Military Monday: It Was the Worst of Times VIII

Courtesty of NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesty of NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Today’s letters are 2 short and sweet letters from Francis to Martha regarding what to do about the hogs she had asked about in the previous letter, the things he would like her to send him, and how he prays for her and the children.  One very interesting note to me, is that in the second letter, Francis mentions that he heard John Wadkins has reported back to his company but wasn’t fit for duty.  John Wadkins is Francis’s sister Gemima’s brother-in-law, her husband George’s brother.  George Wadkins is my third great-grandfather.  He died in the Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862.  His brother John was wounded there as well.  It is not clear if he has been on furlough that entire time and is just now returning.  I cannot imagine returning to war after possibly seeing my brother die in battle.  I wonder if the un-fitness is due to physical or emotional issues.  I have heard of circumstances after the Civil War in which it appears men were suffering from what we would now call PTSD.  Considering the type of warfare compared to today’s, I cannot imagine how traumatizing such battle must have been.

“Weldon NC   Feb 23the 1864

“My Dear Wife and Children  I seat my self down this  morning to drop you afew  lines to let you now that  I am well at this time hoping  these lines may Reach your  kind hands and find you injoy

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

the same blessings you Rote to  me about the hogs you tell them  that tha are mine and tha  are the dearest hogs that I ever  got you can tell Joseph Landis  that any body that trobels them  if I live to git home tha will  suffer for them you can tell  Henritta that I mantained her  when no other person would not  and she had better doo Right  that she may need help again  and she might not git hit

“tell her that she can have  one of the pigs if she want it  I hope that God will bless  you all I want you to send me  some more unions & tobacco  and one lite lofe of corn bread  if you can the box that  you sent me the pies and the  tarts was spoiled I got it  the 7 of this month Send  me sum dride fruit if you  can I am in the gard house  yet I got your letter yesterday  and was glad to hear from  you and glad to hear that you  was better may God bless and  save you is my prayer for  Christ Sake

“F. M. Poteet to  his loving Wife M. A. E. Poteet  farewell My loving  Wife”

“Weldon N. C. March the 16 1864

“My Dear Wife and Children I  seat my self down this Morning  to drop you Afew lines to let  you now that I am well at this  time hoping these few lines  may Reach your kind hands  and find you in

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultural Resources


the  same blessing I Received your  kind letter Sunday dated  5 of this Month and was glad  to hear from you and hear that  that you was all well I would  like to see you all if I could  I have Received 5 of your letters  I got one Sunday it was dated  the 27 of Feb. Robert Money  sent them to me and I Heard  that John Wadkins had got  back to the Company but he  wasant abel for Duty

“tell my littel babys houdy  for me and Ciss them for me  bless ther littel Soles I hope  and pray For them every Day and  night that tha may have  plenty to eat while this Cruel  war lasts if you doo Send  any thing to eat I would like for  you to send me sum Molasses  in A bottel if you think that you  can send them with out braking  the bottel and Send me Sum  Salt you Rote for me to pray  for you I doo try to pray for you  and my littel Children I hope  and pray that the Lord will  bless and love you is my  prayer So I will Close by saying  Farewell to my Wife and Children  May god bless and save you

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultrual Resources

Courtesy NC Dept of Cultrual Resources

“F. M. Poteet to Martha A. E. Poteet”

One other interesting thing about the letter regarding John Wadkins is the spelling of his name.  My grandmother’s maiden name was Watkins.  Her father’s name was Watkins.  His father’s name was Watkins.  But his father George, and George’s brother John, were spelled Wadkins in the only documents I could find regarding them which are the 1850 and 1860 census and their Civil War papers.  By the time their children die, they are listed as George and John Watkins on the death certificates.  I have seen the name spelled both ways and had considered the possibility that the name had changed over time.  But I had also considered that these census records and war documents were misspellings as these records are often inaccurate.  Seeing Francis, a friend of John, spell his own sister’s married name “Wadkins” is another clue to the puzzle.  While recognizing that his letters are full of misspellings, this still gives me pause to think that someone who knew him so well spelled the name Wadkins.


2 thoughts on “Military Monday: It Was the Worst of Times VIII

  1. chmjr2 says:

    From my history reading many returning soldiers used alcohol as their drug of choice. PTSD was not a known condition, but was certainly an awful outcome of that war.

    • Genealogy Roadshow on PBS featured a news article on an Civil War veteran ancestor who killed his wife then had no recollection afterward and was terribly upset by it. Family members interviewed said he was a gentle man but had been horribly affected by the war.

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