These seven letters were written by James Turner Stark (1844-1920), the son of Kysar J. Stark (1819-1886) and Julia Wilson (1823-1854) of Ragland, Granville county, North Carolina. James enlisted in Co. E, 46th North Carolina Infantry, on 22 February 1863. He served until 24 December 1864.
James married Parcena Wheeler (1850-1934) in Granville county, N C., on 3 December 1868.
[Note: Several of these letters were most likely written by another soldier on the behalf of Pvt. Stark as his handwriting and composition skills were clearly lacking.]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE
Camp near Pocotaligo, South Carolina
March 27th 1863
My Dear Father,
I will drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well, truly hoping this may find you and all well. There is [ ] day here today and I am just after having [ ] but little news in camp. Times is mighty hard here for something to eat. We get very little. We are expecting a fight here any day.
This makes the third time I have written to you and have never got but one letter from you yet. I have never drawn no money yet. I have got a pair of shoes and jacket. We will get some cloth soon in a few days. WE have a heap of duty to do in throwing up breastworks but I like camp life very well. Lieutenant Wheeler has resigned and is coming home soon. I must let you know a little… [pencil too feint to read].
…until death, — James T. Stark
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER TWO
Camp 14 Miles from Wilmington
April 29th 1863
I will drop you a few lines to inform you I am not very well. I have been sick several days but I feel some better today than I have been. Father, I have not heard from you all since Mr. Meadows was here. I wish I could get a letter from you. Father, this is a bad place to be sick at. Marching from Wilmington down here is what made me sick. I hope I may be well in a few days.
We are near the Top Sail Sound. Our company went on picket last night down on the Sound six miles from here. They got back today.
Father, I want you to get me a substitute and bring here as soon as you can for I don’t believe I can ever stand the army. I am afraid I shall have a hard attack of sickness now but am in hopes I shall not. Father, Joseph Kinton has written home for his brother John to come to see him and bring a box of provisions for him and me and Charles. I hope he will come. Joseph has a box on the way now by express but has never got it yet. He expects it every day. If John Kinton comes before you do with the substitute, send me something I can eat by him.
Mt fare is bad here. Joseph gets me some milk every time he can but I tell you, it is a hard place to get anything here for love or money. I have not drawn any money yet. Our company drawed money today for monthly wages. The mess threw in $18,00 to me for the benefit of my box you sent me. Father, I have no news to write now. Only I want to hear from you all very bad. Give my love to all. Write soon to your ever true son, — Jimmie
This will inform you that I am well as common hoping this may find you and all of your family. James is not well. He is better today than he was last night from what the boys told me that were with him. I had to leave him last evening and go on picket duty.
He is very low spirited. I think he is more homesick than anything else. I will attend to him the best I can. Our accommodation is very common here. We don’t get much to eat and what we do get is not fit for a sick man. I wrote this to let you know James is no ways dangerously sick. If he gets so, I will let you know. — Joseph R. Kinton
James is not confined. He goes about the camp in the day.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER THREE
Goldsboro, North Carolina
May the 13th 1863
I received your letter yesterday and was very glad to hear from you all and to hear that you all were well. This leaves me nearly well. I feel well enough but I am very weak yet. If I could get enough to eat, I think I would get well soon but we don’t get enough for two days to last us one. I wish you could see what we get. We have to eat our meal without softening and it is the coarsest you ever saw. Father, I would like very much to get something from home now.
Billy is well and with the regiment. We are camped in 2 miles of Goldsboro and I hope we may stay here this summer. I have not drawed any money yet but I think will draw in a few days. I am very sorry you can’t get me a substitute. I hope you will happen to [have] the luck to get me one after awhile. Tell Sol I think he might come to see me now and if he won’t come, to write me.
Father, I have no news to write—only what you have already heard. I guess you have heard all about the last fight. Tell Wes Finch I would like to see him and I would like to have him to make meal for this regiment.
You must write often to me and I will do the same. Give my love to all. Mr. Kimball’s son is going to start home this evening. He got a furlough on account of his Father’s death. I shall send this letter by him. Nothing more. Only I remain your ever true son, — James
Mr. K. T. Stark
This leaves me tolerable well but in a heap of trouble. I have just heard of the death of my dear brother James. He was killed in the last battle on the Rappahannock [Battle of Chancellorsville]. Fought on the 2d and 3d of this month.
Mr. Stark, I think [your son] James is getting well very fast. He is very hearty but we don’t get enough to eat by half and if it was not for what little we could buy, I don’t know what we would do. James has no money but he shan’t like for any as long as I have it myself. I drawed $88 dollars since I got back and I expect it will take it all to serve me until we draw again. If James ever gets anyways dangerous, I will be sure to let you know. I shall attend to him as a brother for I believe he would return the same to me if I was to be sick.
Mr. Stark, if you or Sal come here, I would like for you to let my folks know so they could send me a box. I have written for brother John to come but I have not heard whether he will come or not. I rather think he will and if so, I told him to see you and bring James one.
Nothing more at present. Only I remain your ever true friend, — Joseph R. Kinton ¹
Excuse bad writing this time. Kimball has failed to get a furlough so I will mail this letter.
¹ Joseph R. Kinton (1843-1910) enlisted in Co. E, 46th North Carolina Infantry on 27 March 1862. He was the son of Robert S. Kinton (1790-1845) and Mary W. Howell (1805-1890) of Tar River, Granville county, North Carolina. Joseph’s older brother, Sgt. James Robert Kinton (1833-1863) was killed on 3 May 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville while serving in Co. E, 23rd North Carolina Infantry.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FOUR
Camp 46th Regt. North Carolina Infantry
New Orange Court House, Va.
December 15, 1863
I received your kind letter dated the 10th and was glad to hear from you and to hear that you was all well. This leaves me well at this time and hoping these few lines may find you and all the same. We are in the same camp you left us in. Mr. Johnson ¹ is coming out here Christmas and I want you to send me a box by him if he comes.
I am sorry to hear that [ ] grandfather did not come to see us. I heard he was taken sick in Richmond. Billy has got his box from Richmond and I am sorry to say everything was spoiled and had it all to throw away. The box was worth $100 and lost everything. Could not get as much as I could eat out of the box.
Rufus is well. I have wrote to you once before but this is the first I have got from you. Want you to write if our rations have been sent here yet [?]. Tell Soliney [?] Wilson I will send her a ring by my next letter and I will be glad if [she is] my sweetheart. Tell her I don’t think she has any right to to give me any[thing] back but herself. Not saying she would not. I would like to be there about Christmas if I could but there is no chance for me. I know I will come as soon as I can. You must do the same. Be sure and come as often as you can. I hope I shall be able to get a hat for Christmas if I can. William I reckon will get one. You must write soon and let me hear from you.
Nothing more at this time but remain your sincere son until death, — J. T. Stark
¹ William G. Johnson of Granville county, N. C. enlisted with James T. Stark on the same date and were probably close friends. William’s father probably came to visit his son and bring him a box of provisions.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIVE
Camp near Orange Court House
December the 25th, 1863
As this is a rather dull Christmas Day with me, I will drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I hope when these few lines reach you, they will find you all enjoying the same blessing. You ought o have been here to eat with me today. We had a little fried bacon & bread for breakfast, and bread and spike for supper. We get the same quantity of four but we only get ¼ of a pound of pickle beef a day. So you may guess that is small rations. It looks like that hard times is coming upon us.
We are here at the same old camp that you left us at. We will move camp in some 2 weeks so I heard. Our brigade was left here to do picket duty. We have to go on picket every other day. After our time is out, we will move out about Gordonsville. Then I hope we can rest awhile for we don’t get much rest here.
We are having very cold weather here at this time. There is no war news here. The Yankee cavalry came up in 2 miles of our picket line last night. What their intention is, I know not without they think they can take some of our pickets in by surprise. Our picket line is on the north side of the Rapidan river.
Nothing more at present. Only remain your son till death. Write soon and let me hear from you.
— James T. Stark
You will have to pay the postage on this letter for I have no stamp.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SIX
Camp 46th Regiment North Carolina
Near Orange Court House, Va.
January 8, 1864
Your kind letter of the third came to hand today which found me well. Hope when these few lines reach you, they may find you and all enjoying the same blessing.
I have no news in interest to write. We have plenty of snow here. We have a good deal of picket duty to do yet. We are here in our old camp yet though we will move camp the 20th of this month. We will move some 3 miles out of Orange not far from the railroad. We have men sent off to put up our houses. We aim to build before we move.
I want you to send me some socks by W[illiam] G. Johnson. I would have sent you a letter by him but he got off sooner that I expected. If they keep furloughing like they have commenced, I can get home before spring. There is some several of the old enlisted men will get furloughs before me—those that have never been home. Tell Solomon to write me word what sort of a Christmas he had with the girls. Uncle William and Rufus are both well—also our boys are all well.
As for war news, I have none more than what you know. Everything is quiet here and will remain so during the winter, I think. Write soon as you get this. Tell Sol to write as he never has written and give me all the news. So nothing more at present. Only remain your son till death. — James T. Stark
Tell mother I am well and in good health. Give my love and best respects to all enquiring friends. Save a portion for yourself. Yours with respect, — W. D. Kimball
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER SEVEN
Camp near Orange Court House, Va.
April 12th 1864
I seat myself to drop you a few lines in answer to yours which came to hand a few days ago and was glad to hear from you. This leaves me well and I hope when this letter comes to hand, it may find you all well.
I have no news to write at present—only hard times here. I expect there will be some hard fighting about here before long. You wanted to know something about my coming home. It is a bad chance to come now. They talk of our going over in Maryland again and if we do, it will be next fall before I can come. I would be glad if I could come now but it is a bad chance to come home now. Uncle Billy and Uncle Rufus is well. Charles [R.] Thomasson is not well and has not been in two or three days.
You said you was going to send Mr. Thomasson out here. I want you to make haste and send him as we all want to see him come and bring us something to eat for our rations is nearly scarce here now.
I will come to a close for this time. Write soon and give me all the news. I still remain your true son till death, — James T. Stark
To his father