Civil War Letters

Civil War Letters 10

Wc penlands last letter sent home from civil war clay county nc

When we last checked in with W.C. Penland it was March 23 1863. He wrote today’s letter almost exactly a month later. (if you want to read the other civil war letters click here)

Apr 22, 1863

April the 22nd

I feel better this morning than I did yesterday   M A Martin is in very good health   Cousin Robert Alexander and the two Crawford are both well   we will not stay at this place long   I will send you one hundred dollars by Liut Cunningham   I would have had more to have sent but I have been loaning some money   I have lent one hundred and twenty five dollars   Mother I want you to send me that coat or the cloth   I do not know when you will have another chance to send it   I also want a pair of pants   That I believe is all that I want at the present   I have heard that Daniel Woods has got to making hats I want you to have me a hat made and send it to me   I want it to be made out of fur if it can possibly be got   tell him to do his best on it but not to make it too powerful heavy ha   I want you to write to me whether Big Jason Ledfords land is worth Seven hundred dollars or not   He told me that he would take that for it if I would give    I want you to write to me as soon as this comes to hand and tell me whether it is worth that money or not   I will send you some envelopes also I would sent you more but I have not got them at the present   I must bring my letter to a close   I have said enough with it was better

so no more at present but remains your affectionate son as ever

                                                 W C Penland

A few things about this letter that make me wonder:

  • WC didn’t write the address of where he is at the top of this letter like he did on the others.
  • He’s ask for the coat or cloth in several letters-why hasn’t he got it yet?
  • Martin and Ledford are still common names in Clay County-how many of the present day Martins and Ledfords are related to M A and Big Jason?
  • Seems like he has a lot of money-for that time period of history-he has enough to send home and enough to loan out.
  • How many acres would $700 buy?
  • My favorite part of the letter- I have heard that Daniel Woods has got to making hats I want you to have me a hat made and send it to me   I want it to be made out of fur if it can possibly be got   tell him to do his best on it but not to make it too powerful heavy ha

Hope you’ll leave me a comment with your thoughts about the letter.



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  • Reply
    February 1, 2011 at 9:26 am


  • Reply
    January 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Wow great history very interesting to read.I love your blog.I am new to blogging comecheck out my blog.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

    It’s got me wondering if he bought the land and if it is still in the family.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    January 9, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Oh, the money ! I just don’t think that most of the Confederate soldiers had that kind of money. (I know that this is the last comment probably and won’t be read by others, but if anyone should be interested in Tennessee Civil War history, do yourself a favor and check out — better yet visit– the Battle of Franklin right below Nashville– it should have been another Gettysburg. The hairs on my arms stood up when we toured the site. Literally. Talk about hallowed ground…just to touch the holes from the cannon balls, the stories the guides share — amazing.) (And if by chance, Jim C. could share any info about the Battle of Piedmont — more than wikipedia offers– I would LOVE to hear it. My gggrandfather lost his leg there – but survived! – after being paroled at Vicksburg.)

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    January 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Tipper: i,m always fascinated with these letters,and in particular,the personal needs and clothes. i have pre civil war letters from my great thing that really struck me was his grief over Georgia “seceding from this great union” he later served the confederate states,until captured and lodged in an Illinois prison. im looking forward to more of southern history. k.o.h

  • Reply
    Greensboro Daily Photo
    January 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    So glad we have found each other’s blogs. You have some great posts. Back to digging and reading more!
    Greensboro, NC

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Tipper–I think either Don or yours truly commented on the last Confederate letter posting regarding our roots. I believe it was Don chastising me, as a purported historian, for failing to make the link with the name Moore. We actually have both Moores and Ledfords aplenty as ancestors (Clay County folks).
    While my area of specialization in my doctoral studies in history was a distant remove from the Civil War (my field was the British Empire in Africa), I did have a great stroke of good fortune while working on my M. A. degree at Virginia Tech. I took two courses, including a Civil War seminar, under the man who is probably the most eminent Civil War scholar living today, Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. We still stay in touch.
    He was a splendid teacher and an even finer historian. I was, many years after finishing my Ph. D. at Vanderbilt, greatly honored when he told me my only mistake as a graduate student was not specializing in the Civil War.
    Great post, and if the girls want to get into a research project (as per Don’s suggestion), and I can give them quite a bit of direction when it comes to sources. Of course if they see this they’ll likely bristle like a pair of porcupines at someone thinking up work for them!
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Tipper, I really enjoy reading these letters, they are such a great part of history. The Big Jason Ledford mentioned is a BIG part of my Family Tree. this is GREAT!!!!Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    January 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Hey Tipper,
    I reread the letters and noticed that he wrote that he had not ‘drawn any money yet’, on 11/23/62….I wonder how long it was after that letter that he started getting his money?? Maybe by 4/22/63 approximately 5 months later he had received his back he had money to loan and was dreaming of buying a place back home…
    He had hoped of coming home with Capt. Moore and a few soldiers in the 2/16/63 letter but that must’ve fell through…since no mention of it again.
    The first letter that asked about the jean material was 3/12/63…then in the letter dated 3/23/63 again mentions that the jean material is $10 a pound, and he thinks it’s too high there and if he doesn’t get the fabric or the coat pretty soon..he is afraid that no one would be passing through the area to bring it to him…Also noticed the time difference between the first time he asked for the jeans (material/coat) and this letter asking about the hat, coat and needing pants…is 4/22/63 is actually about 6 weeks…warm weather was soon to be coming…
    I wonder if it was on the way and someone just couldn’t locate or get it through to that regiment..Sad..
    Thanks Tipper..
    PS…there is also a ponder about maybe letters being lost as he states in one earlier letter that he has written home every day or night for 8 straight days…and not heard from anyone…

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I love these real life peeks into the past. I too wonder why the heck he hasn’t got his coat, and now he’s asking for a hat!!! Pure humor eh? Golly, so much money to send and lend and not perfect grammer, my, my, my, how does that happen?

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I enjoy these Civil War letters. I
    think Miss Cindy already spoke for
    most of us. The way Mr. Penland kept asking for a coat had me wanting to send him one. In 1863
    $700 would go a long way to buying
    a big spread here in our country.
    And the way WC ends his letters
    “your affectionate son” is heart
    warming and tells a lot about how he was raised…Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Don’t you reckon they were talking in Confederate currency? But regardless, I suspect that $700 would have bought something in the range of a couple hundred acres. I’d guess that Clay and Cherokee County have some old deed transfers from the period.
    You know this series of letters and surrounding circumstances and context – land transfers, available weather records (probably scarce to non-existent), clothing, etc. might be a really great subject for a research project & report for the twins in one of their history classes.
    By the way, I’m happy to see that Miss Cindy agrees with the Angel of Brasstown nickname 😉

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Poor WC! I hate having to imagine him being ill and inadequately clothed. I wonder how many nights his mother cried herself to sleep – or didn’t sleep at all – worrying about her boy. I’m sure she would have moved heaven and earth to get him that coat if she could have. I suppose cloth was pretty scarce by the Spring of ’63. I hope she was at least able to get him the hat he asked for.
    I’m a Martin too! It’s a good, solid Scots-Irish name. I hope some of the Clay County Martins and Ledfords are family historians and read your posts, maybe they’ll let us know if they are descended from M A and Big Jason – wouldn’ that be interesting!
    WC must have saved most of his pay. By that date I doubt if the sutler had much to offer.
    I like to think that somehow WC came out at the end of the war and bought that $700 piece of property, married a pretty girl and raised a family. And was never cold again!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 9:37 am

    So many things to think about. The first thing I wonder is if he came home & bought his land. Was it, in fact “worth” $700.00? Sounds like he was cold & needed warm clothing. Hopefully he got everything he needed.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Tipper, these letters always break my heart. I suppose the truth is that war breaks my heart. There is bound to be some way in the world we can live without killing each other.
    Yes, he’s asked for the coat many times. I’m a mother of a son and I cannot imagine that she would not send a coat if it was at all possible!
    Now on to a brighter point. I just love those Angel pictures you have on the right here. These are some of the ones you sell through Etsy. I really like the ones that say “If the Daises Only Told” the “Peace” Angel is beautiful too. I have two of your Angels hanging in my house. They always give me a warm feeling when I notice them….and that would be every day.
    The little girls are cute too but I am partial to the Angels….all self portraits of the Angel of Brasstown!
    Happy day!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Even though he has money, it seems like he can’t get the clothes he despetately needs. Do wonder how much land could be bought for $700 back then.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    January 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I think he’s a good boy; and doesn’t waste his money-besides, he’s probably where he can’t get very many things. He’s having trouble getting that jacket for sure. Just think how many acres he could get for that amount of money back then.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2011 at 7:48 am

    It did seem like had a lot of money for such a young man!

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