1862: Harrison A. Loflin to Martha Loflin

This letter was written by Harrison A. Loflin who first enlisted at age 23 on 5 May 1861 as a private in Capt. Billy Shipp’s Co. I, 6th North Carolina Volunteers. This regiment completed its organization and was mustered into the Confederate service in June 1861 as the 16th North Carolina for 12 months. His place of enlistment was Hendersonville, N. C. During his first year of service, Harrison’s muster roll records indicate that he was frequently ill but that he was present for duty from the late spring of 1863 until late March 1864 when he again went on sick furlough.

The date of Harrison’s return to duty is not given in the muster rolls but he was taken captive in the fighting in the Wilderness on 6 May 1864 and remained a prisoner-of-war through at least October 1864. No further record of Loflin, now a corporal, exists in the records of the 16th North Carolina. He appears to have taken the oath of allegiance and been released from prison in Mid-October 1864. Military records indicate he “survived the war.”

No account of Loflin’s capture in the Wilderness on 6 May 1864 has been found but we know from George Henry Mills’ regimental history that the 16th North Carolina was formed on the Brock road that morning, its left resting on the Plank Road, when Hancock’s corps launched an attack on Thomas’s Georgia Brigade, positioned on their left. “Almost without firing a gun,” Thomas’s men gave way, exposing the left flank of the 16th North Carolina—which quickly suffered several casualties—and within minutes it was “everybody for himself and the Yankees take the hindmost.” Most likely it was in this melee that Loflin was taken prisoner.

Harrison addressed the letter to his mother, “Mrs. Martha Loflin, Hill’s Store, N. C.”—a rural community in the mountainous Piedmont region of southwestern Randolph county. The only Martha Loflin with a son named “Harris” or “Harrison” in Randolph county in 1850 was Martha (Wood) Loflin (1796-1880), the widow of Cornelius Ebenezer Loflin (1791-1838). In 1860, her son Harris was residing with the Moss family in Cabarrus county, North Carolina.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent.]

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TRANSCRIPTION

Camp Chickahominy River
12 miles East Richmond
May 14th 1862

Dear Mother,

This morning finds me engaged in communicating you a few lines by way of letter to let you know that I have not forgotten you yet, and that your letter was received with much pleasure day before yesterday, and for want of paper I have delayed writing until now, and hardly able to write at all for I have been laid up with the rheumatism for near two weeks and am not getting any better. I was wholly disabled for the march in the retreat from Yorktown. Therefore was hauled on wagon. The disease affects me mentally almost as much as bodily for I would very much like to be with the regiment for they are expecting a fight every day and when they go at that, I want to be with them.

In the retreat there has been several fights and our side has whipped every time, and have taken a great many prisoners.

You asked me whether I would come home now or not. I should think not under the late and inhumane Act of Congress. I learned yesterday that North Carolina and Texas were going to fill the places of the 12 months [men] with militias by the 15th of July and would release us men at that time. That is what is published in the Raleigh papers, and I suppose there is some reliability about, provided the state can do such a thing, and I suppose she can. I hope so at all events.

I have no news much. I saw in the paper that Gen. Jackson had whipped above Staunton desperately and his dispatch was that “he thanked God he had lived to see the Yankees once more in full flight for life.” Also that Gen. Beauregard had repulsed the enemy at Corinth with much loss on our side, and much more on the side of enemy.

My sheet is almost full. I saw Pink Hardister ¹ the other day. He didn’t recognize me at all but I knew him and called him by name. I have occasionally met up with my friends. I also saw Burrel Burkehead ² but he knew [me].

Give my love to all my friends if there be any such. You can tease all the girls now and tell if they want to marry, they will have to go to Utah for there is no chance for them since the conscription law has passed. Write soon. Direct to Richmond.

Yours as ever, — H. A. Loflin


¹ Pvt. Levi Pinkney Hardister (1839-1862) was the son of Francis Asbury Hardister (1808-1877) and Cynthia Ann Crawford (1810-1865) of Randolph county, North Carolina. “Pink” Hardister enlisted in Co. L, 22nd North Carolina Infantry when he was 22 years old. He died of “diarrhea and phthisis” on 1 December 1862 at St. Charles hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

² Burrell Wood Burkhead (1839-1904) grew up in Randolph county, North Carolina, the son of Lorenzo Dow Burkhead and Martha Harris. He served as a lieutenant in Co. I, 22nd North Carolina. I believe Burrell may have been a distant relative of Harrison’s through his mother’s side of the family.

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