The following letters were written by Joel John Tew (1836-1914), the son of John Lewis Tew (1807-1882) and Sylvania Godwin (1811-1875) of Sampson county, North Carolina. He wrote the letter to his sister, Francis Matilda Elizabeth Tew (1838-1916), and refers to a younger brother, Sampson M. Tew (1841-1864) who served as a private in Co. H, 20th North Carolina Infantry (Iverson’s Brigade) during the Civil War. Sampson was taken prisoner at the Battle of Gettysburg on 1 July 1863 and died of diarrhea and small pox while in captivity at Hammond Hospital at Point Lookout, Maryland on 15 January 1864.
Joel was 25 years old when he enlisted in April 1862 as a sergeant in Co. K, 51st North Carolina Infantry. He was promoted to a 2nd Lieutenant on 17 September 1862 and was wounded in the left arm on 31 May 1864 in the fighting at Cold Harbor. He returned to his regiment in January 1865.
The first document is a letter. The second is a copy of an enlistment paper signed by J. J. Tew. The enlistment record was for John Cager Williford though there are several discrepancies such as the spelling of his surname, his age and date of enlistment. Cemetery records indicate John C. Williford was born in 1834 and died in 1910. He was buried at Mingo, Sampson county, North Carolina. Williford was employed in the turpentine business before the war.
May 9th 1863
I can inform you that we are back in Old North Carolina again at last & is tolerable well. Hoping these lines may early reach & find you in the best of health. We reached Wilmington on Sunday night at ten & you can not imagine how glad the men was to get back. We are now 25 miles from the City on Topsoil Sound in the nicest camp we have been since we have left old Fort French & the rest of our Brigade is at French now.
I can inform you that I received a letter from you & Father Monday before we left town & I was glad to hear that you were all well but very sorry to hear of the accident that had happened to Mother. I hope that she will soon be well & not happen to such another.
I have not got anything interesting to write to you at this time—only we are highly spoken of by the commanding generals of Charleston & I am glad to think that so worthy a man as General Beauregard thinks something of us. But I fear it will occasion us to go to Virginia soon.
There has been a battle at Fredericksburg but I have not heard from it more than we gained the victory & drove the enemy back across the [Rappahannock] River. I have heard of two Brigades that was in the fight & Iverson’s was not mentioned in it & I hope it was not in the fight at all. I think if it had been & they did not all get killed, they would have written before now. But I shall patiently wait the result of the battle knowing that if Samson is killed or wounded, there is one above to protect him in his troubles.
You can tell Father that I am going to write to Gent. — Strickland this week or this evening about that money & if he does not pay it, proceed as I directed. Give case to Smith & not show my letter to Mr. Strickland any more. I never got the letter that he sent to me in Georgia. You may tell the gent plainly that I will not let him off at what it is now at. He sunk me & blew at least one thousand dollars. The suit will be damage. I am yours as ever, &c. — J. J. Tew
to Lewis Tew
State of North Carolina
County of Sampson
I, John C. Willifoot [Williford], born in Sampson County in the State of North Carolina, aged 18 years and by occupation a farmer, do hereby acknowledge to have voluntarily enlisted this the 24th day of July 1863 as a soldier in the State troops of North Carolina for the period of the war unless sooner discharged by proper authority; do also agree to accept such bounty pay, rations, and clothing as also may be established by law, and I, John C. Willifoot [Williford], do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina and to the State of North Carolina and to the Constitutional Power and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof, and maintain and defend the Constitution of the said State; and I do further swear that I will obey the orders of the Governor of the said State and the orders of the officers that are or may be set over me according to the rules and discipline of war, so help me God. — John C. Willifoot [Williford]
Sworn to and subscribed before me. — James C. Dougherty
Enlisted by William S. Blue, 51st Regt. N. C. Troops
J. J. Tew, 2nd Lt., Co. K, 51st Regt. N. C. Troops, November 1st 1863