These letters were written by William Christopher Skillman (1841-1868) who enlisted in July 1861 as a private in the 1st Kentucky (Confederate) Cavalry and was eventually promoted to Captain and A. C. S. [Assistant Commissary Stores] for the regiment. In October 1862 the depleted regiment was reformed as battalion and consolidated with the newly organized 3rd Kentucky Cavalry of Col. J. Russell Butler. In this composition it continued to serve in the Army of Tennessee for the duration of the war; usually as part of the Kentucky Cavalry Brigade in Gen. Wheeler’s Corps. It surrendered with the army near Bennett Place in North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
William was the eldest son of Josias Payne Skillman (1807-1871) and Lavenia Thomas (1824-1886) of Fleming county, Kentucky.
May 3, 1863
As it has been raining all day most and I couldn’t get out, I thought I would drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. We have been at this camp one week today. I think we will leave this place in a few days. I wish General [Colonel] Hardin would send me to Chattanooga with my part of the train. I have command of the wagon of the Brigade and about 500 men. I am getting very tired of it. We have to find everything we get to eat and all of our corn we use. The country has been foraged very close. The people are bound to suffer. We have a skirmish every day.
Tell cousin Jimmy I saw Mr. Cotton a few days ago. He is well. I expect you both would like very much to see him. Give my love to Miss Lucy Henderson. Ask her if she ever found my glove.
Cousin Annie, this is the 4th letter now and no answer yet. Give my love to your Ma and Pa. Tell your Pa to write to me how that [he] is getting [along.] My horse is sick. I think he will make a dye of it.
Well, I have no more news so I will close. Write as soon as you get this. Send your letters to McMinnville. Tell your Pa to address his there.
Well I just found out it is Sunday. I wish I was at your house to take dinner. I will have to do without eating today. Somebody stole all of my meal and meat last night. As for flour, that is something we don’t get. I wish you would send me a biscuit in your next letter. Well, I will stop my nonsense. I think I will come to Chattanooga in a week or two if I can get off. I must come to a close. No more at present, but hoping to see you soon. Don’t let anybody see my letters if you please.
I remain your most obedient, —W. C. Skillman, Captain A. C. S.
Sporty [Sparta], Tennessee
May 20th 1863
As I got tired of waiting for a letter from you, I thought I would drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. It is hard enough now for I have been sick for three or four weeks. I have been ordered to Chattanooga to the hospital. I don’t think I will [go] to the hospital. I will come to your house [instead] if they will let me go. I have been on duty every day since I have been sick. The bushwhackers is so thick on the mountain, I am afraid to try to cross it. They was 6 of our men killed on the mountain yesterday, 7 wounded, 6 horses killed. We got 10 of them and lost them before we got to camp.
This is a hard country to live in. I was [with]in two miles of Carthage on the Cumberland River a few days ago after bacon. I saw the Yanks & they got one of my wagons and 2,000 bacon. I got away with the rest of them. Lost one man.
I wish I could see you all once more. It would afford me a great deal of pleasure. James Landis has gone to Van Dorn’s Army under General Forrest. He had his horse stolen from him. I sleep right by the side of my horse all the time. They sold 28 horses one night from our regiment.
My love to you, Ma and Pa and cousin Jimmy and to cousin Cory when you write. This is the 5th Letter I have wrote and no answer. Well, I must close. Write soon as you get to McMinnville. Give my love to Jeff. No more at present but hoping to see you soon, I don’t think it will be long.
I remain your most obedient, — Capt. W. C. Skillman, AACS, 1st Ky. Cav.