Dear Bonnie: A Civil War letter from Georgetown

  • Friday, January 17, 2014

Photo found on findagrave.com. Added by Barbara Lehman.

Some years ago, I purchased a letter written by a Confederate soldier who was stationed in Georgetown. The letter is yellowed with age and damaged along the folds. Some passages are impossible to read.

The writer was a young man from Darlington, S.C. I can only guess that the recipient was a close friend, family member, or even his sweetheart.


January 21st 1862

Camp Harllee,

Georgetown, S.C.

Dear Bonnie

With pleasure I commence a correspondence with you after waiting several days without hearing from you. We are quite well and enjoying ourselves very much, drilling only three times a day.

I have had the honor of being drill master since I left Darlington Co. Graham appointed Mannie and I to drill the companies who have lately come in the Regiment ____. It is thought by most of the men that we will have jackets but I hope not for I do dislike them with a hatred. We would all look nice going to church in round jackets; donít you think so, Bonnie.

We may not have the privilege of going to church long. We may be moved to some other point. I donít care how soon for this is a very damp sickly place so near the river. There is a great many sick men in the hospital now some from every co. I hope my mess will still be blessed as it has been only very slite attacks of measles. Alfred has fared the worst of any he has not come to camp yet. But I think he likes staying at Capt. Hennings so much better than camping until he wants to get entirely well before he leaves.

I am sorry to say that I have not entirely got clear of the blues yet. I had them so badly that day after I left till I thought I would turn blue. But that night we slept in a church and thinking about ghosts and other sort of queer spirits until I got almost well.

We passed one of the finest graveyards that I ever saw at Hopewell church a great many fine monuments. I had not ____ one near Georgetown which is the prettiest place that I have ____ a high hill right on black river bank completely shaded with tremendous live oaks covered with moss such as we never have in Darlington. Then the beauty of all I saw the grave of one of Marion men named Green. His grave was nicely covered with stones.

We arrived in camp early that evening and met old Jim looking as pleasing as a basket of chips but grieving over losing all of his sugar the night before he forgot to put it up and let an old cow eat it. And steped in several plate and mashed them in all shapes. I donít mean that she got on the table but throwed them down.

I have no news to impart to you. We live so far from the railroad we cant hear the news. It is reported in Georgetown that there is thirty nine vessel lying off the bar. As Jim says sorter scittish news. But I donít think there is much danger. I hope I will have the pleasure of seeing them tomorrow if they are to be seen. As Mannie Jim and I are going over to South Island if nothing prevents. I wish you all were near enough to go. We would have a splendid ride on the boat about sixteen miles.

I suppose you heard of the death of those two men who died ____ of Owenís men and of Capt. Thomasís of Marlboro.

I need close as I know nothing to interest you. Jim and Mannie send their love to you and the rest of the family. Give mine to Aunt Lizzie and family and ____ for yourself and I hope that we may soon meet again if I am not so unfortunate as to be killed by the Yankees or die with some camp disease. If I should I hope we may meet in Heaven is the kind wishes of Your true friend

Wm A. Fountain

N.B. Tell Dora I wish she could take supper with me tonight. We are going to have a big oyster stew. I hope you will answer soon. Direct your letter in care Capt. S. ___ Wilds.

Since I finished my letter I went over in town and saw a small old house burned up. No other damage done. Answer very soon.


Since I first published this letter in 2012, Iíve learned that William Alexander Fountain was a member of Company B, 21st South Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army.

He was born in 1936, making him just 26 yrs. old when he wrote this letter. Unfortunately, he was killed at Morris Island on Aug. 2, 1863, so he didnít make it back to Bonnie.

On the website findagrave.com, I found that his gravesite is at Lowthers Hill Cemetery in Darlington. I hope to visit it soon.

To William Alexander Fountain . . . thanks for the memories.

Debby Summey may be reached at 843-446-4777 or djsummey@gmail.com.

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