Francis is still in jail for desertion and Martha states she has written him three times, insinuating she has heard nothing from him. It may be even more difficult for him to gain access to paper to write her and other supplies he needs. However, he is very lucky that he was not executed for his desertion. Perhaps the army took pity on him for his circumstances, his son having died, or perhaps they gave allowance because he turned himself in. However, many, many men were executed by hanging or firing squad for desertion either for punishment or to make an example to other men not to do the same.
The tone of Martha’s letters now seems changed as well. She writes that she would write more of herself, but she couldn’t let other men read it, as much of a love letter as we may get from her. She writes of provisions being moved away from Yankees, of taking care of business at home as her husband requested she do. She speaks of the home guard, stolen provisions, a baby born into the family, and their precious son who passed away. She ends by sending encouragement Francis’s way:
“N C Mc dowell Co thursday January 21 1864
“My Dear husband I recieved your kind letter last satturday and I was glad to hear that you was well I cant write we are all well we all hav bad colds I hav had a pain in my head three weeks and the baby is sick and I dont think it will live long but I do hope this May Reach your kind hands and find you well I would write you some about My self but I cant let evry Man read what I would be willing for you to read you want to know about the hogs I got Mr Walker and Johnathan the next day to kill them I dont know about Ashville John Cowen and others was detailed to hall their provision back out of the way of the yankeys and they say the yankeys can come hear in a day and a half John Carson and Ranz Mitchel and his brother is going about taking up paroled men and men with furlows they taken John Waren last Teusday and put him in Jail And Al Taylor but let him loos a few days the men fom 18 to 50 has to go to the Armey in a short time and the Men fom 16 to 60 has to be home gard and negres to be men
“this is three letters I hav wrote you I went to the cross Roads last Saturday and got two dollars worth salt and Sunday Night some body stold about half of it and about a half bushel of beans and they hav taken a heap of my corn what I am to do I dont know I thought wen a man went back with with in themselves they did not put them in the gard house but George Taylor told he tuck you up and is to get thirty Dollars of your wages and I expect that is the of you being punished it is Just one Month today sins our little son died and I dont think they ought to blame you for coming home to see him Die but I do hope that God will be with you and bless you and save fom all harm I hope the war will stop and you can come home in peace Sally Hendley had a fine son thursday lat I want you to do the best you can and serve the Lord and if we Meet no moor in this world Ihope we will Meet in heaven to part to moor May the Lord bless save you is my prayer for Christ sake write soon and often farwell
“Martha A. E. Poteet to her loving husband Francis M. Poteet God bless you my husband”
Martha’s next letter is full of indignation for the sufferings she is enduring. She speaks of illness, deaths in the family and otherwise, the cost of doctors, and how if she were a man she would kill someone who has done her wrong. She is still having problems about being put out of their home and finding a new one. She also lets on to some ill will between her and Francis’s family, wishing he would write only her and not them:
“N C Mcdowell Co 1864 thursday Feb the 4
“My Dear husband I recieved your kind and loving letter last saturday and was glad to hear fom you and hear you was well but sory to hear sunday that you was not well we are not well they nearly all hav had sore throats I aint well my self but I do hope and pray that when these few lines reaches your kind hands it will find you well I shal be uneasy till I hear fom you if I could I would come and see you I sent you somthing to eat by Marion Higins five pies and five ginger Cakes one doz unions two custerds 1 ham of Meat and three twists of tobaco I toted it to the X roads in my lap if you get it I wont mind nothing that I don I am willing to do any for you that I can You wrote for me to stay hear Bill Cowen says if I stay in the house I shant work the ground that I shant as much as hav the garden I hav walked my self down this week trying to get a place and hav got non me and my children are bound to perish all the honest men is gone and a set of speckalating dogs is left to press the lives out of the poor Women and children while the soldiers is standing as a wall between them and the enemy they are standing between them and there wives to snatch evry thing they can get I think there ought to be astop put to it if it aint we all will be bound to perrish I am in a great deal of trouble Doctor Young charged me three dollars in gold or silver or thirty dollars in confederate for coming to see
“Alvis one time and george Taylor to hav thirty dollars for his kindness leting you rid to the head of the road he ought to be double quicked to the armey if I was a man I would kill him Bill Cowen had go to Richmond he sed he would give 12 hundred penny weights of gold to get off Young Burt Higgins died last sunday there has bin several deaths in the last two or three weeks your Aunt Barbry died last sunday week your Mother is in Burk [Burke County] yet I want you when you write to write to me and not to them that dont thank you for it I thought you had better sens that any body that dont car for me nor you I want it to be the last I hav had but two little scraps of letters yet and I hav wrote five I will send you apeace of paper I told you when you left I was left to the Mercy of the people there is about as much mercy shown me as a dog would show apeace of meat but I hope it wont always be so I do hope that peace will be made and you can come home O that God will spar your Life to get home and bless you with health and shield you fom all harm is the prayer of your disstressed Wife I want you to do the best you can I hope they wont punish you all ways I dont think they ought you did not stay at but 8 days and then went back but if God is with you you need not fear what Man can do I dont expect to see you any moor in this world but I want to meet you in heaven I must close
“farwell Francis My dear May we meet again in peace M. A. E. Poteet to her Loving husband F. M. Poteet God bless you
“[added in top margin] tell grise I seen Nancy last sunday she is well”
One thing of interest to me is how much the Taylor name is mentioned throughout the letters between Francis and Martha. Francis is my great-grandfather Gus Watkins great-uncle. Gus’s wife Eva was a Taylor but her family was in Rutherford County. One name I believe was mentioned in a previous letter is James which is a name of one of Eva’s uncles. Of course, Taylor is a common name, but I would be very curious to know if these are our Taylor family.