Civil War Letters

Civil War Letters 6

When we last checked in with W.C. Penland he seemed kinda down but still determined to fulfill his duty. He was sick with a bad cold, he spoke of deserters, and a friend who thought the counties of Clay and Macon had forgotten him.

Today’s letter was written just a few days after the last one I shared.

Washington County    East Tenn

March 12, 1863

Dear Mother

I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well hoping that these few lines will find you and all of the family well    we come in from the Greasy Cove yesterday to Johnson Depot    there has been a good deal of rain here lately and the waters are very high    we aimed to go to Zollicoffer but we can not get there until the water falls    I was sorry to hear of Uncle Maturnic Moores death but it is a debt we all have to pay    and there gone where there is no more war and distress there    the health of our company is tolerable good at this time    James Crawford is a little better the last time I heard from him    I do think that he ought to have a furlough    but he can not get it all I do not think    it is said that he started to go home which I expect he did    but it was when the small pox was reported to be in camp    he met some of the boys and came back willingly    he had been sick for a long time and was very timid and easy excited    the doctor Moore signed a fourlough but the Colonel would not allow it    Uncle Wyly has resigned his Surgeonship because he and the Colonel could not get along together    he was very well liked by nearly all of the men    I was not in camp when he started   I want you to make me some mixed Jeans    to make me a coat    my coat is worn out and either make me a coat and send it by the first chance or send me the Jeans and I will have it made    I do not care which    if you make it the same fashion as Capt Moores as you can    I do not want any other clothes a the present    I must bring my few lines to a close at present but remain your affectionate son as ever

  William C Penland

Address Zollicoffer East Tenn

65 NC Regt B

Things I noticed in this letter:

  • W.C. was feeling better.
  • He wrote: “I was sorry to hear of Uncle Maturnic Moores death but it is a debt we all have to pay and there gone where there is no more war and distress there” sounds like he had witnessed enough pain to know death would have it’s benefits compared to fighting in the war.
  • He used the word Jeans-like cloth.

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



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  • Reply
    JoAnne Brown
    December 6, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    This is extremely interesting. We live 5 miles from Taylorsville, Tennessee, now called Mountain City. We have read many accounts of Civil War incidents in this area. Saltville, Virginia is just a little bit north of Mountain City. Salt was very important and all the southern states were getting it from that area. (It is still produced there.)

  • Reply
    March 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Interesting. I was thinking that when he asked for the “mixed jean coat”, he was hoping she would make him a patchwork coat from jean remnants from worn out jeans. Recycling at it’s best.
    Congratulations to you and the kids on the essay recognition!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I love reading the thoughts of the soldiers at that time. I wish Ned’s great great grandfather had written letters. I just wish we knew where he died.
    This is a site that make authentic cloth for the re enactments of the battles.
    The jean cloth considered mixed would be the wool/cotton blend.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    These letters always seem to make me feel sad. It must be the war and deprivation. There is so much lack….not enough food, clothes, shoes, medical supplies and it goes on and on.
    WC is very articulate and a very sincere man, trying to do the right things in the world.
    The newspaper article was a bright spot. I’m so glad the kids stories got such attention.
    Thank you for all your efforts on behalf of the young writers!!

  • Reply
    March 20, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I enjoyed the letter very much. I have the great good fortune to be able to attend the reinactment of the “Battle of Cabin Creek”. I live about 20 minutes from the site. We are able to tour the incampments of both sides and visit and learn from the actors. Sometimes while listening to them, I could almost take myself back to that time period. The battle is something to see,hear,and smell. The cannon blast echos thru the valley and it vibrates in your chest. The gun powder smoke rolls over the battle field. It is almost too real.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Love these old letters…
    I thought the words, “I want you to make me some mixed Jeans”, was interesting….
    The jean material being mostly wool or a tough twill…Was she to weave the jean cloth and send it to him……because he said, “send me the Jeans (materials?) and I will have it made” (coat)…or she could make it and send it by first chance…
    I wonder what Capt. Moores clothes/coat looked like?…Was she sure to see them since he had passed. Was Maturnic and Capt.Moore the same person?….
    At any rate, I don’t think that the word Jeans means Jeans as we know them today(“blue jeans” because they were invented after the Civil War, I think!) but the fabric itself was called jean…
    Just wondering!
    From what I have read Tennessee soldiers were not always outfitted as well as men of other areas…and evidently depended on family for their clothing…
    Kinda sad…don’t you think?

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    March 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    These Civil War letters sure are interesting a shed a light on how it was during that period.
    I really enjoyed the article on the front page of the CHEROKEE SCOUT about the students visiting Hazel Creek and your posting this on your blog. How great that you gave worldwide attention to this part of history and to the students at The Learning Center.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

    “I want you to make me some mixed Jeans” Jeans would be a heavy cotton fabric. Since he says “mixed” I’m not certain exactly what the mix would be but it sure sounds like he is asking his mother to first weave the fabric and then make the coat!
    On the 1860 census the family of M. C. Moore, age 49, is listed two places after Wm Penland’s family. It sounds as if his uncle died in the war, leaving a widow and at least 5 young children.
    Interesting that a sick soldier could not get leave but the doctor could up and leave simply because he did not get along with the Colonel.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

    he seems very well educated for soldiers back then. this letter goes with my blog today. thanks for sharing. i missed a couple of your post, due to takinig the day off yesterday.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve been enjoying these letters,Tipper. I can’t imagine how hard their life was during the war. Makes me thankful for things now.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    March 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    These letters are so wonderful, Tipper. Thank you for sharing them. “A debt we all must pay” is a great line!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting, Tipper… I’m sure that he did experience alot of pain around him… We have no idea what those young men went through back then—even though we can read about it.. It had to be horrible.
    All through the years, men and women have fought for our country in one way or another. That’s why we have the freedom we have today. I admire anyone who fought in any of the wars for US… God Bless them ALL.

  • Reply
    Eggs In My Pocket
    March 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I love old letters to home like this! Blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    March 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Tipper: These letters are all so interesting. This was really nice to look back to that time.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    How wonderful about the newspaper article! Hooray for the kids and hooray for YOU!!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    March 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    First of all, it’s great to see your website recognized and praised in the newspaper, The Cherokee Scout. You have inspired these young writers and we will all benefit.
    Regarding Mr. Pendland: Do you know or have you said: Where did he go, what was his life, after the Civil War ended?
    I was going to ask you about the use of the word “jean” but I see you’ve explained his use. Have you ever seen that usage before?

  • Reply
    March 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

    The odd precipice life hangs on, living through and dealing with hard things that build character without going over the edge and those hard things breaking a person. Perhaps it is the seed that begins the process that makes the difference, our young man sounds like he has the seed that grows to good strong wise character.

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