An Illiterate Confederate Soldier Speaks

Discovering the letters of John Futch was one of the great surprises in researching The War for the Common Soldier. Futch, who was from New Hanover, North Carolina, did not own property or slaves when he entered the ranks of the 3rd North Carolina Infantry. In the letter below, Futch opens up about the loss of his brother Charley, who received a mortal wound on July 2, 1863, while attacking Culp’s Hill during the battle of Gettysburg. My students at Gettysburg College puzzle through this letter, debate the source of Futch’s demoralization, and question whether this letter is political. Your thoughts?

Camp near bunker hill

July the 19th 63

Dear wife I take

the pleasier of writing you a fiew lines which will inform you that I am not well at this time I have a bad cold and I am waried out a marching but we are stoped at this time but we dont no how long we will stay hier thy is some talk of our going back in mayerland but I am in hopes that the war will soon end for I tired of mayerland I hope that we will not go back thare we marced through PV and we had a hard fight thare we lost all of our boys nearly thare Charly got kild and he suffered graideal from his wound he lived a night and a day after he was wounded we sead hard times thare but we got a nugh to eat ther but we dont now as to my self I get a nugh for I dont want nothing to eat hardly for I am all must sick all the time and half crazy I never wanted to come home so bad in my life but it is so that I cant come at this time but if we come down south I will try to come any how for I want to come home so bad that I am home sick I want you to kep Charlys pistol and if I ever git it back I will keep it Thomas and Robert Ramsy both got wounded and they was left with the yankes but I hope that we will lifed to come home without a wound for I have seen so may woundid and died I staid with Charly untill he died he never spoke after he was woundid untill he died I never was hurt so in my life I had neather that it would of bin my self as my oportunity is had of writing I will close so nothing more only I still remain your kind and afectionat husband

         John Futch

Transcriptions made by Peter Carmichael.  The Futch family papers are located at the North Carolina Department of Archives, Raleigh