Military Monday: It Was the Worst of Times VI


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

PC1825_0028“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”

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

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

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

“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.


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