This letter was written by 27 year-old Mary Macon Hawkins (1838-1918), the daughter of Philemon (“Phil”) Hawkins (1768-1856) and Jacobina Sherrod (1803-1881) of Louisburg, Franklin county, North Carolina. Mary mentions the imprisonment of her brother, Benjamin Franklin Hawkins (1841-1903), in this letter. Benjamin joined Co. G, 47th North Carolina (Confederate) Infantry in March 1862. He was taken prisoner by the Yankees near Petersburg on 25 March 1865 and released on 13 June 1865. During most of his service, Benjamin was assigned duty as a wagon master in the regiment.
Mary expresses grave concern that Sherman’s advance on Raleigh and beyond will result in destruction and or theft of personal valuables—including her clothes.
Louisburg [North Carolina]
April 2nd 1865
We have had such exciting times here for the past two or three weeks that I haint had a chance to reply to your last letter. We heard yesterday that [brother] Ben was a prisoner taken last Sunday. I write to you some time since for cousin Adeline’s address, but I suppose you forgot it when you wrote. I reckon he will be exchanged soon but in case he is not, I wish you would write to cousin Adeline and let her know that he is a prisoner. We would be most grateful for any assistance rendered.
I have just heard that they are fighting at Petersburg and I feel glad that Ben is a prisoner rather than be in the battles. I am afraid he will suffer a great deal in prison but it is better than being killed or disabled for life.
We have been expecting the Yankees to take Raleigh every day and then we would be exposed all the time. Mother is very much distressed about her provisions and sundries. Shouldn’t know what to do with them. The Yankees are so smart, you can’t hide anything from them. What are you going to do with your valuables? We don’t talk or think of anything but hiding our things. I should hate for them to take my clothes so much.
Cousin Phil told me that he saw Dick at the depot the other day looking for cousin ___ P. Barton. I hope he has returned. Give him my love and tell him he must come up and see us. Mother wants to hear him talk about Johnson’s Island. I thank you for the patters but I reckon I will have to accept your kind offer to fix them as I am a poor hand at fixing anything. Mother joins me in love to you & Esther. Come soon.
Yours sincerely, — Mary