These two letters were written by 22 year old Pvt. Daniel Wilson of Co. H, 15th North Carolina Infantry. Daniel enlisted on 15 July 1862 at Raleigh and was with the regiment until September 1, 1862 when he became ill and was hospitalized in Richmond. Though one entry on the muster rolls of his regiment claims he died of his illness, another claims that his name was among the unwounded prisoners taken captive in the Battle of Crampton’s Gap on 14 September 1862 during Lee’s invasion of Maryland and later released at Aiken’s Landing on 6 October 1862. That same source suggests that he died of scurvy at about the time of his release from Fort Delaware prison.
Daniel grew up in the Northern Subdivision of Davidson county, North Carolina.
[See also—1862: Theophilus T. Spaugh, Daniel Wilson, George & Leander Mock to Solomon Wilson]
Raleigh, North Carolina
August 1st 1862
I write you a few lines to inform you that I am well at present. We arrived at Raleigh on Thursday about 9 o’clock in the morning and we came all the way in the rain….
Me and Spaugh’s boys are together and have left [illegible] for Constantine. It is supposed that we will leave in a day or two. The Forsythe Regiment [21st N. C.] came here night before last and left last night for to go to Richmond. Several hundred left yesterday.
I have not anything of any importance to write now for we cannot see anything for we are guarded all round. Last Sunday night about 150 run away and they only got four of them—that is captured. They send them to Richmond so fast. There is nothing here but conscripts and they are all calm so far as I have seen.
I want you to remember me in your prayers for you know I have a bad chance but I am determined to serve the Lord and if I never see you no more, I hope to meet you all in heaven. Please write to me when Henry Mock comes if Constantine [Hege] can’t come with him. Read this and think of me. Yours truly, — Daniel Wilson
August 11, 1862
I again take my seat to write you a few lines to inform you that I am well so far and I hope these few lines may find you all well and serving the Lord and when you pray I will ask you all to remember me [illegible] till death, whether it be long or whether it be short. My determination is to serve the Lord while I live thought I am thrown into trials and troubles and difficulties here. But I know if we trust Him who has suffered and died for us, He will deliver me out of them although it appears with the most of them as if they had no God to serve, nor hell too, playing as much cards in one day I don’t before.
I tell you, a camp life is a hard life and nobody believes how hard it is until they try it. And if I had my time over again, I should stay at home just as long as I could. If I woulda just a stayed until Soloman and Constantine [Hege] woulda come, I would be better satisfied for I am afraid they wont get with us tho I hope they will. But if Constantine is gone and he don’t come to us and he writes to you, I want you to write to me where he is. But if he is at home, tell him to stay there just as long as he can for it is a hard change here.
We have left that camp near Richmond. We left last Saturday morning and marched 15 miles down on James River. We landed here last evening. We stopped and rested several times and yesterday morning we landed within a half a mile of this place and then we stopped there until evening. We had nothing hardly to eat all the time we were a marching and not much no time, but when we were in camp, we get flour enough but we have got meat half the time. The hardest work that I ever done is to march in this hot country and carry a load for the dust is nearly shin deep and you can hardly see one another for the dust.
We are now getting closer to the Yankees than I want to be. Last night after we got here, I saw the Yankees raise a balloon. 1 They were a spying when I saw it. It was a standing still a little ways above the tree tops. It waved about a little, then it went down. I don’t now how far it was but it didn’t look larger than a bushel basket to me and I saw the smoke boil up from the steamboat close to the balloon. We have got to throw up breastworks close to the James River. I don’t know how soon they will fight for we heard the cannons last night and this morning one after another and I don’t like to hear them.
I tell you this part of Virginia looks bad for everything is torn to pieces nearly. All along where we came, there is camps and the timber is destroyed and there is not many people settled but negroes—there is plenty of them. We are now in a field of about 20 acres that the wheat was not cut and it looks like as if it was good. There is a house close to the camp but the yankees taken [ ] and there is nothing there but negroes now and everything looks desolate. The water is tolerable good but it is unhandy to get. It is nearly a half a mile to carry and we have nothing to carry it in but canteens and it gets warm before we get it here. There is vegetables comes in camp but they are very large apples [and] 50 cent per dozen, butter 1.25 cents per pound, eggs one dollar per dozen, chickens from 1.00 to 2.00 dollars a piece, and other things in proportion. I don’t know how long we will stay here for I expect we will be bomb shelled before many days we have not got any guns yet and have not drilled but little yet. But I expect they will try to rush us in if we get guns and they do fight here. But I hope they may bring this war to a close before long for I tell you, I am tired already.
I have heard that Colonel [Zebulon Baird] Vance is elected in North Carolina. I hope that we will get some leading men that has got some respect for the people of our land though I don’t now what he is for. It is hard to trust any man these days for money is all they care for.
I should like to hear from you now. I must soon come to a close for my mind is bothered so that I cannot form a letter together, there is so much fuss in the camp and there is no shade—only in the tents, and we have not got any tents yet only we put up some of our blankets to stay under. But when it rains, they don’t do much good. All the volunteers went over here have got tents.
When this you see remember me though for away. I have wrote you two small letters and I hope I will receive an answer before I write again. Direct your letters to Richmond Virginia Company H, 15th N C Regiment, in care of Capt. Stone.
1 Daniel places this tethered balloon ascent on 10 August 1862. Thaddeus Lowe’s Balloon Corps were known to be deployed with the Army of the Potomac at Harrison’s Landing where the aeronauts operated from naval vessels along the James River in July and apparently August. McClellan’s army began departing Harrison’s Landing on 14 August 1862, just three days after this letter.