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
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
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
“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.