This letter was written by Hugh Ewart McAulay (1839-1862), the son of Hugh L. McAulay (1797-1867) and Nancy Davidson Alexander (1804-1873) of Mecklenburg, North Carolina. Hugh enlisted in September 1861 as a private in Capt. Owen N. Brown’s Co. C, 37th North Carolina Infantry. He died of typhoid fever at the Warwick House in Lynchburg, Virginia, on 23 May 1862.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
April the 13th 1862
Dear Sister, N[ancy] K[eziah] McAulay,
I will write you a few lines to let you know that I am very well except a very bad cold but I am some better I think. I got your letter which Mr. W. L. Beard brought me. I was very glad to hear that you were well and hope that when this comes to hand, it may find you enjoying good health.
We are at Kinston yet but we do not know but that we will stay here. The pickets brought in the news that the Yankees was going down towards Wilmington and if they do, we will have to take a ride that course but we may have plenty to do here. We are pretty well fixed up now and I would like to stay here awhile but if we move, I want to get a chance to drive the villains from our soil and reap the benefit of our expense.
The trees all look pretty green. The peach trees is all out of bloom except some that is just turning out. This land is not good for peaches, I do not think. It is all swamp on the lower ground. We can get water by digging six feet deep. It is all good for cotton but it all [has] to be ditched before it is worked. It is the best land I ever saw. It is like the best of the cane break land in Mecklenburg. I have seen more cotton on one farm than all Mecklenburg. I have seen two hundred bags of cotton weighing over 500 pounds in one field. In the field where I was put up, it would be a good place to live if the war was over but Old Mecklenburg is the best place yet for me and I do hope to get home sometime this summer to walk around the yard and in the garden among the flowers and talk about old times and tell about the war.
War is a beautiful thing in one sense of the word and a most horrible thing in the other for all it is the last place on earth I would want to be in. A battle has something grand about it when I would see the smoke of our cannons boil up and the report follow and at the same time the enemy doing the same. I could not help but learn to love to at the present time but when I would see a horse shot down [with] a hole through his side as large as my head, you may guess that it was not so funny. And when I was passing Salter’s Artillery and the balls and bums were passing as thick as hail, could hardly pass for blood and dead horses and some men lying among the horses dead and some lying among them to keep from the shells. So I must leave this as you know that it is nothing to brag on.
Well Sis, I would like to see your garden and the flowers. I think it would do me some good. Well, what is cousin Mary and Lidie a doing? I would like to see some news from there. I was very glad to get those cakes that they sent me. Tell them some of the boys said that the bread was very good but they said that they thought that the gals was a good deal prettier than the bread.
I want you to tell me how Mr. E. Alexander is getting along and what he is doing.
I heard that Brat____ _____ had a log rolling the 8th. Was invited but did not go. I would like to have been ____ as all is right in that neighborhood. ____ writing a letter somebody had better look out. I lost my pants and want a pair of some [ ] if you will patch the seat of them red pants that I got at the college, they will do, but if I can et some gray, I would love them. Mr. A. A. Alexander lost my [ ]. I reckon you and mother thinks it hard to get them fixed but I do with [ ] as I think I can. Tell [brother] John to go to Charlotte and see Dr. J. Caldwell and get discharge for [ ] body is not soon all over. He has no business here. I am as well as ever I was at this time except [a] cold. We will draw pants and coats but they are white cotton. I may send them home for I have no use for such clothes here. I lost my good blouse and have got the outer blouse very near worn out but we will draw some in a few days.
Good bye Sis. Give my love to Mother.
— Hugh McAulay