Civil War Letters Heritage

Civil War Letters 2

Today’s post brings you the second letter from the packet of Civil War Letters found in the old house by the TVA Lake-written by WC Penland who was 18 years old.


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.

What was your favorite part?


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  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    June 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

    I think mine is the same! He’s very concerned about not having a letter – thanks for sharing Tipper.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Hurts my heart, why doesn’t his family write to him?!
    You know we don’t have much measles anymore but it was a real threat then!
    The letter is beautiful! You just cannot FEEL emails and texting like this letter. Progress has it’s cost!

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    June 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    That must have been really hard, not hearing from home and knowing if everything is okay. He sounded fairly upbeat to be in such a situation.

  • Reply
    Granny Pam
    June 15, 2009 at 6:41 am

    A very young son, living a very adult life. It seems that he doesn’t want to worry his parents, and that he missing home more that he thought he would.

  • Reply
    Kiana (MrsMama)
    June 14, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    What a fascinating piece of history! He sounds so mature compared to most 18 year-olds today.
    I enjoyed visiting your blog – it is full of warmth and interesting posts.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    June 13, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I really enjoy Civil War stories. My great grandfather was in that war and a Civil War marker is at his grave. Sadly over the years, mowers in the cemetery have chipped away portions of Civil War grave markers, including his. My favorite part of this letter was when he said he had written home several times but hadn’t heard back. Can you imagine how frustrating that would have been – away from your home, your family, your friends, fighting a war with no communications from your loved ones. How spoiled we are today with the internet and email and instant test messages. I often wonder what this Civil War generation would think of our world today.
    I was named after his wife Susan Anne, my great grandmother, and although she lived into her 90’s she died before I was born. Because of her namesake I feel a special closeness to her generation.
    I was a pleasure meeting you today. I look forward to reading more of these interesting stories on your blog.

  • Reply
    fishing guy
    June 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Tipper: I must say the part that tickled my fancy was ” It snowed a right smart snow while I was out”. That was such a neat way to say they got a heavy snow.

  • Reply
    June 13, 2009 at 10:14 am

    “Hoping that these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing.” He found simple blessing in the midst of horrible conditions, harsh weather, measles, the threat and reality of death, and the broken line of communication with those he loved.
    That he could see his blessing give care and comfort, keeping track of his neighbors shows a caring heart indeed; that, in spite of his wishing for a letter from home, clearly he saw well beyond himself.
    Thank you for posting this. Certainly much to think about.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 12, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    His company was put together, mustered there in Clay County, wasn’t it? He would have long known the boys as they fought together and they surely were all like extended family. Yet, his family circle had been broken and he was helpless to rejoin the fold. The homesickness, made all the more keen and terrifying by the fear of dying away from home, must have kept their minds in a constantly surreal, nightmarish winding of outward display of feigned bravery and an inward throb of anguish and fear and uncertainity. They were men, and they were boys, and they were human.
    No one can read his letters and not be there with him.
    A precious treasure you share so lovingly, Tipper. Thank you.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    My favorite line….
    I am as healthy at this time as I ever was in my life…
    This is a line that I’m sure came as great relief to his family.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    The homesickness is palpable. I felt that one. Must have been so hard. It’s notable that it’s all about day to day living, surviving, and looking after fellow soldiers.

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    June 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I take my pen in hand…
    Love that! I also can relate about him craving a good apple. When I lived in Germany I craved my southern foods.
    I also enjoyed the memory the old song playing this morning was Gloryland Way. I sang that in church as a child and can still hear my precious Granny singing it while cleaning her house.
    Thanks for the great post. I only hope he finally received his answered letters from home.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    June 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    This is a very interesting post concerning the letter written by the soldier during the Civil War. What a piece of history! This is a part of history that I enjoy studying. Great Post.

  • Reply
    June 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

    The measles, the snow, the loneliness for home all seem to add to his misery, but he doesn’t sound too sad. Wonder what happened to WC. I wonder if he got to go home that winter. Thank you for sharing that slice of history with us.

  • Reply
    laoi gaul williams
    June 12, 2009 at 3:07 am

    i love him talking about apples~such a simple thing to think of when he was in the position he was in. i always think they would all think of everyday things as a way of keeping from going crazy

  • Reply
    June 12, 2009 at 12:59 am

    I love your blog and the feeling of walking into the kitchen and sitting down for a talk.
    I also love it that I have a feed from it now on my iGoogle page.

  • Reply
    Yoly from Miami, FL
    June 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    This is my first visit to your site. Thank you for posting these letters. I homeschool my son and history is his favorite subject. I also have had a fascination with the past. We forget to quickly in this instant society we live in.
    As I read the letter I could almost audibly hear the longing in the voice of this young man. He longed to hear anything from home. I wonder how many of our soldiers today feel the same way. I hope he received a letter after they received this one.
    Thank you for your website. It is now one of my bookmarks.

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    June 11, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I like both the part where he writes “I have wrote about five or six letters…”; it’s kind of a wistful reproach. I also like reading about what the prices were for certain things. One of my great-grandfathers, at age 17, was a guard at a prison camp (Camp Sorghum) and from what I have read about the prison camps, there was a lively trade in various food and clothing items which the prisoners would purchase with money sent from home, so it’s interesting to see what they had to pay for things.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I kind of feel sorry for him. He’s away from home , and can’t see any of his kinfolks. Just imagine how he feels. He’s being a man about it and trying not to worry them . There are very few young men that mature in today’s world. Home is where his heart is.

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    June 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I love when he says “right smart”… the whole letter is so sweet and beautifully written.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    I like the part where he talks about being home to get a good apple.
    They sure did have a way of speaking back then, it just shows how the english lanquage changed in all these years.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    What a great thing to be able to read what that young man was thinking. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    June 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I can almost feel his lonliness and homesickness. He mentions several times that he hasn’t got any letters. I think how young our soldiers still are today.

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