Category Archives: New Bern, North Carolina

1866: Lucius Parker Merriam to Caroline P. Merriam

Lucius Parker Merriam (1846-1883) was only 17 years old in 1864 when he travelled from his home in Grafton, Massachusetts, to New Bern, North Carolina, captured by the Union Army from the Confederates two years before, then becoming a “mecca” for thousands of “contrabands”—freed slaves who flocked there seeking protection and sustenance. The humanitarian problem confronting the Union Army in caring for the contraband was given to Worcester clergyman and Army Chaplain Horace James who had already recruited Merriam’s 23 year-old college-educated sister, Sallie Anna (“Annie”) Parker Merriam (1839-1923) to teach school to illiterate Blacks.

By the time Lucius came to New Bern as a civilian Quartermaster clerk, Capt. James had created a small town for 3,000 freed slaves, a “Trent River Settlement” renamed “James City” in his honor. Merriam spent two years clerking for some 20 Army officers and civilian employees who administered this ramshackle Black community, duties assumed, after Lincoln’s assassination and War’s end, by the newly-established Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands, more commonly and simply called, the “Freedmen’s Bureau.” Despite instances of rampant corruption, the Freedmens Bureau would resist the efforts of President Andrew Johnson to abolish it. Spouting Republican rhetoric about “Universal Liberty,” Merriam insisted his Bureau must survive until “the Southerners are ready to give the colored man his just rights and acknowledge his manhood.” [This letter was sold from a small lot of letters written by Merriam by PBA Galleries in August 2014.]

Lucius’ parents were Charles Merriam (1807-1888) and Caroline Parker (1811-1890) of Grafton, Worcester county, Massachusetts. In 1869, Lucius entered Amherst College, graduated in 1873, and later taught school in Norwich, Connecticut, in Springfield, Massachusetts, and served as a high school principal in Providence, Rhode Island. In the 1870s he married Emily Atwell Clemons (1852-1910) but died a premature death in 1883 after fathering three children. He died of diabetes in Knoxville, Tennessee, while trying to regain his health during the winter of 1882-83 with the idea that he might relocate there.

[This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Lucius P. Merriam worked as a clerk in the Freedmen’s Bureau at New Bern after the war while his sister Annie taught a school for Blacks at Raleigh and later New Bern.

Transcription

Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands
Headquarters, Eastern District of North Carolina
New Berne, North Carolina
January 22nd 1866

My dear mother,

You must pardon me for not writing you oftener but the fact is I’ve been very busy lately. I have been employed on Capt. [Frederick A.] Seely’s 1 papers most of the time since I have been with him and have now finished them of this months.

Capt. Horace James, a former pastor of the Old South Congregational Church in Worcester who joined the 25th Mass. Infantry as a chaplain and then took charge of contraband during the war. For a great article chronicling his service to Freedmen, see Joe Mobley’s biographical sketch on NCPedia.

I am now busy in finishing up Capt. James’ papers of December and January. While here a week ago he received a letter from the War Department at Washington honorably mustering him out of the U. S. service in answer to his own request, his services being no longer necessary. The date being January 8th 1866. He has now been a Quartermaster [in the Freedman’s Bureau] from February 18th 1864 to the above date—nearly two years—and faithfully has he discharged the duties and responsibilities entrusted to his care by the government. In many instances have I noticed his economical management, calculating beforehand so that his expenditures on account of the U. S. would be no more than if the money was to come out of his own pocket. We have not in our army a superabundance of officers like him. When I have finished up his papers, it is my intention to write him a letter of regret on parting from his fatherly care and thanking him for his kindnesses to me of which there are many during my first absence from parental care and while a clerk under his patronage. I miss the light of his countenance very much, I can assure you, and the pleasing sound of his voice, whether in regard to official or private matters. It is a luxury, as you well know, to be in his company. When down here, he gave me another invitation to come up and see him which I shall accept at the first opportunity. You know he is civilian agent of the Bureau for Pitt Co., the county in which is his plantation. 2 There is a rumor of a plot among some of the secesh there to take his life. Captain is well aware of the satisfaction they would take in dispatching him and consequently keeps himself armed for any emergency and I understand intends to arm the darkeys on his plantation. Although I am fearful for his life, I know he would sell his life dearly unless he should be assassinated unawares. How contemptible are these secesh! North Carolina will be the last state to get into the Union at this rate.

An 1868 engraving of “James’s Plantation School” in North Carolina. This freedmen’s school is possibly one of those established by Horace James on the Yankee or Avon Hall plantations in Pitt County in 1866. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.

Of course I shall not venture across the country alone or unprotected. Even now I think it advisable to confine my horseback rides within the breastworks of the town as a band of marauders are known to be outside in the woods and byways around town, several citizens having been robbed and outraged by them. Capt. Seely is about to arm a band of colored militia and send them scouting in the suburbs and through the county with orders to hang at once anyone who is known to be an outlaw or engaged in plundering and overhauling unprotected citizens or travelers.

January 23, 1866. I have just received two bundles of [Worchester] “Spys” which are very acceptable. After reading them—myself and Annie—I lend them to Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Johnson, wife of Joe Johnson, whom Father saw with me in Worcester. Late yesterday afternoon, Johnson, being a little “tight,” got into an altercation with (3) three soldiers and one of them knocked him downstairs backwards and then kicked and stamped upon his head, bruising him very severely and rendering him insensible. He was taken home and medical aid restored him to consciousness in a couple of hours. This morning the paper says he has since died of his injuries but on going down to the house, I find him sitting up in bed eating his breakfast. I am glad he was not taken away under such circumstances. When sober, he is a kind, good, honest fellow, but drink sets him fighting crazy. Mrs. Johnson is a real good lady—kind and affectionate—and I have no doubt that Joe’s bad actions are a great trial to her. 3

My favorite pony “Dixie” has gone out in the country for three weeks to carry Lieut. [George S.] Hawley of the Veteran Reserve Corps on a tour of inspection. Mine is the only quartermaster horse that could stand such a tramp so he had to go. Capt. Seely told me he had done something which he supposed I would abuse him about—viz: letting my horse go for a short time. Nevertheless, he has given me the use of a private pony of his during Dixie’s absence. Capt. Seely is a sensible man. He calculates on his clerks have exercise out of office hours. Every one of his three clerks has a horse. Woog, I think, has a buggy. Captain also has a buggy.

How I wish you were here. I could manage so that we could take a buggy ride quite often. The weather is delightful now. The beautiful, bright southern mornings and the balmy air are very exhilarating and are much like our northern spring. I miss very much the skating and sliding and the deep snows of a more northern clime. I really used to enjoy running through the snow banks carrying morning papers.

Lt. Beecher (Fred H.) of the Veteran Reserve Corps and nephew of Henry Ward Beecher was down here Monday. He is acting Asst. Adjt. General for Col. [Eliphalet] Whittlesey at Raleigh. He called at the “home” to see Annie with whom he became acquainted when he was at Raleigh.

I send in a separate envelope addressed to Father my invitation by Mr. Near to a New Year’s dinner; my letter to Col. [Nathan] Goff of the 37th N. C. C. T. [USCT] relative to the death of young [Lieut.] Mellon [shot on 23 September 1865] and his reply, also notice of a meeting of our “Social Sociable Association.” This association is not a rough and tumble conglomeration of everything and everybody as you might think its name implied, but is a company of respectable northern young men mostly who have regular meetings in the capacity of a literary club and its object is as stated in the by-laws for the mutual improvement of all its members in parliamentary rules of debate, declamation, and the proper mode of conducting meetings. They have already given one lecture this winter by Capt. James. They seem to want to have me belong to the club as they voted me in without my wish or consent. All that is necessary for me to become an active member is to sign the constitution and by-laws (and slide into the Treasury a greenback). It is a very good kind of society to belong to and if I was North, I would join it eagerly, but I wish to give my best attention to my business and have time enough for recreation. I don’t want to tax either my mind or pocket unnecessarily or without improvement. The chairman of the lecture committee, Mr. Frank H. Sterns, came up to the office and presented us clerks with complimentary tickets. He gave me two—one for Annie and one for me.

This p.m. we are going out on a grand horseback ride. Mr. [Edward] Fitz, Annie and myself, and perhaps Miss Thompson. Mr. Fitz has gained honor and credit to himself by his decided stand against the popular immoralities of the times. Through my own and Joe Towle’s intercedence, I think an amicable feeling will be brought about between parties lately at [ ]. I think each and all have done wrong in some degree. Those quoted lines in your letter which aroused your suspicions was simply my opinion; they did not relate to Mr. Fitz particularly. I think just so no matter who it hits. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion on matters and things and our judgement becomes more just as we advance in knowledge. 4

Mr. John F. Keyes [1835-1921] of Clifton, Mass., came in to the office to see me this morning. He was Capt. James’ commissary and a chum of Abernethy’s in dealing out rations. He was a detailed soldier of the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He has come out here to start in the carriage business which is his trade.

Our Congregational Society are about to lose the use of the Presbyterian Church….


1 Capt. Frederick A. Seely served as the Superintendent of the Eastern District of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (a.k.a., the “Freedmen’s Bureau”), headquartered in Newbern, North Carolina, between January and May 1866. He later worked for the Bureau in Missouri.

2 Capt. Horace James “remained as head of the eastern district until December 1865, when Gen. O. O. Howard finally accepted his resignation. After leaving the Freedmen’s Bureau he entered into a plantation and labor scheme in Pitt County. In the enterprise he was the partner of Whittlesey and Winthrop Tappan, a neighbor of Whittlesey in the state of Maine. The plan conceived by Whittlesey and Tappan and presented to James called for the two men from Maine to rent two plantations in Pitt County from the owner, William Grimes. The plantations, named Avon and Yankee Hall, were located about twelve miles from Washington on opposite sides of the Tar River. James received money for expenses and had complete charge of the farms, including hiring and supervising freedmen as laborers and purchasing supplies. On each of the sites he established schools and churches for the freedmen. In overseeing the laborers employed on the plantations, James acted as a civilian agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau; he received no salary, but if the project produced a profit he was to share in it equally with his partners.

“In the summer of 1866, a black laborer was killed on one of the plantations. In September a military court tried James as an accomplice in the shooting and for allegedly exploiting the freedmen in the profit-making venture. The court also tried Whittlesey for using his position as head of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the state to exploit freedmen labor and for not reporting the Pitt County shooting to headquarters in Washington. Both men were acquitted. Whittlesey soon left the state and rejoined Howard’s staff in Washington, D.C.

“James continued to run the plantations until a crop failure in 1867 led to the venture’s termination, after which the land was returned to the owner. James returned to Massachusetts in the same year and took charge of a parish in Lowell, serving also as associate editor of the Congregationalist, a church publication. He then traveled abroad. While visiting Palestine, he contracted a severe cold that resulted in consumption and ultimately his death in Worcester, Mass. He was survived by his wife and son.” [NCPedia]

3 Joseph (“Joe”) Johnson may have been the member of Co. H, 25th Massachusetts Infantry by the same name from Worcester who served as a wagoner during the war and was a machinist by profession. This is the same regiment that Capt. Horace James first served as chaplain. He was married to Lucretia Wheelock (1834-1888) of Worcester county.

4 Rev. Edward Fitz was a Worcester, Massachusetts, clergyman who exercised arbitrary powers of law enforcement in James City. Fitz was charged with practicing “revolting and unheard of cruelties on the helpless freedmen under his charge” which was supported by testimony from those he had harshly punished. An Army Court of Inquiry dismissed the charges as personal “malice” but also dismissed Fitz for administrative “malfeasance.” Defending Fitz, Lucius wrote in another letter, “This is the reward of four years of his labor for the Contrabands. I would not blame him in the least for turning to an Andy Johnson man. These ignorant darkeys are the hardest people to get along with I ever saw. The more you do for them the more they hate you and will trample on you…”

1862-63: Franklin David Child to George F. Child

I could not find an image of Frank but here is one of George F. Hall of Co. I, 44th Massachusetts Infantry

These letters were written by Franklin (“Frank”) David Child (b. 1842) who enlisted as a private in May 1862 in Co. B, 4th Battalion Infantry but was made a sergeant in Co. D, 44th Massachusetts. Infantry in September 1862 when they were officially mustered into federal service. He mustered out with the regiment after nine months service on 31 May 1862.

Frank was the son of Daniel Franklin Child (1803-1876) and Mary Davis Guild (1807-1861) of Boston. Frank’s father Daniel was connected with the Boston locomotive works and the Hinkley & Drury locomotive works as treasurer for more than 40 years. Besides a home in Boston, the family kept a farm in West Roxbury. Frank wrote all four letters to his younger brother, George Frederick Child (1844-1933), a clerk in the Boston firm of Emmons, Danforth & Scudder.

Other letters by members of the 44th Massachusetts Infantry that I have transcribed and posted on Spared & Shared include:

Henry C. Whittier, Co. A, 44th Massachusetts (1 Letter)
James Haynes Murray, Co. C, 44th Massachusetts (45 Letters)
William Carlton Ireland, Co. D, 44th Massachusetts (55 Letters)
Frederick A. Sayer, Co. D, 44th Massachusetts (Union Letters)
James Schouler Cumston, Co. E, 44th Massachusetts (2 Letters)
George Russell, Co. E, 44th Massachusetts (1 Letter)
Herbert Merriam, Co. H, 44th Massachusetts (4 Letters)
Richard Harding Weld, Co. K, 44th Massachusetts (6 Letters)

Letter 1

Addressed to George F. Child, Esq., Care Mess. Emmons, Danforth & Scudder, State Street Block, Boston, Kindness of Lieut. H. P. Tuttle

Camp Stevenson, Newbern [N. C.]
November 20, 1862

My dear George,

When I left Readville I put all the things that I could not carry with me into my valise and sent them home by Tracy’s Express. Whether they ever reached there or not, I don’t know. If they did, I wish you would send me by Adam’s Express my razor, strap, soap, and shaving brush. Please let Hassam Bros. put the razor in good order before you send it. Also send one box of honey soap which you can buy at Brown’s Drug Store, corner of Elliott St. Also a couple of crash towels & 2 or 3 handkerchiefs.

We are now quite comfortably situated in our barracks with some prospect of staying here the principle part of the winter and find such luxuries as these very desirable as well as very scarce. I lost my towel on the last march and cannot replace it here. I would like to have you send me also a fine tooth comb. Any other little thing you happen to find in my valise and which you think may be of use you may put in with the rest while you are about it. I would recommend that you pack them in some spice box at the store and send directly to me at Newbern, N. C. in care of Capt. H. D. Sullivan, Co. D 44th [Mass.] Infantry. If you will be so kind as to do this for me, I will be everlastingly obliged and will remit any amount which you may expend. I expect to be very flush in a few days as we are to be paid off for two months. If fact, we were mustered for it yesterday.

I would like very much to have some good pale brandy. It is something one can hardly do without in this climate where the change in temperature is so great every morning & night. The dews are so heavy here that if you go under the trees at midnight, it frequently seems as if it were raining. The only difficulty is in getting it here as they are very strict about letting liquor into the department. If you could however get some of W. R. Lewis & Bros. meat cans all marked & seal up securely some of Williams’s best pale, I have no doubt but what it would pass. If you could bring this thing about, it would be a big thing. Three or four bottles would be sufficient. And I would cheerfully remit the amount on receipt of the package. Pack them separately from everything else as confiscation of the whole package is the penalty if found out.

In order that you can have some idea of how we are situated here I will make you a diagram of the town & position of our camp. [sketch]

Frank’s Sketch of barracks location in angle between Trent and Neuse Rivers
A close up of the “L” shaped barracks area from the Regimental History

Our own barracks are in form of an angle “L” and marked 1. 2 [is] 10th Connecticut, 3 [is] 24th Massachusetts. There are gunboats within a stones throw of us all the time [and] also on the Trent river—on the other side of the open field between us and the woods. The forts, Totten and a smaller one the name of which I do not know, protect the railroad and common roads leading inland.

Write me as soon as possible & let me know if there is anything new. Your affectionate brother, — Frank


Letter 2

Camp Stevenson
Newbern [N. C.]
January 4, 1863

My dear George,

It was with a great deal of pleasure that I received this p.m. your somewhat lengthy & very gay letter of the 27th December. It is the first time I have heard from home since you had news of our safe arrival back to Newbern. You all must have been very anxious & I was glad that my letter arrived in such good season. It was written when very tired, dirty and lame & I think must have been very unsatisfactory although I did not read it over.

New England Guards, Envelope stationery

Our monitors, if reports about here are true, appear not to be very successful. Rumor goes, for we have no reliable news here except what comes through northern papers, that the Monitor sunk off Hatteras in a storm & that the Passaic had arrived at Beaufort disabled having several feet of water in her hold & her turret so strained as to be immoveable. I don’t vouch for these stories for they have been told & contradicted half a dozen times within the last week. If true, we shan’t probably move for some time. If untrue, and if the two ironclads have really arrived here safe, we shall probably move against Wilmington before many days.

You say Mr. Emmons is much troubled about Frank’s wound. I saw him a few days ago and thought he never looked better. His wound was so slight that I could not even distinguish a scar.

Fred is getting along nicely. He expects to walk up to camp in a day or two.

You mention in your letter that you passed an evening with Mr. T’s & had oysters, champagne, ice cream, &c. &c. On another occasion that you supped on milk toast and baked apples. Now I want to caution you against ever mentioning “good to eat” again for it may cost me my life. So weak has my stomach become by constant application of salt mule that I fear “congestion of the breadbasket” if I even think of the delicacies you mention.

I wish that you would try to trace up about that dog that you say looks like Dick. I should think you could recognize him by the white on his nose, feet and breast. If you could only entice him into the cellar, you would be able to tell for if it was he, he would certainly lay down in his old corner.

My dear George, the mail goes suddenly in five minutes and I must close. I will write again soon. — Frank


Letter 3

Camp Stevenson
Newbern [N. C.]
January 31, 1863

My dear George,

We start tomorrow on a expedition towards Plymouth in the steamer “Northern.” Of course our knowledge with regard to the objects & intentions of the trip is very limited. We understand that we are to have one or two companies of cavalry & 2 boat howitzers to accompany us and that the expedition is under command of Col. [Francis L.] Lee. We understand also that we are not to go more than a day’s march from your gunboats.

I have not time to write more as it is about 11 o’clock and we start early in the morning. I hope to send this by “Mahoney,” [of] Co. C, who has been discharged for disability just to let you know my whereabouts. I have received my box in good order. It came in the nick of time. I will write more about it first opportunity.

Your affectionate brother, — Frank


Letter 4

Camp Stevenson
Newbern [N. C.]
February 12, 1863

Dear George,

I received yesterday & today your letters of January 29th, 30th, and February 5th, also letters from Father, Mary, Sam & Sophie. You will pardon me I know if I answer all three together for I have but a short time before the next mail goes & must write a word to all of possible. I am glad to see that you practice as you preach & write often. I get a letter or two from you most every mail and assure you I appreciate them much.

I have just got back safe and sound from expedition No. 3 to Plymouth, N. C. I wrote twice, one at Plymouth and once at Roanoke, two to father, so I suppose you will have heard of pretty much all we did before this reaches you.

Our march from Plymouth to Long-Acre & back 28 miles in a night and half a day was agreed by all hands to have been a little the hardest thing we have yet seen, although I stood it first rate, being about as fresh when we got in as anyone. We passed through one ford half a mile long and cold as ice almost benumbing our feet. Billy Neal fell down when about half though coming home & got a complete ducking. No bad effects have however followed. When we got to our destination, we found three places where the rebels stored bacon and brought away and destroyed 3 or 4 lbs. We got also some of the best cider I ever drank & chickens & ducks enough to last us back to Newbern. On the whole it was a very pleasant expedition. We had state rooms and bunks on board the transport “Northerner” & a good close room with a fire in it at Plymouth. I went on board the gunboat “Perry” which is stationed off the town & saw your friend Al Brown. He desired to be remembered to you.

I got Uncle Henry’s box all safe just before I started & took several of the cans with me on board the boat. Some difference between hard tack & coffee & fresh salmon, peaches, boiled chicken, & beef soups—hey! It was a splendid present & a most acceptable one. I shall write Uncle Henry and thank him as soon as possible.

I am glad the gaiters are under weigh as the last tramp about finished my old ones. I shall look for them by the “Dinsmore” which brought your letters but which has not yet discharged her cargo.

I was glad to hear from F. Boyd. He writes awful blue. Again in garrison at Baton Rouge he says, just my luck. There are all sorts of troubles in the regiment—court-martials, hard words, &c. &c. He is now trying to get transferred to the Potomac. I am afraid he will never be happy. I have not yet had a chance to have my photograph taken but hope to before long. I don’t think I have changed a great deal however.

I had the pleasure of seeing tonight in Quarter Master’s tent Capt. Billy Hutchings, our Brigade Qr. Master. He is just from Hilton Head where General Foster’s expedition have all safely landed. He says they are now waiting for the navy who are not yet ready. They already have 4 monitors and the “New Ironsides” there but are waiting for more. General Stevenson had made a recognizance to within 3 miles of Charleston & came near being taken prisoner. The “Montauk” had experimented before a rebel fort lying close under its guns for 3 days but did not receive a hurt although dismounting several of its guns. He says there is no prospect of our going down there at present.

It is long after taps & I must close now as I am burning my lights only by sufferance. You will excuse haste and all mistakes I know.

Your ever affectionate brother, — Frank

1862: Henry Augustus Cheever to Mehitable (Felt) Cheever

1Lt.& Adjutant Henry Augustus Cheever, 17th Massachusetts Infantry (Memorial History)

This letter was written by Henry Augustus Cheever (1839-1905), the son of Ira Cheever (1798-1876) and Mehitable Gardener Felt (1802-1882) of Chelsea, Suffolk county, Massachusetts. He was captain of the Chelsea Wide-Awakes in the Lincoln Presidential campaign and also served as a member of Co. F, 7th Mass. Vol. Militia before the war. Henry received a commission as a 1st Lieutenant early in the war and was assigned to the 17th Massachusetts where he was appointed adjutant.

Later in the war, Adjutant Cheever was severely wounded at Batchelders Creek in North Carolina, He was wounded on the morning of 1 February 1864 and was taken prisoner but survived the surgery and recovered to return home. He went into the mercantile business after he war but eventually went to work for the Treasury Department and processed pension claims.

In this May 1862 letter, penned from New Bern after the Union occupancy, Henry tells his mother about the skirmish at Trenton Bridge that took place on 15 May 1862. He also shares his views of the New Bern inhabitants, their customs, farming methods, and the weather in general in the South. He includes some details of a long conversation held with Rebel officers during a flag-of-truce.

Transcription

Picket Station near New Bern, [North Carolina]
Sunday, May 18th 1862

Dear Mother,

As a few moments are at my command, I will write you a few lines to let you know that I am in the land of the living (also Rebels) and am well—never was in better health in my life. Think that upon the close of the present war, I had better enlist in the Regular Army, hadn’t I? I received a letter from you a few days ago and it seems that you had only received one letter from me. I have written several but I presume they were lost as the mail arrangements are not the best in the world. So you must make up your mind that some of the letters I send you will never reach home.

We still remain here in the same place but we have frequent skirmishes with the enemy. On Thursday [15 May 1862] of the past week quite a force went up 15 miles above our camp to a place called Trenton. We had 800 cavalry [3rd N. Y. Cavalry], 2 pieces of cannon, and the 25th Regt. Massachusetts Vol. and our [17th Mass.] regiment. [We] started about 2 o’clock in the morning and came within two miles of Trenton and the advance guard of the cavalry ran upon the enemy and a terrific fight took place. The enemy were double in force to our men, they having 75 or 80 men to our 37, but our boys drove them from the field and they left in double quick for town where they set fire to the bridge and then evacuated the town. There were 7 Rebels killed, 2 wounded that we got, and one prisoner, while on our side were 2 wounded and 1 Lieutenant taken prisoner. The Rebels left on the field 13 horses killed and we three.

One of our wounded was the Major 1 of the [3rd New York] cavalry who in the skirmish was taken prisoner three times but got away by the help of his men. The 4rd time his captors looked at him a moment and then cooly told him that he must be a dangerous person and that they had better shoot him on the spot. The Major had discharged his revolver but when this was told him, quicker than thought, he raised and threw it at the speaker. It hit him in the mouth and knocked him from his saddle. Another Rebel who helped take the Major raised his saber to cut him down, but at this moment one of our captains struck the Rebel with his sword and cut his right arm off so it hung by the skin. In consequence of this, the Major got away. He is a nice man and a very powerful one. All this took place in less time than I have written. The rest of the cavalry and troops were a mile behind the advance guard but we came up on the double quick to give them a volley, but were too late.

I was in command of the Pioneers and was ahead of the regiments and in rear of the cavalry. After we halted three of our companies were sent out to search the woods and C. C. had a skirmish and killed 4 more. After remaining here a while, we started for home, having marched 30 miles in less than 12 hours and through mud and water up to our knees. The object of the expedition was to capture and steal a lot of horses as this department is greatly in need of them. But they got the alarm and took them away.

Father wished to know concerning the people, habits, customs, &c. I should be very happy to inform him but as there are no people here save negroes, I can’t enlighten him much. When the town was evacuated, the people left also. Some few have returned but not many. There are poor whites here but they are far worse than the negroes for they are so lazy that they won’t work and the consequence is that they steal and starve.

The weather is at the present like our July weather. We have frequent thunder showers. I have read and heard tell of a thunder storm in the Southern States but I must confess that my imagination was not strong enough to conceive what a storm could take place. A person must experience one in order to realize the beauty of it. Peaches and plums are fast ripening, strawberries in quantity, only we hardly dare venture into the fields to gather them for fear that the Rebels may pick us up. It is a sad looking sight to look over the broad fields of the plantations and see their barrenness for no one has planted anything save the negroes who only look out for themselves. Let a hundred live Yankees come down here and in three years time they could make a paradise out of this now neglected country. There is no care taken of the land, merely to drop the seed into the ground and let it grow—is the Southerner’s principle—and it is well carried out. In everything they are 100 years behind our time. Their houses would amuse you. On all of them the chimneys are built upon the outside and contain brick enough to build a common-sized house. Then they are all old style and in such comical shape that it is really amusing to ride a few miles to merely look at the houses. I should not like to settle in this part of the state unless there be a colony of Yankees here.

There was a Rebel Lieutenant Colonel 2 and Adjutant here last week came up with a flag-of-truce. They say that the western part of the state is much more pleasant—it being on higher ground. Speaking of these officers, I went up two miles outside of our lines to carry their escort some rations as they brought none, expecting to return the same day but did not. There were 20 of them. They belonged to the 1st North Carolina Cavalry. I was with them three hours and had a jolly time. They had many questions to ask and I answered all that were proper. They are sick of the war and wish it over. They talk it out. They felt anxious to know my opinion on the matter and they felt or acted pleased when I told them tht I thought it would close virtually in two or three months. I carried up 30 papers which were eagerly grabbed at for they cannot get the true state of the case from the Confederate papers.

I gave one of them a New York Herald in which was a editorial which stated the fact that if Yorktown and Norfolk were taken, that the contest was decided. One of them read it and came along to me and told me it would certainly prove so. I asked him if he did not know that they had already been captured? No, he had heard nothing of it. He supposed they were still in their hands. They were very much surprised at learning the fact. When I parted with them, I told them I hoped that if it was my fate to be taken prisoner, I hoped I might fall into their hands for I felt sure the would treat me well. They gave me the prices of their uniforms. Overcoat $35 (worth $5), pants $17 (worth $3), boots $20 (worth $5), coffee 150 and 200 per pound and other articles in the same proportion.

But I must close. Please tell Electa Brown that I will answer her letter very soon. Also convey my compliments to Anna Misley and say I should be very happy to hear from her. If I had any photograph, I would send her one. Also Electa. But I have none and there are no means of having any taken here so I shall have to wait until I arrive in some Northern City. Give my regards to my friends. Remember me to Sarah Young & Fred. Please write soon. From your son, — Hen


1 The name of the Major is never given in this letter but the Regimental roster indicates that the Major at the time was 35 year-old George W. Lewis of Elmira, New York.

2 The Lieutenant-Colonel of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry at the time was James Byron Gordon who later became a Brigadier General in the CSA.