Civil War Letters Heritage

Civil War Letters 4


treasures from lakeLast weekend we spent the day at the old house that sits beside the TVA Lake. Chatter and Chitter found tons of old plate and bottle shards while searching the shoreline.

Each piece of history they carried back to show me, made me think of W.C. Penland-even though I’m sure most of the pieces aren’t from the 1800’s and I’m not even sure W.C. ever lived near the big house- but my mind still thought of him.

When we last left W.C. he had witnessed the first fierce fighting of his service. Let’s see what he has to say in his next letter home.

Washington County Tenn

Feb 16th 1863

Dear Father and mother

I avail myself of the fineses opportunity to let you know that I am well hoping that these few lines may find you and all of the family & friends enjoying the same blessing (there was a hole in the paper) kind providence    it is raining here today and is warm and pleasent    James Crawford is still very very low but is a little better than he was the last time that I wrote but is not out of danger yet    George Loyd is sick yet and I do not know what is the matter with him    A M Cook has got into camp again and is a gitting right smart better    Capt moore has gone to Knoxville and has been for several days    I think that he will be in tonight    he will come home in a day or two after he comes to camp    cousin Robert Alexander is well and uncle Wyly is also   the health of our Batt is tolerable good at this time    Samuel Justice is sick but is a gitting better    When I heard that you had come to Macon to see me I was very sorrow that I had not have stayed there a few days longer I could have stayed until monday if I had of tried to have done it    We are a gitting a plenty to eat at this time and tolerable plenty for our horses    there will be four or five men that will come with Capt Moore when he comes home but I do not know who they will be   I do handly expect I will get to (hole in paper)    I think I will come about fifth of this month I have been to (hole) today   we have a chaplain now    I hope that he will stay with and not do like the other one that we had    He stayed until he drawed a hundred or two dollars and only preached one sermon but I do not think that the one we have got is a very clever man    his name is Harris    We have had preaching every Sabbath for three or four weeks    as it is a gitting late I will bring my few lines to a close    write soon and give me the news    Address  Jonesborough  Tennessee  65th NC Reg   our battalion has been turned to a Regm

give my respects to all of the friends and relatives

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

   to H. M. Penland

W.C. Penland

2 things jump out at me from this letter-the amount of sickness he talks about-and that his family made a long trip to see him-but didn’t get there in time. Can you imagine how they must have felt when they realized they only missed him by a day or so? And how he must have felt to know he almost got to see them?

What jumps out at you?



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  • Reply
    Jane Patton
    November 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Tipper, someone told me I would love this web-site.She was right but I was totally amazed to see the letters from the Penland boy written from the war and the pictures of the old Patton house. The house belonged to my father-in-law Holt Patton and his wife,
    Annie Jones Patton. They raised their family in the house and after they died the house was sold.The information given to you was not the correct information.
    Louola Penland was Holt Pattons mother and she had married Burgess Patton who taught school here in Clay County and died of fever when Holt was only 8 years old.The Patton family asked for the family papers but the buyers of the house refused to give them to the family. I was truly astounded to see them on your website.I enjoyed reading them very much. Thank you for the opportunity. Jane Patton

  • Reply
    November 8, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    the civil war was not “civil” was it?The south had a “cause”the north did’t.That’s why it was such a long and bitter war!!
    I fell sorry for Penland and all
    the boys in that war.

  • Reply
    Amy - parkcitygirl
    September 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    The bits your girls found are so pretty! I’m always looking forward to more of these letters – thank for sharing!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I am always impressed at the intros in old letters. Today, “What are you up to?” might be the whole message. The old letters always seem to start by showing appreciation or hopefulness that someone is glad to here from them, or that they are glad to be writing to someone.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Enjoyed the letter. What jumped out at me was the detail of all the men he mentioned and their condition. I would suppose that they were people that his family knew.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    September 19, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Dee from Tennessee
    I gotta admit…the preacher leaving jumped out at me and that he did have food. And the fact that I was just in Washington County this Thursday…when I really pause and think that American lives were lost in my own little county located close by, right where I live…American lives on American soil.

  • Reply
    nancy m.
    September 19, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    It’s so interesting to hear things from a soldier’s point of view. It had to be very sad to miss their son by a day or two! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    What strikes me is the importance of the preacher and a clear understanding that one of these guys was self-serving. The honesty. The need.

  • Reply
    September 18, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    The shards that Chitter & Chatter found are interesting. I love it when I come across such things.
    What jumped out at me in your Civil War letter is that both men and horses were getting lots to eat. Many times they didn’t. Another thing was that though he stated it was raining, he still said it was pleasant.
    The men who fought in the Civil War experienced such horrible atrocities and often suffered hunger, dysentry and many other ailments.
    Enjoyed my visit and thanks for commenting on my giveaway. Your name has been entered into the draw.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    September 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    The sickness and missing his family jumped out at me too. But I also noticed he was getting plenty to eat to keep him strong, and sermons to calm his soul. I love these letters and thank you for posting them. It’s like reading a newspaper from the past. xxoo

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    September 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Ever since reading “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier, this letter underscores the hardships and senselessness of it all! It was so human and frail! I just cannot imagine the tribulations! Thank you for sharing this heartfelt piece of history, Tipper!
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful weekend! :))

  • Reply
    September 18, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I loved this post . I always come here to be reminded of home.

  • Reply
    September 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I love these mirrors to our past. It is hard to imagine in our world how laborious life was in theirs. Travel was slow and mail delivery too. It’s a wonder we still have these snippets of history. Thank you for sharing yours with us. Pappy

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 18, 2009 at 7:49 am

    The thing that jumps out most to me is his calm and positive attitude. I can’t imagine living with the circumstances he lived with and not griping and whining on every turn. He was separated from his family, fighting a war, seeing his friends sick and dying and he still maintained that beautiful spirit about him. That is remarkable.
    I wonder if that was typical of the stoicism of the time or was it unique to him?
    Yep, that’s some perty nail polish!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    I noticed the same as you. And the word “gitting”. Kinda tickled me. Spelled just like us country folk say it.
    Who knows, maybe the spelling was changed somewhere through the years to how we spell it now.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    This is such a fascinating series, especially since he was near where I grew up, in Carter and Washington counties. So interesting to see the war from the view of a common soldier. I think the part about the preachers is so interesting. Wonder what it was like to be a chaplain in the Civil War? It must have brought so much grief to men of real faith who saw a country killing its own.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I am sort of stunned by the sadness while at the same time, the matter-of-factness of it all. It’s just weird but I think I might be more of a cry-baby…

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Oh thank you for another great historical insight. What jumps out at me? That the reliable trustworthy preacher is not the clever one. We don’t often need cleverness just faithfulness.
    Thanks for such a good read as always.

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    September 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks again for another great Civil War letter. My husband & I just love these letters. He is working away from home(after a 4 month lay off), so I will definitely be reading this letter to him tonight when he calls me. That is so sad that he missed his family and that the preacher was there for money and not so much the men. I can’t imagine the horrible conditions those poor soldiers must have had to endure.The treasures the girls found are great. My husband loves digging and finding old bottles and Indian pot shards. We have quite the collection.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    September 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Missing his family and good preaching… Seems like those are a common thread in so many of our lives. Actually I miss good music more than the preaching, but I get to catch up visiting here with some of the good old music.
    I have use broken pottery and china pieces in concrete stepping stones and in the mortar lines between flagstones on a patio and some walkways that I made at our previous home with a very special young man that helped me. I’ll have to do a post one of these days…

  • Reply
    fishing guy
    September 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Tipper: I always enjoy these letters from the awful Civil War. The girls certainly found a lot of objects. Are you going to use them for art projects?

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 9:15 am

    That some preachers were in it for the $$ just like today! ;D
    Hey, love that picture of the girl’s finds…tell the one that her nail polish is so pretty it made me want to do my own! ;D

  • Reply
    September 17, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I agree, There was a lot of sickness but I think they dealt with that on a regular basis, because of not cooking food properly and sometimes the horrible conditions and weather they had to fight in.

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