Posts Tagged ‘execution of deserters’

Kinston, NC

November the 2 1864

My Deir Wife and children

I seate my self this morning with a troub beld harte and a de strest mind to try to rite a few lines to let you no that I hiered my sentens red yesterday and hit was very Bad. I am very sory to let you no all read dy that I hafte to bee shot the 9 of this month. I am sory to in form you that I hav but 7 dayes to live but I hope and trust in god when thay have slane my body that god will take my sole to este whier I will meete my little babe that is gon be fore. My dier wife I think I could die better sadesfide if I could see you and the children one more time on erth and talk wih you but my time is so short I done exspct to ever see you and my dier lile dchildren eny more on erth.

I can in form you that I receved 2 leters for you yesterday witch I red with plesur witch you giv me some sadesfaction to heir that you was all well and doing well.  I receved the close that you sent to m by lt smith. I exspect that will be my bearying close. I receved a canteen of brandy also but am in too mutch truble to drink. My dier wife I wante you to come to see mee if you can gi abner brooks to come with you if can my dayes be perlonged. My dier wife if I see you no more on erth donte grieve for mee nether lamente nor morne mee. I hope I shal with my Jesus bee while you ar left a lon. I pray that god will be with you and helpe you rase your children up in the noledge of th truth and the lorde and savior Jesus christe.

A woird to my children witch is in my harte in nature seem to bind. James I wonted you to bee a good boy and obey your mother. Also sissy you muste bee a smarte little girl and bee good to the babey and call to Jobey. I hope that god will bee with you all so far well children you cane se you papy no more on erth.

My dier wife thes times has ben sweet.  I have spent with you but no I muste depart from you and nevr more return but let this no griv your hart. I pray that the lorde will bee with you and helpe you out in all your troubles and trile hier bee low. So far well dier wife

J.R. Redmond condem to die


Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in the Military Collection, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

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The captured deserters

We mentioned in our last that several deserters from our army had been captured in front of Newbern, two of them executed, and others on trial. The Raleigh Confederate, whose Editor was on the ground, says,

“We learn that among the yankee prisoners taken below Kinston last week, there were forty five deserters from Nethercutt’s Battalion. They were in full yankee uniform, and will of course suffer the penalty so eminently due the base crime of desertion to the enemy. One desert from the 8th Regiment, caught in yankee uniform, was shot on Thursday last, with several others.

Source: Fayetteville Observer, February 11, 1864 as found on www.ncecho.org

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Camp near Orange CH

Feby1st 1864

Dear Parents and Fanny

I again drop you a few lines to let you know that I am yet in the land of the living tolerable well. I have a bad cold that pesters me right smart. Hoping this finds you all well and hearty anddoing well.

I have witnessed a scene that I never want to again. I saw two men shot today they belonged to the 52nd Regt. I have drawn a scale of the Brigade and how it was formed. Each regiment is numbered the way it was formed. After the command to fire was given one of the prisoners hallowed a few times. The guard was ordered to fire a second time and a third before he was killed. The other was fired at twice. The guard was about five paces from the prisoners. After they were dead the whole Brigade was marched by where they lay and were tied to the stakes. It was an awful sight. A terror to all deserters or those who ought to be. I do no ever think I will ever bring such a disgrace on my family and relations. It is true camp life is a hard one, but to die the death of a deserter is a worse one.

I have but little news to write. The Yankees have made moves on our lines and captured about 30 of our men near Rapidan river above Rappahannock Station. We will go on picket the 2nd inst. The whole brigade will go. IO will write again in a few days. I have not heard form home since Cain came back to his Regt. Write often and soon.

I remain your son and husband.

James W. Wright

Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in John Wright Papers, North Carolina State Archives.

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Camp 24 miles northeast

Wilmington, NC

January 28, 1864

Dear family,

I received your kind letters dated 14. I was very glad to hear from home for I had been looking for  a letter for a long time. I did not get Emerson’s letter you spoke of. I got all the letters you sent. I want you to give me the date of all my letters you get there after. I was well pleased with the letters the children sent to me. I want them to be good children and be smart for I will come home sometime and I want to find smart children. I am sorry to hear Jonty has got to be lazy for he told me he would be a good boy. I want you to get Wood if possible for it won’t do to let the land lay idle. I would like to be there a few days to make some arrangements for you but I can’t come before spring. I got the cakes and pies and apples and sausage you sent me. They were all good. I wish I had some more for we are only getting 2 ounces of bacon per day and 1 pint of meal not sifted. We have to shoot three men tomorrow for desertion. The whole Regiment is in an uproar now about it. I don’t have to shoot for I am no guard till tomorrow night. We have all sorts of rumors in camp but no reliable news. We are now 24 miles from Wilmington working on breastworks. I don’t know when we will go back to camp. We are in 15 miles of New River, not far from the Yankee line. Great confusion among the soldiers. All want peace not caring how so all can get home. Some think the Army will break to pieces in the Spring. All in favor of going back in the Union hoping there will be a convention. The home guard in Hanover County is called into service and about 800 men in Wilmington drilling. My mess crowd is all well and I will tell you who they are William Hood, Nathan W. Smith, W.A. Smith, Giles Etchison, Peter Allen, S.M. Foster, Robert Orrell, Peter Harman, and Hiram Speaks. We have all been in one mess for a long time. I have given you about all the new I know. I have received two numbers of the press. I send you all my love hoping I will see you all in peace before six months.

I am in fine health. Hoping you are all well.

Tell Emerson to write to me again. I want you to tell Copes to write to me and I want you to write every week and tell me who wrote your last letter. I could not make out the handwriting. I would read it very well. Do the best you can till I come. If you don’t get a letter from em again soon don’t be uneasy, for I shall try to do the best I can for myself. I still remain your loving husband and son.

T.C. Riddle to Sophia R. Riddle, Nancy Riddle, and my dear little children.

Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 1.

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September 27, 1863

Sunday — Have been all the week looking & hoping for details of Bragg’s recent victory which come in but slowly. Rosencrans has fallen back to Chattanooga where he is fortifying, rumours of our having cut him off to the contrary notwithstanding. Our loss in officers is heavy. Hood of Texas, our best Cavalry general, has lost a leg, but is doing well. Our loss estimated at 5000 killed & wounded. Bragg’s official Telegram tells us [we have] taken seven thousand prisoners, of whom two thousand are wounded, twenty five stands of colours & guidons and 36 peices of artillery & have already collected 15,000 small arms over and above those left by our killed & wounded and more a coming in. Rosencrans sent in two flags to ask a cessation of hostilities in order to bury his dead & to attend to the wounded, but Bragg returned for answer that he had prisoners enough to do the one & Yankee surgeons sufficient to releive the other & so should press on. Rosencranz has been reinforced by Burnside the Christian, so he may make a desperate stand yet, spite of the fact which we take from their own papers that two Divisions of his army were seized with a frightful panic & ran riot, 10,000 of them & they with difficulty being again rallied. Victory may be plucked from our grasp yet. Rosencranz is strong in a dogged obstinate resistance — “Old Holdfast” as his troops call him. “Bragg is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better” said an old proverb of our childish days. We may yet live to see it re-exemplified. God grant that we may not! How true it is that Bragg does not possess the heart, the confidence of the country. We fear to rejoice, fear to pluck the fruit lest it turn to ashes in our grasp!

 On the Rapid Ann Lee’s & Meade’s armies confront each the other. A series of skirmishes mostly cavalry occur almost daily with varying success. They drove us back on Wednesday or Thursday & on Friday we ambushed a Brigade & captured 700 of them together with their officers.

 The shooting of ten deserters which I recorded as having taken place in the 3d Cavalry is a mistake of the Reporters. He should have put it 13th Infantry. I have censured Baker wrongly for that but from no fault of mine.

 There is but little doubt now of a fact which I deferred mentioning, viz., that Semmes has sunk the Vanderbilt. Altho not official, the story has reached us in too many ways to be longer doubted. That pride of the Yankee Navy lies midst the Coral Caves off the coast of Florida, sent there by the Confederate Cruiser, the Alabama. Capt Maffit has been received at Brest in the Imperial Navy Yard with orders to supply her with everything she wishes save munitions of war. We must build no hopes of speedy recognition on that fact, however, as it is but a return of courtesy on the part of the Emperor for assistance rendered by us to a French man of War ashore on our coast two years since. We rescued the crew & gave them free passage to Norfolk then in our possession, tho we were unable to save the vessel, the Yankees in the meantime not content with “passing by on the other side” but actually shelling our boats whilst engaged in the humane task!

 And this reminds me that I have too long lost sight of the progress of the French in Mexico. As yet it has had no bearing upon our condition & therefore I have taken but little interest in it, but as that cannot long continue, I ought to mention it in time so that when it comes you, O Journal, will not be found entirely ignorant of matters there. The French, under pretence of a redress for commercial injuries, have conquered the whole of Mexico, so that the pliant Junta have under Marshal Forey’s influence offered an imperial crown to Maximillian, second brother of the Emperor of Austria. He wavers about accepting it whilst Lord Clarendon on the part of England has been ordered to make a solemn representation in his name of the dangers which envision it — to lift the gilded bauble for a moment as it were & to show the real crown of thorns hidden underneath it. The U S throws itself into a ferment of indignation at this breach of the “Monroe Doctrine,” blusters & threatens to annihilate France, pretends to beleive that she is in league with the Southern Confederacy & that Mr Davis has already or soon will cede to her all our territory west of the Mississippi, & exhausts herself in threats and declarations of his determination to allow no foreign domination on this continent. We sit passive but by no means uninterested spectators of the contest. Something must “turn up” to our advantage in it but as yet we see not what it is to be. The story of Marshal Forey’s having ordered 300 lashes to be given Maid Rubio for refusing to admit French officers into her house is a vile Yankee fabrication, trumped up by them to throw their own infamous conduct to the women of the South into the shade. None but Yankees or Russians could be guilty of such outrages on humanity & manhood.

Father left us for Raleigh on Thursday the 24th. When he returns he will bring Susan with him.

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 4th NC Regt

Near Rapid Ann River

Sept. 16th 1863

Dear Brother

I received your very kind and interesting letters ome days since. I should have answered it sooner. Though we have been moving occasionally ever since I received it. We have not much excitement in camp only accasionally we can hear the roaring of cannon. On day before yesterday there was a right smart little skirmish between the pickets. We lost some 10 or 15 killed and about twenty five or thirty wounded. Well Brother I witness one of the most horrible scenes about an hour ago that I ever beheld in all my life. What do you imagine it to have been. It was the execution of one of our fellow soldiers for desertion. The whole Division was ordered out to witness the sad fate. He was accompanied from his place of confinement to the stake by the Chaplin of the 14th Regt who he had employed as his spiritual counsel. The Band of the 4th Regt also formed a part of the procession, which added greatly to the solemnity of the scene by playing the Dead March. This man belonged to the 2nc NC Regt. A few days ago there were 10 shot out of the 3rd NC Regt. They were shot for desertion and murder. Isn’t it shameful how the NC soldiers are acting. What a pity it is that an Official did not resort to shooting at the beginning of the war. It is a deplorable necessity and will have to be enforced or desertion will ruin our army. I was very much pleased to hear of the soldiers making a raid upon old Holden’s office. It undoubtedly would have been the primary step towards promoting the honor of NC had they have pitched old Holden into the streets and broke his neck instead of his press.  The Raleigh Standard has a bad effect upon the ignorant class of people who are not able to comprehend its design. It should not be allowed to be sent to the army. I was very glad to hear that you and Pleas had acknowledged the worshiping of the Devine Spirit. I am sorry to say that the good Spirit has not manifested itself towards me yet. I hope that I may profit from the good example set before me by my younger brother. I was glad to hear that you were going to school at Clemmonsville.

It is useless for me to urge upon you the value of time for I fell that you can fully appreciate and will undoubtedly improve it. We are getting plenty to eat (Beef and Bread) and as good as soldiers can expect. We are now encamped on the top of a mountain where we get the fresh air and can see for miles around. We have the best Brass band in service, which tends greatly to us when we get low spirits. You are going to school and will do doubt want your corespondents to use grammatical language and also to write a legible hand, for that – I offer a few faint apologies. You will almost – two different hand writings in this letter. It is the result of changing pens. I have not had a letter from Spense since I left home. As it is getting late I will have to close. Nothing more at present. Only I remain your affectionate Brother

JH Hanes

PS Always direct your letters to me as follows JH Hanes 4th NC Regt Ramsuer’s Brigade Rodes Division Richmond VA.

Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 1. Original in the Catharine E. Hanes Collection, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

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 September 11, 1863

 The most cowardly thing that the Yankee Government has yet done in its home administration, & the greatest confession of weakness that it has made, is the postponement of the draft in Ohio until after the election. They fear Vallandingham and his party too much to incur the odium of it now.

 Longstreet’s Division is we hear now en route from Va to Tennessee, Lee being strong enough to face Meade without him. The move is carried on with great secresy. Rumour tells us that Longstreet is to assume command, but I know not how that can be, as Bragg is a full Gen & Longstreet a Lieut Gen.

 An official Telegram from Beauregard to Cooper tells us that during the night of the 8th the enemy in thirty Launches attacked Fort Sumter. Their coming having been expected, at a preconcerted signal all the Batteries bearing on Sumter, assisted by a Gunboat Ram, opened upon them & completely repulsed them, taking one hundred & fifteen prisoners (and thirteen officer[s] amongst them) & three colours! Good news & shows that there is life in the old ruin yet!

 The associated press telegram gives a fuller account & from it we learn that they succeeded in making landing a portion of their force, but after 15 minutes contest in which the Charleston Battalion fought principally with brickbats & hand grenades they were driven back in disorder with the loss above mentioned. We captured four or five barges & what is most excellent, the original Flag which was hauled down from Sumter when Maj Anderson surrendered & which with Yankee bravado they boasted that they would again hoist upon the Flag staff. The loss of the enemy in their crowded boats is supposed to be terrible. We have, however, no means of ascertaining. We are, God be praised, without a casualty on our side, which seems wonderful. A flag of truce was reported as coming up, which Beauregard refused to receive until explanations had been made by them of their firing upon one which we sent to them a few days since.

Sad news of desertions from our Army. Ten men were shot in front of Lee’s army last week & what is humiliation indeed they were all from a N C Regt! the 3d Cavalry, Baker’s about which so much injustice & favouriteism has been practiced. I omitted to mention that after being for weeks under arrest & in their turn preferring charges of the gravest nature against their Col, the officers were ordered to resume their commands without trial & without investigation of the cause of their complaint against their commanding officer. They have done so under protest & this is, I suppose, one of the first fruits of such injustice.

 Two Regts have been sent from Lee’s Army to arrest deserters in the Western part of this State. Raleigh rumour has it that they are an organized body, have elected officers, & entrenched themselves in a Camp in Wilkes County — not one word of which do I believe, for where are they to get powder & provisions in quantity sufficient to support a Brigade or even a Regt? They must be mere predatory bands, outlaws subsisting by theft & pillage, who will disperse or be taken prisoners at the first determined onslaught made upon them. But the existence even of such bands is most serious & depressing, due I suppose in great part to the teachings of the Standard & to the encouragement held out by Holden to discontent & disaffection in the Army, by assurances of sympathy & like feeling at home. How wise the injunction of the Bible to “respect the powers that be — for they are ordained of God”  & what misery and anarchy does an infringment of it entail upon a nation! The Standard commenced by inveighing against President Davis. It has culminated in dishonor and treason!

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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