1861: Alexander McDonald to his Brother

A middle-aged, unidentified North Carolina soldier from the collection of Jason Kraucz (CW Faces)

This letter was written by Alexander McDonald(1829-1863) of Co. C (“the Moore county Scotch Riflemen”), 35th North Carolina Infantry. Alexander mustered into the regiment as a private on 6 November 1861 when he was twenty years old along with Hugh McDonald who may have been his nephew. At the time of his enlistment he was described as a 32 year-old farmer standing 5 foot, 7 inches tall. He died in February 1863 from disease.

In his letter, Alex mentions a couple of relatives which may provide clues to his ancestry. He mentions receiving a letter from brother Neill. This was probably the same Neill McDonald (1833-1862) from Moore county, NC, who served as a private in Co. H, 30th North Carolina Infantry. This regiment was mustered into service at Wilmington on 8 October 1861. Neill was wounded in the Battle of Antietam (gunshot wound to the shoulder) and later died of disease at home on 25 December 1862. Neill’s parents were Norman McDonald (1800-1880) and Sarah Catherine McNeill (1810-1883).

James W. McDonald (1830-1862) as his “cousin.” James was also a farmer from Carthage, Moore county, NC, who served in Co. C, 35th North Carolina. He enlisted at or near the same time as Alexander and he also died of disease in the service—his death occurring on 13 January 1862.

See also—1864: Hugh M. McDonald to Sarah Jane McDonald


[Camp Mangum near Raleigh, North Carolina]
December 11, 1861

Dear Brother and friend,

I take this opportunity of informing you all that I am well at this present time hoping these lines to find you all enjoying the same comfort. I would write home oftener than I do only there are so many passing between here and home. McBlue and some others reached our camp last night. They brought a large amount of bed clothing and provisions. They brought potatoes that was damaged by being out so long. I got my bed tick. I would [advise] you and all that anything to camp to send it in the care of the captain and the regiment. The turnips you sent me reached camp next Wednesday after they left home. All of Capt. Kelly’s company was in Raleigh that day getting arms and the men could not find any owner and he carried the turnips back to Raleigh and I have not got my turnips yet. Anything that is to be carried by a stranger must be well marked or it may get lost.

A good many of the company is complaining but none bad off—only cousin James W. McDonald. He has got the typhoid fever. It is expected that the regiment will leave here before Christmas. As to where we will go is not known.

I received a letter from brother Neill some 12 days ago of which he stated that he was well. We have the promise of overcoat and if I don’t get a coat before we leave here, I will send home for one. There are nearly three regiments in camp here. I have some letter [ ] in my trunk. I want you to send some of them to me by some person that will pass by here.

Elias Harrington was in camp here the 3rd night of this month on his way to Norfolk, Virginia, to get salt and I sent 5 dollars to get some salt. I heard since he left that a man from Raleigh came from that place and he said that 800 hundred wagons was waiting at the place so I think it is a doubtful case that I will get any at all. If he does get any, you can find out very soon. I heard that none in this regiment will not get to go home after the 20th of this month. I thought I would go home but I see a bad chance for it now.

Some think that peace will be made before two weeks and some say we will never have peace till the South go over to the North and fight there. Nothing more at present. I must close. — Alex McDonald

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s