Item Description: Letter, 28 June 1863, from Second Lieutenant Leonidas L. Polk to his wife. Leonidas La Fayette Polk (1837-1892) of Anson County, N.C., was a planter; editor; merchant; Confederate officer in the 26th and 43rd North Carolina infantry regiments; Democrat and Populist; first North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, 1877-1880; founder of the Progressive Farmer; and vice president and president of the National Farmers’ Alliance, 1887-1892.
Item Citation: From folder 2b of the L.L. Polk Papers #3708, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
June 28th 1863
My own dear Wife,
You see that I am in Pensylvania with the army that has so long threatened to “carry the war into Africa.” I caught up at Chambersburg the day before yesterday after a few days of the hardest marching I ever did, having walked 74 miles in 2 1/2 days! I wrote you from Strasburg & hope you got the letter as it was a diary of my travels and troubles, observations, vexations etc. Our force crossed the Potomac and took all the towns, villages, and public property, then came straight through Maryland into this state. We have destroyed millions of dollars in public property and captured about 5,000 prisoners & are now encamped in and around the town of Carlisle. The Yankee forces fly at our approach without firing a gun, frequently. Gen. Hooker is somewhere near Washington, or far in our rear, evidently outgeneralled one time again. We are within 18 miles of Harrisburg, the capitol.
There was a force here yesterday but when they found our cavalry approaching, they that camped here left leaving everything and we are now occupying the barracks. They are splendid quarters and are comfortably furnished. We all have just as much ice, sugar, molasses, beef, bread, etc. etc. as we want. Our whole army is on this side of the Potomac. This campaign is pregnant with great events & how or when or where it will end, is with Gen Lee & our God. The people are almost frightened to death and render a servile complacency to allow acts which it is painful to a bold Southernor to behold.
I am well & doing very well. I would like to write you a long letter but I must close, just hoisted the National flag. Speeches are to be made by Gens Ewell, Rhodes, Daniel, Trimble. Anson Guards, Ellis Rifles, doing well. Sam Tillman is well, please let his family know. Billy May is well and all the boys are in fine spirits. Will write again soon as possible. Hope to hear from you soon, but it is doubtful as we are going further from home every day. I will write you again as soon as I get the chance to send it though. I have written 3 letters since I came from home.
We are all hopeful of good results from the campaign. The people are very kind & are all for peace now. All for McClellan for President. Kiss our little darlings for me, write soon and be sure to put Rhodes Division, Daniels Brigade. I remain, as now your ever devoted & affectionate
Gen Pettigrew is behind, not far. We have captured about 6 or 8 thousand cattle, the finest I ever saw & I suppose 3 or 4 thousand of the very best Black Dutch horses. Nearly all our boys have new clothes, shoes, and hats. We buy Calico 50 cts, everything cheap. If I was to get back I will try to bring something to you. They allow us 50cts on the dollar for our money. The storekeepers are bound to take it. We hear nothing from Vicksburg. If it will only hold out!
Tell father to write to me. I hope you will get this & that you are all well. Your own devoted Leon
Write write, don’t be uneasy. I will take care of myself. Tell father to see if Ashe cant get me into the State troops. Everybody drinks as usual and I am perfectly disgusted. Your Leonidas