Posts Tagged ‘slaves in Confederate service’

Fort Holmes

October 1st [1864]

Dear Wife

I now will try to write you a note to let you know that I have arrived here safe and am quite well. My men were all seemingly very glad to see me. In fact they have hung around me so that I have not had the chance to write before. I was not feeling well yesterday being swollen in the stomach but it passed off at night. I had a right good time coming up to Wilson after I left home but had to steal corn out of a mans field to feed Tally that night. I settled up my board and other things in Wilmington on Tuesday and Wednesday and came down on Thursdays boat. There is a great deal of sickness here now and there has been all this fall. Lt. Whitely of Liggets company died last night of typohoid fever. He live just opposite us on the north side of the river and was an excellent young man. He was a large robust man and looked as if he was destined to an old age. His corpse just passed my house on its way home escorted by a company with muffled drums. Poor fellow: show will do him no good now. I pity his father and mother as they perhaps will receive the tidings of his death by having their sons corpse brought home to them. Not many of my company are sick now and what is sick are not dangerous at all. Whitely makes five I believe that have died here this week. Col. Lait seemed very glad to see me and our worthy Maj has not yet returned from his leave to express his joy at my safe return. The Col and I had some sharp sparring yesterday and both of us got quite warm. It began about Halsey and one thing led to another until I told him of his being saddled on us against the wish of all the officers. When he said he knew it and did not care a d_m if we did not like it. He told the truth no doubt. All concur in saying they never saw me so fat and looking so well before. I am feeling very well indeed but feel that I am fatning in the belly to fast. I have been faring quite well thus far as we get an abundance of fish. We have a seine hauled for the garrison and some of my men are on the detail and I make them bring me fish every day. Mars goes striking up the coast every night now and catches a great variety of as nice flounders as you ever saw and he brings them to me to take as many as I want every morning. I take one as that is enough for me and Macon as we are all that are here now. Harrison has not yet arrived and Col intends arresting him when he does come for staying over his time. HE sent me an order this morning to report him absent without leave from the 28th of Sept. There is a squall brewing for Harrison I fear. I am trying to avert it and hope I may succeed. Johnny was more pleased to see me than he would have been to see his father I reckon, and sticks close by me when off of duty. There is nothing stirring down here now, only the Yankees seem to have redoubled their vigilance and are catching steamers rapidly. They run one on shore and burned her night before last at Fisher. I have not yet learned which one it was but we think it was one bound out with a load of cotton. I had quite a load of things to bring down with me and I got them here all safe. I gave Eliza part of my dried apples and Mrs. Southerland a part. I also gave Mrs. Southerland part of my pepper and gave Col. Cunningham a part of the pepper also. Every one who tasted the catchup says it is excellent. I really wish I had two of three gallons of it it is so good. I find it is excellent with fish as it prevents thirst. I drew all of my rations up to the last of the month when I was in Wilmington and gave it to MRs. Southerland. It is unnecessary for me to say anything about Elizas family as Jenny went home with Billy. I persuaded her to do so as she has been confined so long at home and the change might do her baby good and I know you would be glad to see her. Hen she wishes to go back to Wilson you can get Billy to carry her and send Tom with them to carry her luggage in a cart. Perhaps John Bonner will let Charles go with her to help carry them up. I do not know that I have any directions to give you darling about anything as I told you and Roden all that I have wished done while at home. One thing tho I will say. Have the wheat got in as soon as you can as the great fault in my raising wheat has been getting it in too late. While I was at home in June I spoke to Mr. Watson on South Creek to save me some seed oats. Find out whether he done so and if he did when you go to sow oats get them and have them sowed too. Roden told me he had saved 6 bushels of oats and if you can get 4 bushels more to sow as they are the best find for homes we have have and saves corn. Tell Roden to do his best on the hogs and try and have them fattened well. Some one has stolen 4 of my pigs here only leaving me 4. I have a notion of selling what is left as I expect the same persons will take the balance of them. If [illeg] Tripp buys that koop for you or bargains for it you had better pay for him right off and take a receipt for the money. If Mr. Archbell will sell another one take it and I will try to send you the money to pay for it. I should like to buy all the big steers Mr. Archbell will sell another one take it and I will try to send you the money to pay for it. I should like to buy all the big steers Mr. Archbell has to spare at not over 125 dollars a piece. Their hides will almost pay for them at that price. I am anxiously looking for a letter from you and hope to hear that your bore our parting bravely. I hope also to hear of your being in good health and spirits and of the childrens being well. Poor Ben! I had to leave him sick but hope he has got well ere this. Tell the children when they learn the books I carried them I will get them more. Vene will learn hers sure for she seems very fond of books. Tell Josephus that he and Tom must go in the thicket and gather up the walnuts when they fall down. I saw that they were falling when I was at home. Sephe and Ben can with the little negroes get those in the field. Mars is very well indeed and so is Louis. I shall let Mars come home Christmas if nothing happens. Give my best respects to all the negroes and my love to all our dear little ones and tell Josephus and Vene to write to me. I want to be with you my own darling wife more than ever if possible. If I could be with you and stay with you, I could do a hep towards supporting the family by fishing and with my gun. By the John Walfinder promised me to buy me 4 or 6 lbs of net twine from Newberne. If he does you can have some small mesh nets tied. Excuse this rambling letter darling as I have so many around me it is hard to write at all and rest assured you are the dearest object to me on earth. I think of you all my moments of relaxations from my dutys. Good bye my own darling sweet little wife.

Yours forever and ever


Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill. http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/t/Tripp,William_Henry_and_Araminta_Guilford.html#folder_7#2

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Camp near Winchester Va

Octo. 18 1862


Dear Laura

James Parsons arrived here a few days ago since and from what he said, I was very uneasy about brother Moulton.  I was quite relieved when I got your welcome letter today, tho I still have some little apprehensions about him.  I am very much distressed to hear of the situation of poor Nonie.  It is with a good deal of difficulty that an officer can get leave to be absent from his Regt, even for a day.  Thomas Alson succeeded in getting another leave one day this made 2.  I was again disappointed about seeing Willie.  Their Brigade (Branchs) had been ordered off on fatigue duty (tearing up R. Rd track) several miles and Alphonso could not get there.  He learned from sick men that Willie had been in camp and went with the Regt on horse back.  He did not hear from Albert.  If he could have seen Willie he would have advised him to send Albert home.  My boy Albert has been complaigning for several days.  I hear nothing more about small pox.  The Brigade in which it was prevailing has been sent to the rear in quarantine.  I have had all men re-vaccinated.

Day before yesterday I recd an order not to allow any one to leave camp limits as we were likely to be ordered to march any moment.  At 1 oclock am yesterday we had an order to prepare three days rations & be ready to march at day light.  Laid on our arms all day when after dark we got a message that “there would be no move.”  This morning ordered to resume drill &c as usual.  I have no idea what caused the sensation.  I fear Bragg has met with a reverse as well as Van Dorn.  It seems that this is the fighting army.  It is the only army that can whip the Yankees.

I wonder what Jed Hardy is doing.  Dr Holt has been appointed Genl Penders Brigade Surgeon.  We need a surgeon very badly and I would have Jed appointed principal surgeon if I thought he would accept.  I am very short of Officers.  I haven’t a single field or staff officer present.  I heard yesterday that my asst Surgeon (Dr. Henderson) was better-likely to get well.  I haven’t heard nothing from Sergt Erwin.

I can not tell how long we will stay here or what is the object of our remaining as we are.  We cant stay for a great while, for it will be impossible to subsist our army.  I judge from the fact that we have had a hundred ambulances running for some time transporting the sick from here to Staunton, and from our tearing up the track and burning the cross ties on the Harper’s Ferry and Winchester R1 Rd, that we will fall back soon in the direction of Richmond.

I am lying down under my tent in an awful smoke, which will account for the badly written letter.  If an opportunity ever occurs, I would be glad if you would send my uniform.  Give my love to all

Your Affectionate Brother


Sources: 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 Waightsill Avery Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

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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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