Appalachia Civil War Letters

Washington County Tenn Feb 16th 1863 – Letter 4

Interior views of Fort Sumter, S.C.

Interior views of Fort Sumter, S.C. taken by a Confederate photographer in 1864 [i.e. 1863] (Library of Congress)


Washington County Tenn

Feb 16th 1863

Dear Father and mother

I avail myself of the fineses opportunity to let you know that    I am well hoping that these few lines may find you and all of the family & friends enjoying the same blessing (there was a hole in the paper) kind providence it is raining here today and is warm and pleasent    James Crawford is still very very low but is a little better than he was the last time that I wrote but is not out of danger yet    George Loyd is sick yet and I do not know what is the matter with him    A M Cook has got into camp again and is a gitting right smart better    Capt moore has gone to Knoxville and has been for several days I think that he will be in tonight he will come home in a day or two after he comes to camp    cousin Robert Alexander is well and uncle Wyly is also    the health of our Batt is tolerable good at this time    Samuel Justice is sick but is a gitting better    When I heard that you had come to Macon to see me I was very sorrow that I had not have stayed there a few days longer I could have stayed until monday if I had of tried to have done it    We are a gitting a plenty to eat at this time and tolerable plenty for our horses    there will be four or five men that will come with Capt Moore when he comes home but I do not know who they will be    I do handly expect I will get to (hole in paper) I think I will come about fifth of this month    I have been to (hole) today    we have a chaplain now I hope that he will stay with and not do like the other one that we had    He stayed until he drawed a hundred or two dollars and only preached one sermon    but I do not think that the one we have got is a very clever man his name is Harris    We have had preaching every Sabbath for three or four weeks    as it is a gitting late I will bring my few lines to a close write soon and give me the news     Address Jonesborough Tennessee 65th NC Reg our battalion has been turned to a Regm

give my respects to all of the friends and relatives

so no more at present but remains your affection son as ever

to H. M. Penland

W.C. Penland


Two things jump out at me from this letter-the amount of sickness he talks about-and that his family made a long trip to see him-but didn’t get there in time. Can you imagine how they must have felt when they realized they only missed him by a day or so? And how he must have felt to know he almost got to see them? The near miss seems especially poignant after reading the last letter and knowing he was longing for home.

What jumps out at you?


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  • Reply
    Ron Penland
    June 11, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Hi Ed, Jonesborough, TN is also the home of Davy Crockett. His birth home is there. It is next door to Greeneville, TN, where President Andrew Johnson is from. It is right between Johnson City (where W.C. wrote some of his first letters from) and Greeneville on 11E. It is slated as being the oldest town in TN.

  • Reply
    Ron Penland
    June 11, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Another Patton listed in my records is a Burgess Gaither Patton, who was married to W.C. Penland’s sister, Luola. He evidently died of Typhoid fever in 1890 just as Harvey Monroe Penland did in 1889. Just before Burgess died, he and Luola had a son, his name was Harve Burgess Patton. Luola, of course lived in the Holt Patton house where the Civil War Letters were found. I don’t have any records on Holt so I don’t know if he was related to Burgess or not but Im sure he was somehow?

  • Reply
    Ron Penland
    June 11, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Hi Ed, Actually there are Pattons in our family line. George Penland, who was Harvey Monroe Penland and Margaret (Penland) Mantooths dad, was married to Rachel Moore. Her parents are listed as William Hamilton Moore and Margaret (Patton) Moore

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    July 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I hated to hear about the chaplin that drew his pay and left. I imagine if those boys ever needed a man of God it would have been then. It makes me sad to think of the comfort they needed.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Letters from our children are such cherished memories.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2014 at 1:19 am

    I was noticing all the sicknesses too, how blessed he seemed to be by the rain and the heartbreak at missing their visit and them missing him. I do hope all those he mentioned made it through the Fort Sumter bombing depicted there.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 26, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Tipper & Don – I have been researching the Penlands and Moores in Macon and Clay Countys in North Carolina since the first letter and am fairly sure that more (pardon the pun)of the Moores and many of the Penlands referred to here lived and died in Macon, NC. I think the James Crawford mentioned in this letter was James Gilmer Crawford, son of Lurana Moore and George Washington Crawford. He was commissioned a Captain in the 39 North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He and his wife Virginia are buried at Franklin Methodist Church. Lurana And G W are buried at Mount Zion in Macon NC. Lurana was a daughter of John Moore and Martha Covington and half sister of Patience Moore, mother of W C Penland. His half first cousin I suppose. In my opinion William “Irish Bill” was the rallying figure for most of Macon and Clay Countys and that his own kin were well represented.
    My next mission after the Moores and Penlands is to tie the Pattons into all this.
    What peaked my interest in all this is that my daughter lives within walking distance of Canoe Creek and the burial sites of Robert Penland and Elizabeth Brank who started all this.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    July 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    I so enjoyed reading this letter. Pendland was enjoying his blessing under stress and endurance and had his mind on others sickness. I felt this man was thankful to God for every waiting moment of his life, kind man seemed to me.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 26, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    The holes in the paper might have been from teardrops not raindrops.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 26, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I think Mr. Penland is saying in his closing that the battalion has been turned into a regiment. I ponder who was in command, as he says Captain Moore was in Knoxville for several days. Captain Moore may be his immediate command?? What I have read, a regiment is much larger than a battalion. Not sure, as I am not “up to snuff” on military command of the Civil War.
    He must be fretting some on all the sickness in camp, even with some getting better. He states that it is warm, raining and pleasant as of the writing of the letter. Warm winter rains, quickly turn cold and I wonder if that keeps the sick from getting well quicker. It is a shame that he missed the visit with the family. I am afraid that in todays service, if we were to visit a person, they would not be allowed to stay over a day or two to accommodate our visit, especially during a war! I must have missed something here.
    Were the holes in the paper caused by raindrops weakening the paper, I wonder.
    Thanks Tipper,
    I enjoy reading these letters!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Two things:
    “George Loyd is sick yet” It has been a long time since I have heard “yet” used that way. Most people would say “George Loyd is sick still” or “George Loyd is still sick.” My mother’s people used “yet” just like that. “Uncle Harley went out west and he is there yet.” or both “Uncle Harley went out west and he is there still yet.” Is that usage of “yet” common where you live?
    The other thing:
    I googled Jonesborough, Tennessee to see where it was in comparison to where I live. I found that it is 91 miles away and that if I left now I could drive there and be back before dark with time to stop at Cracker Barrel on the way and Stuckey’s on the way back.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    That letter brings us so much history. What jumps out? The chaplain who drew his money and left without preaching the much needed sermons for these tired and war-weary men. In many ways this was the saddest of wars, as each side believed so very much in their cause. Many times they left behind family who suffered tremendous hardships. My family history shows how the fighting touched even the most remote areas.
    Extremely interesting oral history was relayed to me by an old timer. It was about a huge rock near a river in Hinton WV. He said the Confederates used to hide behind that rock and shoot at the Yankees as the paddled down the river. Sure enough, on that river I saw the giant rock. My mind got lost in that history after I pulled over to observe the huge rock. So much interesting history is lost as the memory dies with the person.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I can only imagine the disappointment he and his family must have felt from not getting to see one another.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 26, 2014 at 10:59 am

    I just can’t comprehend the feeling of missing a family when they had such a hardship of travel in the first place. He seems to handle it Ok and keeps mom and dad informed about friends very well. I’d feel better is he could hear from home. Reading these letters should make us appreciate more the value of home…Ken

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 26, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I have been to Lake City, TN looking for W. C. Penland’s grave with no success. I would sure like to find him, but he may be in an unmarked grave, the wood marker being long gone.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 26, 2014 at 8:27 am

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. I wonder if his reference to Macon is Macon County, NC? There is a Macon County, TN, but it’s well to the west of where they spent time. If it is Macon County, NC, then the reference could be to well back in time, not long after the unit was organized.
    2. I suspect that “Uncle Wyly” was Benjamin Wylie Moore, the younger brother of Patience, W.C.’s mother. Benjamin Wylie was the battalion surgeon and also the uncle of William Patton Moore, W.C.’s captain.
    3. Note that he always refers to William Patton Moore as “Captain Moore” even though they are first cousins.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    July 26, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I consider myself a true southerner but I am saddened each time I read of or consider the civil war. It seems sickness and exposure were a common enemy. It is sad that many if not most didn’t understand what they were fighting for and the poor man always fights the rich mans war.

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