Cpl. James Byrd Letter to Cousin Martha

James F. Byrd enlisted as a private in Cantwell’s Company, Wilmington Railroad Guards on December 29, 1861. The Duplin County native was 21 years old and stood 5 feet, 10 inches tall.

On April 15, 1862, Byrd transferred to Company A of the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops. He was promoted to corporal on September 1st of the same year. In March of the next year, the regiment was stationed in Charleston, when it was given orders to move to Savannah to counter a Union threat to that city. While the Fifty-First was camped near Savannah, Corporal Byrd wrote his cousin Martha a letter. [NOTE: the transcript is lightly edited for formatting and spelling.]

Camp Near Savannah Ga

March 7, 1863

Dear Cousin

I take the pleasure this morn of writing you a few lines which will inform you that I am well and enjoying good health too. Also hope this may find you and the rest of the Family well. Cousin, I have no news of importance to communicate. I am now in your state. I am in the 51st N Carolina Regt. We came here last Wednesday night [March 4]. We was at Charleston S C and last Monday we got orders to leave to this place. I like the place very well but we are badly situated. We are in an open field without tents or [TORN] shelter whatever and we [TORN] when our tents

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will come. I don’t expect we will remain here very long but where we will go next is a question that I can’t solve though wherever the yankees make their appearance, I reckon. We started from Kinston N C first and come to Goldsboro from there to Wilmington and from there to Charleston from there to Savannah and quite likely we will go to [ILLEGIBLE]


back to N C though I would like to stay here very well. I like the looks of Ga first [ILLEGIBLE]. Cousin, if I can get a furlough while I am at Savannah I will come out and see you.[1] I think if we stay here any length of time I will be able to get one.[2] I got a letter

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from Jim[3] last Monday. He was well. He wrote he is at Petersburg, Va. I was glad to hear from him. He said he has been in some hard fights. He wrote that Tim[4] was home. I would like to see Tim and hear him talk about the war. Cousin, I want you to write to me as soon as you get this. Tell Tim to write. Direct your letters to Savannah Ga. I must close. Give my best love to Uncle Frank and Aunt Betsy[5] and all the rest. Tell them that all was well at home last week. No more at present. I am your sincere cousin

James F. Byrd

To Cousin Martha[6] [ILLEGIBLE]

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Here is the way to book your letter: James F Byrd, Co. A 51st Regt N Carolina Troops in care of Capt Walker

[1] Byrd’s cousin lived in Thomas County in the southern part of the state.

[2] The 51st North Carolina returned to Charleston two days after Byrd wrote this letter.

[3] Private David James Brice, Company K, 50th Georgia. Killed in action in Virginia on May 6, 1864.

[4] Timothy Brice; survived the war.

[5] Francis Calvin Brice and Elizabeth Murphy Brice (James Byrd’s mother’s sister).

[6] Martha J. Brice (1843-1924)

The letter is on microfilm and is part of the Brice Family Papers, MfP 176, at the North Carolina Archives. The photos below were taken of the microfilm reader’s screen.

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