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August 14, 2014


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From having served myself, during more modern times of course, I well remember how precious were those letters from loved ones. And from when our nephew was in Afganistan setting up a brand new camp there, they had little to nothing but holes in the ground, including regular mail, until the British soldiers rolled in with all their full gear and comfortable pleasantries, several weeks down the road from when our troops got there. Such is military life.

Praying for all of our troops, wherever our prayers find them, and for their loved ones at home, often struggling mightily to keep home fires burning in their absence.

God bless.


Thanks again for another heart-felt letter from W. C. Penland. Many things do jump out at me, but this time, it's the amount of ground he and the others covered, at all hours with little food- and their horses as well, who suffered their own deprivations.

It's nice to get a glimpse of what
life was like in the Civil War Days. Mr. Penland didn't seem to
think much of deserters, but he
sure has a lot of love and respect
for family and friends of home.
I wish our younger generation still
had this kind of commitment...Ken

Bless his heart, he so wanted to hear anything at all from home. In my opinion,he sounds worried about his bad cold. Imagine all he saw there; death and suffering were everywhere. I am sure he knew a bad cold could kill him. But yet, he did not want his folks to worry because he said he was still sick but better.

I have been saving this little tale for the time you post the Civil War letters.
When we were selling on the 127 Worlds Longest Yard sale a man came in our tent looking for various collectibles. I always engage in conversation, YOU KNOW!
He stated that he struck gold a few years ago at a stop off the road on the 127. It was an old house, and he saw a old suitcase for sale. He opened it and it was packed with old crumbling antique newspapers. He managed to read the headings of a few with all of the dry rot paper crumbling. Since they only wanted $1.00 for the old falling apart suitcase, he thought it would be worth it to try to read all the old newspapers, just for the fun of it.
When he got back home, days later, he opened the case. Packed down partway toward the bottom of
the old case was a treasure trove of many, many old Civil war letters in near mint shape. Only the papers around them were crumbling. Also near the bottom, was a first edition of the Boston Times.
He told me he sold the Civil War letters through various ways, mainly EBay, etc. I asked him if he copied any of the letters, as my heart was pounding, to let me buy some copies to read! He said, "No, as he didn't even think about it at the time!" His wife said they regretted not copying them! He and his wife told me that they sold all the letters and the first edition Boston Times for $35,000 and had no idea that so many people were interested in Civil War letters.
He said that one great find is why he keeps coming back hunting treasure on the 127 Trail every year!
Well, that was his "tale" and I sit on mine, but I really don't believe he or his wife was making it up. I have met some wonderful folks on the trail and heard some great stories.
Thanks Tipper,

I have often wondered if William C. Penland made it back home after the war. Maybe in the beginning of these letters there was a notation that he did live through the war.
Until reading a book, actually just in the last day or so, "The Galax Gatherers" by Edward O. Guerrant (copyright 1910) did I find an "inkling" that WC survived the war. I quote from the book, "At clever William Penland's we found our first mountain mission teacher, Miss Nellie Rogers, and soon Rev. J.A. Harris, of Micaville, one of the pioneer Soul Winners here joined us." Prior to this statement he speaks of the people as not "easily provoked" and that they are pure Anglo-Saxon and Scotch-Irish. He may have known W.C. prior to his preaching mission thru the mountains of Western he speaks of 37 years before, he had joined the Confederate Army in February 1862 and riding with John Morgan and two thousand brave men on their last Kentucky campaign. Reminiscing, he states "How the scene has changed, only God and the old mountains remain."
I surely hope this traveling preacher knew W. C. Penland and he is the same person. He consistently speaks of people he meets on his mission travels, as colonel so and so...or captain so and so. At any rate a very interesting book and gave me hope that W. C. Penland lived on after the war.
I love these letters, Tipper. W. C. surely misses home and the updates about others may help him, knowing that their families are concerned as well. Since paper seems to be a treasure his messages sent in his letters give all hope.
Thanks Tipper,
PS...The author of the book references many in the mountains as "clever" people

I enjoyed the fact that a child kept in contact with his family. Being in the field has to be very stressful and a difficult experience living in the woods.

What jumped out at me is the part about money and character. Also, he seems to have a positive attitude about most things even though the conditions are far from perfect. I really enjoy these letter.

Two things that impressed me more than the rest: The tale about Mr. Ledford, who took the money and ran, and the story of the man who mis-handled his rifle and shot himself. The second instance makes me want to be even more careful with my percussion guns.

I'm run across the Ledford name often while researching. One of William's uncles (younger brother of his mother) Maternic Chesterfield Moore (b. 1830) was married to a Sophena Ledford. But I've not run across a Jason Ledford.

More of these boys died of disease than were killed by enemy fire. It had to be miserable having a bad cold and living with little protection against the elements.

Uncle Charles was probably Charles Milton Penland, born 1821, died 1873. I don't know why W. C. singled out Uncle Charles by name for greeting and referred to the rest of the family generically. Maybe he was exceptionally close to his Uncle Charles.

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