View Full Version : The Faulkner Letters

03-05-2007, 11:20 PM
Continuing off the William C. Nesbitt letters, I am presenting letter from Private William . Faulkner, who was a mess mate of Nesbitt in Company I, 17th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, a.k.a "Lancaster Tigers." I have secured permission to reproduce these letters and excerpts on this forum for academic and scholastic purposes, any further reproduction or distribution will need the written consent of the South Caroliniana Library, Manuscripts Division. I also hope to "digitize and transcribe" other 17th SC and WBTS letters for this forum.

Having two members writing letters from the same company allows for a rare and comprehensive view of life in Confederate service, the Charleston, Mississippi, and Petersburg Campaigns and general life of the 1860's. I like to concentrate on the lexicon and words used by the South Carolina soldiers of the period, it helps with my impression and understanding, I also find that the more primary resource material I read, I tend to adopt their dialect and syntax in everyday speech. I also have to catch myself from writing in modern correspondence with old fashioned spellings like "To-morrow" and such.

I will also highlight references that have significant meaning to reenactors in bold print, with any specific mentions to weapons, uniforms, rations, camp life, mentions of notable persons, and anything that a living historian would find useful in a broad sense; however, some may read just for the experience and the story. Which is also fascinating. You will also find some entire letters will prove very useful.

My knowledge of this unit will also allow for "corrections" to their history and errors in "real time perception" ; whereas the soldier heard the rumor, but did not catch the true story. The Confederate victory at "Vicksburg" is one such large example, but there are other examples , I will make these notes for the reader with asterisks *, **, *** etc. I will also add other facts as I discover them.

Lastly I will faithfully reproduce these letters, complete with period misspellings, I may offer suggestions at the bottom or in parentheses (i.e.). Other modern punctuations I will introduce will be the Ellipsis Dots ... in bold to indicate a break or missing sections. Any modern notes will be in parentheses, but I will limit those as well. Well without further adieu as William would say:

Camp Whiting
April 2nd 1863

Mrs. E I Mc Faulkner

Dear wife

I with sorrow take my pen in hand to send a few lines. the reason of my sorrow is you will not correspond with me I have not received but two letters from you since I came here. N.B. Craig gets letters but the rest of us get none. I did not think you would have forgotten me so soon dear wife. I think of you often when I was walking my silent path in the dark hours of the night. many the wished I have for your welfare . but why some get letters & others get none is a mystery to me. the men are getting discouraged there was three ran of (f) from one of our Companies the other day Stoping of furloughs & not half rations is the cause of all this I am determined to stand up to it as long as I can hiping that the Almighty God will be with me. we heard yesterday that the Yanks had attacked Charleston but whether it is so or not I cannot tell. Most of the troops have gone from here esccept our Brigade this makes me think we will stay here at least for awhile yet, although we do not know what a day may bring fourth, the Reg is in good health. our mess is all well the boys do not look as fat as when I came here. Capt Steel sais it is the worst fare he has seen since he come into service we have dry weath and very windy we have not had but two rainy days since I came here. I would like to hear from you to learn how you are getting along with your farm I suppose you are planting encourage the negroes to work the negroes there have an eazy time to what the ...has to do I suppose you have got tired of my writing about our fare but how can we help it when we are always hungry I heard one of the mess say he would give three dollars for as mutch turnip greens as he could eat. the negroes bring out some little pies and sweet things and sell them at abour five prices. I have not bought any some men eat two & three dollars per day. I will try and save money It may do you and litttle buddy some good. I must close hoping to hear from you shortly. I wrote a letter to father requesting him to get R T Hammond to Petition the Governor for me to get home for a month Capt Steel sais it can be done I want to fix some of my business as Guardian which I could not get time to do and A. J. Kibler and me did not get through be sure and get father to attend it soon We are near Wilmington & I would go home from here in two days. I do not want them to get it for less than a month. I suppose you would like to know how I like the Camp.. I do not mind the hardship but, I must say it is a rough place, but our mess is very sivil and well behaved we speak of writing for Wm Robinson to come & preach to us a few days but we do not know whether he would come or not please write soon Give me all th news tell me whither you got the 60 dollars or not tell me about Buddy & Lucy tell her I have spoke for a ring for her as soon as I get it I will send it to her

yours truly

W L Faulkner

Reproduced with permission of the Manuscripts Division, South Carolinana Library, Columbia, SC, & G. Duncan, no further reproduction is allowed without consent./

03-07-2007, 11:37 PM
Camp Whiting
April 11th, 1863

Mrs EIM Faulkner

Dear wife

I again seat myself to send you a few lines. This day the Regiment has nothing to do the officers allowed them this day for to wash and clean up there persons & clothes I hire my washing there is a boy in the Regiment who washes for 13 cents a garment soap is so high it is cheaper to hire the washing than to buy soap and wash our own cloths. There is nothing new here & I would not have written to you at this time but as I had nothing else to I thought you might want to hear Samuel Craig W C Nesbit was there to see him yesterday he is still getting worse the doctor sais that there will be a change on him inside hours W. C. Nesbit has gone today to see him When he returns we will hear from him he sais the Hospital is clean and nice but he does not think there is that attention which one as low as he is would require Dear wife if I get sick and sent there you must come and see me but I hope and trust that I may enjoy good health for this is no place for a sick man We are still under marching orders. It is thought by some that if the Yankeys do not make another effort to take Charleston we will not have to go there I would as leave we had been sent down there for I would prefer defending my own state & it would seem more like home. Col. McMasters trial is not finished yet it has been going on for about 2 weeks I wish it was ended for I think he is a fine man. I see by the papers that the Yankees in New York claim a great victory at Charleston it is strange that they will still continue to be such liars I wish they had come in with there whole fleet & tried there best and got such a thrashing that they would be willing to make peace. Dear wife you have no idea how some men make money here and others spend it The Soldiers is the ones that has to spend they are compeled to spend it to get something to eat. A very small pie is selling here for 50 cents the Negroes bring out little Nic nacks here every day and carry away a great deal of money They have not mutch of mine for I do not think it pays I do not know what to do about buying salt Barber sais he cannot buy till he hears from home I do not think it will be mutch higher thousands of it pass our Camp every day it seems to me if there is as mutch made at other salt works that it cannot be as high as it is now but I would like to send some home I expect to go to the City Tuesday & I will see by then. I have never been there yet only when we ware on the march although we are in sight of it:
They have a Theater & are performing every night but I do not think it is a suitable place for a Christian. but my dear it is passing strange that some will be so wicked when they know not what a day may bring forth

W C Nesbit has returned from the Hospital he sais Samuel Craig is worse he does not think he will get well he sais the hospital is neat and clean but does not think that there is a great deal of attention I think if Tommy knew he was so bad he would come if I get bad sick you must come and see me & send some friends to come for this is a poor place for a sick man Give this ring to sissy tell her to keep it as a memento of Pa I gave 1.25 for it put this Cannon on Budy his Uncle Raz found it and sends it to him fix it on his hat.* I had not heard that Grace’s child was sick-was it sick long write soon write me a long letter you do not know wha satisfaction it does. It does a poor soldier a great deal of good to hear from his dear ones who are far away from them we have pretty weather It makes me feel that it would like to be at home plowing but God knows when that day will ever come a not I will close the cause of this sheet ( a separate sheet addess to the letter) was to tell you about Craig. I will write before long…..if I had not received a letter from you today I would have quit writing I must quit for it is Dress parade again I say Dear wife Farewell

W. L. Faulkner

*It would seem that this was an artillery insignia "cannons" for a hat, very rare that you find references to soldiers sending these home as souvenirs.

(The more I read about William C Nesbitt, the more humbled I become, he wasn't a leader but he really cared about the other soldiers and he seems to have been the "grandfather" of the company. It's great to have Faulkner mention him, you get a very genuine picture of the man. Also the comment about the expense of soap and the theater running every night in Wilmington was revealing information.)

03-08-2007, 12:23 AM
Camp Jenkins

April 12th 1863

Dear wife

I we left Camp Whitting yesterday at three oclock and marched to this place which is 11 miles from where we were 13 from Wilmington the 22nd, 23rd and Holcomb legion are gone to Charleston our regiment ant the 18th are left Why this is the case I do not know some think that Gen Evans has swapped these 2 Regiments for North Carolina Reg Our Capt said that we can not be worsted. we may go to Charleston in a few days or may not. our men would rather get into old South Carolina. They are afraid if we stay here we may be ordered back to Virginia this is a pretty camp & good every company has a wall of their own this is the same camp that the Regiment moved to from Kinston you spoke about saving butter to send to me if they had been a Box sent when we were at Camp Whitting we could easily have gotten it, but there would be very little chance now. I do not know how we will fare but I think we will not fare very mutch worse We will have to do but if I keep my health I do not mind it. dear wife this is the Sabbath day but it has not the appearance drums beating soldiers marching whooping & holering yes & swearing these things ought not to be so oh. that this war was ended that we could return to our homes & spend our sabbaths as as we will wish we had at a coming day Lizzy I would like very mutch to see you I do not think you think as mutch about me as I do of you and little buddy I do not see why father did not write to -Hammond at Columbia the he could have seen the Governor and arranged it at once I fear it will be delaid till we get away from here: my Captain is very willing if I do not get home I will not blame him. W. C. Nesbit returned from the hospital Craig was just living he said he did not think he would be living till this morning he went to Major Culp and asked to go and stay with him and see the last moments of his friend a relative but he would not let him go. This looks hard so it is. The big officers do not care no more for a private then if he was a dog. I have to go on inspection in a few minutes I must close please write soon tell me how your wheat & oats looks & how mutch cotton you are going to plant how mutch corn how your stock looks if Reed took the mare back if you paid taxes how buddy & sis is if you got the letters I sent the ring in & everything else write long letters and write often remember me in your prayers excuse bad writing and everything you find amiss in this if Craig dies I suppose he will be buried in the City for we will not know it for some days Capt Steel said if we had staid where we was he could have sent him home. Hoping my dear that I may see you some day yet if not on earth in the bright mansions on high I bid you farewell direct your letters as you did before

W. L. Faulkner

03-08-2007, 10:08 PM
Camp Jenkins, N. C.
April 19th, 1863

Mrs. E. I. M. Faulkner

Beloved Wife,

I take up my pen in hand to answer your kind and interesting letter I received last night. I was glad to hear you ware well. I was sorry to learn that Buddy was sick I hope he is well before this time I am well Razzy has not been well all this week He has a bad cough and not able for duty W. I. Robinson is complaining but the rest of the mess are all well Billy is in good health and is lively as a crickett They have commenced giving furloughs again there are three in the Company that have not been home, two others and Billy They drawed this morning and Billy mised We were all anxious for him to go and Capt Steel gave him all chances I was so sorry the little fellow missed for I wanted him to get home if they do not stop it he will go (???) Our company has been out up. Give my respects to the friends be sure to tell me how Sis and Bud are getting along. Write soon and give me all the news, and tell me who was elected clerk

Farewell, dear wife.

W. L. Faulkner

(Another letter from April 19th, the first part is verbatim to the letter above, up to “he will go” I can’t explain the duplication perhaps there was a copy or the original transcription was confused.)

Camp Jenkins, N. C.
April 19, 1863

Mrs. E. I. M. Faulkner

Beloved wife,

I take up my pen………they do not stop he will go Our company has been on picket ever since last Tue morning till last night. We were guarding salt works on the Sound. It is a pretty sight & I wished you had been there to see the waves of the sea. I thought of that passage of Scripture where it sais the wicked are like the troubled seas which casts up mire and dirt, there is no peace to the wicked saith my God If they are in a similar condition would it not be wise for us to make preparation to meet our God in peace. There is no news here we get no papers You said you missed Mail, me too they have not come yet they may come today it would be quite a treat to get one from home everything seems to be quiet It is reported here that the Yankeys say they do not want any more of the men killed nor do they want to kill any more of ours, but they intend to starve us out. If this is the case the president should send men home to make provisions & the enemy would be mistaken in this. Flower is selling at $100 per barrel, bacon at $100 per pound, corn $1.00, fodder 8.00 to $10.00 per curt We do not get any flower nor do we expect to get any soon, it is too high to feed soedjers on. There was too days this wk. we did not get nothing, bread nor meat. We bought one small hog jaw for $1.50. This would you would say was small rations for 12 men but it was the best we could do. We have bought this morning one gallon of cowpeas for which we paid a $1.00.
I do not approve of doing such things on the Sabbath day, but it is the work of necessity. I do not suppose others write as mutch about the food as I do but they do more talking my dear I have not had eat any thing for 24 hrs. & stood guard all the time. I was so hungry I did not know what to do. I tried to beg a piece of cold corn bread but could get none some of the boys brought in some meat We are doing a little better. I under stand there are plenty of provisions in this state but it is in the hands of speculators Oh dear I wish this war at an end for men are becoming tired of it. It would be a happy day for all but we must wait Gods way and time. This Camp is a beautiful one situated 14 mi. from Wilmington N. C. a beautiful oak grove and the streets nicely swept clean every A. M. I would prefer staying here to any camp I have seen yet but there is no place like home. You must not think hard of me becoming vexed when I could not hear from you You are excusable but I do not see why some get letters and others do not , it so must have been that mail (boy or bag) destroyed a good many. If I could word from home once a week I would be much better satisfied. My dear do not fail to write I had concluded not to write any more to you if I had not got an answer but it is all right now. I could not see why one who had always treated me so kindly should foresake me in this trying time.
You said Rd. Robinson had not got cleared I could not see how that some men who should be in army is at home while others who should be in army is `at home while others who cannot do any thing for themselves are sent here. How will such men do when they have to march & carry baggage it is out of the question for men who are not able to undergo the fatigues of camp. When I wrote the last Daniel Craig had died. He died last knight a wk. ago & was buried last Sat. in the city. No relation was with him when he bid adue to this world. Wm. Nesbit was with him Sat morning and he deranged from he took sick till he died. He asked William if it was far home & said he moved like to go home Poor fellow he has gone to that home where no traveler returns. This should teach us all to be ready for we know not what a day may bring forth. I wish Pa had written to Columbia & got the governor to give me permission to go home if I had it here now while furloughs are given I could get off to go home . I would like to arrange my matters I would be mutch better satisfied. Let me know whether Lucy got her ring & Sammy his cannon or not & tell me how you are getting along. Do not my dear trouble yourself too mutch to make yourself sick. I hope I may get home to eat some of your peas you wanted to know about my clothes I have one pr. Of socks that I have not worn, the other two pair is out very fast. Summer clothes would not suit here. Billy has patched my pants & the rule is to wear out one pair at a time. I was my socks & hire the washing of the rest of my cloths My dear wife I must bid you fare well. Hoping to hear soon.

W. L. Faulkner

03-12-2007, 10:53 PM
Camp Jenkins

April 21st, 1863

Mr. Samuel Faulkner

Dear Father

I again take my pen in hand to send you a few lines. I have written to you twice but have not got any word from you. I am well & all the mess are tolerable well Razzy has been unwell for about a week but is better this morning. There is nothing new in Camp. We have four companies on picket our com was out last week there time will come before long again. I do not think we will move from here soon for we are the advanced guards & there is not very many troops in this vicinity I would rather stay here than any camp I have been yet it is a beautiful oak grove and nicely cleaned off. It looks more like the forest at home than any place I have seen since I came into Camp two of the Regiments belonging to this Brigade is in Charleston. At the time they left I would like to have went but I am satisfied to stay the male last night brought news that the Yankee expected to attack Charleston by land shortly I hope they do that They will get a good thrashing. I received the ledger & York paper last mail for which I am thankful to my friends at home. We hardly ever see a paper. I do not see any signs of peace which we would rather see as any thing else. Every thing is high there is vessels coming in every day but I am satisfied they are Yankey vessels coming in and taking off cottton if the government was as busy stoping such as this it would hasten a piece if they can get our Cotton for there old gunns & other trash, they do not want the war to come to an end fodder is eight dollars a hundred, corn four a bushel if you would pack up some fodder sending it to Wilmington & come here you can get salt for it Craig & myself has not bought we will wait awhile one of the owners of the salt works told me the other day that they are making more here than this state can consume if that be the case it must come down. Flower is selling a one hundred dollars per Barrel I have not seen a biscuit for some time a little corn bread & water is our living in a general way we draw a little meat but not fourth enough there is a detail made every day to fish for the Regiment. They catch a good many but they are very small. The way we cook them is boil them. We do not have any greese. These are the first scale fish I ever eat in this way I must return my thanks to you for your attention to my family since I left I hope you will continue to attend to them for it is a great satisfaction to me & to my beloved wife I am afraid she will exert her self two mutch to try to make a living encourage old Billy & Ben & Grace if they knew the difference between there fare and the fare of the poor soldiers they consider themselves happy. If I had no family to care for, camp life would not be sutch a dreadful place it is a lively place You may perash a soldier but he will make a fuss of some kins we drill just enough for exercise and no more Dear Pa I had thought to have heard from you before this time to know whether you got R. T. Hammond attend to that matter for me or not A guardian where the ward are in the service has as mutch right to attend some of the wards business as overseers is beyond doubt. My own business is not fixed to my satisfaction. I do hope you will attend to it Col Whitherspoon can get it. M. C. Heath son will be discharged from service tomorrow he is in bad health I must close give my respects to all the friends, and tell the Negroes Howdy

Yours Respt.

WL Faulkner

Copyright USC-South Carolinana Library, Columbia , G. Duncan, no further reproduction allowed without direct consent.

03-13-2007, 07:33 AM

Thanks for posting these. My ancestor, Lt. Hiram Hancock, was in the 17th Co I. He was at South Mountain, MD when his 16 year old wife died of Consumption. Within 5 months Lt. Hancock was dead of the same illness.

Claude Sinclair
Lancaster, SC

01-20-2008, 07:35 PM
Secessionville May 7, 1863

Mrs. E. I. M. Faulkner

Dear Wife.

I take my pen in hand to answer your kind letter. I received one last Monday & one yesterday and was glad to hear you were all well. Last Monday night there was considerable excitement in Camp. It was announced that we were going to Tennessee, but on tuesday it was announced that our Brigade would not have to go, but take the place of some other Reg. who had not done anything in the War. We took up the line of March for this place about one oclock and arrived here about dark. It thundered and rained on us the whole way. We were wet as rain could make us. Everything I had in my nap sack was wet, we crep into some old houses and out in the night as best as we could. This was the first house that I had set up (?) since I left home. This is a very pretty place and the water is better here than any place I have seen down here. We are camped in Secession Ville right where our boys whiped the Yankeys about a year ago. We have built an observatory in our Camp 90 feet high. A sentinel stands there all the time and by some sign the signal flags convey the news to the City which is 4 or 5 miles, I like this place prime. I can stand in my street and see the Yankey vessels & hear there drums and horns. They are 8 miles from here. I have no desire to kill any of them but if we must fight then this is the place for me. James Island is fortified well and the way the big guns is planted here the Yankeys will find it a hard road to travel. I under stand that there is near one hundred vessels lying around here. If so they will be apt to pitch in some of these days. If so you will hear from the 17th my dear Lissa. Razzy was sent to the hospital tuesday morning. he is very poorly. He was sent to the General Hospital. i carried his bagage for him tot he ambulance and bidhim farewell. Ithink he got home on furlough. Razzy is a good fellow and I am so sorry he is sick, but if he had taken with us in the moning it might a been his last move. If he does not get home Sally will know where to find him. If she wants to find him, it is on King Street.
I do not write this saying that she should come. she can excuse (sic) her own judgement. I asked him if I would write to our people about him. He said if I was writing to say where he was. Dear wife I am so glad you are getting along with your farm so well. I think you can make what you can eat. I received your letter and showed it to my Capt. He said as soon as the visit two men get of(f) home he is going to see what he can do for me. I do not expect to get home. If furloughs should still be granted, Billy Craig * will get home next week. My dear you said you had some cloth made for me to make some cloths. I have got as many cloths as I can carry, a pair of cotton socks & hat is all that I could do anyhting with, but my dear some of the Com. is bad of(f) for cloths. There is some men in our company that has not got but one pair of pants and one shirt (cotton at that) no coat. How do you think these poor fellows stand the rain? Why they have to take it jest as if they were the best clothed soldiers in the world. You have no idea the hardships the men have to come through. I must state a fact I seen yeaterday, the Reg that left her yesterday for Tennessee. there was some of the soldiers wives here & htere little children also.
It made my heart bleed to see them bid each other farewell.I thought of you and poor little Buddy. I do wish woman would quit coming to camp, if there husbands are sick they ought to come and see them, but to come to camp it ony does sorry to sorry. I have got a ring for you but I will not send ot to you by letterto see if Billy gets home for fear it gets lost. I hope you will keep it as a small momento of me. Please my dear donot forget me for I am always thinking of you. You said John Craig spoke of coming here. I suppose he is busy atttending to Mrs. (?) business two close. Tell Pa to come with Mrs. Robinson and spend a few days with us. he will never rue it. Tell him if he comes to come to the City and get his pass & he can hire a Conveyance tot his place. My dear I must bid you farewell hoping to be rembered in this day of our desperation & hoping & praying that if we never meet here on earth that we meet in heaven where there will be no more roaring Cannon nor sorrow nor sighing, My dear you must excuse me this time for I have not time to write anymore. I received S. A. Gillespies letter and may answer it. My dear I will send you all the Postage stamps i have to spare. Will send you more soon as I can procure them.

Write Soon

W L Faulkner

* Corporal William H. Craig

Courtesy & Copyright USC-South Carolinana Library, Columbia , G. Duncan, no further reproduction allowed without direct consent.

06-02-2008, 05:29 PM
Greg has obtained permission to post seventeen new letters from this collection. This will bring the total to 25. They are now hosted on the Tramp Brigade Mess website on our research page.http://www.trampbrigade.com/researchpages/PvtFaulkner.htm

Three new letters from 1864 are now posted and more will be online over the next few days.