having to remain in this part of the Army that I have ceased to ask him to do anything.  I need assistance very much.  Capt. Kirkland has not yet joined.

I am reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and really you have no idea how nearly we [i.e., Stowe and Pender] agree one the subject of slavery.  I tried to whip Joe the other day but could go only three stripes.  He is thus far a very smart boy and much improved.  You would be amused at some of his trades.  The rascal seems to have plenty of money, but I have ordered him to allow me to be his treasurer.  He has managed to dress himself in a nice gray uniform, French bosom linen shirt—for which he paid $4—has two pairs new shoes, etc., etc.  If he continues as he has commenced his clothing will never cost me anything.

The same old song in your father’s letter.  “Pamela and Jake are expected from Mrs. Williams.”  Do they go as often or is it the same old go that I heard of soon after I left you.  But no better business could be found for them, while one part of the family is being shot at and cuffed about on the head and knees, the other to keep up the good feeling with the sympathizers of the cuffers.  Isn’t it a pity we don’t need but one magistrate in the same muster district or that some of our Post offices have been broken up.

I am sorry to see the conscript law so ineffectual in its results.  Of all the Regts. here from N.C. only a few have as yet received any conscripts, and I hear that in some sections the men swear they will not come out.  I need them badly for I have in my Brigade only about 850 all told present.  I have been in several fights with not more than 300 men.  One consolation, the Yankee Regts. are no better off than ours, except the new levies of which they have many.  The Yankees admit that they were whipped on their left—that is where Hill’s Light Division fought [at Sharpsburg].  You have no idea what a reputation our Division has.  It surpasses Jackson’s old Division both for fighting and discipline.  Hill told me that I had the best discipline of any Brigade he had.  But when I tell you that this Division has lost 9000 killed and wounded since we commenced the Richmond fight at Mechanicsville, you can see what our reputation has cost us.  We started in that fight with 15,000, now we have 6,000, 9,000 disabled.  My Brigade has lost between 12- and 1500.  One would hardly believe it that the percentage of the killed in the list of casualties is only about two per cent.  For instance, in the Friday’s and Saturday’s fight as Manassas I had 165 wounded and only 12 killed.  Several of the former have since died however.  Let me cease to write about war and killing.

I am really anxious to hear of your having received the dry goods, and that they are such as you need.  I felt very proud of them and if they only suit I shall be very happy.  I was sorry I could find nothing to send Pamela, but she must take the will for the deed.

Please do not fail to get the sheep skin from Mr. Stafford and have me a pair of boots made.  Long legs and not to come above the knees.  I want a good stout waterproof boot.  If you can get them, hold on till you get a safe chance to send them.  My horse is still in Richmond so far as I know, but hope to get him soon as I send Maj. N.E. Scales [Brigade Quarter Master] to Richmond tomorrow.  Would it not be nice if I could get ordered south with my Brigade this winter and be in Charleston or Savannah.  Gen. Hill says he intends to ask that his Division be sent south as soon as the campaign is over here and he stands high in the regards of Gen. Lee.  The campaign in this section cannot, it would seem, last more than a month.

Now my dear, I must close by asking God’s blessing upon you all.  You know my dear that every time I go in my trunk it makes me sad, for nothing so forceably reminds me of you.  My love to you all.  God bless you.

Your devoted Husband

Sources: William Hassler, ed., One of Lee’s Best Men: The Civil War Letters of General William Dorsey Pender (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). William Dorsey Pender papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/p/Pender,William_Dorsey.html

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