20 November 1863: “I hope that you will continue in prayer for me that I may be able to discharge my duties as a Christian soldier while I am permitted to live in this unfriendly world of sorrow.”

Item Description:  Letter dated 20 November 1863, from Calvin Leach to his mother Rebecca Leach, discussing military life and activities, as well as the conditions of other soldiers from his hometown.  Calvin Leach was born in 1843 and was the oldest of the eight children of D.A. and Rebecca Leach of Scottish descent, from Montgomery County, N.C.  He was a church clerk at Walnut Grove before he joined Company B of the First North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Confederate States of America, in September 1861. He died in Richmond in 1864.


Item Citation:  Letter dated 20 November 1863, in the Calvin Leach Diary and Letters #1875-z, Southern Historical Collection, the Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Frid Nov 20th 1863
Camp on the Rapadan 16 miles from
Culpeper C. House, Va
Dear and afection Mother
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines having neglected it longer than I expected, but we have been moving about lately and I did not have time to do it. I am happy to tell you I am tolerably well at this time and have been improving slowly since I came to camp. I am very anxious to hear from home as I have not heard from home since I left. I wrote Lydia the 10th was the last time I wrote and I hope some of you have wrote to me before now.We have been on picket since I wrote before. Last Thursday we left camp and moved down to Raccoon Ford where our Brigade relieved another one on picket. Friday we remained in reserve. Sat also in reserve. That night it rained till 12 oclock and I wrapped my blanket round me and stood by the fire until it quit raining and then lay down slept till day. In the morning about sunup we heard the firing of guns down on the line. We got up and went down the river to see what was the matter and it was the Yankee sharpshooters that got in some houses on the opposite side of the river fireing at our men, and our men fireing at them. Our men brought their Artillery in position and shelled the houses and made them leave in a hurry, our men taking one prisoner.
This evening we went on the front line of picket. I walked the post from 2 to 4 in the night watching for Yankees. [On] the 16th our Brigade was relieved from picket and we marched out and took up camp where we have been working on the breastworks ever since. We are putting up very good breastworks. I think we will be able to stand the Yankees in a fight if they come on us in the works. Gen Lee has lost so many men he is now going to adopt the plan of fighting behind breastworks. Our army is small and right smart heartened.
[top margins] I saw Tom Hester the other day, the man that came home as I did.  he is trying to get a discharge. he came a few days before I did. he said that John Leach was well but was gone on picket.  J. Price saw John Evans the other day. he was well in fine spirits.  If you have an opportunity you might send me some sausage red peper onions this winter but do not trouble if you can not conveniently.
Elder James McNeill has gone home. He started yesterday and I did not get to send a letter by him but I sent 12 dollars by him which you and the girls can use for yourselves. The army has been in such a stir since McNeill came he was not able to do much good. He is going home and fire up his business and then he will come again when the army gets in a more settled condition. I heard him pray the other night in front Curtis tent but did not have an opportunity of hearing him preach. He said he expected to be at the school house the next time if nothing happened. He left a book for me and the ? to read called “The Living Epistle”. I was very glad to see him although I did not get to talk with him much.
All the boys generally are well. Larkin Finley, Curtis Willborn, [?] Woodruff Laws, [?] Price Laxton. We are all well McClean and Robinson have been sick but are better. We have 2 recruits to our co[mpany] from the Trap Hill country. Truitt + Mosely Reubin Sparkes, one of our old co. that deserted is here in the Brigade guard house while he was at home he was married this man Mosely’s sister. We have been drawing enough to eat lately. We drawed Irish potatoes and I had a splendid breakfast this morning. I have some of my honey and butter yet. I have done my own washing since I came back. I do not believe I have an enemy in the co[mpany]. They all seem like brothers to me and they will do anything in the world to accommodate me.  My mess will always favor me in cooking, getting wood, etc.  You need not trouble your self about me for there are thousands who are in worse fix than I am.  John Estes is here yet and has not got his discharge yet but thinks he will shortly.  Tell John & Catherine howdy for me and tell them our brig Gen Steuart has a rooster he carries with him where ever he goes and of a morning before day I can hear him crow makes me think of hearing the old rooster crow at home. tell them to raise all the young chickens  they can maybe  I will come home sometime to eat them.  I wish you to write to me as often as you can.  I am very anxious to hear from home at this time as I have not heard since I left.  I wish to know what has become of the home guard and wat they are doing.I hope that you will continue in prayer for me that I may be able to discharge my duties as a Christian soldier while I am permitted to live in this unfriendly world of sorrow. I try to raise my weak and feable petitions in behalf of you all that if we meet no more on earth we may have a happy meeting in heaven of bliss where parting will be no more.
Your affectionate son,
Calvin Leach, Co. B. 1st NC Infantry,
Steuarts Brig, Johnstons Division, Richmond Va
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One Response to 20 November 1863: “I hope that you will continue in prayer for me that I may be able to discharge my duties as a Christian soldier while I am permitted to live in this unfriendly world of sorrow.”

  1. Christopher Graham says:

    Hi. Great letter. The introduction suggests this fellow is from Montgomery County but the census has him and all the people he mentions in Wilkes County.