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Jesse Hill Letters


Jesse Hill (1827-1882) was born to Sarah Hege (d. ca. 1888) and William "Buck" Hill (circa 1808-1874) of Davidson County. A farmer, Hill married Fanny Scott, 1850, and they had one son, Junius (1851-1924). Soon a widower, Hill remarried twice. Over two years after the Civil War commenced, Hill enlisted in Wake County on 1 January 1864. A private, he was assigned to Company K, 21st Regiment of Infantry. Captured late in the war, Private Hill was released on 27 June 1865 after taking the Oath of Allegiance.These thirty-two letters are a Civil War soldier's communications to his family in Davidson County. They were written by Hill, primarily to his wife, Emoline, during the years 1864 and 1865, ... (more below)

Title

Jesse Hill Letters

Collection Number

PC.1888

Date(s)

1864-1865

Language

English

Physical Description
1.0 boxes
Abstract

Jesse Hill (1827-1882) was born to Sarah Hege (d. ca. 1888) and William "Buck" Hill (circa 1808-1874) of Davidson County. A farmer, Hill married Fanny Scott, 1850, and they had one son, Junius (1851-1924). Soon a widower, Hill remarried twice. Over two years after the Civil War commenced, Hill enlisted in Wake County on 1 January 1864. A private, he was assigned to Company K, 21st Regiment of Infantry. Captured late in the war, Private Hill was released on 27 June 1865 after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

These thirty-two letters are a Civil War soldier's communications to his family in Davidson County. They were written by Hill, primarily to his wife, Emoline, during the years 1864 and 1865, with the first dated 25 January 1864, and the last dated 17 March 1865.

Creator

Hill, Jesse

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


Letters are in chronological order.


Available for research


Gift

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by George Stevenson; Fran Tracy-Walls

Finding Aid by Fran Tracy-Walls


Jesse Hill (1827-1882) was born to Sarah Hege (d. ca. 1888) and William "Buck" Hill (circa 1808-1874) of Davidson County. A farmer, Hill married Fanny Scott, in Davidson County, August 1850. They had one son, Junius Hill (1851-1924). A widower by the following year, Hill married Catharine Spach or Spaugh, July 1852 ( Forsyth County bond dated 3 July) and they had together a child, recorded in some family records as Sarah Jane Hill Shoaf Hudson (1855-1937). Family lore indicates that Catharine developed severe mental illness. Rather than divorce her, unusual in that era, Hill continued to provide for Catharine's necessities, but married another woman, Emoline Chitty Rominger (1828-1893), referred to in the letters as his "dear companion." The couple's graves are at Good Hope United Methodist Church Cemetery, Reedy Creek, Davidson County.

Hill enlisted as a soldier in Wake County on 1 January 1864. A private, he was assigned to Company K, 21st Regiment of Infantry. He was recorded as present or accounted for until 13 June of that year when reported as absent without leave. He returned to duty on 1 October and was recorded as present or accounted for until suffering an ankle gunshot wound and hospitalized at Richmond, Virginia, 27 March 1865. Having returned to duty, he was subsequently captured at or near Sayler's Creek, Virginia, then taken east to Newport News. On 27 June 1865, he was released after taking the Oath of Allegiance.


[Identification of item] in PC.1888, Jesse Hill Letters, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C., U.S.A.


H.L. Hill, Lexington, N.C., 1999


These are a portion of a Civil War soldier's thirty-two surviving letters; and together they provide meaningful insight into the hardships faced by an average Confederate soldier. They were written by Private Jesse Hill during the years 1864 and 1865 to his wife, Emoline Hill, and their family. The letters are significant for several reasons. First, he is candid about his motivation to enlist as a matter of personal duty, and not because of patriotism and a desire for military glory. Secondly, he is also frank about his and others' discontent with the war. Thirdly, Private Hill is also open about desertion and refers to it without ill-will toward fellow soldier's taking that path out of the army. A pragmatic soldier, Hill is determined to survive a war that he apparently thought was being fought to no good purpose, and committed, above all, to return home to his family. Looking ahead to the time when Confederate money would probably be worthless, he is not above removing valuables from fallen enemy soldiers. Such items included watches, pocket knives, and U.S. currency. Hill's accounts of battles lack the attribution of glory many soldiers placed upon their units. Instead, he reports in a straight-forward and more balanced manner the reality that sometimes the enemy took the worst heat and ran like turkeys, while sometimes Hill and his comrades were put to flight by the Federal forces. The letters give a glimpse of hardships on the homefront, even for children. For example, Hill's letters reference his son, Junious (Dock), who was only about fourteen years old, and tasked with plowing and farming in the absence of his father. The letters may also provide valuable information about other soldiers in the 21st infantry.


Transcriptions of these letters plus nine more are part of Chris Ripple's,  The Letters of Private Jesse Hill. The following letters transcribed by Ripple were not donated to the State Archives: 1864: 2 Jan, 9 Jan, 30 Jan, 30 March, 2 Apr, 25 Oct; 1865: 6 Jan, 6 March [6 April?], after Fort Stedman; and an undated [PS], "I will write you a few more lines..."; but possibly the PS for the letter of 19 Jan. 1865.


Louis H. Manarin and Weymouth T. Jordan Jr., comps.,  North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster(Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Department of Cultural Resources, 1966-), 6: 624; North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975; North Carolina Marriage Collection, 1741-2004; U.S Federal Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880. Cemetery data, Davidson County, via www.findagrave.com. Fran Tracy-Walls, telephone interview with Mr. Andy Hill, Clemmons, N.C., 4 February 2014.


  • Hill family
  • Davidson County (N.C.)
  • Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina. Infantry Regiment, 21s

The letters until 30 April 1864 were written from camps in North Carolina, including those near Weldon, Kinston, and during a march from Washington. Thereafter the letters were written from camps in Virginia, between Petersburg and Richmond, near Richmond, Waynesborough, Stanton, New Market, and unspecified.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 1  
January
1864

Scope and Content

One letter dated 25th January.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 2  
February
1864

Scope and Content

Three letters dated 5th, 7th, 9th February.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 3  
March
1864

Scope and Content

One letter dated 16th March.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 4  
April
1864

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 22nd, 30th April.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 5  
May
1864

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 19th, 22nd May.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 6  
June
1864

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 8th, 10th June.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 7  
September
1864

Scope and Content

One letter dated 30th September.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 8  
October
1864

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 2nd, 21st October.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 9  
November
1864

Scope and Content

Four letters dated 1st, 16th, 19th, 26th November.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 10  
December
1864

Scope and Content

Six letters dated 1st, 4th, 11th, 20th, 24th, 27th December.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 11  
January
1865

Scope and Content

Three letters dated 1st, 19th, 27th January.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 12  
February
1865

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 4th, 25th February.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 13  
March
1865

Scope and Content

Two letters dated 7th, 17th March.

Box: PC.1888  
Folder: 14  
Undated
Between January 1864 and April 1865

Edited by Chris Ripple, September 1992,  The Letters of Private Jesse Hill.Computer printout, photocopied and privately bound. The volume contains nine transcriptions of letters not donated in 1999 and consequently not included in PC.1888.