The Steele Creek Historical and Genealogical Society
Of the Old Steele Creek Township
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Steele Creek in the Civil War - Letters & Miscellaneous Papers
| Civil War
Letter to a Steele Creek Girl | Civil
War Record of Williamson Allen Wilson | Letter
to A. Randolph Erwin |
| Letter from James Crawford to His Wife | Letter from W.M. Potts to Violet Irwin | Yankee Diary |
| Civil War Letter from Zenas Porter | Civil War Letter From Prison | Letter from the Front |
To a Steele Creek Girl
(From Gleanings: Vol. 1, No. 2 - Apr/Jun 1994)
(This letter is shown as written with no punctuation and few capital letters)
"camp near Fredricksburg, Va
Dear cousin Violet
I received your kind letter a few days since bearing date of the 3rd. I was truly glad to hear from you. I have nothing of any interest to write as all is quiet along our lines and has been for two or three days our duty is very hard indeed but nothing better could be expected such times as this we are still in a time of battle and have been for about ten days and I don’t know when our situation will be changed It is reported that the enemy are still on this side of the river but I don’t know whether it is now or not our company is down below town on picket today and I feel considerable relieved to get away from the line of battle I think we will have a fight here before this fuss can be settled at this point I hear some firing in the direction of town since I left there but can’t tell for what purpose it was our (not legible )?-ot picket on this side of the river and the yankeys are on the other side about two hundred yards apart The yankeys are a trying to get a paper over to us but can’t get it to come near us the wind is a blowing against them but I hope they will get it over I want to see if they are a looking at me writing this letter I recon you have heard of Gen Steward’s fight before this time if no you will har of it befour this reaches you I havent seen Randolph since I left home the company passed our camp the other day going to Culpeper but I was on duty and didn’t get (not leglible) it And as for Uncle Tom I haven’t seen him since we left Kinston I saw him the day I left there but not since I hear from the company a few days they were at Petersburg then Our fair is good to what it has been but nothing to brag an yet the health of the Regt and troops aroun here is good to what it has been but room for improvement - yet- I had some nice cherries this morning which reminded me very much of home A young ladie gave them to me which made them so good If I had to a stole them they wouldn’t have been so good which I would have don if they had not been give to me. Tell Mag there is a young gent here sendes his love to her in double quick time Violet - I am glad the war has set the young girls to work for it was very much needed before it commenced and but very little don I recon it would go tolerable hard at first but you will get use to it afterwhile We have to get use to a great many hard things but I never will get use to a shell nor nothing that is used in a fight - I will clos by asking you to write soon to your friend and cousin
Thomas W Neely
Co A 11th Regt NC Troops
in care Capt Harris
Pettieguses Brigade "
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RECORD OF WILLIAMSON ALLEN WILSON
(As told to his grandson, Howard McKnight Wilson)
From: Gleanings: Appearing in 3 issues,
Vol 1, Nos. 2, 3 & 4 during 1994)
Note: Howard McKnight Wilson was born in Steele Creek in 1900, the son of James Newell Wilson and Eudella Catherine McKnight. He became a minister and was the pastor of old Tinkling Springs Presbyterian Church in Staunton, Va where he died in 1988 and is buried in the old cemetery there where many ancestors of Mecklenburg County settlers are buried. Howard Wilson was also an historian and among the several books he authored was the history of old Tinkling Springs church, "The Tinkling Spring, Headwater of Freedom".
It appears that the interview of old Williamson Wilson was probably done in the 1930s since Williamson Allen Wilson was born in 1844 and died in 1937. He is buried at Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church.
"Williamson Allen Wilson, born November 11, 1844, in York County, S.C., was the son of Joseph Clark Wilson (1812 - 1882) and Cloah Marie Thornburg, his wife. He volunteered on February 27, 1862, for Confederate Army service in Mecklenburg County, NC, to which the family had moved in 1855. He entered the army with his uncle, Jonathan Thornburg. They were to join Williamson Allen’s brother, James Franklin Wilson, following basic training, but the brother was a war casualty at Williamsburg, Virginia, before they were ready to join him.
Wilson was encamped first near Raleigh, NC. Of first importance in that camp was learning precise obedience and, as is often the case, a bizarre object lesson was unforgetable. A fellow-recruit, Vince McCorkle, on his first tour of guard duty under instructions to obey orders implicitly, was told to halt every person coming into camp and to shoot anyone who disobeyed. He was given a rifle but no cartridges. As he paced his beat a group of his superiors approached him. He ordered them to halt and this they did casually with a challenge of his ability to shoot. He instantly whipped out a loaded revolver from his pocket which no one knew he carried. He ordered the men to mark time and kept them at it for a full half hour longer than his duty lasted. Then he marched them to the guardhouse. When relieved, the erstwhile prisoners asked him if he really would have shot them. "Hell, yes!" he replied, "One outbreak and one of you would have been a dead man."
Wilson became a member of Company B of the 43rd Regiment of North Carolina. This regiment was organized in March, 1862, at Camp Mangum about three miles west of Raleigh. Officers selected were: Junius Daniel, Colonel; Thomas S. Kenan, Lt.-Colonel; Walter J. Boggan, Major; commissions bore the date of march 25, 1862. The officers changed from time to time but Company B of Mecklenburg began with Robert P. Waring as Captain and 73 enlisted men.
During the training near Raleigh, when preparations for battle duty became a dreary task, someone would contrive excitement. Wilson denied all connection with an incident, but his full knowledge of all details and his love of practical jokes make him a suspect. On a dull evening, a group of soldiers went into the nearby pine forest, gathered a collection of pine knots, took them to the edge of camp, and carefully scattered them in the narrow exit at one end of the company street. At intervals six inches above the ground. Then beyond this area, a fight was started and an alarm given. The tents were emptied quickly and the whole company of men came racing through the dark night and literally pild on one another amid the pine knots, with bruises in body, and dispositions agitated to the fighting point. Where upon an investigation was made to find the culprit who had laid the trap, but no guilty party could be found.
After training in Raleigh, the 43rd Regiment was ordered to Wilmington and Fort Jonhson at Smithville on the Cape Fear River. Here it remained a month and then moved into Virginia. Wilson was under fire first in a seven day’s shelling of Richmond. While not in the thick of the fight, we was near enough to be subjected to the shelling. His brigade constituted a part of the forces under Major General Smith who protected Richmond as Lee advanced into Maryland in September, 1862. His brigade was ordered back to Goldsboro after putting up breastworks at Drewry’s Bluff.
In the spring of 1863, the regiment was stationed at Kinston. Later, it was
sent to Fredericksburg, Virginia and was assigned to Rhodes’ Division of Ewell’s
2nd Corps. The Army of Northern Virginia, of which the 43rd
became a part, was reviewed by General Lee and ordered to commence the memorable
Pennsylvania campaign in June, 1863. During the months past, Wilson had been for
the most part, among the reserves. At some time during this interval, an
insistent call had come from sharp-shooters. Wilson had come to fight by his
brother’s side but, finding that impossible, he answered the appeal for
sharp-shooters. He was among the first to respond to the challenge for the more
dangerous duty on the picket line. He was heard to remark,
I for one will go. I would rather die in front than be picked up a coward in the rear."
"Upon arriving at Brandy Station," Wilson said, "the brigade was placed in line of battle to meet any attempted advance of Union infantry to support its cavalry, but was not engaged. The main fighting in that battle was between the cavalry of the opposing armies at Berryville; the enemy was driven back and camp equipage, etc., captured." The brigade then marched by way of Martinsburg, Williamsport, Hagerstown, Chambersburg to Carlisle, Pa, and from this place they were ordered to Gettysburg.
Wilson related that, "We came into Carlisle Road at Gettysburg July 1st, arriving about 1:00 pm, having come by quick and double quick time from Carlisle. Here Ewell’s Corps, including Rhodes’ Division and Daniel’s Brigade, formed a line of battle at Forney’s house." In this fight Wilson had his first battle experience as a sharp-shooter. After having marched quick time for this distance, the battle line was formed and fighting continued until late afternoon, the brigade being handled with skill and bravery by General Daniel. Seminary Ridge was gained and occupied—the right of the 43rd resting on the railroad cut. The battle was intensely fought and the loss heavy on both sides. Here is where we had our enemies on the run and had we not been given an order to cease the attack at this point," Wilson pointed out, " we might have been able to have kept them separated and won the battle. I believe this is the point that history calls "Lees Lost Opportunity." It was only out of consideration for exhausted soldiers that the attack was not pressed. Our delay allowed time for reforming of the opposition."
The second day the 43rd Regiment was placed at a point on the ridge just north of the Seminary building. The enemy guns were taking a serious toll. It was during this cannonade that General Lee and his staff passed to the front along the road nearby. The troops were thrilled and spurred on by his coming. Each saluted him by raising his hat in silence and the troops were encouraged by his presence. Wilson observed that, "This was one of the few times that I actually saw our Commander-In-Chief; he was held in high regard by the men."
They remained at this point all day under continual fire from the enemy, but not a gun was fired in return. "Two small pieces of shell hit me here but neither hurt," Wilson recalled.
"They were about half the size of my hand and one hit my shoulder but it was only bouncing along after its force had been exhausted. Neither lick hurt." The loss was heavy to the regiment. From this point, a movement was commenced at night in the direction of the enemy’s breastworks; however, when the brigade crossed the valley, orders were given to pass by the left flank near the southern and eastern limits of the town.
At about daybreak, they joined Major-General Johnson, who commanded a division of Ewell’s Corps on the extreme left of the Confederate line. Daniel’s Brigade, with other troops, had been ordered to reinforce Johnson’s attack on Culp’s Hill. After marching nearly all night, the brigade formed a line of battle near Benner’s House and crossed Rock Creek. Wilson said, "Early in the morning the regular troops attacked Culps’ Hill and were driven back. Then Daniel’s Brigade made a second attack, which was unsuccessful, and we fell back into the woods. We found refuge behind fallen trees and stayed there until after dark. On the field lay the dead, the dying, and the wounded of the two battles. There were more dead than I have ever seen at one time before or since. On the open field between abandoned fallen-tree breastworks and the Yankee main line, we remained as pickets until Johnson’s division had withdrawn. The pickets ordinarily formed four paces apart, but on this occasion, there was nothing like a regular number. The Union forces burst forth with a heavy volley of fire, which was just over the heads of the picket line, to the point just abandoned by Johnson. They shot and hollered and yelled, but we stuck to our posts behind trees and rocks. I was behind a good tree, and you may judge whether I stuck close to it! If they had started over the fallen trees, they would have heard from us!"
Wilson and his comrades were left behind to bluff off an attack and the objective was accomplished, while the main part of the Confederate forces retreated. Putting up a brave front behind the fallen trees, the pickets managed to keep our number hidden from the enemy. Continuing, he said, "That night the 43rd was taken back to Seminary Ridge but this time placed in a different position. On the night of July 4th the whole regiment was moved to Hagerstown. I was out of my company on picket duty in the rear until after we arrived in Hagerstown."
The Confederates left Hagerstown in a few days and crossed a badly swollen Potomac. Each soldier carried a rifle and 40 rounds of ammunition. The commanding officer shouted across the river for the men to bring their ammunition across dry. Wilson remembered his Captain, Lawyer Waring of Charlotte, North Carolina, asking the superior officer, "How can men keep cartridges dry when they cannot keep their heads dry?" The captain was arrested when he reached the other bank and had to resign his commission to escape court-martial. Other records relate that the water was up to the armpits of the men and they carried their guns and ammunition on their heads.
Beyond the Potomac, they marched on by way of Darkville, Mine Run, and Rapidan Ford. The brigade was detached for duty with General Hoke’s Brigade in the winter of 1863-64 in eastern North Carolina, with Major-General Pickett in command of all the forces. Wilson, with his unit, went to New Bern and later to Kinston. They remained in Kinston a few weeks and then marched to Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina.
The Battle of Plymouth was fought April 18-20, 1964, with General Hoke in command. Although this battle was a victory for the cause, and was applauded by special resolution of the Confederate Congress, for Wilson it almost proved fatal. On the first day of the battle, April 18th, Wilson was shot through the knee. A mini ball scaled the left edge of the kneecap and grazed the large left ligament back of the knee. It happened just after dark and the unit moved on with Wilson, in regular position for about twenty-five yards, where he informed the superior in charge, "I’m shot. The ball went through my knee and my shoe is filling with blood; it doesn’t hurt but my leg is giving way". "Go to the rear," ordered an officer, "Go to the rear."
Wilson walked back to about the spot where he was wounded; there he met the regimental forces. Upon inquiry, he reported the injury. "Wilson Company B wounded" called one voice after another as the word passed from company to company to the Ambulance Corps. The litter bearers came immediately and carried him to the field hospital in the woods nearly a half mile away. The doctors brought the first pain to Wilson’s wounded knee. One doctor held the kneecap as far out of position as possible while another examined the damage within the wound by forcing a little finger into the bullet hole from the front of the knee and the other little finger in a similar fashion from the rear. They decided the wound was of such a nature that there was no escape from amputating the leg above the knee. Wilson expressed in no uncertain terms his unwillingness to undergo and operation. So they decided immediately to send him to the war. They expected nothing but that Wilson would develop gangrene. Wilson said, "It was a small outhouse, but nice, clean and well kept. Here the doctors expected me to die as a result of my refusal to follow their decision, but instead I got along fine." And the irony of the incident turned out to be that all the men operated on that day took gangrene and died. Wilson alone of the surgical cases escaped and that because of his refusal to have the amputation.
That night they hauled the wounded to an old church, where they were kept until the next morning. Then they loaded them into ambulances and wagons to take them to the railroad station. "I got in a wagon," said Wilson, "but I got along all right". At the station they unloaded the patients at a nearby empty house. Here they were to wait for a train the next morning. For supper the nurse brought around bread and coffee. Wilson was weak and weary with the travel and in spite of pain wanted sleep instead of food. In a soldier’s language, he informed the male nurse of his preference and told him he wanted none of his coffee. Whereupon the nurse waxed as firm as his authority allowed and ordered him to drink the coffee. This Wilson did, calling for seconds until he was allowed no more. Next morning, the nurse laughed at him saying, "I knew you needed some coffee and didn’t want it, so your refusing didn’t make me mad."
Early that day the wounded were placed on the train and sent to the hospital in Wilson, North Carolina. Ambulances met the train and they were taken to the hospital. It was a nice building, clean, well equipped, where they received pleasant care. Wilson here met for the first time, since being wounded, one he knew. He was a neighbor back home, who had lived just across the Catawba River. He and Wilson had been associate together in pleasantries at the old swimming hole at Neil’s Mill on the Catawba River. This young man’s name was McLean. McLean had been sick and was at that time better and able to serve as a nurse. Knowing Wilson, he favored him at dinner by trading his small potato for a bigger one found on the plate of another patient. Not for long were these two allowed to enjoy each other’s companionship, for that night McLean got the call to return to his command. He was killed instantly in battle the following day.
It was on the first day, following the noon meal, that the staff of doctors headed by Dr. Satswell, came to examine Wilson. Again he refused their decision. A young doctor, Dr. Dugan, took his part about the operation, saying, "If Wilson is so stubborn, let him have it, and if it has to come off later, he can’t help himself - it may mean his leg". The staff of doctors agreed to leave it thus. Wilson recalled, "I may have said some pretty rough things to get those doctors to listen."
In five weeks, Wilson was able to be up on crutches. Toward the end of June he was given leave to go home for forty days. It was a sad homecoming because his mother had died while he was away, leaving his 52 year old father and two younger sisters to carry on.
On August 7, 1864, Wilson returned to his company, still a part of Rhodes’ Division. Daniel had been killed at Spotsylvania and General Grimes was now in command of the brigade. The regiment took part in various skirmishes and battles until the end of 1864, at one time attacking and routing some of General Sheridan’s forces. The next move was to Southerland’s Depot near Petersburg, Virginia, in February, 1865. They had been on the march for days with very little to eat. A small town in Virginia was reached and down the street a man was selling apples from a barrel on the sidewalk. A man or two attempted to pick up and apple in passing. The owner whipped out his revolver to protect his wars. Wilson and his group saw what was happening, so they made a trade; Wilson would turn the barrel over if the others would divide with him what they picked up. Two men just in front of Wilson stepped close together and he reached through and tipped the barrel. Apples rolled everywhere as Wilson moved quickly back into place. To the chagrin of the apple seller, the soldiers passed on down the street eating apples, Wilson having received a generous share.
About the middle of March, the 43rd Regiment was ordered into the trenches in front of Petersburg. Wilson related an incident which happened between Richmond and Petersburg. General Grimes had called the men out on the pike one day, and General Lee countermanded the order. The men resented Grimes’ uninstructed command, and as they marched back, one of the soldiers of Co. B, Dave Blackwelder, along with men from other companies, shot rounds of ammunition and an inspection was ordered immediately to see who had used his cartridges. Wilson, as a sharp-shooter, at once saw his friend Dave’s plight. After teasing Blackwelder until the inspectors were nearby, Wilson gave him a cartridge from his supply and thus Blackwelder met inspection, having escaped discipline through Wilson’s generosity.
By this time, the yankees were outnumbering the Confederates to a great degree and Rhodes’ Division, now of only 2,200 men, had to cover three and a half miles of trenches. The lines were drawn up within 100 yards of each other. The 43rd, with other troops, met the enemy’s advances and a couple of times advanced against them with great loss in killed, wounded, and captured. About April 3rd the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg were abandoned and the army, retreating under cover of darkness, reached Amelia Court House where the exhausted troops were allowed to rest.
The march was resumed the next night, closely pursued by the enemy. General Grimes was assigned to the position of rear guard, Colonel Coward being in charge of Daniel’s old brigade. The enemy’s cavalry rode recklessly into the Confederate lines from time to time, making it necessary to form a line of battle part time of one brigade then of another while the others marched. This running fight culminated in a general engagement on the afternoon of April 6th at Sailors Creek near Farmville, Va., where the Confederates overwhelmed by superior numbers, retreated beyond the long bridge at Farmville.
Wilson, on guard in the rear, never got to the bridge. Late on the evening of the 6th he, with a few comrades, realized they were surrounded, so he "stomped" his musket in the mud of a ditch to prevent the enemy from having it and surrendered. Wilson’s regiment moved on to the vicinity of Appomattox Court House where on the 8th and 9th the final surrender took place. But Wilson in the meantime had been taken as a prisoner to Point Look Out Prison in Maryland. Conditions there were terrible with little or no sanitation. Wilson suffered with dysentery nearly the whole time he was imprisoned there. He did not even know of Lee’s surrender for weeks. He was kept a prisoner until late in June, probably the 27th.
Wilson returned home the last week of June in 1865 after three years and four months of service. He stayed with his father until after Christmas. Then he contracted to work for *Captain Youngblood for $8 a month in gold; there he remained for two years until he married.
Editors note: * Believed to be Calvin Youngblood (Richard Calvin Youngblood). Richard Calvin Youngblood owned a large tract of land on the Catawba River in lower Steele Creek near the (now) Buster Boyd Bridge on Hwy 49. Mr. Youngblood’s son, Samuel C. Youngblood died from disease in the Civil War.
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From: "Gleanings", Vol. 1, No. 3, July-Sept 1994
(printed as written)
Point Lookout Md, Aug 21st 1864A. Randolph Erwin, Esq.
I saw your son William a few hours before he died. He said, "My Mother is with me & knows all about my sicknef (sickness) and I will soon be with her, & it will be a glorious reunion. If I go to N.C. it will be to see my father, if I die it will be to go to my mother in heaven; write to my father, and tell him, that I am trying to do right. He will be glad to hear from me."
He told Dr. Andrews (of Charlotte) that ever since he had heard of his sister’s death, he had been living a new life. I have witnefed (sic) the closing scenes of many christian’s lives in my labors in the hospital here, but never any more satisfactory and peaceful than that of your dear boy. I sympathise (sic) with you in your affliction and trust that this assurance of a good ground to hope, that he has exchanged this scene of war and trouble for a far better country, will be consoling to you in this (?) at affliction-
May you and yours be reunited with this loved one, and his sainted mother in a better world, is the prayer of - Yours in Sympathy-
Supt. Of F.M.C. School
of Sumter, S.C.
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CIVIL WAR LETTER FROM JAMES CRAWFORD
(The following letter from was written by James Crawford to his wife shortly before he died. Mrs. James Crawford, married 2nd to Thomas Pringle Grier of Steele Creek)
Ward Cook nearChaffins Farm VA.
8 June 1864
My dear Darling wife:
I am here very sick…My Regiment has gone and left me here among strangers, but strangers as they are, they have been so kind to me, that I never can forget them.
I am suffering from diarrhara, and the doctor says I am in a low condition indeed. I feel that I am almost exhausted at times.
If you cannot come to see me, I want your Uncle William or your brother John to come.
I am staying with Mrs. Kell at the outer line of fortifications about 2 ½ miles from Chaffins Farm, and about seven miles from Richmond.
Your devoted Husband, James Crawford
To Mrs. James Crawford
Crowders Creek By request
Gaston Co., NC T. B. Bartlett, Asst. Surgeon
(Note: It can be assumed by the following letter notes from William Wilson that he was requested by Jane Wilson Crawford Grier to place a tombstone at the grave of her husband. It is believed that Williamson Allen Wilson - Civil War Record in Gleanings, 1994, - may have been Janes brother. Whether the following is from him, signed William Wilson or from uncle William Wilson referred to in the above letter, it unknown.)
"It is recorded in the book of the Chafins Farm Hospital, in charge of Surgeon C. D. Fletcher, that James Crawford of Co. H, 49th Regt. N.C. was received at that hospital on the9th June 1864 and died on the 16th of the same month at half past seven oclock p. m. Thursday. His remains are buried in the graveyard north of the hospital buildings. The grave is marked J. Crawford, Co. 49th Reg.. VA - June 16th 1864 - different from the Register only in the State - A mistake of the man who put the letters on the board. The grave is the 1st in the second tier of graves on the north west corner in the yard and is directly at the foot o f the second grave in the 1st tier. Marked J. Sparrow, Co. I, 26th VA Reg. Died April 16th 1863, the head of said Sparrow’s grave is about 5 feet south from a white oak stump a little more than knee high & at the top about six inches in diameter - this stump is therefore about 10 feet from the head of James Crawford grave in a north western direction and between the heads of the 1st & 2nd graves in the 1st tier on the extreme west. I also dug down into the ground of the grave until I came to the level of the common earth about 2 feet from the head of the grave, and placed two stones with a hard brickbat between them. The stone nest to the head of a round shope and wiegh some thirty pounds or more, the other stone smaller one and rounded and the other end square. The graveyard has no fence around it and is entirely surrounded with brushwood.
The above memoranda was taken by me on the spot Aug 4th 1864.
(Below his signature was a drawing of the grave of J. Sparrow and J. Crawford.)
LETTER FROM W.M. POTTS TO VIOLET IRWIN
CIVIL WAR LETTER FROM THE FRONT
(Submitted by Mary Leta Armstrong-copied as written)
Aug the 4 1862
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I now take it uppon myself to write you a short letter for the purpose of writing to you how I am getting a loung through this bloody battle that has been gowing on near the city of Richmond Virginnia. My health has been remarcalbe well since I came to Army and I do sincerely hope when this few lines reaches you they may find your helath in the same condition. I have not heard from you since I left home. I have been lowing to write to you for a long time but have put it off untill this late hour, but I do hope that you will excuse me from not writing sooner. Mis Vilotte (Violet Irwin) I am sorry that I have no news to write you at present only what I surpose that you have heard. They are a little excitement on the picket line but now worshey (?) of more than two guns boats has move up bove Mulvin Hill rashir (?) above our pickets on our right and are shelling a piece of woods where they were shelling yesterday eavning but did not dow any damage. Our regiment is here own picket to the left o Malvin Hill. We can see the gun boats lying off in the river with yankeys own them. Our pickets and the yankeys picket are in three hundred yards of each other and very offen shooting at each other on post. A daily fight is expected on the valley of Virginnia Gen Jackson long street and hill has all taken there forces up there. We have taken a great many prisoner-during the battle and since the battle. They all appears to be tired of the war, theysay that thre army has become disgusted since they have been whip so at Richmond. They said that there army was cut all to pieces. We have lost several men out of our regiment kill and taken priser. Our Major was kill at Willersis ?) Church where we charge uppon a large potion (?) of infantry and artilry also three regiment of cavelry I under stood that gen McCleland said if he found out who fired the first gun that he would have them siverely puntished he said that if we hadnt charge on that they would a captured the last one of us. Miss Vilotte you ought two have been here to see the battle field. It was nearly covered with kill and wounded yankees Some of them as not been buried yet they are some lying in all the old houses near the battle ground that has never been buried yet this first dead man that I seen after I entered the battle field were one of our own men the woods and old fields were covered with guns of all kinds. Mis Vilotte I live I must bring a close to this uninteresting letter of mine for I now you mind will grow werrie in reading this worshley (?) Epistole of mine give my love to all inquiring friends. Write soon if you please and give me all the news in the ..hand? Direck your letter to Richmond Virginnia 1st regiment of North Carolina Cavalry Com F in care of Cap Barnes
Your truly friend W M Potts.
(The W. M. Potts, who wrote this letter, was possibly a nephew of John McKnight Potts of Steele Creek. It appears there was a guardianship for him in York Co., SC and he may have been living with John M. Potts prior to the Civil War. It is also possible that the William Pinkney Potts, son of John McKnight Potts, may have had a 3rd name, ie. William M. Pinkney Potts, which was not unusual at that time. It could also be that the above was W M for William (Wm.) and it was William Pinkney Potts.)
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(The following if from the last entry of a diary of H. (W. C.) Bryant (thought to be from Michigan, and was found in the belongings of Col. Robert Porter of Steele Creek. It is believe that Porter got the dairy from Bryant after he died in either a battle or the hospital in Richmond as a prisoner - shown as written)
Near Sharpsburg Maryland. Sept 29th Camped at present near the River. Since last note marched from Washington. In reserve at the Battle of Antietum-on picket on the field night after- Forward--? The morning. Marched in Brigade line of Battery to the river. Ft ordered it. got into a nasty scrape and out of it without much loss. 118th on our right lost some 200, some of them gave themselves up others would like to but were shot by Berdans men (Note in upper corner says "Corn Exchange") evening before that 4th Mich charged and took 3 pieces of cannon
-Dm Rebs got a better supply at Harpers Ferry
Oct 2nd 1862 All quiet along the Potomiac. In camp near Ford Number 4. Oct 3rd Reviewed by Father Abraham, McClellan and Porter, Incident. As the president dashed up to our short line Morrell suggest to him to go around in rear of our Regiment-"Best to pay them all the same respect" said Old Abe uncovering "that head" and Wheeling his horse he passed down in front The president looks only just a little homelier than the many pictures I have seen of him. Little Mac rode around the brilliant assemble of Generals clad in a loose blouse looking as common as you please. Oct 4th-Air warm and close. Nothing going on particularly interest. Inspection today - Later. Shelling towards Harpers Ferry - indications of a move forward. Report - that the rebels are falling back to Richmond.
(The last page after this had a short poem -not all readable - and what could be read seemed to be about death. He signed it at the bottom of the page.)
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WAR LETTER FROM ZENAS PORTER
(Following letter was in the Porter Papers submitted by Carrie Sue Grier. There are few periods or capital letters, but it is written hear as it appears) LETTER IF FROM
ZENUS PORTER IN STEELE CREEK TO HIS NEPHEW WHO HAS ALREADY JOINED A UNIT
Aug 11 1861
Charlotte N C
Dear Nephew, I seat myself this morning to inform you that we are all tolerable well at present hoping these lines may find you enjoyin the same Gods blessing. Lula is mending as fast as we could expect. She will be able to walk in less than a month if she continues to mend as fast as she has for the last week. She is much reduced in flesh. I will leg mag write a few lines as my hand is tire already (different writing) Oh I would be glad to see you and hear you talk about the soldiers and I hope the time will be short to you when you may land safe at home and may you be under a shield of protection during your absence good by. (change of handwriting) now I comence again and I was very sorry in deed to here that John L. Orman had died, this will be a sore stroke to his parents I was sorry to here that you was disapointed about your box of provisions but we have started another box and I hope that you will receive it this box is not so larg as the other one the one that got broke weighted 120 lbs.
I was at the well last Friday morning when Philips Campbell and Davis past down the apeared to be cheereful and lively he delivered my letter to me. I mean Phillips and also S. L. Ps. Also the shell you sent to me. I received a bunch of sheels for luck. I delivered them to Lizar and I supos she has got them before this time and I expect she was glad to receive them and I no that I was glad and more than glad to receive the shell you sent to me. I am very much obligest to you for sending it now I will stop and eat a rostaineer that mag has brought from the kitchen I was talking to Mr Bell about the rigens he gave to you and he talked like he would like to have all but the breeches Mag is still able to get about yet but we cant expect her to remain in the condition long. We neede rain at present it is dry and windy
My advise to you is to obey your oficers let it bee right or bee rong. The beauty (duty?) of a soldier is to obey them that have athority over him
we muster sometimes onst a week and there is some such talk as we will have to muster three times a week and I think when that time comves to pass it wold be better to volunteer at onst lise is just as bad as ever she is seting in the front dore and I am at the table and she is just kicking me on the shins whenever she pleases. Liser is a very good girl after all and I lover her very well if she woulden bee so bad.
Lise says that I am just as bad as she is but I dont belive the neighbours dont think so and I no that maggy dont think so no how. Aund Caty says that she thinks you had better not go in the water too much but I think that you should excersise your own judgment about this matter give me love to all. Tell S. H. Eliot T. A. Eliot T. B. Cowan, T. Campell, M. Smith, S. Smith,F Watt Charles Watt, W. Savel, J. Savel, James Fantz (?) tell all of these houdy for me. I forgot W. Mcdowell tell him houdy two
ever remains your afectionate relation
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WAR LETTER FROM PRISON
(This letter was written by W. R. Erwin to his father A. R. Erwin. A later letter in 1864 from a person at the prison notified Mr. A. R. Erwin of the death of his son William.) -Letter copied as written-
Pt. Lookout M.D.
Nov 18th 1863
My Dear Father
I now take the opportunity of writing to you the second time since I have been captured, & hope that before this may reach you, that you may have received the letter which, I wrote to you from Washington, if not I am thankful to let you know that I was captured without receiving any hurt attal, & & feel thankful to our kind, & benevolent benefactor My health has been very good since I have been captured. Green Steel asked me to say that he sends his best respects & inform his people that he is enjoying good health. Also Mr. Saml B. Knoxs son William is & very well now but has been very unwell heretofore. Mr. Thrower from the Turnout is here & not hurt. You must let cousin Ellen know it & she can tell his sisters of it to for they herd he was killed.
From your affectionate son W. R. Erwin to his father A. R. Erwin
(The above letter is in possession of Mary Leta Armstrong. Note: The "Turnout" refers to Pineville, NC. It was called "Morrows Turnout" before the name of Pineville was given to the area after the railroad was built through the town.
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FROM THE FRONT
(Submitted by Carrie Sue Grier and Joe & Bill Brown)
The following letter was addressed to Miss Mollie J. Brown, Bloomingdale, N.C. which was the name of Allen Brown's home in Steele Creek. Letter copied as written
June 11th 1861
Dear Cousin Maud
Time is still passing on and "we, us, and
company" are still "lying on our oars, awaiting the course of events.
This morning finds me in good health. I have enjoyed a good nights rest, got-up
early, drilled an hour, eaten a hearty breakfast, and am now seated pen in hand
to communicate a few lines to you. Our company is now enjoying good health.
Billy Clanton has be "rather puny" for a few days but is now better.
John W. (Walker???) has also been growling a little. When I last wrote to
Bloomingdale, our company was quartered in an old Methodist Church at some
distance from the rest of the regiment. We moved last Saturday, and the whole
regiment is now quartered together in an old field, just on the western side of
Suffolk. We are all in tents. There are six in every tent. Our mess consists of
the two Walkers, Clanton, Robinson, J. W. Todd and myself. I think we have the
pick of the company, don't you?
Maud, there is one thing that I must tell you more while I think of it. I have allowed to say something about it every time I have written since I left Raleigh, but always forgot it. It is in regard to my pistol. Uncle Allen wrote to me that if I still wanted it, he would send it to me. Please tell him for me, that if he has an opportunity of sending it to me by any one coming directly to the company, he may send it along; but I am afraid to risk it by Express or otherwise. Perhaps he may have a chance of sending it by some one who is either coming to visit or to join the company. I may never need it, but we have to stand guard at night and we are not allowed to load our guns. I think I would feel a little more comfortable if I had something with which I could defend myself in case anyone should attempt to walk roughshod over me. I have not heard any thing directly from either William or Andy since they left Raleigh. We heard last week that they were at Yorktown. Wallace wrote to them but has not yet received an answer.
I suppose there has been hot work going on somewhere not very far from here. We have heard cannons firing nearly all the time since Sunday evening. It is in a north eastern direction from here. It is thought to be somewhere about Fortress Monroe. I suppose we will hear something when the cars come in today. I am very anxious to hear from it, but it is almost impossible to hear anything but lies here. I hope the Yankees will "get fits" and I believe they will if our noble Southerns get half a chance at them.
Wallace is writing to Uncle Frank. I think he is going to write to you pretty soon. I received your letter last week. I am beginning to want to hear from home again. You don't know how much good a letter from Steel Creek does me. Wallace got three yesterday evening, but there were none for "P" me. Very well, "every dog must have his day".
Maud, I wish you could come up some evening to dress parade, and see us perform a little. The ladies come out from Suffolk every evening. Some of them look nice enough. They are might clever too. They have made a pair of pants and an over shirt for me and charged me just nothing at all. When I bought the cloth for my shirt, I bought some common black buttons for it, but when it came back, it was rigged of with fancy buttons each one having the picture of some big man on it. Mollie, I have been interrupted two or three times since I commenced. I have been to drill again. The Colonel himself drilled our company this morning, and I tell you he made us toe the mark. He talked of putting some of the men in the guard house. He didn't talk saucy to me a bit. I think he is a very fine man and an accomplished officer. I think (though not certain) that he is a graduate of West Point. Well Mollie it is nearly dinner time and as I can not send this to the office before tomorrow, I will close for the present-- Well, dinner is over and what do you think we had for dinner? I guess it was better than you think. We had very good loaf bread and fresh beef (boiled) honey molasses and water. The honey and molasses were private property. The Southern Confederacy don't furnish them to the soldiers. Our fare, since we came here, has been very good, as a general thing. We have had some very bad bread as you may supposed when I tell you that it was made of flour, water and salt without lard, soda or milk. Besides, it was made by Negroes who knew very little about the process. The outside was burnt to a coal while the inside was dough. But-this lasted only a few days. We are now furnished with very nice baker's bread. We have no straw for our beds. We just spread our bed ticks down on the ground in our tents, roll up in our blankets, and go to sleep, without any fear that our bed cords will break. Last Saturday night - just as we were eating supper, the drum beat an alarm, and we were ordered to get our guns and fall into ranks in the shortest possible time. You just ought to have seen us getting to our posts, breaking open ammunition chests and grabbing for cartridges and caps. Many thought the enemy were upon us. It turned out, however that it was a humbug played off upon us by the Col. In order to see how soon we could get ready in case of an emergency. I tell you our boys were on hand. I think they will fight when the time comes. But I can tell better after they are tried. Maud, give my love to all and write soon to your Cousin. Joe
P.S. I hear no talk of our leaving here.
(from Joe Thompson)
( Maud (Mollie) was the daughter of Allen Brown. Joe Thompson was the son of Elizabeth (Betsy) Thompson (her first husband). Elizabeth married 2nd to Alex Cooper. He died and Allen Brown's wife had died, and Elizabeth married 3rd to Allen Brown. )
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