The Stoddard Family Letters

The Stoddard Family Letters From the War Between the States

W.R. Stoddard (24th S.C. V.), Page 2

Richmond 1862

Dear father and mother I take my pen in hand to let you no that I am well and hope when those few lines come to hand that you all may be in joying the same blessing. I am sill in the hospital and her I will have to stay till the sentral train gits to running a gain the Yankes has ben to the rode onse or twise and done sum damage on the rode I went over to the depo and said thare all knight last Tuesday knight and the train did not go and I went down to the old camp whare sum of our sich had ben left to get my knap sack and I got it. And soon as the train gets to going again I am a going to the regiment. Steive More is dead he died with the fever at the old camp and David Stewart had like to of died thar two but he got better and was brought on her to ritchmond he is at the chamber raisn hospital. Thomas Halk was here to day to see me and he sese that cousin R. J. Stoddard is a gitting better he can set up know and he could not do that when I was over thar he is a going to try to get a discharge if he can. Tell Luis that his regiment has moved up the chikahominy but I dont know how fur. James ? Tolison is down to wards Druries Bluff I expect thar will be a big fight up in the valley sum time soon if my regiment is in it I would like to be with it but if I cant get to it it will just have to go. So I never craved to be in a fight yet but if it had to be done I am willing to do my part. I dont know wheather to tell you to right to this plase or not for I dont know how long I may have to stay here it is oing to when the train gets to going again. I am a going to get the first that is a passing let that be soon or late you can tell Luis that the Thaxton boys is a getting on very well with thare woonds the ball come out of Simions thy and he will mend faster now Ray can go about with his hand it is amending very well. Tom Halk told me that he saw David a going on to the third regiment I would of like to of seen him but did not. I want you to right as soon as you get this so no more at present but still remains your affectionate sun till death.

WC Stoddard

GenL Hospt
Staunton April 24th 1863

Mrs. Elizabeth Stoddard
Dear Madame

Your husband called upon me this morning to obtain information with regard to the death of your son William. It gives me great pleasure to state that his end was Peace exemplifying the truth of scripture mark the perfect man for his end his peace. I held a conversation with him the day prior to his death, when he expressed his resignation to the will of Divine Providence, and if not permitted to see his friends again in this world, he hope to meet them in a better. Every attention was given him during his illness, and after death his remains were well cared for.

So Amiable was he that all his fellow soldiers who knew him l???d him Your loss, madame, is his Eternal gain I trust in this sad bereavement God may administer me to you the consolations of his grace and enable you to say (as all his friends) Thy will be done

Dr. Jns.(?) P. Hyde Chap. Genl Hospt

Probably written in the late summer of 1862, at the zenith of the glory of the Army of Northern Virginia, this truly outstanding letter captures an important moment in American History. The letter is about and by a unique family that served in some of the most storied units of the Army of Northern Virginia. The author, W.C. Stoddard, is serving as a Private, in Company E, 14th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, Greggs/McGowans Brigade. Stoddard will die in service with this unit around 4/11/63 at Staunton, Virginia. His body will be returned to New Harmony Church, near the Laurens/Greenville County line, in South Carolina, where he will rest with other members of his family who perished in Americas most defining war.

Among those listed here we find the deadliest killers of that most killing of American wars, messengers of death like the one called typhoid fever, who did indeed take Steve B. Moore in Richmond on 8/5/62. As implied, he was also a member of Company E, 14th S.C.V.

David Stewart (D.T. Stewart, Company E, 14th South Carolina) however will avoid the call of death by illness and recover only to meet his end, 5/3/64, making real the most audacious victory ever achieved on this continent. He will die with many of his friends and the strong right arm of the Confederacy at a little crossroads called Chancellorsville. Joining him in death at the moment of his greatest victory, Old Jack, will also lay his life on the altar from wounds received that day and Lee will have "lost his strong right arm."

Cousin R.J. Stoddard remains one of the best-known sergeants in this famous brigade. Well documented in Varina Davis Browns work about her father Colonel J.N. Brown, you may find and read about the arguments that raged 50 years after the smoke of battle died away. Cousin R.L. will sneak through the tangled underbrush at the Wilderness, at the behest of his beloved Colonel Brown, to tell the Georgia boys they are firing on friends. All the more chilling when one considers how close they were to the place where Old Jack was killed a year before and where Longstreet and Micah Jenkins will soon fall to friendly fire.

To quote from Varina Brown's book, A Colonel at Gettysburg and Spotsylvania, The Life of Colonel Joseph Newton Brown and The Battles of Gettysburg and Spotsylvania, The State Printing Company, 1931.

Mr. Robert J. Stoddard, of the Fourteenth Regiment, an honored veteran and Presbyterian elder of Owings, and of South Carolina, (1) made in April of 1925, a statement that they were in rear of Harris' Brigade only a few minutes moving on the charge to the right. He said: "I found no one in the works where I entered and which we occupied. I soon saw Colonel Brown pass behind me in going to take charge of the brigade" Mr. Stoddard and other members of the Fourteenth, the left regiment nearest General Harris, stated, "There was not a soldier at the breastworks when we entered," but, Mr. Stoddard said, "a little later some Mississippians came in on us in rear and fought with us; a Lieutenant-Colonel was with them and was killed there." Mr. Stoddard's high character and his clearness of mind and of memory give great weight to the his testimony that the Mississippians came in behind the Fourteenth - an occurrence deeply impressed on my memory.

(1) See Also Dr. Stoddard's letter, Appendix, page 308, infra

R.J. Stoddard is also mentioned on page 128 of the same book and reference made to Vol V of the Confederate Military History, South Carollina. On page 240 and 241 another account of the fighting in the Wilderness by R.J. Stoddard - This Mr. Stoddard avers, was the only time that he ever saw Colonel Brown excited in battle; he quickly asked Sgt. Stoddard, "Where do those balls come from?" "I don't know answered Stoddard." "I wish you would go and see," Col. Brown said, whith characteristic courtesy even in time of peril. Sergeant Stoddard says: "Dodging from one small tree to another, I ran toward the firing line- until I saw a Confederate flag! Calling out an order to stop firing on friends, I went nearer and found that it was a Georgia Brigade." They had been ordered into action on McGowan's left, or Heth's -

The James Tollison mentioned is with Shank Evans and the Tramp Brigade over in Company C of the Holcombe Legion. The sun still shines and many days and deaths will pass before they will face the trials of Charleston, Jackson, Kinston, and back again to a little crossroads called Five Forks, where, with the rest of Shanks old brigade, they will be the first to take a step toward a place called Appomattox Courthouse. Tollison will never know this sad lost day, for he will die of the wounds he will receive at Second Manassas.

At least one of the Thackston boys is over with the other Stoddard cousins in the Third South Carolina in Kershaws Brigade. Z.A. will make it to 7/21/64, having survived till Petersburg, where he will die of wounds. He would never know the sting of the valley, as a starving army stops to eat in victory, and by so doing, sets the stage for Sheridans famous ride, and ultimate defeat. . Simion Thaxton is S.R. Thackston, a Corporal, in Company G and D, Third South Carolina Infantry, Kershaw's Brigade. He is still alive in 1924. Ray is E.R. Thackston a Corporal in Company G of the Third South Carolina Infantry, Kershaw's Brigade. Wounded at Savage Station he is crippled for life.

Tom Halk is a Private in Company E, 14th South Carolina, he appears to have survived the war.

You can smell the crowded wards of Chimborazo and the hospitals in Richmond. You can see them, as "McGowan's boys" are caught alone on the point, and begin to back down in the Wilderness. This is the place where they do not run fast, and they do not run far, but they did run, and there, who is that coming? The Texans and Kershaw with the old Third South Carolina and other Stoddard relatives, and there is Robert E Lee. "Lee to the rear," cry the Texans, and another storied legend is born in sight of the Fourteenth South Carolina and these men. Can you feel the wind in the valley, or walk with Stonewall at Chancellorsville or Old Pete in the Wilderness. They are all here, the real ones, the ones who broke the best generals the United States Army could field. Count them... Hooker, Pope, Burnside, all laid to waste. These are the brigades of Gregg and McGowan and of Kershaw. This is South Carolina in the Army of Northern Virginia.

This tender letter written by some one who attended young William in death needs little explanation. However, it does reflect the fact that even when surrounded by death men can remain humane.

April 22, 1861

From Columbia SC.

Deare father and mother I again take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well perfetely well we are all well with a few exceptions We are all enjoying ourselfs finely we expected a call for volunteers this morning but the order was suspended until Thursday next that is volunteers for the confederate stats its just the same as inlisting they can take us just where they please I am one that is not a going others can do as they please Todd sayes he is not a going and would not advise any of his men to go so I am bound to not go and leave my State they cannot compel me to go so I will not go and I dont believe there is many in camp that will there are about betweene 2 and 3000 troops in this place now we get a plenty to eat we have ----- droll cooking in our camps I tell you we get shuger and coffee light bread rice beef and bacon pleanty we have hay for a bed and a blanket for cover and it in a tight house we by very snug. I have not had to stand on guard nary knight yet. I was sububluminary on Saturday and Saturday knight that is I was ready if any of the sentinels was to take sick or be a missing but I lay and slept all knight in the guard house old dickey woodrough preached a sermond on Saturday knight and one on Sunday. I want you to tell granpa and Aunt Jane how I am a getting along tell them that I saw Lewis Ruptin a little while a go and he told me to tell them in my letter that he was well and well pleased and that he wished to send his best respects to them give my best respect to all inquiring friends I must close as I am in a powerful hurray I am in town aabout a mile from our quarters and my pass is a most out out excuse bad writeing and mistakes come to knight and you may look on and I will get supper for you and we will have a splendid supper too Write soon
Your obedient Son til Death
J. L. Stoddard

Laurens, Powers Shop, April 25th, 1861

Dear Son I now seat myself to drop you a few lines once more although it has been but days since I wrote to you last. But I received yours of Monday last and I was glad to hear from you again it is a pleasure to me to hear from often and I have a good chance to send this by Mr. Shell and you will perceive that your uncles David and Lewis and myself and others have sent you all something to eate from home. I expect you will all it for a change, I have nothing of importance to write to you except that we are aall well and hope when you receive these few hasty lines they may find you and all the boys well and doeing as well as camp life will admit of at this time if I thought you would stay at Columbia too or three weeks longer I would come down and see you and try to find out what you are all a doeing there. I want you if you can git you likeness taken Columbia for you to send it by Mr. James H. Shell. I forgot it when we was at Laurens or I would a had it taken before you left Please send a few lines back by Mr. Shell I was that yout to send your respects to your Grandpa it will please him very much, Aunt Jans has been very sick since you left with bilious collice She is a little better at now for a few days. Tell David Childress the boys has got his house covered up nicely it was done last week. I suppose Melmth Atwood got home Tuesday night I have not seen him yet I recon he would like to stay at home for a while at least I have no doubt but there is several would reather be at home.

I will have to come to close by saying to you write every chance give my best respects to any and all of your company and especially to your officers. So nothing more at present but still remains your affectionate father and mother brothers and sister so farewell my son.

Wm. Stoddard

Columbia SC head (?) qr.
April 28, 1861

Deare father and mother I take the opportunity of dropping you a few lines in obedience to your request and to let you know that I Am well except a little cold but that is nothing to compain of here all my mess is well except D. C. Childress. He has bin complaining a little for the last day or two but I think he is a little better. I think he will be well in a day or so. I went to town yesterday and .. taken for two dollars I think it is a very good one I had bin out in town on Friday and when I came back some of the boys handed me a letter and sayed that Shell had brought it and when I broke it open and read it and saw that you was all well the next thing was to look for our bread and meat from home. We was all glad to hear it was in the road or rather at the depot. We did not get it till the next mourning I laughed and told the boys that I did not like eating anything til it come but we sat down our supper and waited on in patience but dont understand that we dont get enough to eat for we get a plenty but it dont eat like home but if we fair as well all the time as we have so far we will do very well. They want us to go to Verginnia but we will not go under our present officers for we have but one in camp that has sence enough to carry chicken guts to ------------ and that is facts. He is the only officer we have that has got any sence we want them to disorganize and go home and reorganize and get officers that know sumthing and then if they want us to go to Verginnia we are ready but they want us to go from here so they can hold their offices but we are rather to smart for the boys. Baxter could not be elected to clean out stables nor more he has to come to our third lieutenant L. Watts to get his instructions and I think that is a poor chance. I can see what they are after verry well they want to get us booked in for regulars but they cant never come that we can be led to go but they cant drive us. You may be scure rumers here is that the president has the right to order us to Vergennia now whare is his authority he has not got it he cant get it we veluntiered to defend the state that we are in and now let us see him do it when ever he sends his orders you see all acoming home and this is double quick time they have got no use for us here nohow we are nothing but an for the state for the fight in SC is up if the _____________ that already stationed in Charleston and other points will watch their business there are a great many of us here that could be better employed at home than lying about here doing nothing I say for us to home and stay their til the fight begins it will not begin but about the 4th of July if then that is the general opinion here at least to tell the truth though I dont believe their will be fighting talk much. Tell David and family that I am well and am a fatening on nastyness we have a crowd that is full of life and frolic. I can ly(lie) down now anytime and go to sleep on the floor and about 15 or 20 a __________ and a sneering fuss dont bother me about sleep now you sent me a letter the other day I got it the next day after you mailed it I found a letter enclosed it was from Cousin Gothard he was well and all the rest except his Pa He had him very bad off but was better when he wrote I was very glad to receive it. You done just right with it. I sorry to here that Aunt Jane had bin so bad off but I hope she is better this time. I must close by saying rite soon. I will to David some of these dayes. Tell him to write so nothing more still remain your most obedient son til death

J.L. Stoddard

L E L E Stoddard
Camp Johnson Richland, SC
May 16, 1861

Dear father and mother I take my seat to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and fatening every day. D. Childress is well all my mess is well and doing well and I hope when this comes to hand it may find you and enjoying the same blessing. I was sory to here that you was no better but I hope by the time this comes to hand you will be better. I resieved your letter this evening just as we was a going on dress perade I was glad to here from you all and I am glad to have the privilige of telling you that it found us all well and to tell you that we have go in to tents at last but we are on some of the poorest land you ever saw I recon it would take about 10 acers to sprout a pea but we have splendid water to drink we are about 6 miles north east of Columbia I was glad to here that you had a good meeting I was not at harmony but I herd a splendid sermon in the fore part of the day in camp and then in the evening me and D. Childress went out to town and saw the roman catholiks go through with some of their seremonies it was a couriosity to me I tell but I could not see any sence in it we have a Methodist church in about of a mile of our camp ground me and my mess has got in wite a lady and made a bargin with her you see we get more meet and coffee than we can go through with and we have made a bargin with her and she is to take all the meet we have and coffee she allows us $1.00 for 7 pound of coffee and gets pound for the meet and we take it out in biscuit and pies 12 bissuit for 20 cts and 5 cts a pice for pies we get about as much as we can eat so we do fine as fore as eateables is conserned I will come to a close by saying write soon give my best respects to all inquiring friends. I still remain your affectionate son til death

J. L. Stoddard

Camp Johnson South Carolina
May the 22nd., 1861

Deare father and mothr I once more to take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well hopieing when this come to hand it may find you all enjoying the same blessing I was glad to get a few more cloths for this is the dirtiest place I ever saw there is no chance to keep clean it is no use to try to keep clean we enjoy our selfs finely since we got in to tents a great deal better than we did in town we are a getting along fine -----we got the news yesterday evening that old northcarolina sliped out of the old union along ways a head we herd also that they had a fight at norfork virginnia yesterday. I do not know whether is so or not you sayed that it need not surprise me if we wore ordered to vergnnia we may be ordered shure enough but they can not make us go unless we are willing they have tried to make us believe that they could make us go but they can not and they have found out that we know too much for them on that ----- and now they are a going to call for volunteers again in a few dayes my notion is that it will come out about like it did before I expect they will make the call in the morning they say that if we voluntier when the call is made we will just voluntier to serve our time out and if we dont voluntier here we will be sent home and the call made their for vouluntiers for the ware and if we dont volentier we will be drafted for the I dont know how it will be as far my self I just dont care if fighting is the policy Ilets fight it out and be don with it it can not last long no how if we go home if will be fore many dayes I recon all will come right after while I will close for R. F. Childress can tell you as much or more than I can writer and my hand is getting tired so no more at present
Your affectionate son til death

L. Stoddard

Charleston, SC
Jan. 6th, 1864

Mr. Nathaul Barkesdale
Dear Sir.

I understand that you are the administrator of the Estate of my Brother-in-law Nathanuel Austin and that you desire bringing his property into sale some time during this month. I would respectfully say to you that my mother is laws property and that of the said Nathanuel Austin is so blended and mixed up together that I think it prudent and right that you should postpone the sale of the property until I can see you knowing that my mother in law is a very old lady and not able to look after her own interest and that I am the only one that she can look to to attend to her business. She has written to me to come home and do so but I am in the service of my country and cannot leave it at present, have made every effort to do so and have failed to get permission to leave. I expect however to be at home about the first of February and I earnestly and most respectfully ask you to postpone the sale of the property until I see you.

G. B. Thomason

Near Grahamville
December 13th, 1864

Dear father and Mother I wonce more seat my self to let you know that I am well and I hope when this comes to hand that it may find you all well we are here yet I hope if we do haft to move I dont want to go any futher down I have went fare enough from the country I want to go to wards Columbia The company is purty generally in good health. Some is a complaining with could(cold?) I havent saw any ice since I left home till yesterday morning we had a plenty of it is still purty cool I still want you to send me some envellopse I havent got but too more I want them this the fourth letter that I have written I am vary anxcious to here from you all as long as I havent got any thing of importance to write I must close

I for got to tell you what we drawed(?) We draw beef ------- meal flower ------ ------- ----------

you mist(must?) direct your letters to Grahamville

write soon for I want to here I must close

still yoars truly

J. L. Stoddard

Spartanburg CH SC March the 25th, 1865

Dear father and mother. I once more seat myself in order to let you know that I am well at present and hope when this comes to hand that find you all well. I have had heap of ups and downs since I wrote last. I have saw more of North Carolina than I ever want to see again. We marched from Cheraw to Rockingham and from there to Faiteville and from there to Rolly. We done 12 days hard marching. Just one day after another. We got to ride from Rolly to Chester and marched to Seltons Ferry and crossed Broad River and took the train and came here. I want to get home pretty bad. I would like to know if Lienice is? ---- yet. I would like to see him very much. If they dont give us a furlow, I want you to come and see me. I am a needing a pair of pants and a pair galices. I am a need them very bad and I am very hungry for go(?) cake as the little fellow says. I think maybe we will all get home . We drawed socs today. I drawed a pair myself. If I get home I will give them to your for Sunday. They almost too fine for every day. If the Governor dont let us go home, he aught to be shot. Lieutenant Erly is a going to start tomorrow and if you would see him maybe he would bring me the pants and galices. I a needing them very bad. I expect you are engaged a planting corn. I wish I could be there to help you. So I must close by saying write soon or if you have the chance I want you to come to see me. Write soon and direct your letters to Spartanburg C.H. SC

J. L. Stoddard