Appalachia Civil War Letters

March 23 1863 Headquarters 65th N C Regt Letter 8

Ruins of R.R. bridge across Tennessee River


Ruins of R.R. bridge across Tennessee River – Library of Congress


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
    Mary Lou McKillip
    September 14, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Tipper. I loved his clever penmanship . These letters made your mind soar . Thanks for sharing these with us. We love the way you Tipper reprieve things too.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    What stuck out to me was him sharing the health of everyone, and that everyone was well which must’ve blessed his Mother’s heart and would be positive news she could share with the people at home.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Ok confession, I made a mistake, the picture is similar to the bridge in Decatur Alabama which was also destroyed during the Civil War,, but at a closer look and with my glasses on this time, I had a quick Senior moment.. sorry..

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    September 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I love the trust and loyalty he
    shows for his dad and this time
    his mama. I just think it’s a shame
    that this War amongst ourselves

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    September 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    It struck me as funny that he could not think of anything that would interest her. I imagine in those times anything would have caught her interest as long as it was from her boy gone to war. Just like today when children underestimate what their parents would find interesting to hear.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Letter 7 is dated 18 Mar 1863. Letter 8 was 23 Mar 1863. That’s only 5 days if the dates are correct. Even in modern times with modern clothing manufacturing methods, UPS and Fedex seems it would be nigh impossible to get done. There is something much more important to him about having that coat than warmth. We will probably never know what his reason is.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2014 at 10:10 am

    It caught me that he still needed and wanted that coat. He must be in desperate need of one as that has been in many of his letters. I wonder how a pair of jeans would be enough to make a coat. Interesting sewing feat!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 12, 2014 at 9:07 am

    When you think of it, the fabric was pretty high for the time period. Ten dollars a pound! A lot of homemade fabric back then was sold by the pound!
    Someone may have been taking advantage of the troops, knowing they used and needed that “Jeans” fabric! I am thinking, “price gouging”, similar like today’s high price of lumber after a hurricane! What a shame!
    I wonder who he had in mind to make his coat there, if and when his Mother got the fabric to him. Remembering that it is still very cold in March at times in these Tennessee hills! He says nothing of the coat being lined. Some soldiers with “means” could afford to have the person making the coat, (extra time, extra fabric) lined for more comfort as well if insulated for more warmth. Top officers often had lined coats!
    It may well have been expensive and hard to get where his Mother lived as well. I also wonder if all the “thief’s” that went on, the fabric even made it there if she sent it!
    As Spring is coming on, it seems that he informs his Mother of the health of people she knows or relatives of her people. He knows that a nurturing Mother needs to know these things.
    Thanks Tipper, I love these letters.
    PS Yesterday, I found a zip-out light wool lining from one of my parents coats, that Mother had stored in a cedar chest. The back and sides were light weight wool. The sleeves were beautiful slippery silk-like fabric, so one could slide the coat on the arms with ease, when it was zipped back into the coat.
    How often we do not realize how lucky we are today in this country. Even people of little wealth have more than some of those poor boys and their families did, during the Civil War!

  • Reply
    Gina S
    September 12, 2014 at 8:51 am

    “I believe I have no more to write that would interest you.” I wonder was Penland thinking of the tedium and tribulations of camp life, the antics of a group of men, or some worrisome event.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 12, 2014 at 7:37 am

    William C. Penland’s letter notes a fact we know quite well: The soldiers depended upon their families to furnish them clothing as they served in their regiments. And times were so hard that, even knowing that the soldier was in great need of clothing, the ones back home could not always come by the means (wool grown from sheep on their farms, sheared, carded, spun, woven into cloth, and the “jeans” cloth made into coats and trousers) to fulfill the earnest requests and send the clothing to those in need.
    Sad, needy times.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2014 at 6:57 am

    I hope the poor fellow has a coat soon! He must be desperate to keep asking in every letter.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Couple things jump @ me, $10 bucks a pound for jeans, (selling by the pound) and he ask for a coat in March, I guess it being early spring the nights were still chilly.. By the way,, the picture is from my neck of the woods, that bridge is probable 8 miles from where we live.. the new/old Railroad bridge is real close to the one in the picture,, of coarse this picture is before the T.V.A years and the river is much wider now..

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