An Amazing Letter from Private Richard C. Johnson, Hampton Legion Cavalry – You’ve Got to See How “Hard Up” He was for Paper!

Richard Cecile Johnson started the war in Company F of the 8th Georgia Infantry in May of 1861. In September he transferred into Company C of the Hampton Legion Cavalry, Battn. L. Fortunately our letter comes with an envelope that provides full I.D. as the letter is signed with his initials “R. C. J.” Richard is writing to his brother C. S. Johnson in Walterboro, S.C. His brother liked to go by his middle name, Smith. Poor Richard did not have any paper so he unfolded another envelope, wrote on it and then mailed it in the envelope you see. The great thing is that it is all very readable… and makes a great display!

• “Nov. 12, 1862. Dear Smith: I received your last about two months ago, until within the past few weeks, I have not had the opportunity for writing, NOR HAVE I YET THE MATERIAL AS YOU SEE BY THIS NOTE.”

• “When you write to me, if you will put in a sheet of small paper and envelope, I promise you that I will reply immediately if there is an opportunity of sending it to you.”

• “We are now encamped in the mountains near the foot of the Blue Ridge.”

• “I crossed the mountains in a snow storm which nearly froze me to death.”

• “We have frequent skirmishes with the Yanks. We caught eight yesterday.”

• “Our Battalion has been increased to a Regiment and is called the 2nd S. C.”

• “We have got rid of the old curse I wrote to you about. I had quite a pleasant time while in Md. We lived at one time three weeks on green corn and apples. One night I eat 22 ears of corn. At another time I eat 73 apples.”

• “Uncle William Smith was wounded in three places at the Battle of Sharpsburg. He could not be persuaded to leave the field. He is a trump.”

• “We have been without cooking utensils for six weeks. R. C. J.”

The cover has a Charleston, S.C. postmark and a DUE “10”. In the upper left corner of the cover: “From Private R. C. Johnson, B. D Troop, 2nd S.C. Cav.” Poor Richard was killed in the battle of Upperville, Virginia on June 21st, 1863. We were able to locate some very interesting copies: Richard’s father was the Chaplain of the 1st South Carolina Cavalry. Included is a copy of a letter that the Major of the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry (Richard’s unit) sent to Richard’s father describing his death. Very touching.

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