Battle of New Bern, N.C. Letter – Written by Hugh E. McAulay, 37th N.C. Infantry – “THE GROUND WAS COVERED WITH BLOOD OF THE HORSES, AND THE CANNON PLAYING ON US ALL THE TIME”
McAulay, a resident of Mecklenburg County, N.C., was a 21-year-old farmer when he enlisted on 9/16/61 as a Private in Company C of the 37th N.C. Infantry. The letter is 2-pages on legal size paper. McAulay being a farm boy apparently had no formal education and the letter has many spelling issues that we have amended. The content is excellent. Here it is:
- Kenston, Lenoir Co. March the 14th, ’62. Dear Mother, Mrs. N.D. Mc, I am well as you might expect and hope that you all are well. [McAuley would die of Typhoid Fever 3 months later]
- We had 1 battle on the 12th and lasted until the 13th, about 12 or one o’clock in which I was engaged on the last day on the 13th.
- THE FIRING COMMENCED ABOUT 2 O’CLOCK. THE YANKEES ATTACKED US AND WE RETURNED FIRE, BUT THE WORST IS TO COME YET. WE HAD TO RETREAT.
- I retreated sixteen miles quick time, and you may know that I was tired and had not shut my eyes the night before and set in the trench all night and it a raining hard…
- …SO PASSED THROUGH THE GATES OF THE FIGHT ONE MILE AMONG THE BOMBS AND GRAPE AND THERE WAS NOT ONE SCARED.
- J. R. KNOX [CO. C] HAD HIS HAVERSACK SHOT OFF. THERE WAS TWO BOMBS PASSED BY MY BREAST THAT THE WIND OF THEM STRUCK MY SHIRT, AND THOUSANDS OF MUSKET BALLS SUNG AROUND MY HEAD, BUT I WAS NOT TOUCHED.
- Well, after retreating 19 miles, it was near sundown and I got on the Col. horse and traveled all last night. I have not slept none for three nights and feel pretty well.
- We have all got here but six, J. C. Beard, J. Holt, A. L. Black, L. Worsham, W. Worsham, and T. A. Sloane. They are not killed, but they may be took prisoners, but I think they will come yet.
- It is 40 miles from the battle field until this place. I think they have got tired and have stopped to rest. I hope they will come in tonight.
- WE LOST A GOOD MANY MEN. THE YANKEES LOST A GREAT MANY MORE. I STOOD AND SAW BRANCH MARK THE FIELDS FROM DOZENS OF A. (ARTILLERY) FIRE WITH HIS FLAMING ARTILLERY.
- SERGEANT KNOX WAS KILLED. BRANCH LOST NEARLY ALL HIS HORSES AND HAD MEN KILLED. SOME TAKEN PRISONERS. JAMES MORRIS WAS WOUNDED AND LEFT ON THE FIELD.
- WE PASSED THROUGH THE BATTLE GROUND WHERE THE GROUND WAS COVERED WITH BLOOD OF THE HORSES, AND THE CANNON PLAYING ON US ALL THE TIME, AND WE ALL STOOD UP AND NOT ONE WAS HIT.
- We lost all the clothes but what we had on. We fixed our camp and burnt all the clothing and tents and camp chests and everything we had for we could not move it. I lost the pants that you give me, my flannel shirt, one checked shirt, one white shirt and two pair of drawers, two pair of socks and that 1 pair that Mr. A. Alexander brought me. He had to throw them away to get away himself. We have nothing now. I had on my old pair of gloves and burnt my new ones, my blankets was both burnt.
- I guess I have said enough about this fight. I had no time to write, but I thought you would want to hear soon. I had got one dollar worth of paper and 50 cents worth of stamps and fifty cents worth of envelopes. All was lost.
- It is time to go to my room. I am in the Post Office at Kenston as I have no place to write. We are in a house and have not the first blanket. This is the worse of it. If you hear anything worse, it is not so. The Yankees had 50,000. We had 7,000. Write soon. Good by Hugh. To His mammy
Condition is very good with only two minor holes. The ink is nice and dark.
#L3-14-62 NC – Price $495