October 21, 1971, 3 items; Correspondence (1864-1865).
December 16, 1971, 6 items; Correspondence (1864-1865). Loaned for copying by Mr. Tracy L. Hill, Lexington, N.C.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Jesse Hill Papers (#183), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
- Loaned by Mr. Tracy L. Hill
The collection consists of correspondence (1864-1865) from Jesse Hill of Davidson County, N.C., to his wife, Emoline Hill. At the time, Jesse Hill was serving under Lieutenant John Pratt, "Hooks" [Robert F. Hoke's] Brigade, 21st North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Confederate States Army. Hill's letters were written during the last years of the Civil War from various camps in North Carolina and Virginia (Kinston, Wainsborough [Waynesboro], Stanton, Newmarket, and Petersburg).
Described are his issue of food and clothing and the conditions of health and welfare of the members of his company. The shortage of a sufficient food supply became an increasingly serious problem in 1865. Due to this food shortage as well as a general low moral, the desertion rate was unusually high. The correspondence tells of his contemplating desertion, repeatedly laments the utter idiocy of the continuance of the war, and reports that only ten men remained in his company in October, 1864. General agreement existed among his company by the fall of 1864 that the war was lost. By January, 1865, the number of desertions totaled one hundred per night.
Hill managed to survive the battles that took the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. However, his health deteriorated in 1865 due to reported rheumatism. He was often forced to sleep upon the bare ground in wet clothing from forced marches through swamps and across rivers and creeks. In one letter he reports on a scouting mission near Kinston, N.C., during which women and children were robbed by the men in his company. Animals and livestock were killed and pillaging was rampant. Also described is life behind breastworks among the bullets of Union snipers and the almost complete absence of food on various occasions. Hill remarks that he has not "drawn one cent in pay" since entering the service.
Of a non-military nature are those elements of immediate concern to his wife: farm crops, mortgage, problems with neighbors, danger from lawless bands, finances, food etc.