WARTIME LETTERS OF PVT. SUMTER
3rd ARKANSAS INFANTRY, CSA.
These letters were written by Sumter Rowland
to his father James Rowland who lived at Collins, Arkansas. These
transcriptions of the original letters were written during the Civil War
while he was in service of the Confederate Army in Virginia as a private
in Co. C, 3rd Arkansas Infantry. He was killed in action at Suffolk,
Virginia, on May 3, 1863.
Dear Father, I seat myself this morning to
write you a short letter to send by Baker. I am well at this time,
hoping when this reaches you that it may find you in the enjoyment of the
same great blessing. We are still staying at this place, but God
only knows when we may leave. We may leave here in 24 hours.
We are held back as a reserve in case they should need our assistance in
Newbern. I think that an attack is anticipated very soon. Archy
can give you all the knews as well as I can write it. Several recruits
have arrived in camp and it looks very strange to see men drilling that
never did drill. They are so awkward. Sister writen to send
my picture and I would have done it but I could not get to town.
I will send it by the first chance. You must all write to me soon
and often. Give my love and best wishes to Mr. Bulloch and family.
Write often. Yours Respect—S. ROWLAND.
Camp Aligany Virginia
Aug. 6, 1861
Dear Father, I received your letter of the
13 ultimo which afforded me a great deal of satisfaction to hear you was
well and that you had not entirely forgotten me. We are now at this
time about 160 miles from Linchburg in among the mountains and in about
8 miles of the enemy. Their position is on Cheat Mountain.
They are about ten thousand strong and are well fortified. We expect
to attact them in a very short time, probably as soon as our scouts come
in. I with myself and several others have been very sick with measles
and have been in the hospittle for some time untill yesterday, but am now
quite well but verry weak. The measles have been through our whole
regiment and has been fatal to some who taken cold with it and turned to
newmonia. We hav reliable information stating that [illegible] Scott
is dead. Report says he died [illegible] battle at Mannassas Gap.
[illegible] whipped the yankeys verry badly it seems. The [illegible]
Sam Gaddy is dead. He was killed from falling off of the cars as
we were coming from Linchburg to Stanton. He was sitting between
the cars on the brake and the cars came uncoupled and he fell through and
the cars ran over him grinding his legs into a perfect powder. He
died in about 15 minutes and was buried in Stanton. John Bullock
is dead. He died at Richmond with measles. We have received
our uniforms. It got here only a very few days ago. The most
of it is too small. You cannot—Dear Father—imagine how very much
I would like to see you and Moses, Sister, little Hattie and all but alas
I fear I will never be permitted to enjoy the society of those who are
dearer to me than the world besides again I think of you every day and
hope that at some future time to see you all again. But there is
not much prospect of getting back. The thunder of cannon will soon
be heard and on the battlefield all or at least some of us fall.
If it is my lot to fall it is all right. I do not believe I am a
coward but believe I can face the music and am eager for the fray.
Close, S. ROWLAND. Write soon and often. I would write more
but my papers out.
Camp Green Brier
Sept. 5, 1861
Dear Father, I received your letter a short
time since which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you and to hear
you was all well. I am well at this time and am stronger, stouter
than ever I was before in my life and have never been sick with the exception
of contagious diseases such as measles—mumps—rosola etc. and they was very
light. You written to me and wanted to know some thing about my clothing,
my diet, army regulations. First I will give you a description of
my clothing. We have coarse cloths overcoat which are made of blankets,
shoes with the sole about 3 inches thick, uppers to correspond, caps with
brim about 2 inches wide and cover only 3 or 4 inches of head, pants made
to fit tight as the skin under coats with two rows of brass buttons in
front to fit very tight so that we will be as small a target as possible
I believe. I will now give you a description of our fare. Our bill
of fare—first beeff, seckond flour, 3rd coffee, sugar, rice, and we draw
candles, soap. Our cooking vessels is a camp kettle oven frying pan
coffee pot. There is 9 men in our mess, wit: R. L. Tuggle, H. Ivy,
W. Wade, Glossup, N. B. Collier, P. B. Collins, I. M. Flemister.
Phillips makes out our mess, he is the Captain. We live very well
if we had bacon, but I have eat so much beeff since I have been in camp
that I am ashamed to look a cow strait in the face. We have got to
be very good cooks. We do our own cooking and washing and have done
it ever since we left home. Autny has done nothing at all but we
have had to wait on him all the time. We have a very easy time now
from the fact that it has rained so much and the ground is so muddy that
we cannot drill. You also wished to know the number of men at this
place and the Gen. we was under. There is about 8 thousand men at
this place but we are under no Gen. at all. Our regiment is an independent
regiment, and I suppose it will remain so although there is some talk of
our joining Lee. But I do not believe we will. Col. Rust speaks
of taking us back to Missouria and if he does not we will go to Memphis
to winter or that is the camp rumer at least. I know that we cannot
stand it here in the winter season for it is verry cold now. I wish
I was in Arkansas now eating peaches, watermellon, grapes, vegetables.
I have not seen a mellon in Virginia and peaches is not grown here.
There is a few apples here but if we get them they will put us in the gaurd
house. We are in eight miles of the enemy on the same road that they
are on and would atact them but their position is such that it would be
almost sure death itself to attact them. They are on Cheat Mountain
and the only road is only about 20 feet wide and they have their cannon
planted for 4 miles down the road. I given you in my letter a very
lenthy account of our scout. Our object then was to leave the road
and attact them on the other side and if our guides had taken us to the
right place we.... [last page missing]
Camp Green Brier, Nov. 7, 1861
Frederick County, Winchester, Dec. 9, 1861
Dear Father, Brothers, Sister, I received
your letters a few days ago and was verry glad to hear from you.
I am well at this time hoping this may find all in the enjoyment of the
same blesing. We are at this place but hope we will leave here.
It is very cold and raining at this time and is verry disagreable to write
but I will try and write as much as possible and as interesting as the
times will admit of. As far as fighting is conserned we had a skirmish
with the enemy pickets. We killed a 6 day before yesterday.
We are well fortified at this place and are lying here waiting for an attack
but I do not believe we will be attacted here any more. If the yankeys
do attact us they will have some hard fighting to do if they whip us.
Report says that they are all leaving Cheat Mt. How true I am not
able to say. We would have left here before now but we had orders
to stay as long as we posably could. We are going south to winter
probably to [illegible] or New Orleans. I think the fighting in this
part of Va. will stop for this winter. I must draw my short letter
to a close. My hand is numed and I have to close. Give my love best
respecks to all inquiring friends particularly to Mr. Bulloch and family.
Write soon and often all of you, Sister, Moses, Pa, all. Tell Viola
she must make haste and learn to knit and knit me a pair of socks.
Kiss little Mattie for me. Tell Jim Ben to grow fast and make haste
and get big enough to kill yankeys. You must write at least wonce
a week remember me in your prayers. S. ROWLAND.
Dear Father, I seat myself this morning to
write you a short letter. Great changes have taken place since I
written my last letter. We left Green Brier on the 21st of Nov. and
arived here on the 8th. We are now about 150 miles from Green Brier
and in quite a different county from the one we was fortunate enough to
get away from. This is a beautifull country and is one of the greatest
grain raising states or countrys in the world. We had a very hard
time during our march. We had a very hard time but none minded that
all were anxious to leave the mountains. On our march the people
treated us with great kindness. We could get anything we wanted on
the road. We would call in at a house and inquire if we could get
something to eat. The answer was yes, come in, and they would throw
open their parlor doors and invite us to enter. I almost felt like
I was out of my lattitude. I saw some very pretty girls on the road.
We are still fighting yankeys yet. We are now in about 36 miles of
the yankeys. They are at a little town Romney. We expect to
advance on them in a few days. We had a battle at Manassa every day.
They will certainly fight soon. I am getting very tired of camp life.
Hope the war will soon close, but there is not much prospect of is closing
unless we can succeed in starving them out in Washington. We received
information from some yankeys prisoners taken near Romney that wood in
Washington Citty was worth $40 per cord and that the soldiers eat only
one meal per day. This knews I presume is reliable from the fact
that there is a railroad torn up from which they get the most of their
supplies. I think the war will close when Lincoln administration
is out not before. There is not much sickness in our company at this
time. Our clothes came to hand a few days ago, all safe and sound.
I was verry much pleased with my gloves and indeed all my clothes, but
particularly my gloves. R. L. Tuggle expressed a wish that we could
both be where they was knit. I think of you all every day and don’t
want you to forget me. Write soon and direct your letter to Winchester,
Frederick County, Va. Your son, SUMPTER ROWLAND.
Winchester, Va., Dec. 18, 1861
Dear Father, hearing that Mr. Wolf would start
home in the morning, I concluded to write you a short letter. I am
well at this time hoping when Wolf or rather this letter reaches you it
will find you all in the enjoyment of the same blessing. As regards
the movements of our Army in this secktion of Virginnia, Jackson’s Brigade
left here a few days sine for Martinburg and he expecks to break a dam
somewhere on the Potomac and our brigade has had orders to keep one days
rations ahead. For if Jackson needs reinforcements we will be ordered
to his assistance amediately. This is a verry pleasant place where
we are now staying. Our guard duty comparably speaking is verry light
and we can buy anything here we want. They are expeckting a fight
at Manassa every day. We are stationed about 25 miles from Manassa,
and about 40 from Harpers Ferry and about 40 miles from Romney. The
yankeys are in persession of Romeny and are well fortified and have several
pieces of artilerry and their pieces are very large ranging from 64 to
24 pounders. And the place will be verry hard to take. And
if we do not go to Martinsburg we will be ordered to Romney. We will
not stay here long. Some decisive movement will soon take place.
I think that there will be one more generally fight and if we are victorious
which we will be certain to be they will then cave in. We are getting
innured to the hardships and privations of a soldier’s life and if we stay
in this war much longer we will be verry good soldiers. R. L. Tuggle
is well but has very sore eyes caused by the smoke of our campfires.
Give Merrice my best respecks and also Mrs. Merrice and tell them to write
to me. I must close. I would write more but there is two fellows
in this tent playing poker and they bother me so it is impossible for me
to write. Answer this as soon as you receive. Your son, SUMTER
Winchester, Va., Dec. 24, 1861
Dear Father, I embrace the present opportunity
of writing you a short letter. Mr. Lewis will start home in the morning
and I will send it by him. I am well at this time hoping this may
find all in the enjoyment of the same great blesing. We are still
in our tents and have taken no permanent winter quarters and I think it
is extremely doubtful whether we will or not. We have built
chimneys to our tents and are now verry comfortably situated for soldiers
who have traveled over Cheat Mt. and have seen as many hardships as we
have seen. Our forces on Alegany have been in an engagement since
we left. They were attacted, soon after we left but were again victorious.
They completely whiped the yankeys killed and wounded several and taken
3 pieces of artilerry. Our loss was 30 killed and several wounded.
Tomorrow is Christmas day. Our officers are preparing for a ball
at Winchester. Our Christmas in camp will undoubtedly be verry dull
compared with yours in Arkansas. Our brigade is getting up horses
wagons and I hear it rumored in camp that we will leave here in a few days
for Romney which is distant about 40 miles and is in persession of the
yankeys. [illegible] or not I am not able to do so but one thing
is verry certain we will have fightting to do soon. As it is getting
dark I must draw my letter to close. Give my love and best wishes
to all inquiring friends and retain a double for yourself. Write
often. Respectfully your son, SUMTER ROWLAND.
You wished to know something about Milton
Calhoun being wounded in the battle at Green Brier. He was wounded
but slightly is now well. Robert Tuggle is well and sends his best
respecks to all. H.C. Ivy is well and is the most plesant fellow
you ever saw. Give my kindest regards to Ben Collins and tell him
to write to me. Yours, S. R.
Henry Ivy has taken to pedling on potatoes
oneons chickens and make it verry proffitable. He has grown several
inches in hight since he left. He now measures 7 feet 10 inches.
Dear Father, I seat myself down this morning
to write [illegible]. I am well at this time with the exception of
my feet which are very badly swolen from the effects of cold. I
[illegible] and [illegible] since I will [illegible] been in one battle
and three days without blankets [illegible]. I will try and give
you a [illegible] description of our [illegible]. We started from
Winchester the first day of this month and commenced our march in the direction
of Bath, a little river town some 40 miles from this place, and was in
posession of the enemy along. Still [illegible] in the march our
waggons broke down and the snow commenced falling so we were out without
tents, blankets, provisions and almost without fire for [illegible] days.
We were about this time worn out but we were ordered to make the attact
that night so as to take them by surprise. Our collum advanced on
when reaching Bata [Bath]. Found it deserted. The yankeys hearing
of our approach had deserted the town, leaving several things of value
commasory stores and blankets [illegible] and several other things to tedious
to mention. The next thing on docket was to [illegible]. [illegible]
have completely whipped them. There is a great deal of sickness in
camp. Our men are dying up dayly and unless we leave here soon our
regiment will all die. We have lost ten from our company. Hector
Dikes is dead. I must bring my short letter to a close for it is
time that me and Bob was getting dinner. Give my love, best regards
to all inquiring friends. Tell sister, Moses, to not forget me and
to write. Tell Sippy Bulloch to write to me and you must write at
least twice a week. Tell Hatie, Jim, Ben, Viola to eat a watermellon
for me. Bob has made a fire so we must commence cooking. Always
direct your letter to Monterrey, care of Capt. Mutentin. Farewell
your son, SUMPTER ROWLAND.
[Note: Last letter received]
Richmond, Va. Aug. 25, 1862
Dear Father, [illegible] this morning to write
you a short letter as I will have a chance to send it by Chidester the
mail contact. I received your letter of the 9th ultimo, was very
glad to hear from you. I am well at this time, hoping this may find
you in the enjoyment of the same great blesing. I have nothing of
much importance to write but will try to write as much as possible and
be as interesting as I can. Our Rgt. is at this place about one mile
from Richmond. Our grand Army that was stationed around here [illegible]
gone to Jackson who is about 100 miles from here near [Fredricks?]ville.
His force will amount to at least 250,000 men and he is now in pursuit
of Pope’s yanky forces who [illegible]. Our victorious Army is advancing
on the yankeys at all points and they are falling back and I hope the day
is [illegible] when we will again be free. McClellan’s Army is on
James River, are all gone to reinforce Pope and as soon as he arives a
bloody battle with Jackson will be inevitable and when [illegible] fight
in always whip them in [illegible] than 30,000 men around here who [illegible]
back [illegible] there is severall [illegible] Regt. here and I have severall
of my [illegible] that I knowed. Boll Sloan is first [illegible]
in the 2 Miss. Regt. all the [illegible] are along. I hope this war
will soon close and I will get back again, but there will still be some
hard fighting. Lincoln has drafted [illegible] men but I am glad
to think that they [illegible] only we have men enough to fight battles
as many as can will be used. You written Hatty had got her arm broken
but you did not write how she broke it. You must remind her of her
only brother and not let her forget me. Give sister, Viola, Jim,
Ben my love also any inquiring friends and in your next letter give me
Moses post office so that I can write to him. I will close.
I will write more [illegible] have next time. Your son, SUMTER
P.S. Tuggle and all the boys send their
love to you.
I will give you a description of our guns.
We have the improved musket which is a verry good gun and will shoot 600
yds. They have percussion locks and are sure fire.
We had a slight brush with the enemy on grand
gaurd and killed three men and captured their horses. Knews
has just come into camp that [illegible] that we must leave here soon.
We will smell gunpowder in less than twenty four hours.
The following letter was written by Benjamin
Hyatt to his parents, B. C. & A. Hyatt, of Monticello, Arkansas, mentioning
the death of Sumter Rowland and others.
Bivouac near Richmond, Va. May 7th ‘63, 8 o’clock
Dear Parents, It has been a long time since
I wrote or heard from home. I last wrote by Mr. Jones of Union from Petersburg.
Since that time I have not had an opportunity to write. I shall not
attempt to give you a detailed account of all that we have done, and suffered
since I last wrote. I should not attempt to write at all, but I have
an opportunity to send a letter by hand across the river, and we are under
orders to march at day light in the morning to meet the enemy towards the
Rappahannock, I suppose. Our Regt. is cut in two—five companies are
mounted, and Col. Manning has gone with them to hunt some Yankee cavalry,
who are making raids near Richmond and in rear of Lee’s army. I expect
the other five companies will be mounted in the morning and sent on to
Col. Manning, I hope so at least.
Well to commence: We left Petersburg
on the 8th April and march immediately in front of Suffolk near 80 miles
in four days. Formed in line of battle under the guns in forts and
gunboats doing very heavy duty until the 3rd of May, when Genl. Law’s Ala.
Brig. and our Regt. were partially engaged in heavy skirmishing with a
large force of the enemy, who sallied forth under cover of heavy batteries
across the Nansemond River and the gunboats, we repulsed them in every
attempt to leave the river and held them in check until night, when Genl.
Longstreet drew off his army across Blackwater having accomplished his
object that was to get the meat and forage out of that portion of Va. and
N.C. in the hands of the enemy it is said we got enough to feed the army
of N. Va. sixty days.
Our Regt. lost in the fight or skirmish six
(6) killed, six wounded and seventeen missing, supposed to have been captured
when we fell back. Co. C had three were wounded by one canon ball,
all the right leg cut off Carpenter, Sumpter Roland and Geo. Patton.
Carpenter died before they could get him to the ambulance, the others died
in the course of 8 or 10 hours. Roland died in the ambulance, I think
they were neglected in the hurry getting off the wounded. We left
the line of battle last Sunday night at 8 1/2 o’clock P.M. took up the
line of march for [illegible] Station on the Petersburg & Norfolk R.R.
20 miles. There we took the cars in the train came to Petersburg.
Then Genl. Longstreet pressed enough horses to mount five of our Co.’s
who came on to Richmond last night. We came on in the cars today.
Our Divn. will hasten on to-wards the Rappahannock. Genl. Lee has
whipped the yankees again in another great battle. The enemy’s loss
is estimated at 26,000 killed wounded & missing. Our loss was
heavy, fighting desperate, so that we have not full reports yet.
Genl. Jackson was wounded, arm amputated. A. P. Hill slightly wounded.
Genl. Paxton of the Stone Wall Brig. was killed. I believe will drive
Hooker out of Va. if he does not mind—more anon. I saw Jno. Crook
yesterday in Petersburg. The post-Prisoners are maning the fortifications
around Richmond—N. N. L. is well—have not seen him. Lt. Col. Taylor
has just been exchanged, was captured while crossing the Miss. River.
It is getting late—will be up by four in the
morning, have had but a few hours rest since Saturday night. We are
placed under lasting obligations to the citizens of Richmond. They
gave our bare footed men some 15.00$ worth of shoes today while marching
through the capitol. Love to all my friends and all the children.
Why did you not write by Ed, Wm. Vick or Col. Taylor. BEN.
© 2001 by EDWARD
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