Hancock County, WV Civil War Letters
Hancock County, WV Civil War Letters

The following set of letters, written during the Civil War, are verbatim transcriptions of the originals, with grammar and punctuation as written, and editorial comments in brackets.The author of the letters, Lt. John N. McCarty, was a brother of my great-great grandmother, Sarah Caroline McCarty Hobbs, and was a son of John D. and Julia Marquis McCarty of Hancock County,West Virginia. He was born September 14, 1843, in Washington, Pennsylvania, and died September 8, 1870. His grave is in the New Cumberland Cemetery. We have no knowledge of the cause of his death. The letters are written mostly to his brother-in-law, Francis V.Johnston, with several to his sister Elizabeth (Mrs. F. V. Johnston),and one to his mother, Julia McCarty who resided In Hancock County,West Virginia. These letters have been passed down In my family for several generations and now reside with my mother in Akron, Ohio.

These copies are freely given to the Tn-State Genealogical & Historical Society for use by historians, but may not be sold or otherwise used for profit. They may be entered into the Hancock County GenWeb site for public interest If desired.

Nancy J. Need
(The remainder of the address has been edited out)
August 1, 2000

Letters of John N. McCarty, Lieutenant Co. F, 1st Va Vol Infantry

January 31, 1862 Camp Kelly, Patterson Creek, Cumberland, MD

March 5, 1862 Camp Chase, Morgan County, VA

April 13, 1862 Camp Duval, Woodstock, Shenandoah County, VA

July 1, 1862 Camp near Washington D.C.

August 13, 1862 Camp near Culpepper, VA

October 6, 1862 Camp near Fort Cap, Arlington Heights

January 5, 1863 North Mountain, VA

January 31,1863 North Mountain, VA

March 2, 1863 North Mountain, VA

March 23, 1863 Mechanics Gap near Romney, VA

November 22, 1863 Camp Va Lufty, Petersburg, West VA

January 18, 1865 Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, New Creek, WV

Camp Kelly
Patterson Creek
January 31st 1862

Mr. F.V. Johnston Dear sir I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings. I received your letter and was glad to hear that you was all well. The mud is about 8 inches deep and raising fast. I think we shall be able to start out in a few days. Our regiment was ordered out on the 27 and went out about 12 miles on the B&O RR and captured 3000 bushels of wheat a quantity of corn and bran. I have been in one skirmish since I came out here. I suppose you heardof it. We started one night about 10 o'clock and reached Blue's Gap about 9 the next day. Colonel Thoburn asked permission of Col. Dunning to take his regimentthrough the gap first and it was granted to him. Co. A. was ahead of us but they flanked on each side of the gap and our company took the lead through the gap with Col. Thoburn at our front. Their artillery was planted fronting the gap but they were taken by surprise so that they did not get to fire a shot out of their cannon. It was published in several papers that the 5th Ohio led the way
down the gap followed by the first Va. This is false for the first Va was the first regt through the gap. I hear from Alice McFarland that Ebb is at home.

You need not be surprised if you hear of Romney being taken some cold morning. It would be an utter impossibility to try to move an army through the mud at the present time. Our regiment is in the 3rd Brigade of Virginia commanded by Col. Tyler. The army regulations are enforced to the last degree giving a soldier little chance for enjoyment except when in camp. I correspond regular with Alice McFarland in Cross Creek. Tell mother that I am well. I sent 30 dollars with John Kemp and I do not know whether she received it or not. I want you to write me regular and let [...] let me know how you get along. I received a letter from James Marquis last week and he says he is well. I must close.

Write soon.

 I remain [...] John N. McCarty.
 P.S. Send me a paper or magazine occasionally to read.

 Address. Cumberland, Maryland

Camp Chase Morgan Co Va March 5th .62
F V Johnston - Dear sir I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings. I received your letter of the 16th and was glad to hear that all the folks was well and in a flourishing condition. We are under marching orders and will start tomorrow the Colonel says for Martinsburg on~the B.& 0. R.R. On the 1st of  March we received marching orders and at 4P.M. we started and marched [5?] hours and halted. We crossed Big Carapon river on the march. A bridge across the river was made of thirteen wagons with boards on top of them. At 3 P.M. we received orders to march but it was back to camp and when we got to camp we heard of Gen. Landers  death. On the 3rd we was marched down to the railroad to make a show over the corpse.
The corpse was carried by six Colonels - the coffin was wrapped in the Stars and stripes with his cap sword sash and belt on top of the coffin. I hear that Gen Schneck will take his place long enough for Gen Shields to come who will then take command of this division of the army. Jim McCarty [his uncle, Jas. R.McCarty] has not been well for two or three weeks but is recovering slowly. I did not receive that paper and novel that Lizzie sent but it may be on the road. I would like to come home for a few days but it is impossible to get a furlough at the present time. I wish you would send S A Griffin out here as chaplain of the 1st Va. I think he would leave in a short time if not sooner. Tell Lizzie to send me about 50 cents worth of stamps for I am out and it is impossible to get any in this country. I got a dollars worth in Cumberland when I was in Camp Kelly but they are all gone up the spout. I must close for I am on guard today and it is about that time. 

I remain[ ] John N. McCarty To F V Johnston
Cumberland Md and the letter will follow the regiment whereever it goes.
John N. McCarty

Camp Duval Woodstock
Shenandoah Co Va April 13th/62

[Outside of letter addressed to Mr. F.V.Johnston, New Cumberland, Hancock County, Va, and contains a 3-cent stamp U.S.postage, bearing a picture of Benjamin Franklin]

Mr. F.V. Johnston - I am well and expect to be if I don't take sick. I received a letter fromyou on the 24th of last month the next day after the battle.I have done many a hard days work in my time but I never worked any harder than I did that day. We encamped on the battle field that night and the next morning I was so sore that I could hardly get up. I went over the battle-field the next morning and judging from appearances it did not look  healthy. Jim McCarty [his uncle, Jas. A. McCarty]was wounded in the left arm at the elbow but it did not injure the bone much. I expect him back to the company in a few days. Our own wounded were gathered up the night after the battle and the enemy's wounded attended to the next day. To a person not engaged in the fight it would appear like wholesale slaughter. The enemy had every advantage that theycould ask and nearly double the amount of men that we had. Gen. Jackson now occupies the left hand side of the Shenahdoah river and us the right. We can see them riding about on their horses looking as if they was not afraid of us. They shot one of our men on picket yesterday. Our regiment was on picket day before yesterday and I tried my shooting iron on them but they was too far away. The cannonading is kept up prettybriskly on both sides every day but they don't do much damage at least they do not hurt us any. I received a letter from Alice McFarland on the 8th and they was all well at the time it was wrote. I have just come in off a grand review. Gen. Shields rode in front of every regiment and waved his cap. He looks very pale yet but is recovering rapidly. I think there will be a forward movement in this part of the army before long and if we move very far we will encounter Jackson a second time if he don't run. I send you a secesh order in this letter for the payment of them stamps you sent me. I wish you would send me a few more if you can get them. Maj. Gen. Banks gets dispatches almost every evening of some important victory. No 10 Pittsburg Landing and the Merrimac have been taken. I think Pittsburg Landing was a dear victory.

I must close. I remain [ ] J.N.McCarty
P.S. Address Winchester Va in care of Capt. E.W.Stephens [Co F?] 1st Regt Va Vol
Infty Tyler Brigade Shields' division.
Write Soon. J.N. McCarty

July 1st, 1862

Camp Near Washington D.C.

[Outside of letter addressed to F.V. Johnston, Port Homer, Jefferson County, Ohio]

V.V. Johnston. Dear Sir - I take my pen in my fist to let you know of my whereabouts. You will see by the heading of this epistle that we are near the Capital of the U.S. After about 100 miles travel we have at last camped within sight of Washington. It makes me mad to think of the "trials and troubles" I have endured see the kid glove soldiers laying about Washington doing nothing and insult a man if he happens to be a little ragged. Shields division has never been clothed as it ought to have been since the commencement of the war and every town they enter there is generally some insulting remarks about their ragged appearance. Some of the 7th Md troops  knocked down several of the kid glove soldiers and they quit talking about them.  Enclosed you will find a 5 dollar note of Confederate money. There is several thousand dollars of it in our regiment but a late order prohibited them from passing it. Since we have been paid the last time I have lost all my money somewhere near Alexandria Va. I think we will stay at this place for some time to come. I want you to write more frequent than you do.I have wrote three letters to you and have not received an answer to either of them yet you will please answer when you receive this. We draw two new suits of dlothing tomorrow and will be rigged out in the new. Tell Lizzie I want her to write also and let me know how she is getting along. There is a good many forts around Washington City and are very strong. - in fort Ellsworth there are several 64 pounders.

 I am getting too lazy to write so I believe I'll quit. I remain [ ]
John N McCarty
P.S. Write soon. Address
Washington D.C.
John N McCarty

Camp near Culpepper Va Aug. 13th 62

[Outside of letter addressed to F.V. Johnston Esq, Port Homer, Jefferson County, Ohio, with postage due 3 cents]

F.V. Johnston Dear Sir - I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am still alive and able to [?] We have had a small battle lately and succeeded in killing and wounding a few men on both sides but a little the most on our side if any difference. We would have slaughtered them in a wholesale manner on Sunday if they had attacked us But Pope sent a flag of truce to them on Sunday morning and requested permission to bury the dead which was granted and while we were burying our dead they were retreating as fast as they could. Our brigade was not in the fight on Saturday at all but Saturday night we was shoved to the very front where they shelled us all night and we did not get to  sleep more than an hour at a time. Every time I got asleep that night I was wakened up by a shower of grape or canister flying over my head. We could see the shells after they had passed over our heads. They looked like a shooting star except when they burst [the] shed a bright light over an acre of ground. I was over the battle ground today it is awful to look at. There is over 200 dead horses on the battle ground. It would look hard to a citizen to see the way soldiers are buried. They dig a long ditch the [lenghth] of a man and tumble them in on top of one another and cover them up. This war is going to end before the first of next year. Foreign nations will interfere and stop it. I have written five or six times to you and have only got one answer. I want you to answer this soon and enclose 30 cents worth of postage stamps and oblige.

J.N. McCarty
Co F 1st Va Vol Infty
Culpepper Ct Va

Campnear Fort Cap, Arlington Heights
 Oct 6th/62

Dear Sister-I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well at present and hope that these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessings. I have been very sick for the last week or nine days but am now quite well. We are still by [ing at Fort...] yet and I hear no rumors of a move except one and that is the regiment is going to Western Va. Col. Alexander of Peirpoints Staff came to the Regt today. I hear that some officers are going to court-martial our Brigade commander (S.S.Carroll) I hope it is so for he gets drunk every fight he goes into.
You need not send me any more stamps. Lieut White sent over to Washington yesterday and purchased $5 worth and I got a dollars worth from him. We are camped a short distance from the old Arlington House once Gen. Seir's residence. Our Regt. does not muster 50 men stronger since we came to this place nearly a month ago. When you write tell mother I am all right.If we should happen to get to Western Virginia I will try and get a leave of absence long enough to go and see
the folks around Cumberland. Write soon and oblige your brother.
John N McCarty
P.S. Address as before
Washington D C Care of Lieut White Co F 15t Va Vol Infty

John N McCarty

North Mountain Va Jan 5th 1863

[Outside of letter addressed to Mrs. Lizzie Johnston, Port Homer, Jefferson County, Ohio, postage due 3, with a return address of Soldiers Letter, J.Weddle Lt. Col. Comdg., 1st Regt.Va Vol Infty)

Dear Sister- Yours of the 1st was received and read with pleasure and I now seat myself to answer it. You will perceive by the heading of this letter that we are still North Mountain yet and and no prospects of leaving soon. It is still reported here yet that we are to be joined to the llt Va Infantry but I cannot believe it although it might be so. How did you spend the "Holidays"? Pleasantly or not? I spent mine in my tent just the same as any other day with the exception of Christmas I had an invitation to eat my dinner in Georgetown which I readily accepted. There is nothing of any importance going on at this place. On the night of 31st considerable firing was heard at North Mountain station and we were called out in line ready for an attack but it turned out to be some drunken cavalry firing in honor of the New Year. Give my compliments to the Mipes Adams' and tell them I shall undoubtedly call and see them if I ever return. I want you to send me one dollars worth of stamps when you answer this which I want you to do immediately on reddeipt of this. I have written to Allison twice or three times since I came to this place. I have been promoted to Sergeant since we came to this place. Hoping to hear from you soon I remain your affectionate Brother.

John N McCarty
P.S. Address North Mountain Va care of Lieut-John W. White, Co F 1st Regt Va Vol
Infy Please excuse bad writing and write soon.
John N McCarty

North Mountain Va Jan 31st 1863

[Outside of letter addressed to F.V.Johnston Esq, Port Homer, Jefferson County, Ohio, and bears a cancellation mark B.&O.R.R. North Mountain.]

Friend FV-Your letter has just been recd and I now seat myself to answer it. There has been no change of any importance since I wrote last and no prospects of any soon and I hope there will be none in this Division of the army until the war is over. I am heartily sick and tired of it some times and other times I like it - it is just as I feel at the time. We have about 15 inches of snow at this place and a prospect for more as it continues to snow a little every day. We have had a few cases of the measles in our camp but most of the men has had them. The "smallpox"" is tolerable bad at Winchester but there is none at this place yet. Gen. Schenck has issued an order that every man in his command shall be vaccinated. We are in Schenck's corps Kellys division but in no brigade. Col. Thoburn has been nominated for a brigadier General and I think he will get it at least I hope so for he is too much of a fighting man for me. Lieut John W White has tendered his resignation and it has been accepted.  He was one of the best officers of the regiment. Lieut. Charles A Freeman will probably be Capt 2nd Lleut Apple to be 1st Lieut and Orderly sergeant Steele will be 2nd Lieut. After this direct in care of Lieut Charles A Freeman. Our Regt will be laid off about  the 2nd of February. I will probably send some money to you but I am not certain. I received a letter from Orville today - they are all well at that place. The stamps you  sent I received. No more at present but remains.

Sergt John N McCarty
P.S. Write soon. Direct as before. Excuse this scribbling for I am sleepy and nervous.
I will probably be promoted to Orderly Sergeant in a week or two.
Sergt John N McCarty

March 23rd 1863
Mechanics Gap near Romney Va

Dear Sister- I received your letter some time ago and hasten to reply. I would have answered sooner but we have been moving our camp from Romney to Mechanics Gap west of the South branch of the Potomac. We are about 4 miles from Romney but we can see it. There Is nothing of importance going on at this place worthy of writing about. There was a scouting party went out this morning but I do not know where they were going to. I received a letter from Mother two or three days ago. I got Alleys and Carolines pictures. [His younger brother and sister]  No more at present but remains your affectionate Brother

Sergt J N McCarty
P.S. Address Romney Va. My compliments to the Mipes Adams'.
Yours Sergt J N McCarty

Camp Va Lufty Petersburg West Va
Nov 22nd 1863

Dear Mother-John Edie returned to camp a few days ago and gave me a letter from you which I now answer. We are still camped at Petersburg but I do not think we will stay here long. We have winter quarters here built of logs and are warmer and better than some frame houses. I have been suffering with the tooth ache for the past week and yesterday I went to Doc Baguley to get him to pull it out but he broke itseveral times and had to quit it. Since then It has not ached any. Doctor Baguley intends going home soon if he can get to take William Chapman with him. He does not wish to leave him in care of other Surgeons for fear that he will not be  attended to as he should be. William Chapman was wounded in three places- in the  right shoulder - the left hand and the right leg just at the knee. I was lucky that our company was on a scout that night or there would have been many more of our company killed and wounded for the enemy fired into our tents first. After they captured our camp and were three or four miles from town we met them aswe were returning. We secreted ourselves on a hill-side and when they came opposite we fired into them and killed several horses and disabled several men. We continued firing about a half hour and they came near surrounding us thus compelling us to retreat. One ball came near enough to me so that the wind of it shook the hair of my head.
I do not know whether I will get a furlough soon or not for I do not want to apply
for one until I am sure of getting it. I think I can get one by the first or middle of January next year. The mail is ready to leave so I will have to close. If we move or have a fight I will let you know how I am immediately.

Your son
John N McCarty

Head Quarters 2nd Brig 2nd Inf Div D W.Va.
New Creek W.Va. Jany 18th 1865

Dear Sister-Yours of Jany 11th I have just received and hasten to reply. I did not receive your letters as soon as I might as I was absent from the company. I am at New Creek W.Va. now on the staff of General Lightburn and will probably remain with him as long as he continues to command the Brigade. I have very good quarters and am fixed in every way as comfortable as I could wish. I anticipate a very pleasant time while I remain here but I cannot get home while on the staff. No: I was not promoted to a Captain. You was misinformed about it. I am only a Lieutenant but was recommended for a Captaincy by the board of examination but did not it for some reasons. No. I am not in need of anything whatever. I have everything that I could wish and more. I never was so well fixed in my life. Give my compliments to Frank also to all inquiring friends. I cannot write more at this time as I am busy - and even if I wasn't I can't think of anything to write.

Write soon and direct to Lieut John N. McCarty
A.D.C. Brig 2nd Inf Div Dept WVa New Creek WVa. The ADC is for Aid-de-Camp

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