1861: William Thomas Littlejohn to Mildred E. Jefferies

This letter was written by William Thomas Littlejohn (1831-1913), the son of William Littlejohn (1794-1866) and Lucinda Wood (1810-1899). William was a resident of Jonesville, Union County, South Carolina, before and after the Civil War where he made a living as a farmer. He wrote this letter to his future wife, Mildred (“Mildie” or “Milly”) Elizabeth Jefferies (1835-1885) with whom he married while serving in the Confederate army.

Littlejohn enlisted on 13 April 1861 at Limestone Springs, S.C. as a sergeant in Co. G (the “Pacolet Guards”), 5th South Carolina Infantry. He was mustered into the Confederate service with the rest of the regiment on 4 June 1861 at Orangeburg for 12 months. Littlejohn’s service records tell us that he was ill and away from his regiment being cared for in the home of a private family near Charlottesville, Virginia, during most of the month of June but appears to have rejoined his regiment at Camp Walker when this letter was written on 30 June 1861. Camp Walker was located near Manassas; the regiment arrived there on 18 June 1861.

Other facts revealed by Littlejohn’s service records tell us that he was absent from the regiment (by order of Surgeon Thomson) during November & December 1861. He was admitted to General Hospital No. 18 (formerly Greaner’s Hospital) in Richmond on 29 Novemer 1861 and furloughed for 30 days on 20 December 1861. He may have never returned from that furlough as he was discharged from the regiment on a Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability on 22 February 1862.

In November 1864, as the Confederacy was on the verge of collapse, Littlejohn enlisted in Co. F, 18th South Carolina Infantry at Petersburg.

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp Walker, Virginia
June 30th 1861

Miss Mildie,

I again venture to write a short letter to you to let you know how we are getting on in this part of the world. We are having a good time at present but I am not able at this time to say how long it will last. We received orders this evening to be ready to march at a minute’s warning with three days provisions in our haversacks which in connection with the equipage necessary to have. I have no idea what is going to be the place of our destination but I expect it will be at Fairfax Courthouse. It is said that there is a considerable force at Falls Church.

We are getting in a bad case to be in an enemies country. There are a good many now sick and the prospect is good that we will soon be in a bad situation. The measles are getting to be very common. There are twenty cases in one company and I think that there is at least one third of our regiment that are liable to the epidemic.

I have not been able to see John yet although he is only a few miles ahead of us. I saw N. B. Eisen ¹ this week. He said that John were well. M. N. Lipscom ² is at Manassas Junction with measles. He is getting well.

It would pay you to visit this country at this time if you have any fancy for military life. The country for miles around is entire camp. You can hear nothing but the sounds of drums and occasionally the firing of guns by sentinels. We were aroused last Sunday morning about two o’clock in the morning with the intelligence that the enemy was approaching in a short time. The regiment was in arms ready for the emergency — every man in our company was out to a man. But it turned out to be a false alarm.

I hope you will excuse the liberty that I am taking with you. It would be a source of much pleasure to me to have the liberty of corresponding with you if it meets with your approbation. I would be pleased to see a letter from South Carolina and especially from a lady of Thickety. I have written to almost all my friends and have not received a line from anyone yet. I think there is something wrong in the Post Office Department. It would be a pleasant thing to me to see a letter from home. I am with you although I am far away.

You were speaking of making a tour to Texas but I think you would be pleased to make a tour of this state in time of peace.

It’s time for putting out lights. I will close this laconic epistle hoping to hear from you soon if you will condescend so much as to write to me. Direct your letter to Richmond to the care of Capt. [J. Q.] Carpenter, 5th Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers. Nothing more at present but remain yours &c. — W. T. Littlejohn


¹ N. B. Eison was serving in the 1st South Carolina Infantry at the time. He later served in the 5th & 6th South Carolina Cavalry and the 18th South Carolina Infantry.

² Moses N. Lipscom was serving in the 1st South Carolina at the time. He later served in the 5th South Carolina.

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