Appalachia Civil War Letters

Camp Near Taylorsville Johnson County Tennessee Nov 23rd 1862 – Letter 2


View of Chattanooga, Tenn. Library of Congress
Chattanooga – Federal camp by the Tennessee River (Library of Congress)


Camp Near Taylorsville Johnson County Tennessee

Nov 23rd 1862

Dear Father and Mother

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well and doing tolerable well hoping that these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing   I was out on scout day before yesterday and got in last night    It snowed a right smart snow while I was out    It is very muddy here at this time there has been right smart of rain here lately there is a good many sick men in camps now    I think there is between sixty and one hundred men down with the measles in the battalion there is a not very many in our company    Dan Ledford and Arch Henson both have had them but are a getting better    We are a going to move to morrow about 8 miles and station for a while but I do not know how long    I have not drawn any money as yet but I think that I will draw soon    we are a getting a plenty of corn and hay for our horses and a plenty of beef and cornbread to eat ourselves   I can do better on the fare than I thought I could I am as healthy at this time as I ever was in my life    there has been the most snow in this country that I ever saw at this time of the year but it looks at this time like we might have some right nice weather but it clouds up and snows the quickest it seems to me that I ever saw it    I have never heard a word from home since I left there it seems to me that you haven’t been a long time a writing or the letters have been misplaced   I begin to want to hear from home I do not know when I will come home but I expect I will be there sometime this winter but I do not know   Franklin Brown has been to Knoxville and there is no letters there for us he has gone back and I do hope that he will bring us some news if he does not I will think that I will not get any soon    I have wrote about five or six letters to you and one to Uncle Charles Penland and have never got any answer   tell Mr. Sherman that John Sherman is well at the present time    Cousin Robert Alexander is well also and has been ever since he left home    I would like to be at home to get some good apples as I have not got any good ones since I left home    everything is the highest that I ever saw it leather is worth $7.00 per pound and every thing else in proportion    We are about twenty five miles from the salt works and salt is worth 20.00 per bushel at the works    as it is getting late I will bring my letter to a close sure and write soon and give me the news of the day

Address Taylorsville Johnson Co Tenn 7th Battalion NC Calvery Co B in care of Capt Moore

so no more at present but remain your affectionate son to his father and mother

so fare you well

W C Penland


My favorite line of the letter is ‘I begin to want to hear from home’. As WC writes of missing home-and wondering why he hasn’t received any letters from his family-you can peek into his innermost feelings and sum it up by saying he was surely homesick.


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  • Reply
    Mary Lou Mc killip
    January 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Tipper going back reading all your wonderful research I love to go back and find the letters written By solders about the civil war what writers then

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    July 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Tipper these letters are most enjoyable. the writer being in danger yet so skilled with his train of thoughts. Awesome Writer.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    July 14, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    One of my poems about the civil War was published in an anthology book,Filtered Through Time. When Nashville Historical society wrote this about 150 years after the civil War.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    July 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Tipper. some awesome letter. Facing danger and yet so witty and so skilled in his writing. I enjoyed anything about the civil war. I know it was the bloodiest war in History which should never had happened, yet I can’t really express that knowing all things has a plan and purpose.Look what is being allowed to continue in Washington White House.God is still in control. thanks for all these history info. I can’t help but wonder why?

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Reading these letters, reading any letters from the past, makes us see how much people have stayed the same over the years – – thoughts of family, yearnings for tastes and things we are familiar with, figuring out how to “make do”, learning new things, protecting the past, making connections, questioning ourselves, encouraging others and stoking our own gumption. . . . The tools change . . . the people don’t.

  • Reply
    Joyce Heishman
    July 10, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Makes me cry, and wonder how our boys of today feel far away from home. At 18 they are still kids. War is such a futile thing.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    These War Stories from Mr. Penland stirs
    in my mind, wondering if he even had
    any folks back home. I imagine it was
    a trying time for him, without much of
    a communication path of home. I love
    the respect he shows for his mom and dad…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 10, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I have been thinking that WC was near Knoxville but when I looked up Taylorsville, Johnson County, TN it seems it is present day Mountain City, TN. That’s way up in the northwest corner of TN and some of the highest elevations in the state. It’s just across the mountain from Banner Elk, Beech Mountain and Boone, NC. Where all the ski slopes are. That place is COLD in November and gets worse in Dec, Jan and Feb.
    The salt works he mentions would have been at Saltville near Abington, VA. His mission there probably would have been to protect the movement of salt to the south and to quell enemy uprisings.
    You see, he was in hostile territory. The men of Johnson County voted 787 to 111 not to secede from the Union. The Confederate Army had to sent men to northeastern TN and northwestern NC to protect those salt shipments. The Union blockades had stopped importation of salt so Saltville was a major supplier for the South.
    Many people do not realize that most of the mountain counties of North Carolina and Tennessee chose not to secede. The Confederate units raised in these areas were used to protect trade routes and essential goods. It really was brother against brother and kin against kin. While other areas had big “named” battlefields, our ancestors fought each other in their own cornfields.

  • Reply
    Coach Daley
    July 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I’m wondering how old he was as to be so homesick. This is relatively early in the war so hopes and spirits were still high for the Southern Soldiers. I was moved more the fact he was concerned with not being able to get any good apples; a sign that inside he must have believed he would be back soon enough to enjoy them again.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I agree with your favorite line. Home is such a comfortable feeling when one is in an uncomfortable situation.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    July 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Well Tipper, I have a hard time reading such precious letters! Walking around the Knoxville site of the War(Fort Sanders) makes me get teary eyed. I hope those brave soldiers knew just how much their folks loved them during those trying times.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 10, 2014 at 7:27 am

    He is so respectful!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 6:51 am

    These are good letters,, kinda depressing to think about what these young men were having to endure.. Cold, Wet, and snowing.. and just longing for a word from “Home”..

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