Military Monday: It Was the Worst of Times IV

Francis Poteet wrote another letter home to his wife Martha on 23 November 1863.  This is the most difficult of the letters so far to read.  It seems that after Martha has sewn the wheat crop, their home is foreclosed or about to be.  Francis writes Martha that if he had been there he doesn’t know but that he would have hurt the speculator that put his wife and children out of their home and “I dont now but what I will yet” even though he knows he is to love his enemies.  He continues by giving Martha practical directions for taking care of financial matters and closes by telling her seeing her would please him more than “all the gold that has bin dug out of Brachet town.”

“Kinston NC

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Nov 23the 1863

“My Dear Wife and Children I Received your kind &  loving letter it giv me great satisfaction and  I was mad too I think it tis hard that you  hav to giv that place up after sowing your  Wheat I want you to tell Bill if he hant  sent you that wheat that I want him to send  it bushel & tobe you Rote to me to  git aferlow if I could I went to Kinston to day  to see the Colonel and he wasant at home I dont  now whether I will git it are not if I dont I want  you to do the best you can till I git home and  then I will help you I want you to tell Joseph  Landis to pay you for them coffins if he asks  you what you charge you can tell him if he  will let you have wheat at one Dollar per bushel  that he can give you 6 bushel if he dont  you can tell him to pay you $16 Dollars you can  tell him that you want the wheat what did higgins  giv you for them berals I dident hav nothing for  My breakfirst only Corn Bred and I went over to  Kinston and I seed sum Crackers and I give

“fifty cents for six about as big as a dollar  it seems like it will take all that I can  make hear

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

to git sumthing to Eat and to git  paper and tobacco and invelips I had to give  thirty cents for this paper that I Rote this  letter on and then I have to pay from 25  to thirty cents per garment and it  takes about all that I git your letter you  Rote the 19 I got it the 22 that is the first  letter that I have got in two weeks I thought  that you had for got me but I dont think  you have you Rote to me that you had got  my coat and you wanted to now what I had  done With my hat I swated with higgins  I could not git nary other hat and I had to  lay on it and wallow over it so I thought  that I mites swell let him have it as any way  you Will think hard of me for that but  I Dont want you to think hard of me  I could not take care of it you Rote to me  that Higgins said that he would send the  papers By Litel I have got out of hart that

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy of the NC Dept of Cultural Resources

“I ever Will git home any more till this  War ends I am hear and you are there so  we are many Miles A part we bee but  if I live till christmas I think if God  will let me live that long that I will  git closter home I trust in God for every  thing if I had of bin at home when Bill  Rented you out of house and home I think  that I would of heart him and I Dont  now but what I will yet but I ought to pray  for him and any other man that does as  he does the Bible teaches us to pray for  our inmas but it is hard to pray for any  Speclator when tha doo so but I pray God  to for give him You Rote to me that higgins  would Come down hear when he got his  Wheat sown I Dont think that he has any  Ida of it may God help him to think of my  Wife and littel Children and Doo all he can  if I can come home I dont want him to  bee always about it we had preachen hear  twist sunday But I would of been mutch  glader to of bin at home to of went to

“with you I want you to Rite every week  if it takes all that I make I would rather  see you than to have one bushel of gold  dust it would give me more satsfaction  than all the gold that has bin dug out of  Brachet town I dont know what to doo  if I was to come home and then tha catch  me then I would have to go back but I  think that I will try it sumtime if I live  tell mother and sister that I am tolerable  well at this time hoping that she may be  well this is the levlest contry that I ever saw  it tis as leval as your garden tha ant a hill  that can be seen about hear I had to go in  Dres perade Just now and had to finish my letter  after wards it tis nearly dark and I must  come to A close by saying that I Remain  your loving husband until Death May  God Bless and save you all is my prayer   FM Poteet to his loving Wife and Children  kis my litel babes for  Me my loving M. A. E. Poteet  Wife”

Courtesy of NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy of NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Just three days after Francis sent this letter,  thirty-one women of the area sent a truly heartbreaking petition to Governor Vance, relaying their circumstances and asking that he not require the only helpful man left to go into service.  I do not have a copy of this letter to share here as this was found by Dan W Olds of South Carolina in the Bulletin of the Genelogical Society of Old Tryon County, Vol XVII, May 1989, p. 2, and transcribed in his work “A John Poteet of Burke and McDowell Counties, NC, and his family.”

“We ar all in bad surcomstanses in this part of hour countrey and thare will have to be somthing don for us as we will all perish to deth; for them that has got provision wont let us have it. And the have takn all the men as that will help the wimen any atall but one; an the have got him on the home guard and is agoing to take him off, and he is a cripple man.  He has had the white swelling and thare has come too pieces of bons out of his hipp.  And when he is gon, thare wont be no one to help us one bitt; and we all want yoar leaf from you for him to stay. His name is Jessy Arwood.

“And them that has got the corn to sell is asking elevin dolars a bushal for it, and we cant get it at that. And we want you…to have to stuff all put donn sow we can get it.  All hour folks is in the army; and with out some body dose help us, we all cant live.

“Heare is hour names: Susan Harrel, Sarah Harrel, Sarah Dodwell, Poly Morgin, July Morgin, Nancy Staks and Moly Morgin, Nancy Staks, Nancy Hall, Elisabeth Lawing, Rosanner Lawing, Jane Lawing, Jane Poteet, Betsy Davis, Betsy Marten, Almedy Nash, Sarah Curry, Elisabeth Dodwell, Jane Huffstatler, Malisid Hogin, Jane Arowood, Poly An Arrowood, Frances Bates, Judy Arrowood, Mary Adair, Jane Adair, Mary Arrowoode, Aney Arroweed, Nancy Arrowood, Malindy Bright, Elisabeth Derryberry.

“Jessy Arrowoode is all the help to cut us one bit of wood or any thing els, and we cant get no shoos…We are all barfooted and cant get money anuff to get apair of shoos, nor one bit of lether, no thread, no cotten, nor nothing els…We cant as mutch as get wool anuff to knit hour husbans and sons socks that is gon out in the field…”

If that doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will.

Will things ever get better for Francis and Martha?  Join me next Monday to see if things start taking a turn for the better.


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