1862: John Calvin McAulay to Nancy Keziah McAulay

This letter was written by John Calvin McAulay (1835-1910), the son of Hugh McAulay (1797-1867) and Nancy Davidson Alexander (1804-1873) of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina.   McAulay served in Co. K, 56th North Carolina Infantry.

John survived the war and returned to Mecklenburg county where he married Jane Sarah Beard (1849-1895) in 1869.


Peace Institute Hospital
Raleigh, North Carolina
August 24th 1862

Dear Sister,

I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know how and where I am. I am in the hospital at Raleigh. My leg got cold in it at the camp at Goldsboro and I was sent to the hospital there and then after staying there 3 days, I was sent to this place where I fare little. We only get a small piece of bread and a [   ] of coffee. At Goldsboro I felt as much like eating as I ever did and [          ] but not very good but if I [   ] wages get that I can do it I do not get sick. I am enjoying myself very well here although I am weak. I do not trudge about home much now. My leg was not bad because the weather was warm. My leg hod got better before I was sent to the hospital and I would never went but our regiment was ordered to Magnolia 50 miles this side of Wilmington and after the regiment left, there was another docter left to attend the sick that was left behind. The doctor set me to the hospital and said I was not fit to be there. The doctor [that] is over our regiment is a perfect savage — has no feelings for humans at all more than he has or ought to have for it  [   ]. John Hux ¹ is with me in the hospital and Vance. John is right bad off. For my part, I am well as I could expect to be. If I could get a [     ] of that was fit to eat. The water here is good and a good place for air.

This house was built for a Female College but was not quite finished. It is north of the State House about a half a mile — just a straight street to the hospital.²

Yesterday on the train coming up to this place I got plenty of peaches and pie and watermelon but had to pay well for them. At the hospital you can not get such things without stealing them. I do not want none of my folks to come to see me now but if I get sick, I would like for someone to come to see me.

At the hospital at Goldsboro, there was men’s wives came to see them and the doctor would not le them stay in the hospital at night. It is against the rules. There was mothers brought them something to eat and they could not get to stay in with them and let them eat it. They say that they know what to give them to eat. There is several in the hospital that has been there 6 weeks and now are not fit for service just because they do not get enough to eat. A man can never gather strength without to get something to eat. Our regiment came back from Magnolia and stayed two days [and] now are at Wilmington and when I get able, I will be there too.

You ought to been at the camp on last Sunday night to seen the boys when the long roll beat, putting cartridges in the cartridge box, and forming a line and marching to the depot to take the cars to leave. The news was that the Yankees was landing this side of Wilmington. Everyone of them thought that they were going into a battle. Some of them left their money with me and others felt like I would like to be along to see the fight.

Nothing more at present. — John C. McAulay

¹ John Hux and his brother, William Morris Hux, were also from Mecklenburg. They enlisted on 8 July 1862, the same date as McAulay.

² The institution that eventually became William Peace University was founded in 1872 as Peace Institute by a group of men within the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina. The leading donation of $10,000 USD ($257 thousand in 2017 terms) came from William Peace, a prominent local merchant and a founding member of the First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh.[2] Peace was a member of the second class of the University of North Carolina (class of 1800), and a longtime proponent of education as a benefactor of Raleigh Academy, a school primarily for boys. Additionally, Peace donated 8 acres (32,000 m2) for the campus site.[3] Main Building, a red brick, white-columned Greek revival building was built between 1859–1862, but was commandeered by the Confederate States government early in the Civil War to be used as an army hospital. The Main Building was designed and built by the Holt Brothers, Thomas and Jacob, who were notable builders from nearby Warrenton, NC. The Civil War and Reconstruction Era delayed the opening of the school, but Peace Institute opened in January 1872. [Wikipedia]



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