D uring the Civil War, Stephen Whitaker wrote home to his father, James Whitaker Sr., and stepmother Mary McBrayer Whitaker, who lived in Andrews, Cherokee County, NC. Some spellings, grammar and punctuation have been changed for readability. My clarifications are in [brackets].
Carters Depot [northeast Tennessee] August 2, 1863
Dear Father and Mother,
I write you a few lines to let you know where I am and what doing. I am very unwell at this time and have a severe cold and it has turned to something like pleurisy. I suffer very much though still on my feet. If I don’t get better, I must get to a house.
Martial is very sick, though not dangerous. Wetherman and Graham is both on the mend. Walker’s battalion is here. We are guarding the bridge over Wattoger [Watauga] and keeping out of pickets, The bush whackers came in 4 miles of here a few nights ago to a Mr. Tothams and called out his two sons, both a Lieut. in the army and told them that the Yankees had taken Carter’s Depot and was coming on them and for them to make their escape. By this means, they got up and went out and was taken off by the cowardly wretches and one of them shot. The other is probably murdered. The one that was found was buried by my men yesterday. They was both fine young men, one in the recruiting service and the other at home on furlough. There has been a force sent to N.C. to put down the bush whackers there.
Father, I wrote you from Knoxville a few days ago in relation to the tombstones. I thought then I might be sent to Charleston or back to Louden. If I had I could have seen to getting the stones hauled up. They are shipped to Cleveland [Tennessee]. You can get someone that is going after salt to haul them. Dock Washburn will have salt there, in the course of a week. If you can’t do this, you can get two of my oxen and send after them. The freight is due. It was less than $2 to Louden. So it will not exceed $5 to Cleveland. The agent in Louden did not want to receive the freight as he said it would be less trouble to receive it all at Cleveland.
Father, I wanted to attend to this matter, but I have done all I could and am now to far off to see to it at present. I hope you will be able to see to it.
I am anxious for the stones to be put up, though I may never see them. David [Stephen’s son] got here safe. He slept with me Friday night. His company is in Yancy County N.C. He is going to see Gen. Jackson and report for orders. He can’t get through the mountains to his company for the bushwhackers.
The Vicksburg prisoners is getting home daily. They had a hard time. They don’t blame Pemberton for the surrender and say General Johnson did all he could to relieve them but was not able to do so. We lost 27,000 prisoners. This is the worst lick of the war, but we still have about 40,000 Yankey prisoners left after exchanging for the Vicksburg men. I got this information from an officer in the exchange department and now here boarding at the same tavern with me. This is correct he says.
Father, I have paid Hays a debt I have long owed him. I reckon now he finds where he stands and all other men that acts toward soldiers as he has done.
Col. Thomas is at Knoxville [Tennessee] under arrest. I don’t know all the charges against him. The principal one is for disobedience of orders. Thomas will be smart enough for them. There is great prejudice against him.
Col. Walker is here. Father, I believe I have the good will of all the officers from Gen, Jackson down. My own men is all very good to me. They will do anything for me. I have not an enemy as I know it in my company. Not so in Cherokee County as I have been lied about very much. All will come right and through right will be sustained.
The young man that was supposed to be murdered has been recovered alive – was stolen from the bush whackers by a Union man and brought into his home today. This must be a great satisfaction to his father who thought he was killed.
Father you will get tired of reading this long letter.
Greenwood’s boy better come to camp the first chance. He can come by Rocky Point to Knoxville or Strawberry Plains and then on the railroad to his place.
Father, write me. Give me all the news and direct your letters to Carters Depot, Tennessee. Walkers Batt.
Father give my respects to the friends and reserve a portion for yourself.
S. [Stephen] Whitaker
Bruce Whitaker documents Fairview area genealogy. To get in touch with him, contact the Crier at [email protected] or