1865: Unidentified Soldier to his Father

This letter was written by an unidentified member of the 16th Wisconsin Infantry while marching with Sherman’s army through the Carolinas in March 1865. Unfortunately there is nothing in the way of a clue in the four page letter which would aid us in the identification of the soldier. The letter ends abruptly without any signature suggesting perhaps there was another part of the letter which is missing.


Camp [of the] 16th Wisconsin Infantry
Goldsboro, North Carolina
March 25th 1865

Dear ones at home,

I will embrace this opportunity of commencing a short letter to you hoping it may find you all well. This is the fifty-fifth day since we left Pocotaligo Station and we have marched about five hundred miles through the marshes and swamps of North and South Carolina. You may well suppose we are tired and need some rest. We will go into camp this afternoon and I think we will remain in camp a few weeks before we will start on another. In the letter I wrote at Fayetteville, I told you about some of our march. I will not take time to tell you all by detail but will tell you some of the principal parts. Our march was in a circuitous route, striking Columbia and destroying the railroad communication between Richmond and the Gulf states. Then we struck for the coast at Newbern, thus causing the Rebs to leave Charleston and Wilmington.

We marched most of the time through a poor and wasted country. I wouldn’t have told you before but now since we are through and will have a plenty, I may as well tell you that we have seen some tough times. I have eaten more corn meal and water than I would like to again in the same time. All we had was a little corn meal. Many are the nights that we have waded swamps. I often thought of home. I think we will get mail in a few days here. We had a sharp fight on the 22nd of his month at Bennettsville [South Carolina] but we succeeded in driving the Rebs.

I must tell you something about Goldsboro. This place is the key to Raleigh. It is fifty miles from Newbern and is the place where the Columbia and Richmond and Charleston and Richmond railroad center but we hold it now. Father, I wish you would send me a war map — one that I can carry and fold it up. You can get one for about forty cents.

The principal rivers that we crossed were the Santee, Wateree, Peedee, Cape Fear an Neuse. The Neuse is the river which we crossed last and which Goldsboro is on.

The principal towns we passed through on this march are Orangeburgh, Columbia, Winsboro, Camden, Cheraw, Fayetteville, and Goldsboro.

The nature of the country was low and swampy with the exception of a small tract of land near the Wateree river.

The principal timber is pine as far as we have marched through this state. The trees are all scored up for the purpose of gathering the sap which runs from the tree which is made unto tar, turpentine and resin.

The sun shines nice and warm now and a man likes to hunt the shade. A train of cars will be in today I guess.

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