Civil War Letters

Civil War Letters 7

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

When we last checked in with W.C. Penland there was sickness in the camp and he was needing a coat.

Zollicofer Sulivan County  East Tenn

March 18th 1863

Dear Father

I embrace the present opportunity 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 friends well and enjoying the same blessing    we are stationed about one half of a mile from Zollicoffer Bridge    We have to guard there all of the time    I was there a day and night day before yesterday    the health of our company is good at the present    there is no new cases of sickness at the present    James Crawford is on the mend    he is stouter than he as been since he came from home    I think he will get well now soon    he is in better spirits than he has been    the cars have to cross the new Bridge today    I do not know whether they will or not    they have only been three weeks a making the Bridge    I do think that they have made good progress    there has been a good many Yankee prisoners passed up the road since we come here that were taken between Murforsoboro and Nashville Tenn    I got a letter from Aunt Margaret Mantooth a few days ago    she was well when she wrote the letter I also got a letter from Mr. Kenedy    he is well    I think that we will be stationed here for some time now but I do not know how long    I have heard that Capt M N W Moores company is to be here in a few days    I do not know when    We are not getting enough of feed for our horses but I think that we will soon    When they get regulated about transportation on the railroad    we get a plenty to eat ourselves of meat and bread    we are not a drawing any sugar and rice at the present   John Sherman has gone to Jonesboro to forward Commissaries   he is well    we are a looking for some of our men in now ever day   it may be that there will be another detail in there in a few days but I do not know it for certain    I am not in the detail now    it is made out and sent up for approval    I do not know whether it will be approved or not    if it is they will be at home by the first of April    I can inform you that James Mathison has got into camp he came up on the last nights train    he has had a considerable ride on the cars    he went from Atlanta to Chatanooga and then to Knoxville and on here   Big Jason Ledford has stared to go home once lately and met Mc Ledford and he told him about the Cavalry being in that part of the country and he came back    I wrote that Uncle Wyly was gone home    it is a mistake    he started and did not get his papers fixed  right and he had to come back    I do not know whether he will go home or not    I wrote to mother that I wanted her to send me a coat    I still want her to have it made and send it to me the first chance for my coat is worn out

I must   So no more at present but remains your son as ever

W.C. Penland

Direct your letters to Zellicoffer  Sulivan County East Tenn C B 65th N C Regt

There seems to be a lot of confusion thrown into the mix of soldiers arriving and leaving. W.C. sounds like he is in better spirits himself-I bet getting the 2 letters he mentioned caused the improvement.

2 other things I found interesting:

*James Crawford is on the mend I still hear folks talking about someone being on the mend from a bad accident or illnes-neat all these years later the word is still used near WC’s home.

*I can inform you that James Mathison has got into camp he came up on the last nights train  he has had a considerable ride on the cars he went from Atlanta to Chatanooga and then to Knoxville and on here I imagine in that day and time-James Mathison would have been amazed over the train ride he took-and with the speed in which he reached his destination as well.

Was there something in this letter that caught your eye?



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  • Reply
    May 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Loved reading the letter, Tipper. I wish I had some from my ancestors. Some of mine fought for the south and some for the north. And, yes, we use “on the mend” around these parts, too.

  • Reply
    May 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    These letters just intrigue me. We have similar family letters written by two of my husbands great-great grandfathers, who fought on different sides of the war. I’m in the process of typing them up so that they’re easier to read. So interesting!
    (I recieved my squash seeds and can’t wait for the “good sign day” to come around so that I can get them planted! Yeah and thanks!)

  • Reply
    April 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    First of all, that the letter was addressed to his father and not his mother this time.
    He still needs that new coat.
    And I wonder what he would think of today’s “cars”?

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    April 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I was interested to see that rice was part of the ration — but I guess it was in good supply in the South and easily transported.
    I really enjoy these letters.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I am always fascinated by what we see in these letters you bring out. The seeming disjointedness of the letter at first glance is a bit confusing and puzzling. Makes me wonder if it was hard to stay focused when he was thrust into the unfamiliar world of a soldier.
    Most notable, he has one coat, it is wearing out and he needs his mother to sew him a new one. How really different things were then just a hundred and fifty years ago.

  • Reply
    April 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    As always, I am fascinated by letters from the War of Northern Aggression. Just another waste of America’s youth by a federal government out of control. We found several letters from my grandfather’s uncles. One died in Franklin Tennessee from wounds received there and the other died of disease in a Northern prison camp. The letters were sent to Mississippi State University by my grandpa. There were pictures of the boys in their uniforms tucked away in an old family bible along with the letters. Pappy

  • Reply
    April 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Poor thing~he was still needing that coat! I wonder if he ever got it?
    Tipper, thank you so much for sharing these letters. My g-g grandfather was in the War. During their old age, he and his wife raised my grandfather and told him many Civil War stories. Sure wish we had some of his letters!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    April 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Tipper: I thought it was interesting that they had food but their horses didn’t. You would think it would be the other way and the horses could forage for themselves.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I always feel such sadness with these letters, I guess it’s the young man away from home without a coat fighting a war!
    His spirits do seem a little better in this letter. I think you are correct, it is the two letters from home.
    I’m sure letters were an extraordinary thing at that time.
    At least they had enough food!!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    What caught my eye in this letter was the word “stouter” in the sentence, “he is stouter than he as been since he came from home”….
    My grandmother used the word stout a lot to describe our weight!…or strength, if she was talking to the boys! Used as, “You don’t look as stout as you were last time I saw you.” or “You sure are gettin’ stout, since you got older!”…
    Another term was “fleshy”…I hated that word when I was a kid. My Grandmother would say,
    “You’re gettin ‘fleshy.”
    Meaning, You’re getting fat!…
    Of course then she would turn around and say, “There’s some hard candy in the top drawer of the dresser and bring me a piece”! LOL
    We still use “on the mend” too!
    Sure do enjoy these letters!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I really do enjoy reading these old civil war letters, they really are quite interesting when you here about what it was like back then.
    Whitetail Woods
    CVA Wolf Black Powder Rifle Give-Away!

  • Reply
    April 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

    yes, something caught my eye,
    wrote to mother that I wanted her to send me a coat I still want her to have it made and send it to me the first chance for my coat is worn out
    we never think about at that time there were no stores for mother to walk in and purchase a coat and if she had been close to one, the cost would have been very high. MAKING a coat, I can’t even imagine. they were made with hand stitching and hours and hours of work and no electric light to see by. thanks for sharing words from the past.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 28, 2010 at 10:31 am

    “Big Jason Ledford has started to go home once lately and met Mc Ledford and he told him about the Cavalry being in that part of the country and he came back”
    I suspect that this boy, like most of the soldiers, was scared and homesick and wishing somehow his present trevail would just disappear, just be an ended, fading nightmare, so he maybe talked wildly, like “I’m getting out of here, I’m going home, I’ve got to escape this Hell” but he knew he couldn’t desert his comrades, and he quickly reasoned that he was safer there than facing a firing squad for desertion; still,he dreamed to be free. When his comrades implored him “I thought you were leaving” maybe he found cover by saying “Well, there’s cavalry all around, I’d never make it ,… but when I see it’s clear, by golly ….
    I don’t know how he thought but I started to wonder about Big Jason Ledford and his personal anguish.

  • Reply
    Chef E
    April 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

    On The Mend, yes I used to hear uncles and aunts use that term, but not much now- hmmm, maybe a poem of Appalachian vocabulary and talk need to happen on my paper…
    I will have to research this, do you know of any poets who write in the old tongue?

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