21 November 1862: “Some of the citizens of Martin thought that they had carried off no less than 3000 negroes…”

Item description: Letter, 21 November 1862, from Robert D. Graham to his father William A. Graham. Robert writes about marching from North Carolina into Virginia, the destruction of property by Union soldiers, and African Americans leaving with the Union troops.

[Transcription available below images] 

Item citation: From the William A. Graham Papers, #285, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription

Franklin Depot, Southampton Co., Va
November 21st 1862

Dear Father,

Your welcome letter reached me at Goldsboro. I was glad to receive your accounts of the plantations in the west – Received the first fruits of my orchard and hope I may be able to appreciate your kindness when the war is over. I believe Johnnie wrote to you from Hamilton. We left that place last Saturday crossing Roanoke River that evening at Hills Ferry and bivouacked on its banks. The Ferry is one mile from the little village of Palmyra. Sunday we passed through Woodville and bivouacked near the House of Perry Tyler in Halifax county I think, and is a mile of Rockville. Next day we marched within a mile of Murfreesboro. We were escorted through the Town by Wheeler’s(?) Battalions, and marched within a half mile of Hills Ferry at the site of the old Revolutionary town of [?], on Nottaway. Next morning crossed the Ferry and marched 6 miles to this place. We slept in our tents last night for the first time in 18 days. We are now in seven or eight miles of a camp of the enemy some 18 or 20,000 strong. We hope to hold them in check with our present force, though I suppose we would receive reinforcements in case of an emergency. We have Ferebee’s(?) Cavalry Regiment, the 11th and 56th N.C. Infantry and Batteries in this immediate vicinity under command of Col. Leaventhorpe. Two or three skirmishes take place nearly every week. We find provisions and everything else a great deal lighter over here than in North Carolina. We fared very well in this respect in our last line of march, as very few soldiers had passed through that section of the country before us. I was not aware before of the great quantity of brandy made in Eastern North Carolina. The Yankees destroyed in one way or another all they could lay hands on. Sometimes they would take a band or two along with them. They killed some 300 head of hogs in and around Hamilton, sometimes taking only a few slices of ham and leaving the rest for the Buzzards. Some of the citizens of Martin thought that they had carried off no less than 3000 negroes from that and the adjoining counties. One plantation alone lost 60. Their expedition is said to have resembled a Bacchanal more than a march – in some regiments not more than one soldier out of four carrying his musket – each had a negro by his side for this purpose. I wish we could have cut them off. The New York Express says they intended to take Goldsboro and had 12,000 men. They were commanded by Gen. Foster, quondam Assistant Professor at West Point. Willie writes that he will try to be at home Christmas. I should like to be there at the same time but hardly thing I can get off this year. Johnnie is in town today on a Board to examine some  newly elected candidates for Lieutenancies.

Your affectionate son,
R. D. Graham
Lt. Col. “D” 56th N.C.F.

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