John M. Daniel Papers, 8 June-3 Oct. 1862
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Three letters, 8 June 62, 5 May 64, and 3 October 64, document the Civil War military service of Confederate soldier John M. Daniel, a second lieutenant in Co. C, Holcombe Legion. The earliest of the three letters is addressed to his mother in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Written from Camp Capers, it acknowledges receipt of a letter, butter, and pair of pants sent from home. The pants were too large for John but fit fellow soldier Jim Harris so well that he had offered to purchase them. Nonetheless, Daniel needed another pair soon because he had "patched and mended until my old pants is nothing but rags." | Manuscripts Gifts 2006 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
Daniel then informed his mother that he had been under arrest for the past two days by order of Col. Peter F. Stevens, seemingly for having disobeyed orders. And, according to Daniel, he was not the only soldier in camp who thought that Stevens was "the meanest low down scamp in the world." In fact, he continued, several of his fellow soldiers had tried to elect another colonel or secure transfers, but Stevens "wonít let us have them."
Daniel added that there was much talk of "rebellion" within the Legion and that he had come up with a way of getting out of the unit. He said that his father told him he was not yet eighteen years old and asked his mother to confirm if this were true, for "if I am not I can get off." Just before closing his letter, he wrote "donít wait a minute to write let me know how old I am I hope not eighteen."
A lengthy postscript hints that it might not be safe for the company commander to go into battle since "some men in the Legion [are] anxious...to get to kill Col. Stevens." However, a subsequent note in the same letter, which was written over the course of several days, indicates that John Daniel had been personally praised by his commanding officer for "having the cleanest gun" in the company during a general inspection.
The letter of 5 May 1864 is addressed to brother Rob[er]t J. Daniel and tells of his unitís arrival at Kinston, North Carolina, after a grueling five-day march from Rocky Mount. The troops had marched approximately twenty miles a day over the previous five days. The only rest the soldiers got was at night, and Daniel had "never...seen so many sore feet." "I wish this war was over," he went on to say. "I have suffered from hunger[,] thirst, fatigue, for friends and for foes, in short I have but one thing more to suffer that is death." All he and his comrades had eaten for several days was "pease," and he mused that he would give $25 to eat as many biscuits with butter as he could. But, he lamented, since "I cannot get anything for money or for love therefore I will have to do without any of it. I never felt more like stealing in my life."