Civil War Letters

Civil War Letters 8

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

Since today is Memorial Day-I thought it fitting that we check back in with W.C. Penland.

March 23 (on envelope) 1863

Headquarters 65th N C Regt

Zollicoffer Sulivan County East Tenn

Dear Mother

I seat myself this pleasant morning to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well    hoping that these few lines will come safe to hand and find you and all of the friends enjoying good health    I have nothing of much interest to write to you    I can say to you that the health of our company is very good at the present time    Uncle Wyly is still here but I do not know how long he will stay here    his health is very good at the present    he looks as well as I ever saw him in my life    James crawford is a mending fast lately    I think that he will soon be able for duty    John Sherman is at Jonesboro to forward commissaries to the Regt    He was well a few days ago    I believe it was day before yesterday that some of our boys were down there    I want you to have me that coat made and send it to me as soon as you can for my coat is nearly worn out and Jeans is so very high in this part of the country that I do not want to pay it    nice gray Jeans is worth ten dollars per pound in Jonesboro    if you can not have it made and have a chance to send the Jeans I can get it made very easy if there is anybody a comming that will bring the Jeans with them whether you have a chance to have it made or not    send it to me for fear you do not have another chance to send it for I do not think that there will be much passing from here now for some time    so no more on that subject    James Crawford got a letter from John Crawford last week he is well    I believe that I have nothing more to write that would interest you    I will bring my few lines to a close so no more at present but remains your affectionate son as ever to his mother

William C Penland 

I noticed he sent this letter to his Mother-the last one was to his Father. 2 other things jumped out at me-his talk of the Jeans-still needing a coat and my favorite part:  so no more at present but remains your affectionate son as ever to his mother

What about you-what caught your eye in this letter?



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  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    June 11, 2010 at 8:00 am

    As a family genealogist, I sure do enjoy these letters. It’s wonderful to get a sense of lives past… real people – real stories (even if they are not related to me). So much of their lives can come down to us through the music of that time, too! Happy Pickin’!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    When is she gonna get that boys coat to him! Enough!
    There is both a formality and an familiarity in all these letters, I suppose it is the way of the times. It seems alien to me.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 2, 2010 at 11:06 am

    It’s remarkable that one of your readers is a decendant of Mr. Penland. I always read the comments of your readers and am impressed with all of them, their writing, their life’s experiences, their devotion to BP&A, and the fun sense of humor so often leaned on to endure and make good of Life.
    Tipper, it’s typical of the Civil War soldier to comment on the health of his comrades in his letters. Superficially, one may think that he doesn’t have a lot more to talk about.
    Actually, in that most horrific of struggles, sickness, disease, and health-related issues accounted for twice as many deaths as did bullets. Medical science was yet crude and without germ-killing medicines; epidemics of deadly sicknesses ran rampant through the camps. W.C knew everyday that disease was a greater threat than battle, which itself was more deadly than ever known before.
    Didn’t you tell me once that W.C. himself died in the war not from wounds but from disease?

  • Reply
    June 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I still am amazed by the formal writing.
    Wonder how long it will take to get that coat made? Mom must be some kind of busy.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Actually what struck me most was his beautiful penmanship. I could just see in my minds eye, that he was cramped and cold, but managed to write such a clear hand. Caro S.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    May 31, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    I find all these letters interesting! I love a peek at the past!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    May 31, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    It seems like it’s awful hard to get the things he needs- and he loves his Mama.Like him I’ve been so homesick I could hrdly stand it.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    so cool, tipper, thanks for sharing it this day!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    with all our “modern times stuff” it’s hard to understand what those boys went through! Just think about it,they wanted good pants,a coat,and a full belly.That’s where “we” came from!! I am so proud of my kin!!
    They had a CAUSE!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 31, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I love the letters….
    Hope he gets that coat soon….and you will post a letter thanking his Mother for either making it for him or sending the gray Jeans material…
    What was the space between the letters referring to the coat and jeans material…about three weeks….I’m guessing…Poor boy needs a coat bad…sounds like!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    As a mother I find these letters heartbreaking. I can’t help but imagine how William’s mother must have felt, with her son exposed to such danger, likely hungry much of the time and cold too. Cloth, like everything else, being pretty hard to come by in the south that late in the war, imagine his poor mother scrambling to somehow find or make enough fabric to preserve her son’s health – and dignity!

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    i am not sure what he means by jeans, sounds like some kind of materail, not what we think of as jeans. just looking at the writing inthe copy of the letter touched me. so many years ago, i can see the age in the paper.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 31, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I goofed on my previous comment. Benjamin Wiley Moore was the brother of W.C.’s mother, Patience Mahalia Moore Penland. Susannah Jones Moore was Patience and Wiley’s mother.
    Sorry for the error. Sometimes these family links get confusing.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Beautiful old letter, Tipper… The one thing which tickled me was hearing his say that someone was ‘mending fast’…. I had heard that before–but it’s been a long long time. Oh–how I enjoy reading old letters… Thanks for sharing this one –on Memorial Day.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I really do enjoy reading these civil war letters. I am kinda a civil war novice if that is what it’s called.
    It was a time when the united states whether it be the North or the South really showed what we were all made of.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    May 31, 2010 at 8:32 am

    BEAUTIFUL! The name PENLAND is mighty big over in Clay County where I come from. Mr. Lee Penland was an outstanding educator, Congressman and just a might fine person. He taught my mama, all my brothers and sisters and ME! He gave me confidence that I truly needed at the eighth grade level. He has been gone many decades! I recently tried to pay tribute to him in a presentation I gave to our MULTI-CLASS Reunion at Hayesville High School. He is one fine teacher I will never forget!
    Eva Nell Mull

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 31, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I shared earlier that W. C. Penland was my great-uncle. The Uncle Wiley he refers to is Benjamin Wiley Moore, the brother of W.C.’s mother, Susannah Jones Moore. Wiley was born on March 1, 1823, so he would have celebrated his 40th birthday just before the date of this letter. Thanks for posting the letters.

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