December 12, 1988, 51 pages, photocopies; Typescript of Civil War letters of Wilson County, N.C., resident (1863-1864) and genealogy. Gift of Mrs. Martha Edwards Croom, Stantonsburg, N.C.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
Josiah Robert Peele Ellis Papers (#566), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
- Gift of Mrs. Martha Edwards Croom
Josiah Robert Peele Ellis of Wilson County, N.C., was drafted to serve in the Confederate Army in the last months of 1863. He joined Company C of the 43rd N.C. Infantry Regiment, leaving behind his wife and eleven children.
The introduction to the letters prepared by Hugh Buckner Johnston of Wilson, N.C., traces the movement and engagements of the 43rd Regiment from November 26, 1863, to November 22, 1864. There are also eight pages of footnotes identifying the names of people and places mentioned in the letters.
All of the letters were written by Ellis to his wife Elizabeth Grimes Ellis. He tells of the cold, hunger, and exhaustion experienced in camp and on marches. He describes battles at Batchelor's Creek (near New Bern) and Plymouth, North Carolina, as well as fighting in Virginia around Richmond and at "Modern Ford." He mentions the hanging of seven deserters at Kinston and gives a casualty report on the regiment after a battle in the Richmond area.
Most of the letters contain instructions to his wife on managing the farm and financial affairs, with frequent cautions to be sparing with supplies, especially corn. Encouraging comments to his children are also included from time to time. Ellis mentions that he could be released from service if he had legal assistance but sees no hope of this happening.
In his last letter Ellis describes himself as "broken down" by the hardships of the continuing war. The final letter in the collection is from the regiment's surgeon telling Mrs. Ellis of her husband's almost certain death.