Confederate Soldier Civil War Letters

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Confederate Civil War Letter

Captain James M. Cathey: Civil War Letter
 
Letter written by Captain James. M. Cathey, Company F, 25th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. The letter was written less than 8 months before Captain Cathey's death in the Battle of the Crater.

Captain J. M. Cathey, in camp near Weldon, North Carolina, to his father, Col. J. Cathey, February 15, 1864. Captain Cathey writes of his personal feelings and concerns, his health, recent events, the reenlistment of fellow soldiers for additional military service, and favors sought from Col. Cathey by his fellow soldiers.

James Madison Cathey was a captain in Company F, 25th North Carolina (North Carolina Troops, vol. 7, p. 408). Rodom C. Best enlisted in Haywood County in September, 1863, and served with Captain Cathey in the 25th Regiment, Company F (North Carolina Troops, vol. 7, p. 409).

Letter is courtesy of Hunter Library, Western Carolina University

Camp near Weldon N.C.
Feb 15th 1864
Col. J. Cathey
Dear Father
I will _____
write you a line this wet
evening as I can’t do anything
else, and if you are _____
like to hear if it is only
a few lines. My health is good
has been most of the time lately
was a little sick 3 days
ago. The rest of the boys are
well and seem to be very well
satisfied A great many are reen-
listing for the war some of
the companys have entirely enlis
ted 20 of Co. “F” I have not had a
letter from home in some time
the last brought me the sad news
of Sister Sallie being so sick
I am very uneasy and ancious

to here I fear the tories will trou-
ble you it makes me uneasy
all the time My life is not mu-
ch pleasure to me I have not
had a letter from my dear wife in
several days she was well the last
but was low in spirits. R.C.
Best paid me ten dollars to be cr.
his note he wants to know how much
it is if you want it lifted let me
know & I can get it I gave him my
Receipt for the 10 dollars charge the
same to me J.N. Davis wants to know
if you will take his money & let his
family have _____ to live on as they _____
it. he is afraid his Father will get
drunk and spend it. he don’t want
his Father to know that he has writen
to you about it. he said if it would
trouble you to much not to do it. he
would get some one else to do it _____
_____ not have so much to do. I haven’t
any mor news to write mor than you
have heard. nothing _____ the Richmond
paper to day ran. write soon & often to your
son in the sadness give my --- to all. your son till death.
J.M. Cathey

[bottom, second page]
we are under marching orders at
present don’t know where we are expect
ed to go if at all. never know until we
get to our journeys end.

[top, first page]
I want (?) to _____
May (?) al____
J. N. Hyatt
I am looking
for _____
all _____ _____
now. write
soon do
write I am
so _____
_____ you _____
J.M.C.

Recommended Reading: 25th North Carolina Infantry: History and Roster of a Mountain-bred Regiment in the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: One of the best regimental histories ever written is what comes to mind as I think about this fine work. This history follows the formation, battles and casualties, and disbanding of the 25th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, which was pushed into our homes with W.P. Inman and the award-winning film Cold Mountain. During the Civil War, local men, mainly farmers who lacked any military training, would leave the picturesque mountains of western North Carolina to enlist with the regiment, and shortly after it organized in Asheville in August 1861, it would receive its baptism of fire. Continued below.

In addition to casualty and desertion records, and a complete regimental roster, this laudable research chronicles the unit’s defensive tactics in the Carolina coastal regions and battlefield actions at Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Plymouth and Petersburg. More than 125 historic photos, illustrations, and detailed maps are also featured.

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Recommended Reading: The Horrid Pit: The Battle of the Crater, the Civil War's Cruelest Mission (Hardcover). Review From Publishers Weekly: One of the American Civil War's most horrific events took place on July 30, 1864: the slaughter of thousands of Union troops, including many African-Americans, in a giant pit outside Petersburg, Va. “The Crater” was created as a result of a poorly planned and executed Union mission to tunnel under, and then explode, the Confederate lines, thereby opening the gates to a full frontal assault on Petersburg that, if successful, could have helped decide the war. Continued below.

Instead, after several hundred Confederates perished in the initial mine explosion, the Union troops entered the crater—later known as The Pit—and were gunned down. (The scene is re-created in the novel and film Cold Mountain.) Civil War specialist Axelrod (The War Between the Spies, et al.) offers a concise, readable and creditable recounting of the Battle of the Crater, which General U.S. Grant famously termed a stupendous failure. When the dust settled, the Union forces, under the inept leadership of generals Ambrose E. Burnside and George Gordon Meade, suffered more than 4,000 killed, wounded or captured. The well-led Confederates had about 1,500 casualties. The massive slaughter does not make for easy reading, but is a reminder of the horror of war at its basest level.
 
Recommended Reading: Battle of the Crater A Complete History (Hardcover). Description: The Battle of the Crater is one of the lesser known yet most interesting battles of the Civil War. This book, detailing the onset of brutal trench warfare at Petersburg, Virginia, digs deeply into the military and political background of the battle. Beginning by tracing the rival armies through the bitter conflicts of the Overland Campaign and culminating with the siege of Petersburg and the battle intended to lift that siege, this book offers a candid look at the perception of the campaign by both sides. Continued.
 

Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition) (November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued.

About Johnny Reb: 

"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly

"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer 

"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature

 

Editor's Choice: The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers' and Civilians' Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865. Volume 2: The Mountains (Civil War in North Carolina) (Hardcover). Description: As with The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers' and Civilians' Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865. Vol. 1: The Piedmont, this work presents letters and diary entries (and a few other documents) that tell the experiences of soldiers and civilians from the mountain counties of North Carolina during the Civil War. The counties included are Alleghany, Ashe, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Surry, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey. The book is arranged chronologically, 1861 through 1865. Before each letter or diary entry, background information is provided about the writer. Continued.

The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers' and Civilians' Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865 (Volume 2): The Mountains, is the soldier's story. It is an A-to-Z compilation of what the "rank and file soldier" experienced during the American Civil War. The Western North Carolina soldiers express their hearts to their loved ones and friends, thus allowing the reader the most intimate and personal view of the war. From triumph to tragedy, the "soldiers' letters" express what few authors or writers can achieve--realism. According to cartographic and demographic studies, Southern Appalachia comprised a unique indigenous people, and by isolating these rare letters it allows the reader the most detailed insight to their experiences. The soldier experienced various traumatic stressors in the conflict: such as witnessing death or dismemberment, handling dead bodies, traumatic loss of comrades, realizing imminent death, killing others and being helpless to prevent others' deaths. Plain, raw and to the point: The reader will witness the most detailed insight to the so-called American Civil War. Intimate and personal: diseases, privation, wounds, loneliness, exhaustion, heartache, and death are all explored. This book includes a lot of information about: Western North Carolina Civil War History (North Carolina mountain troops), soldiers' photos (some tintype photographs too), and rare pictures. For example, on page 143, there is a photo of Gov. Zeb Vance's brother, Robert, at Fort Delaware Prisoner of War Camp; he had been captured by Pennsylvania cavalry in East Tennessee. You may see a rare photo or letter of an ancestor. The maps, which reflect the region, have keys which place each regiment to each respective western county (where the troops were raised). The soldiers - collectively - also present a detailed North Carolina Civil War History. By reading the letters, you will easily form a timeline that is filled with first-hand facts. To be very candid, it is not only filled with primary accounts of the war, but it is one of the best books to read about the war...Creates an indispensable historical timeline of events of the brave men from the Old North State.

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