5 July 1862: “…better give a 1000 Yankees (including all the Gen’ls lately taken) than lose one of such inestimable value as your dear Brother”

Item description: Letter from M. Marshal to Mary Pettigrew, 5 July 1862. Mrs. Marshall notes her pleasure at finding that General Pettigrew, Mary’s brother, was not killed in battle but is captured, and wishes his safe return. She goes on to share news from another friend about losses suffered from the Halifax Light Infantry during battle.

[Transcription available below images]

Item citation: From Folder 255 in the Pettigrew Family Papers, #592, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item transcription:

Halifax, July 5th / 62

My Dear Miss Mary,

I intended taking this liberty just after the Battle of Seven Pines (in view of the reported death of your dear Brother) but I was so grieved it led me to defer for 3 or 4 days, during with time I had the happiness of seeing a Gentleman direct from Richmond (Mr. Godfrey of Edenton) probably a personal acquaintance of yours also, who brought the joyful intelligence that Genl Pettigrew was not dead tho wounded and taken prisoner, since then I have seen mention of him in several papers, but nothing definite, so then you must permit me to rejoice sincerely with you in the hope and feverant prayer that he is fast recovering and will be speedily exchanged and restored to his friends and country – better give a 1000 Yankees (including all the  Gen’ls lately taken) than lose one of such inestimable value as your dear Brother. I have heard with pride how his men idolize him and think how sadly they were disheartened when he fell, God grant they may soon rejoice in having their lov’d commander restored to them – but I must go back a little and explain the cause of my long delay just one day of seeing Mr Godfrey I was taken very sick and for 4 weeks nearly every thing around me was perfect chaos, I could neither eat, or drink, and tho I am not able to walk about the house (much debilitated) I have not the least appetite , all I have wanted was Lemons, none could be bought. My kind friend Mrs. Devereux sent me the last she had (having some trees of hers over raising) and them grieved because she had no more. I did wish I had been with our men and captured a few from the Yankees, during my recovery I thoughts often of your dear Brother and resolved should I be spared, to send this, acting on the old adage “better late than never”. Mr. Godfrey told me he saw Cousin William going on for the for the body of his brother and told him he was not dead [.] I could not but imagine his feelings and sympathized with him on hearing such a happy contradiction of such an unhappy report- and now we must all be more deeply sensible than ever of the deep gratitude we owe a good, and just, God after the brilliant victories so lately achieved by our brave devoted troops near Richmond, tho it has brought sorrow and desolation into nearly every home we knew nothing could be gained without heavy sacrifices. The Company from this place (Halifax Light Infantry) attached to the 12th Reg’t, were in last Fridays fight and suffered terribly, some were literally shot to pieces, relatives gone to try and procure their Bodies, besides several kill’d (all not yet ascertained) as all that were able proceeded in pursuit of the Enemey and were in another engagment later in the week, nearly all were more or less wounded. Some reached here today, those now here were shot in their feet , Breast, Arms. I am told they fought desperately and their thin ranks is sufficient evidence – amongst our loss was some estimable young men and I sincerely mourn with their families, I pray that a speedy end may be put to this cruel war by our obtaining a permanent Independence, and save us the loss of so many valuable lives. And now my dear Miss Mary (if I am not asking too much) should you hear direct from your brother will you please let me know all about his situation, and if he will soon be exchanged. My Dear Daughter joins me in sincere love for you and kind regards for your family ~

Very sincerely your friend

Mr. M. Marshall


A few days since I received a very lengthy letter from my friend Mrs. Col. McRae giving me some particulars of the Reg’t, among them the death of Liet Col Bradshaw(?) of Edenton whom I have know and esteemed highly and sadly do I deplore his death, the day he left here with the Reg’t, he said if ever he went into battle he expected to be kill’d. How truly has his words been verified~

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