1863: Athen E. Wilson to Sarah E. Wilson

Wilson’s Letter with image of 1st Sgt. Wm. B. Whitaker of Co. I, 50th North Carolina Infantry — showing the uniform of the regiment

This letter was written by 3rd Sergeant, Athen E. Wilson (1835-1909) who enlisted on 17 March 1862 in Co. I, 50th North Carolina Infantry. The letter was written from Kinston, North Carolina, which had been the regiment’s base of operations since early February 1863 after wintering at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia.

Athen was a native of Cain Creek, Rutherford county, North Carolina. [The 1900 US Census gives Athen’s birth as December 1835.] He was married to Mary C. Edwards (b. Jan. 1840) on 1 October 1866. In the 1880 US Census, Athen is enumerated as a farmer in Golden Valley Township, Rutherford county, N.C.

Pvt. Joseph G. Wilson (b. 1845) served with his brother Athen in Co. I, 50th N.C. Infantry.


Kinston, North Carolina
July 28, 1863

I take this my seat to let you know that we are both well [and] hoping this may find you the same. I just wrote the other day [but] as Joe Logan ¹ is coming home, I will write a few lines by him.

All seems to be in an uproar. They are cooking rations. We are under marching orders but I don’t know where we are going. We may go to Wilmington but I can’t say that we will. We have not got over a hard march that we took last week. ² I am fearful that the Yankees will overrun us in a short time. If they are going to, I hope they will do it for it is not worthwhile to fight [illegible] all get killed and then have to give up at last. I was in the hopes that [brother] Joe would get to come home sometime but it don’t look sure, but he may get to come home sometime but it makes the time seem long to anyone to wait so long but I hope the time will come when we will get to come.

Mother, I will send twenty dollars by Joe Logan. I would send more but I have no more to spare. It has been some time since I have [been paid]. We will get some more before long. Ma, you can do as you think best with it. I would like to have that mule paid for as soon as I could but if you beed any money that I send home, you can use it. Ma, I wish you would send me a pair of socks by Joe Logan if you can. That is all we need.

I would like to see you all and want this cruel war to stop. — A. E. Wilson

To S. E. Wilson

¹ Joseph C. Logan enlisted as 5th Sergeant in Co. I, 50th North Carolina Infantry on 17 March 1862. He was from Rutherford county, N. C.

² Sgt. Wilson is referring to the attempt by the 50th North Carolina to intercept the raid conducted by Union General Potter with the 3rd New York Cavalry and Black troops organized into Union regiments. The 50th North Carolina marched all night on 21 July, destroying bridges, without rest or anything to eat. On the 22nd of July they came up on the back of Potter’s column and harassed the Black troops. On that day, the regiment marched 48 miles. The regiment returned to Kinston where they remained until 9 August when they went to Wilmington.


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