1863: David Irwin Sample to “Friend Sam”

This letter was written by David Irwin Sample (1837-1918) who enlisted on 18 March 1862 in Co. B, 53rd North Carolina Infantry with his brother Hugh Barry Sample (1843-1923). David and Hugh were the sons of William Azmon Sample (1803-1877) and Jane Louise Barry Stedmon (1811-1876) of Huntersville, Mecklenburg county, North Carolina.

According to the Civil War Research & Genealogy Database, David was hospitalized with typhoid fever at Richmond, Virginia, in mid May 1863 and then placed on furlough in mid-June 1863. It does not appear that he returned to his regiment until after the Gettysburg Campaign in which the 53rd lost 36% of the 322 engaged—mostly in the assault on Culp’s Hill. David returned to his regiment near the end of September 1863. A year later, on 19 October 1864, David was wounded in the fighting at Cedar Creek, Virginia, was hospitalized at Charlottesville. He returned to his regiment in November 1864 and survived the war.

The 53rd North Carolina was attached to Junius Daniel’s Brigade, Robert E. Rodes Division, of Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps during the Gettysburg campaign and in the months following when this letter was written.

David Sample’s October 1863 Letter with an image of Lewis Hicks of Co. H, 53rd North Carolina Infantry


Camp near the Rappahannock
October 25, 1863

Friend Sam,

I will try and write you a short note this morning as you have doubtless been looking for one for some time but owing to the movements of our army, I have not had much chance to write.

We commenced our march two days after my return to camp. I stood the trip very well although it was a very hard one. I have marched about one hundred and fifty miles since I left home. I don’t think there will be much more fighting this winter—hope not at least. We have commenced putting up cabins for winter.

I suppose you are enjoying yourself finely with the fair sex while I am undergoing the toils and hardships of camp. You had better make the best use of your time that you can as you may not have the chance soon again. I heard yesterday that all you paroled boys have been exchanged. Have you had any word from Brother Mc. ¹ since I left home? If you have, I wish you would let me know. If Batt has not left, I wish you would tell Ma to send Hugh’s over shirt and some soap—also some postage stamps with him. Tell Batt to bring plenty of molasses and something good to eat with him.

We are about five miles from Brandy Station. We can get it from there as our wagons are there everyday. I heard your division has gone to the West but I hope it is not true. As it is nearly time for the mail to leave, I must close by asking you to write soon to your friend, — David

P. S. Please tell Batt to try and get my hat—also one for Hugh.

¹ This was probably David’s brother, James McCamie (“Mack”) Sample (1835-1927).


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