1864: Harmon Miller to Sophia (Miller) Beckel

This letter was written by Harmon Miller (1847-1884), the son of John Sylvester Miller (1801-1878) and Elizabeth Holder (1808-1873) of Winston, Forsyth county, North Carolina. He wrote the letter to his older sister, Antonette Sophia (Miller) Beckel (1828-1891)—the widow of George Hiram Beckel (1829-1862) who died of pneumonia on 24 December 1862 while serving in Co. G, 33rd North Carolina Infantry.

Harmon wrote the letter from an outpost four miles from Fort Fisher in late November 1864.

See also—1865: Harmon U. Miller to Gaston Eugene Miller on Spared & Shared 22.

The Fourth Battalion, four hundred strong, was organized at Camp Holmes, near Raleigh, N. C., on 30 May, 1864, by the election of J. M. Reece, of Greensboro, Major; John S. Pescud, of Raleigh, was appointed Adjutant. Pescud was a brave, true-hearted lad, and is now an honored citizen of Raleigh. The battalion was sent to Goldsboro 2 June. It was composed of the following companies: COMPANY A-From Guilford County-John W. Pitts, Captain; J. N. Crouch, First Lieutenant; T. A. Parsons and George M. Glass, Second Lieutenants. Upon the resignation of all the company officers, W. W. King was elected First Lieutenant and Davis S. Reid Second Lieutenant. The former was in command of the company at Fort Fisher, Kinston and Bentonville. He also acted as Regimental Adjutant for a time, when D. S. Reid commanded the company. Both of these officers were intelligent, brave and efficient. COMPANY B-From Alamance and Forsyth Counties-A. L. Lancaster, Captain; A. M. Craig, First Lieutenant; William May and C. B. Pfohl, Second Lieutenants. COMPANY C-From Stokes and Person Counties-R. F. Dalton, Captain; G. Mason, First Lieutenant; G. W. Yancey and J. H. Schackelford, Second Lieutenants. COMPANY D-From Rockingham-A. B. Ellington, Captain; J. P. Ellington, First Lieutenant; F. M. Hamlin and William Fewell, Second Lieutenants. This company was added to the Battalion 15 June. Captain Ellington was promoted to the Majority when the regiment was formed. Lieutenant J. P. Ellington in July, 1864, was drowned in Masonboro Sound, while in the discharge of his duty as officer of the day, visiting the pickets on the beach. His body was recovered by exploding torpedoes in the sound.


Addressed to Mrs. Sophia Bec

Fort Gatlin, 1 North Carolina
November 20, 1864

Dear Sister,

I seat myself this evening to drop you a few lines to let you know I am well at preset & hoping when these few lines comes to hand, they may find you and Sarah well and enjoying good health. I would [have] answered your letter sooner but I had the chills and fever when I got your letter and we had ben moving and I had no paper so I had to wait till I got my paper. I have no news to write at present.

We are now about four miles above Fort Fisher lying here in the woods waiting for the Yankees if they land but I don’t think they will land here. We are lying here without any tents and it is a raining and you may know we had a bad time of it.

I got a letter from Capt. D____ yesterday and he wants me to come and join the band if I can get off from here and the Major [Reece] says he is willing for me to go and I think I will start in a week or so. 2

I must close for this time for this is the fourth letter I have wrote today. Write as soon as you get this letter and write all the news. No more at present. Your brother, Harmon Miler

Direct to Wilmington, N. V., 4th Battalion Junior Reserves in care of Major [John M.] Reece

1 Harmon datelined his letter from “Fort Gatlin.” No such name exist in the military installation of North Carolina during the war. There was a “Battery Gatlin” or “Gatling” located 15 miles south of Wilmington and on the west side of Myrtle Grove Sound. The Union forces referred to it a “Half Moon Battery” and was actually not far from where they landed troops.

2 Probably a captain in the 33rd North Carolina Infantry where his brother Gideon was a member of the regimental band.

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