20 September 1861: “We spend many of our leisure hours in fishing, which at this place is not an uninteresting business you may suppose.”

Item description: Letter, 20 September 1861, from William H. Proffitt, Company B, 1st Regiment N.C. State Troops, about fortifications at Aquia, Virginia.

Item citation: From folder 1 of the Proffit Family Letters, #3408-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

          Aquia Creek, Va
          September 20th 1861

AJ Proffitt, Dear Brother

    Your very kind and interesting letter of the 6th inst is at hand to which I hasten reply. Your letter gave me much satisfaction by informing me that you were all well, and that times there were good, etc, etc. I have very little interesting news to write to you at this time that will be of much interest to you, more to inform you. I wish the rest of your relations and friends in camp are all well, hoping when you receive these few lines you will all be enjoying health and prosperity.
     I suppose you are aware of our company’s being at the mouth of Aquia creek, and having charge of a Battery at that place. We have been here near week and are far better accommodated here than we have been since we have been in camp. I cannot say that we are encamped as this time for every one of us is living in a house, though some of them are small, any of them are preferable to tents. This is the prettiest place I ever say. The river at this place is said to be five miles wide and the creek one. When we go to the spring, we get in a boat and cross the creek, as the spring from which we get our water is on the opposite side of the creek to where we are stationed. We spend many of our leisure hours in fishing, which at this place is not an uninteresting business you may suppose. T.C.L. makes the fishing business pay. You can see ships, boats, ans schooners at almost anytime. some are sailing up and down the river while others are motionless.
     We are improving our fortifications at this place which will be very soon sufficiently strong or, however, we think, it will be. We have been in no fights yet, neither am I able to tell you when we will. There has been heavy firing heard in the direction of Washington city yesterday and today. We have not heard the result, but there is not doubt that there is a dreadful battle being fought near that place.
     I was very happy in receiving a full account of your School which indeed is one that is worthy of your time and attention, and I feel quite confident that the citizens of Beaver creek will continue to furnish you with a good school as long as you wish to Teach, and I recommend  you to remain there until you have taught at least to or three sessions. I was informed by C.L.P [His brother Calvin] that he did not know whether or not he would have the opportunity of returning to school with you. If his opportunities are bad at present, I want him to remain there with you during the winter. He informed me that he was requested by E.K. Walsh to teach a school in his district. I think it would be a good idea for him to teach a few months sometime in the Winter, but not to neglect going to long on account of doing so. He wrote me a few weeks ago concerning his interest in volunteering  in Mr. Barber’s company. I would be glad for Mr. Barber to succeed in getting up a good company, but if C.L. wishes to volunteer, if he will wait until I came home he can come back with me and join this company.  I would prefer that all my relations and particular friends should be with us. I would be glad to recieve a letter from A.N. and know what his intentions are. I was informed by C.L. that he was riding over the country and taking his pleasure. I would be happy in hearing of his going to school this winter, but I know it is impossible for you all to be gone from the home long at a time.
     I would be glad to know if R.L.P. [his sister, Rachel] is going to school any this fall or not. I was glad to hear that Father’s crop was so good and that his and Mother’s health is as good as usual. You said in your letter that you would be glad if I could take charge of your School so that you could accomplish some valuable pieces of work at home. I will assure you that I would be has happy in occupying a seat in that school as in almost any place I ever saw for I have spent probably the happiest days of my life at that place.
     As I commenced your letter on yesterday and did not have any opportunity of finishing it, I have received some news of the battle near Washington city. I heard this morning that news was brought on the 12 o’clock train last night that General Beaureguard had taken Arlington heights with the loss of an immense number of men, perhaps 14 or 15000. The above is a mere report, and I am unwilling to vouch for the truth of the same though we are unable to give you the particulars, it is unnecessary to doubt that a tremendous battle has been fought for we heard the report of cannon a large part of the two days. About sunset last night four or five large guns were fired a few miles down the river. We heard the report distinctly and saw the smoke ascend and some said they saw the place where the balls struck the water. I am unable to inform you why the guns were fired. I will very soon close by asking you to write me soon after the reception of this letter, and gibe me the news. Please direct your addresses to Fredericksburg, Va. in care of Capt. Brown, 1st Reg. N.C. State Troops.
     SC land, DM Carlton, Wm and Alfred Walsh, LW Laxton, WH Witherspoon, and your relatives and friends in camp are well and finely. Please give my love and respects to all inquiring friends, particularly to AM Foster and family to all your students, etc. Tell John J. Foster that I was glad to hear that Mr. West’s drum was as good as it was when we last saw it, and that there is a great need of Mr. West and his drum in the army. Give him my best respects, and tell him “it is all right on the Goose.”
     I hope to see you all very soon and tell you some good jokes and then it will “be all right on the Goose.” You said Wm and Alfreds likeness had reached home and that they were a very exact resemblence of them. You said you would be glad to have mine, I will send it to you as soon as I have an opportunity of sending it to you. I think I will go to Fredericksburg very soon and have one taken.
     Write me soon
     I remain now as ever yours, etc.
                             W. H. Proffitt.


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