These letters were written by Alonzo Adams Vanderford (1834-1864), the son of Charles Frederick Vanderford (1785-1845) and Eliza Duett (1815-1870) of Cheraw, Chesterfield county, South Carolina. He was married to Cynthia T. Moore and residing in Cheraw, South Carolina, earning his living as a merchant at the time of the 1860 US Census.
In December 1861, Alonzo enlisted in Co. D, 21st South Carolina as a sergeant. He was promoted to 2nd Sergeant in May 1862. His military record indicates he was wounded on 11 July 1863 in the First Battle of Fort Wagner and didn’t return to his regiment until the end of the year. He was wounded on 24 June 1864 during the siege of Petersburg and had his leg amputated in a hospital at Petersburg. He died on 28 July 1864.
September 4th 1863
My Dear Wife,
This morning I write you a few lines to let you know that I am not very well at this time but I hope this will find you well. I have not done any duty for nearly a week and don’t expect to do any for a few days to come. I received your letter of the 1st of this month yesterday and I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were as well as you are. After you receive this, don’t write anymore to me at this place until you hear from me for I think I will go to the City in a day or two and if I do, I may go to Columbia or to some other place and then I will write to you. Don’t be uneasy. I will take care of myself—or try to do so.
There is nothing new to write about—only I don’t think that our regiment will go back to [Fort] Wagner in some time. The health of the regiment is bad this time, Only about 200 men [are fit] for duty on account of getting wet for three days and nights and keeping on their wet clothes and there are two new Brigades here now and they are now taking their turn at [Fort] Wagner. The old place holds out yet and is still strong enough to keep the Yanks back and we all now think Charleston safe from the water side and enough of men to keep them off from the sand side. But as my house is for sale, I had better not put too good a face on it. I don’t think that they can ever take the place. They may throw shells into and burn some of the houses, but that will not be taking it.
General Beauregard was over here the other day and seems to be very sanguine of the result but he don’t try much—just looks and thinks. I never saw him before. He is a good man, I think, and the troops all have strong confidence in him. Times look brighter now all round this place. The enemy have spent a great deal of money and lost a great many men since they come here and they have to use their guns at such long range that they don’t last long.
The Eutaw [25th S. C.] Regiment—the one that [R.] Kendrick Liles belongs to—went over to [Fort] Wagner a night or two ago and I reckon by this time he has seen something that he never saw before. I hope that they will all have good luck and none be killed. I can’t think what the reason could have been of Capt. York’s keeping the letter so long. I hope that by this time he has sent you the $210 and the salt that I think will be both enough to last you nearly a year or two. Use it first and the Liverpool salt keep it last. The suit will look very well if it is made up right. I would like to have my measure taken and a cut to suit if I can only get the right kind of buttons to put on it.
Kiss Sallie for me and tell her to be a good little girl and papa will come home again some time and see her. Tell Ma that chickens are worth $3 here now. Tell her to make all the money she can and get rich while the money is going. Tell your Pa that the insurance on the house will have to be transferred if he sells it and I will transfer to anyone for the sum amount I paid. Write as soon as hear from me again.
Your loving husband, — A. A. Vanderford
Fort Sumpter [Sumter]
March 13, 1864
My Dear Cynthia,
I am now in Fort Sumpter. We are all well and getting along very well. Duty is very heavy but we will do it cheerfully. The old fort is badly torn up but I don’t think it will come up to Wagner yet. Captain Torsh and myself are all that are here with the company. We have fifty men with us and all in good spirits. All seem to be willing to do their duty cheerfully.
The Yanks have thrown three shells into the City up to this time today, now 4 p.m. on Sunday evening. When you write again, write to me in this way: Lt. Vanderford, care of Capt. [Milford G.] Tarrh, Fort Sumpter, and write as soon as you get this for the one written on Saturday will not reach me in several days to come.
I have no news to tell you—only I wish that our time was nearly out so that I could go home again. We have a plenty to eat here now but I have to cook it myself. Will get a cook on tomorrow. Our cook started with us but did not get on the boat at Fort Johnson.
This is a torn up place, I tell you, but I have seen worse I think. You must keep cheerful. I will write to you everyday while we remain here and I will advise you of all. I will have to quit writing very soon and go in the bomb proof and take a nap [to] get ready for tonight. Some say that we will have to stay here 12 days. Some say 20 days and others say 24 days.
Some company from our regiment will relieve us and I think in 12 days—that is long enough for anyone to stay here, I think. But others have the thinking to do. I will miss getting my crops cut now until I get out of this place.
Kiss little Sallie for me and write to me as soon as you get this letter and direct to me in care of Capt. Tarrh, Co. D, 21st South Carolina Volunteers, Fort Sumpter, Charleston, and then I will get it the next morning after you write it.
I am well. Nothing more at this time. Love to all at home.
Your loving husband, — A. A. Vanderford