The
Local History Collection at the Transylvania County Library includes several
letters written during the Civil War that express the struggles and fears of people
trying to make a living and raise a family in troubled times.

On the day before the newly created Transylvania County was
to hold its first official meeting and elect county leaders, Amanda Lankford
wrote to her brother, “
This
week is to be court & it is raining now. I think they will hold court at
the camp ground. It is said there is to be a flag hoisted & a cannon fired
on Tuesday next & a speech by Jordan to make up a company in this part of
the state as hard times are here and worse coming I fear.”  The following day, May 20, 1861, North
Carolina declared its secession from the U.S.

In March 1862 Addie Duckworth wrote, “You say my dear
cousin for me to give Mr. Duckworth up. Cousin Mollie, I never can. He is so
ill able to endure hardships that I can never bear to say farewell. God help me
if he is ever called off, for I will despair of ever seeing him alive again. No
I cannot give him up. I love my country but I love my own dear husband
better.” 

Joseph Duckworth did serve for the Confederacy and
survived the Civil War.  However, Addie
died in April 1863, leaving seven young children.  Duckworth married Addie’s cousin, Mollie in
December 1863 and they had thirteen more children.

James Adolphus Bagwell, was buried at Chicago City

Cemetery.  After the war his remains were exhumed and

re-interred in the Confederate Mound (mass grave) at

Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.

Before leaving for duty James Bagwell addressed a
letter to his children, “
There
are dangers abroad and dangers at home and life is uncertain and death is sure.
It seems as if the time has come for me to leave home.  It seems necessary that I should leave on
record some remarks for instruction to my family. They will need my labor, but
will need my instruction worse. I want you all to live uprightly if you die by
it.  I want you to live with your heads
up, be ashamed of nothing but sin and consider yourselves as good as anybody if
you behave yourselves as well. Never pass an insult without just provocation.
Never make sport of anybody. Don’t tell a lie, don’t swear, don’t steal. Pay
all your just contracts. Take no advantage of anybody and keep them from taking
advantage of you…Be faithful and industrious…get all the education you can. Get
all the religious instruction you can. Remember that all these things are my
desire and will and prayer to Almighty God.” 

Bagwell
served in the 62nd NC Infantry for less than six months before being captured.  He died at Camp Douglas Prisoner Camp in
Chicago on December 20, 1864. Three of Bagwell’s seven children died of illness
in late 1864, as well.

On a lighter note, 19-year-old Martin Orr
wrote to his cousin, Julia Mackey on October 10, 1861 describing his first
visit to the “Atlantick Ocian.”  Orr
continued with a plea, “
I want you to write
to me soon and let me know how the girls are coming on in Transylvania. I have
not heard from any of them since I left Asheville.”  He concludes by filling the back page with a
variation of an old English folk song, “To the Girls I Left Behind Me” that was
popular among Confederate soldiers.

Photographs
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]
or 828-884-1820.

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212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712