Appalachia Civil War Letters

Camp Evenazer Knox Co E Tenn August 14th 1863 – Letter 14

Cedar Mountain, Va. A Confederate field hospital

Cedar Mountain, Va. A Confederate field hospital – Library of Congress

August 14th 1863

Camp Evenazer, Knox Co, E, Tenn

Dear Father

I now proceed to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living hoping that these few lines may come safe to hand and find you well   I have not been well now for five or six days but I feel some better this morning   the talk in camp at this time is that we are a going to leave this place  it is said that we are a going to Big Creek Gap   but I do not know whether that is so or not   we are a looking for our boys to come to camp that are at home    we have heard that they was to leave home last tuesday   Cousin R V Alexander is still at Wattsburg   John W Sherman is still on the sick list I do not know that he is any better than he was when I wrote to you before   James P Cherry and David P Queen are a going to start to the Hospital this morning   I think that I will get well without having to go to the Hospital myself   I haven’t had a letter from home since Samuel H Allison come to camp   If you have not started my saddle just keep it and do not send   I bought me a saddle this morning   it is the saddle that Little Abb Moore  that John M. Owenby brought into the service   I concluded that I had rather have a saddle at home than to have the and that my saddle was too good a saddle to ride into camp and ruin it   I will bring my few lines to a close   Direct your letter to Knoxville Co B 7th Battalion of N C Troops   Write soon and please excuse my bad writing and spelling for I wrote this in a hurry   So no more at present but remain your son as ever

W C Penland

To H M Penland


This letter makes me sad that WC is sick and leaves me wondering how far away the hospital he mentions was from his location. Also interesting is his continued mentioning of men who his family are familiar with.



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  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 28, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Reading Don Casada’s comment, I’m not sure my comment is fitting, as I do not know if Seargent Penland died then from further complications of the illness he reports in his letter. But I wondered if Mr. Penland knew that medical science and technology was far from the typical field hospital and the chances for recovery or survival for the sick or wounded there were poor. Perhaps he knew to take his chances without risking the malaise of a field hospital.
    God knows the field doctors and nurses did the best they could, given the nightmare in which they worked to save the soldier.

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    June 28, 2015 at 12:34 am

    I always look forward to these letters. So sad.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    One can only try to imagine and not even get close to the struggles of day to day life not counting the fear they felt of the actual battles they fought..

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    It is amazing how many thoughtful letters wee sent by this young man. He appears to be comfortable with sending updates and news.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    To Denise Duckett Mauck: My 2nd great uncle, William Carrel Clark was also at Camp Douglas and died there within three months. If you have never visited the Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, by all means do so. All of the identified burials (including my relative) are preserved in bronze. The local (Camp Douglas) chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans host a lovely annual memporial service there, usually the third weekend in April.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I loved these letters from W.C.
    Penland to dad and mom at home.
    Back then, everyone had a hard
    time sending or receiving items
    from a loved one. W.C.’s parents
    musta been awfully proud of their

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I noticed where in three places W C used “a going.” That is another phrase I use all the time in speech but not when I write.
    W C’s situation was a sad one. He was in hostile territory even though he was stationed in a confederate state. Most of the people of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina voted against secession. The Confederate Army had to send troops into parts of these areas, not to fight the Union Army, but to keep locals in line.
    With that being said I am a going to close.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Don’s comment made me so sad.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2015 at 9:54 am

    As I read this I am saddened by all the hardships suffered by Confederate and Union alike. Most wars lose the original purpose for which they are fought by the time they drag on awhile. But, the Civil War was fought bravely sometimes to just hang onto their home and protect their family.
    My heart is touched by preserved letters and momentos of the time. Hopefully, present day government will not run roughshod over symbols of this history and it will be preserved respectfully for generations to come. I’ll hush!

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    June 27, 2015 at 9:45 am

    tipper: i love to read the closeness the separation of the war brought to many families. our family the proctors of swain co. have no letters surviving that i know of. only the records of the military. only the stories handed down over the years. thank you so much for these pieces of history. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    June 27, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Tipper: Thanks for a reminder of what our brave soldiers went through. The name PENLAND is a highly regard name up in Clay County! I have probably told you about my eighth grade teacher, Mr. Lee Penland.
    He was the finest teacher a poor child could ever claim as ‘my teacher during those barren times.
    Always, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Denise Duckett Mauck
    June 27, 2015 at 8:01 am

    My cousin has letters written home by my great-great-grandfather, James Anderson Inman, from Camp Douglas in Chicago, a POW camp where he and two brothers were held and where one died. The letters are heartbreaking.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 27, 2015 at 7:13 am

    W.C.’s sentences seem to be missing pieces in several places. That’s something which is more easily done today when we can go back to cut, insert, etc. digitally, and I often find that I’ve fouled things up by changing things around.
    But in this case, it seems safe to attribute it to W.C.’s failing health.
    Sadly, I suspect that by the time the letter reached his father, Sergeant William Chamberlain Penland (my 1st cousin 3x removed, and closer kin to some other readers of this blog) had gone on to his reward. Military records indicated he died on August 19, 1863 near Clinton, TN.

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