1861: Mirza Leander Weller to John H. Weller

This letter was written by Mirza Leander Weller (1829-1862), the son of Rev. Sidney Weller (1791-1854) and his second wife, Elizabeth McCarroll (1803-1870) of Brinkleyville, Halifax County in eastern North Carolina. His father was the founder of the Medoc Vineyards, a major winery in North Carolina which, by 1840, was the largest wine-producing state in the United States. In 1850, the vineyard boasted of cultivating more than 200 types of grapes. A history of the Vineyard says, “After Sidney Weller’s death, three of his sons, John H., Merza Leander, and Joseph McCarroll, operated the Vineyards. The oldest son Merza was a salesman and did much of the traveling.

Wine making in North Carolina using slave labor.

In the late 1850’s, Weller settled in Hernando, Mississippi, where he not only sold wine, but also like his father, became a minister. He also became a member of the Hernando Masonic Lodge. Weller graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1856. Minutes of the Episcopal diocese of Mississippi from April, 1861 indicates he was “ministering at Hernando and Panola, and intervening places.” These minutes also record the bishop’s daily journal; he wrote on May, 1860 of “the zealous labors of Mr. Weller” as deacon for Hernando, and on July 29, “In St. Andrew’s Church, Jackson, I conferred the office of Priesthood upon the Rev. M. Leander Weller.”

In the 1860 Us Census, Weller was laboring as the Episcopal minister in Hernando, DeSoto county, Mississippi. He was enumerated in the household of John Clark Thompson—a lawyer farmer. When the Civil War erupted, he served as a fighting chaplain in the 9th Mississippi Infantry until he was killed in battle at Shiloh, April 6, 1862. Brigadier General James Chalmers noted Weller’s death in his field report, calling him “a pure man and ardent patriot and a true Christian . . . .”  He is reportedly buried in Halifax County, NC.

The 9th Mississippi Infantry at Camp DeSoto, Florida in 1861


Camp DeSoto, 4 miles from Warrington, Florida
June 5, 1861

Mr. John H. Weller
Dear brother,

I have been waiting anxiously to hear from home but so far I have not been gratified by such a letter. I should not write perhaps so quick but we want some wine in our camp. Direct 1 bbl of Halifax Port to Major A[lbert] R. Bowdre, care of Judah & Lebaron, Pensacola, Florida. He—Maj. Bowdre—who had formerly bought wine sent and brought some bottles from Hernando. It was so pleasing that several want each five gallons. If the barrel holds 40 gallons, it will be still better as it all will be used. Send as soon as you can. You know whether it will need any other intervening house to send the wine to the care of. If you have not the port, send some red wine near as you can like it.

I am getting on very well. There is not much prospect of a fight for some time. I have my appointment regularly. I will write more some other time. Now I must close as the drum has sounded now to blow out the lights and I have just been informed of the desire of these gentlemen for the wine as soon as possible.

Give my love to mother and all the children. Hoping soon to hear from home, I remain your affectionate brother, — M. Leander Weller

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