28 August 1862: “Very soon after I left last January nearly all the students left and went to war; some were called out by the draft some were taken by the Conscription law and some went voluntarily, So nearly all left…”

Item description: In this letter of 28 August 1862, Preston H. Sessoms writes from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., to his sister Bettie. Sessoms tells his sister that only 50 students are enrolled, and board is expensive. He contemplates going around or through the Yankees to get home at the end of the session.

More about Preston H. Sessoms:
The son of Elizabeth Willoughby and John Sessoms, Preston Harrell Sessoms (b. 1843) of Bertie County, NC, entered the University in 1861 and became a member of the Philanthropic Society. From 1863 to 1865 served in the Sixty-Eighth North Carolina Regiment, attaining the rank of sergeant. In 1869 he married Annie Elizabeth Beasley. A teacher, farmer, and merchant, he received his BA degree in 1911 “as of 1865.”

Item citation: From folder 7 in the Jonathan Jacocks Papers #372,  Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription (courtesy of DocSouth):

Chapel Hill N. Carolina.
August 28th 1862.

Sister Bett.

I have again reached this place in safety, and found all things as they were when I left last January, except there has been a great deal change among the College affairs. For such a place as this, which is called a university,—there had ought to be no less than three or four hundred students, but there are only fifty here now, a very small number. Very soon after I left last January nearly all the students left and went to war; some were called out by the draft some were taken by the Conscription law and some went voluntarily, So nearly all left; if there had not new students come this session, there would be hardly twenty students here now. I call it very dull and lonesome place; if it was not for one thing I would not stay here, There is but two or three boarding houses now, all have gone down, and board is very high, and but very little to eat, The college expenses are the same as the have always been. I have heard something about the second call for conscripts; if there does come another call, this college will certainly break, it will take all, sweep it clean. I have been here about three weeks, I started the day that I told you I should and came some fifty or sixty miles on the buggy before I took the cars. Brother John came no further than to the Rail Road with me, then I took it by myself. But I had no trouble in coming. There is no pleasure in staying up here unless everything wasmore free, and cheaper, I would like it great deal better to stay at home, I suppose that the Yankees are thicker up there than when I was there. There is no chance of their getting up here, but they may cut off the rail road then I should be locked up in a place, hard to break out. If the Yankees were to cut me off up here, when I got ready to come home, I should surely come,Yankees or no Yankees, If there was no chance of getting round them, I would go through them, In three months this session will be to an end, on the fourth thursday of November. By that time I suppose the Yankees will have those counties down there fully in their possession, I dont think that any more conscripts will come from out of those counties which the yankees have so nearly got in their possession. I have written enough. Excuse me for stopping. I am well, and going on as well as the times will allow. Give my respects to Mr White and Henderson, Keep those three poulets of mine which I told you not to kill. Write me anytime when you have the chance, Believe me to be your brother

P. H. Sessoms.
Chapel Hill.
N. Carolina.

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