Appalachia Civil War Letters

Fascinating Online Resource


I wanted to share a fascinating online resource with you today. Those of you who read comments left on posts may already know about it.

Back in February Michael Montgomery left a comment and within it he pointed out the online database of Civil War letters. Here’s part of his comment:

“The site has more than two thousand other CW letters from NC, including two collections from Cherokee County (the David Hitt letters deposited in Emory Library and the Stephen Whittaker Letters from the NC State Archives). All of them have been very carefully transcribed and are searchable. You can probably google for them as well.”

The site is called Private Voices. I’ll warn you there are so many interesting things to read that if you’re not careful you’ll spend half a day pouring over the material.

I started by searching for local place names, but I believe the search function would be better utilized if you had a solider’s name to enter. I tried looking for information about W.C. Penland but didn’t really find anything.

One of the most bittersweet entries I came across can be read below.

I have all most fur got how home looks I think ever thing would look strange to me I dont expect I would know lodemay [their young daughter] but I think I would know what I would give to see you and your sweet babe but I fear I will meet with meny a obstical be fore I get home. (Jonas Bradshaw to Nancy Bradshaw, 28 March 1863, David M. (Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University)”


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  • Reply
    Michael Montgomery
    March 29, 2018 at 3:13 am

    I am very sorry to report that Jonas Bradshaw was injured and captured at Gettysburg and that he later died in Point Lookout (MD) prison camp in November 1864.

    There’s another letter I want to call attention to. It was written by Job Redmond of Buncombe County, who had been caught for deserting and just received his sentence. Here is the full text below. The young man had great difficulty spelling, which means that it’s a good idea to read his letter aloud. He wrote quite an eloquent letter nonetheless.

    North Carolina Division of Archives and History Military Collection, p. 182

    Job R. Redmond to his family
    Kinston N C
    November the 2 1864
    My Deir Wife and children
    I seate my self this morning with a troub bled harte and a de strest mind to try to rite a few lines to let you no that I hierd my sentens red yesterday and hit was very Bad. I am very sory to let you no all readdy I hafte to bee shot the 9 of the month. I am sory to in form you that I hav but 7 dayes to live but I hope and trust in god when tha[y] hav slane my body that god will take my sole to este whier I will meete my little babe that is gon be fore. My dier wife I think I could die better sadesfide if I could see you and the children one more time on erth and talk with you but my time is so short I donte exspect to ever see you and my dier little children eny more on erth.
    I can in form you that I receved 2 letters from yo yesterday witch I red with plesur witch you giv me some sadesfaction to heir that you was all well and doing well. I receved the close that you sent to me by lt smith. I exspect tha will be my bearying close. I receved a canteen of brandy also but am in too mutch troub ble to drink. My dier wife I wante you to come to see me if you can git abner brooks to come with you if can my dayes may be per longed. My dier wife if I see you no more on erth donte grieve for mee nether lamente nor morne mee. I hope I shal with my Jesus bee whle you are left a lone. I pray that god will be with you and helpe you rase your children up in the noledge of the truth and the lorde and savior Jesus christe.
    A woird to my children witch is nir [=near] my harte in nature seem to bind. James I wante you to bee a good boy and obey your mother and keepe out of Bad company. You must bee a smarte boys and obey your mother. Also sissy you must bee a smarte little girl and bee good to the babey and call to Jobey. I hope that god will bee with you all so far well children you cante see your papy no more on erth.
    My dier wife thes times has ben sweet. I have spent with you but now I muste depart from you and never more return but let this not gri[eve] your harte. I pray that the lorde will be with you and helpe you out in all your troubles and trile hier bee low. So far well dier wife.
    J. R. Redmond condem to Die

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 28, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    I found something that says that, unfortunately:
    “Jonas Bradshaw was wounded and captured at Gettysburg and died at Point Lookout prison camp in August 1864.”. Very sad news.

  • Reply
    Wayne G. Barber
    March 28, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Wow, this one really is a great share on your part. Thank You, I have read a lot of Civil War books , then interviewed the authors on our program and this will really help. Wayne

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Donna Lynn announced The Blind Pig and the Acorn (a nice plug for your blog) after playing a Favorite song by Paul and Chitter “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again”. Chatter just smiled alot and played her Guitar as they sung. Nice. …Ken

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    I think Mr. Penland’s letters are the most sentimental, at least to me.

    When I came in Donna Lynn (our Christian Radio announcer) was on my answering service. I had ask her if she would play “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again” by Chitter and Paul. She couldn’t find it yesterday, said she’d play it today when I was listening. I knew she’d find it! Anyway, she played another’n by The Pressley Girls yesterday. …Ken

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Thank You!

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    March 28, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Well, Tipper, since my heart is in my throat, I think you may know the question I feel compelled to ask…….Did Jonas make it back home to Nancy and Lodemay?…..Members of the Shepherd family fought for both the Blue and the Gray since they hail from both Kentucky and North Carolina……The family moved to those states in 1805 coming from northeastern Virginia…..Then the three brothers split up with one staying in south central Kentucky west of Cumberland Falls and one moving to western North Carolina and one moving to the Joplin area of western Missouri…..I have Civil War letters of two Kentucky brothers fighting for the North in Tennessee that tell of the good people there……Here’s a story for you…..The Missouri branch was lost from contact with my part of the Shepherd family for 200 years until 2005 when Mary and I were vacationing on Maui in Hawaii……We had contracted with a bicycle company to pick us up early one morning and take us to the top of 10,000 foot Mount Haleakala to ride bicycles down the mountain…..When we got in the about full up big fifteen passenger van we had to introduce ourselves first…..As I stepped in the door, I immediately thought I recognized a young man with his wife sitting in the back……As I spoke my name, Rick Shepherd, I saw him start and look closely at me with recognition on his face…..I met and talked with him up on the mountain……Turned out, his and her name were Clint and Mary Shepherd, my relatives from the lost Missouri branch of the Shepherd’s for 200 years!…..To this day, I am astounded that could happen 3,000 miles away in Hawaii……Rick and Mary Shepherd

    • Reply
      March 29, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Rick-what a story! Meeting your family so far away from home must have been a huge surprise for sure 🙂

      If you look through the comments you can see what happened to Jonas.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 9:05 am

    That site will be right down my alley. They say we all lived another life before our present one. Mine surely must have been lived during the Civil War while living in a plantation somewhere down around Charleston. I am drawn to any book or movie that depicts that era. Thanks for sharing information about the site. It just may be what I need on this good-for- nothing, gloomy, dark and rainy day.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 28, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Gosh Tip, there’s a database for everything. I am fascinated that most of what you share on the Blind Pig is the old traditional stuff but it’s transmitted through the most update technology. I love the juxtaposition of it!

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    March 28, 2018 at 6:54 am

    So sad, but then war is always sad.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Yep that needs to come with a ” Warning” could take up most of your days and weeks reading, and known to become habit forming, Nice bit of info.

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