This prisoner-of-war letter was penned by Capt. Stephen Wiley Brewer (1835-1897) who led his company—Co. E, 26th North Carolina Infantry—in the July 3rd Pickett-Pettigrew Charge at Gettysburg. He was wounded in the charge but made it back to the Confederate line only to be captured near Greencastle, Maryland, on the retreat from Gettysburg. He was imprisoned at Johnson’s Island [see header] until near the end of the war when he was released in a prisoner exchange. When he returned home to Chatham county, North Carolina, he became the sheriff of the county.
Capt. Brewer wrote the letter to his brother-in-law, Richard Bray Paschal (1820-1870) of Pittsboro and the sheriff of Chatham county, North Carolina, throughout the Civil War.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent.]
June 12th 1864
Sheriff R. B. Paschal
I have not heard from you in some time. I think it very strange that I did not receive a letter from you the last mail. Your last was the 19th March. I received a letter from Lieut. [Murdock] McLeod of our regiment. He was captured on the 6th of May and is now at Fort Delaware. ¹ Also seven of my company captured at the same time—John J. Lambert, James O. Gilliland and others. I have not been able to find out where they are.
Lieut. [Murdock] McLeod wrote that Col. [John T.] Jones was wounded the 6th [in the Battle of the Wilderness] and died the 7th. We have not been able to learn anything from the regiment since. We are anxious to hear from our friends though it will be sad to some of us.
I wrote you the same time ago that I had made arrangement with Capt. [N. G.] Bradford of our regiment to furnish me with anything that I might need but I learn that he has not been sent through. I hope you have not neglected sending the tobacco that I wrote for. I am in better health now than I have been since I was captured. Give my best to all.
Yours truly & fraternally, — S. W. Brewer, 26 N. C. Regt.
¹ Tired of being shelled in Charleston by Union batteries surrounding the harbor in 1864, Confederates placed Union prisoners in the city in an effort to dissuade further shelling. In retaliation, Federals took 600 Rebel officers from the prison at Fort Delaware in August 1864 and placed them in a stockade in front of Battery Wagner on Morris Island, used as human shields, and guarded by Black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts. One of these 600 officers was Lt. Murdoch McLeod of the 26th North Carolina.