This letter was written by Pvt. Joseph August Kachley (1839-1904) of Capon Bridge, Hampshire county, Virginia (now W. Va,). Kackley was the son of Elias Kackley (1798-1878) and Mary Dill Anderson (1806-1864).
At the break out of the Civil War in 1861, Joseph joined Co. F of the 7th Virginia Cavalry—better known as the Laurel Brigade or the Ashby Cavalry—to fight for “Southern rights,” where he stayed until the close of the war. He was captured in 1862 but was shortly exchanged. Family tradition has it that Joseph and his brother George A. Kachley (also in Co. F) were taken prisoners at Gettysburg and were retained at Ft. Delaware, Point Lookout, Md. and Elmira, N. Y. until they were exchanged in March, 1865. A review of Prisoner records, however, reveals that Joseph was not taken prisoner until 14 September 14th near Culpeper Court House, Va.—two weeks after this letter was written from that location. The prison record indicates he was taken to Point Lookout, Md. and then transferred to Elmira, New York, in August 1864.
According to his enrollment records, Joseph stood 5 ft. 8 inches tall, had blue eyes and dark hair. His name was spelled variously Kechley or Kachley.
This letter was written shortly after the Gettysburg Campaign when Lee pulled his army back to the Rappahannock line in Virginia.
Camp near C. C. H. [Culpeper Court House]
August 29, 1863
Having a chance to send you a few lines, I thought I would write though I have nothing of importance to write. I am well and in good health but I don’t think it will be long before I will be sick if I don’t get to come to Hampshire. You don’t know how tired I am in this Tuckeyhoe [Tuckahoe] country. They are the worse people down here that I ever saw. There is no conversation about any[thing] with them.
We have to pay $5 for a chicken, $4 for a pound of butter. Everything is as high in proportion. Corn is $16 per bushel, flour is $70 a barrel. I only wish we could get to go back to the Valley. The Valley in Virginia is a soldier’s paradise. I would rather be down at the forks in Capon than anywhere else. I know I would have a jollification in a time but I don’t know when I will get up there again. Soon I hope.
I would have come down and seen you all last spring when I was at home on furlough but the Yankees were too thick. I could not travel about much. I had to hide all of the time while I was in there. I was reported and the blue coats was after me but they did not get me. When they get me again, they will know it without they get me like they did before. The next time I get to come up there—if I ever do—I will try and come down and see you if the Yankees are thick in there.
Tell Molly when she gets married she must let me know and I will come to the wedding. Tell Mandy she had better be a picking out her beau if she has got none for the boys are a getting scarce and now is the only chance for in two years from now they will be as scarce as her teeth.
Well, I have written all I can think of this time. If you answer, I will do better next time. Give love [and] my best respects to all in the family and keep to yourself the best wishes of your cousin, — Jos. Kachley
Write soon, very soon. Give my love and best respects to the Miss Blisto
To Miss Lize Vantoy