The transcribed letters and the introduction to the letters prepared in 1977 by Hugh Buckner Johnston of Wilson, N.C., trace the movement and engagements of the 43rd Regiment from November 26, 1863, to November 22, 1864. Johnston also provides 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.
Additional material in the collection includes genealogy records for the Hill and Ellis families of Eastern North Carolina.