22 November 1863: “In the day one negro woman was killed in ‘Beaufane’ or ‘Bofane’ street, near ‘King.’ At night the shells fell thick and fast around the Mills House.”

Item description: Letter, 22 November 1863, from Jeremy Francis Gilmer to his wife Louisa Fredericka Alexander Gilmer. In the letter, Gilmer describes shelling taking place in the city of Charleston, S.C.

More about Jeremy Francis Gilmer:
Jeremy Francis Gilmer was born in Guilford County, N.C., on 23 February 1818. He entered the United States Army as a Second Lieutenant of Engineers in July 1839 after graduating from the United States Military Academy. He continued as an United States Army Engineer, constructing fortifications and conducting surveys until 1861, when he resigned in support of the southern cause. In September 1861, Gilmer was appointed Major of Engineers in the Confederate States of America Army and served as Chief Engineer of the staff of General A. S. Johnston until the general’s death at the battle of Shiloh on 6 April 1862, where Gilmer was also severely wounded.

After his recovery, Gilmer served for a short time with the Army of Northern Virginia. On 9 August 1862, he was assigned to the Office of Chief of Engineer Bureau in Richmond, Va., and promoted to the rank of Colonel of Engineers. Promoted to Major General on 20 August 1863, Gilmer was ordered to Charleston, S.C., to direct the defense of the city. He returned to Richmond in June 1864, where he directed the Engineer Bureau until the end of the War. In the fall of 1865, Gilmer was elected a director of the Georgia Central Railroad and later served as president pro tem. In 1866, he was elected president of the Savannah Gas-Light Company, an office he held along with director, Georgia Central Railroad, until his death on 1 December 1883.

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Item citation: In folder 42 in the Jeremy Francis Gilmer Papers, #276, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Charleston Nov. 22 1863

My dear Soulie,

I must venture to use my eye long enough to say “howdie” and report that I am gradually gaining more and more confidence in its cure. Yesterday the Yankees resumed their fire on the city about 11 o’clock and continued until about 1 in the afternoon, again at night from a quarter of one to a quarter or half past two. In the day one negro woman was killed in “Beaufane” or “Bofane” street, near “King.” At night the shells fell thick and fast around the Mills House. One struck the “Hibernian Hall” just before the Hotel, two struck in the burnt district just above and one near the old burnt church on Meeting Street below “Market”. “No body hurt” We will all move up town tomorrow. The General has moved his office already.

I hope you reached Savannah in good time and with as much comfort as a ten hour journey would allow – and found all well, including the “Chickiebiddies.” Give all much love for me. I know all were glad to see you. xx. There is no firing to day up to this hour (12 o’clock) I will write no more now – you will write to me to day. I know.

With all my love,



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