Waiting for Battle – Letters 1 and 2 of James DICKERSON

Rappahannock River and view of Fredericksburg VA 1862 photo by Timothy O'Sullivan

Rappahannock River and View of Fredericksburg VA 1862 photo by O’Sullivan

James H. DICKERSON served the C.S.A. (Confederate States of America) as a private for 6 months from March 4th to August 12 in 1862. Twelve letters written by him to his second wife Clary were donated to the United States Military Academy Library at West Point in 1983 by Ethel Dickerson McCOY.

We have not viewed any handwritten images, only transcriptions of the letters as written, with no grammatical corrections.  It may take a couple of readings to understand what is being communicated because of the spelling.  Just think phonetic or text speak and you should be able to figure it out.

My research notes are indicated by [1], [2] etc. and are not part of the original letter.  If you have trouble understanding the content or words, please contact me and we’ll try to figure it out together.

Letter Number 1

No date but apparently mailed sometime in April 1862

Golesburror     North Caroliner [1] 45 G. Ridgment [2]

Dear Wife      I drop you a few lines to let you know how I am getting along      I am not well at this time though I am up and about.     We are about one milde from Goalds Burrow  [1]     We stoped here last night to pitch our tents and get out of the wether       We will settle when the wether brakes or if we have some very bad wether here       the trees are not budding yet it is coald enuff to snow      Nearly as soon as (I) get well of one sore throat I have another     There is a great many soldiers at this place I dont know how many      I am very well pleased with this country if the wether was good which I think will be soon.     I want you to wright to me soon and let me know you are all getting along and whether or not you got the money that I sent to you or not.      I gave it to Newman to sent to you.      I have nothing of interest to wright.     There is no chance of a fight soon     I think when you wrigh to me you had better get the Post Master to back your letter because he might know better than I do now if not    Recit      Goalds Burro North Carolina     45 Regiment [2]    Company    D in care of Capt.White [3]      Yours and I am J.H. Dickerson

To Mrs. Clary Dickerson Procktor’s Store [4], GA

Envelope stamped Forsyth Ga

[1] Town of Goldsborough in the middle eastern part of North Carolina. It sprang up as a railroad town near Waynesboro and had a population of about 1500 in the year 1861.  Because it was an important railroad junction, it played a significant role in the Civil War for stationing Confederate Troops and transporting supplies.  The wounded were cared for in a hospital there.  In Dec of 1862 the Battle of Goldborough was a fight for the railroad bridge with the Union winning.  It’s name was changed to Goldsboro in 1869.

[2] 45th GA Regiment.  An infantry group of the Confederate Army organized by Col. Hardeman Jr. during the winter of 1861-1862.  It was ordered to Virginia under the command of Generals Anderson and Thomas.  According to the CWSS “It served in the arduous campaigns of the Army of N VA from the Seven Day’s Battles to Cold Harbor” then on to Petersburg and Appomatox.

[3] Captain Joseph H. White as of 4th of March 1862.  He was wounded at 2d Manassas VA on Aug 30th 1862 and died from his wounds on the 6th of Sep 1862.

[4] Proctors Store in the community of Blount in Monroe County GA.  It was appointed as an official post office on 13th of July 1860.  The Proctor family were among the earliest settlers, building the second house structure in the county.  From an Arizona Highways 1973 issue  we learn that “. . . in 1837 in America, pre-paid postage was not yet born.  Letters were sent on ‘pay when delivered’ basis at such exorbitant rates that people had to sell treasured possessions or borrow money to pay the postage for letters from their loved ones.  Cheap and uniform pre-paid postage rates were not a public reality until 1883.”  There were three Proctors in the 45th Regiment so we can hope that the Dickersons got a deal on the postage rate.

Letter Number 2

Virginia Carolina County [1] May the 6 1862

Dier wife       I seat m self with plesier to informe you that I am well at presant and hoping these few lines may find you injoing the same plesier      I reseved your leter dates the 20 witch gave mee great satisfaction       you rote to mee that you had reseved your money that I sent you       rite to mee how mutch money you get    and you have bougth corne from Cutter in the plase of Webb [2]    that shose that you have some respete for his felings and you had bought a cow wheter she has got a calf or not I dont no     I have not got no uniforme yet nor I dont no when I want you to make me som close and have them redy    it is cold her yet tha trees is not buded out her yet     I am 60 miles from richmon     when I pased threw richmond I heard from Tom and Dock tha are both well at Yorketown    I am station on the rapersanoc river [3] one thousand miles from you     Crouice arrived the 2     from what he sade you didant ceer wether you rote or not     tha will be a big batte fought her in a week     Direct leters to ginna Station Virgina Caroliner County     I want you to rite to Captain White if I shoud di or git kild if you want me brough home or not     rite it on the loer part of your leter to itself and sine youre name      rite as soone get this    nothing more at presant onely I remain youre beloved husband until death from J. H. Dickerson to Mrs. Clary Dickerson.

[1] Caroline County, Virginia was the birthplace of thoroughbred horse racing in North America.  Arabian horses were imported from England for stock.  The well known race horse ‘Secretariat’ was born here as well as William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) and his slave York.  Of interest are the prehistoric whale and shark skeletons that have been found in this county that once was ocean.

[2] Cutter and Webb families both lived in Monroe County, GA.

[3] Rappahannock River in Virginia enters the Chesapeake Bay 20 miles South of the Potomac.  The river provided a barrier and defensive line where the Confederates could stage their troops with little fear of attack from the Union.


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