Appalachia Civil War Letters

Knoxville Tennessee October The 12 1862 – Letter 1

Environs of Knoxville seen from south bank

Knoxville, Tenn. Environs of Knoxville seen from south bank of Tennessee River; East Tennessee University in middle distance (Library of Congress)


Knoxville Tennessee October the 12 1862

Dear Father and Mother    I take the present oppornituity to inform that I am as well at the present time as I ever was hoping that these few lines will find you all enjoying the same like blessing    all of the boys from Clay County are tolerable well    James Crawford has come up and is well Joab Crawford has had the mumps but is well    William Waldrupe is agoing to take my saddles home    Zoro will please take them home and pay him one dollar for hauling them    it has been raining here for two or three days and is a getting tolerable muddy    it was the dustyest time when we first got here that I ever saw    they have been running soldiers here for several days    that is ever since we have been here they are breckinridgees men going to Kentucky    there is a great many soldiers about this place    everything is the highest here that I ever saw    sweet potatoes are worth five dollars per bushel    everything else in proportion onions are bringing ten dollars per bushel    we are getting tolerable plenty for ourselves and horses to eat but some of them are a ganting up tolerable bad    my horse doing about as well as any of them    Uncle Wiley Moore has come he got here late Tuesday    I heard from Aunt Margaret Mantooth yesterday    she is well    we do not know when we will leave here but I expect before very long    there was a battle at Corinth last week    we whipped them on Friday and Saturday but they whipped us on Sunday but we retreated in good order the report that we lost about four thousand in the engagement there was a great many of the wounded passed up    the yesterday evenings train tell Mr. Sherman that John is well    tell Mary to write me    I helpt to take some deserters to jail yesterday they had went home without leave but come and the colonel sent them to jail to give others warning    be sure and write for I would be glad to hear from home every day    be sure to have those boots made for me for shoes are worth $10 dollars per pair and boots $9 dollars    I have not wrote much of interest as I did not have any thing to write    give my compliments to all inquiring friends    so no more but remains your affectionate son until death

W C Penland

P O Address Ft Knoxville Tenn 7 Battalion N C Calvery Co A in care of Capt W P Moore


I hope you enjoyed the first of WC Penland’s letters. Seems like it would have been a comfort to WC and the rest of the soliders to have the common tie of family and friends from Clay County. I imagine everytime one of them got a letter from home they shared the news with each other.




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  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    June 27, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Here is the definition from the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary:
    GANT, a. gant. Vacant; hollow; empty, as an animal after long fasting; hence, lean; meager; thin; slender.
    In Larry McMurty’s novel Lonesome Dove, Call notes that the horse his old friend Jake rode up on gave signs of fast traveling and comments:
    “What about that horse?” Call asked. “You didn’t gant him like that just so you could get here and help us beat the rush to Montana. What’s this about your luck running thick?”

  • Reply
    June 27, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Wow, gives you a small sense of how it must have felt to be where they were.. Kinda depressing.. But thanks for sharing….

  • Reply
    June 26, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful to send letters home, help the families and friends stay in touch and keep things in a good light. Of course, no punctuation makes the letter a bit difficult to read at first, but any news is important.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    It’s so nice that you are sharing Mr.
    Penland’s War letters to home. I enjoy
    reading his choice of words and concern
    of his folks. This was a good man.

  • Reply
    June 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Enjoyed reading this. His use of ‘tolerable’ was interesting.
    re: Ganting up—-I’ve heard the use of the word this way,” he was looking gant” —and it meant he was getting too thin. Is that how you’d define it?

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    June 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Bless his heart. Imagine how isolated he and all the others felt. I believe I would have stuck close to anyone I knew prior to arriving there.

  • Reply
    June 26, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing more Penland ‘treasure’!

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    June 26, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Well Tipper, you got me with that precious letter! I had read it before but always have the same reaction to those poor boys – so far from home!
    We have property in the FORT SANDERS area of Knoxville, where many a soldier lost his life in the war between the states. I think half of Knoxville was for the North and half for the South.
    We just happen to be able to finally make it to Martin’s Creek Festival – IF IT IS OK TO PEDDLE MY BOOK “FIDDLER OF THE MOUNTAINS” TO FOLKS WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED? We will just buzz over mid morning and come on back through Tellico – if we can dodge all the motor cycle folks! Maybe I will bring you some fine blueberries. They are the best ever, since I planted the bushes in 1998 TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF OUR THIRD GRANDSON. Now he LOVES blueberries!
    Kindest regards,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    June 26, 2014 at 9:52 am

    One of his best letters home! His reference to Uncle Wiley Moore arriving almost certainly refers to his mother’s brother Benjamin Wiley Moore, who was born in 1823 to John Moore and his 2nd wife Susannah Jones Moore. He was a doctor and served for a few months in the battalion.
    James Crawford and Joab Crawford were likely kinfolks as two of William’s aunts married Crawford boys.
    The “give my compliments to all inquiring friends” must have been a common request as I’ve seen it in other family correspondence from that period.
    Great letter!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 26, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Uncle Wiley Moore was Benjamin Wiley Moore and Aunt Margaret Mantooth was Margaret Penland Mantooth.

  • Reply
    John Reese
    June 26, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for these letters. I really enjoy this kind of history and time period. I had family members in the Confederate Army and this is another piece of history that needs to be brought to light. Thank You

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 26, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Tipper, what is ganting up? That is not an expression I am familiar with?
    It’s nice the way he send home information about all the other guys from his community.

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