Submitted by: Herb Depke
Civil War letter from James Henry Blakeney to his brother and sister in Vermilion County, Illinois. James was a Private in the 125th Illinois Infantry, mustered in 3 Sep 1862, mustered out 9 Jun 1865. He served in Company K along with several relatives and neighbors from his home area. He was the son of John T. Blakeney, Sr., born 1786 in Pennsylvania and Sarah Oliver Blakeney, born 1792 in Virginia. They were among pioneers from Kentucky that settled in Vermilion County, Illinois circa 1828.
Letter dated: 29 March 1865
Written from: Goldsboro, North Carolina
Source: “Blakeney Kith and Kin” Grace Glaspie, Oxford, IN, 1974; page 238-A and 238-B
Transcribed below as it was found in the book: [unpublished manuscript]
James Henry Blakeney, March 29, 1865 to his brother and sister the letter which time has obliterated in spots. I have tried to decipher most of it.
125th Illinois Vol. Inf. - Goldsboro, N.C.
After my best respects I will try to write you a -- lines to let you know that I am well and happy. When this reaches you may it find you and all the rest of your families well. Well I hardly know how to commence writing as I have written so much and haven't had any words from you for so long but feel it my duty to write you a -lines as I have a little spare time and have come to the conclusion that this is as good a way to put in the time as any as I have so much to put in. Well I reckon you will look for the details of our last march in this letter and I will give them to you in part. I can't give you them all, it would take me too long to write it and besides I will only give you part of march now and if I should be so lucky as to get home I will tell you all about how the marches and fights were started from Savannah on 20th of Jan. and moved up the Savannah River 30 miles --- ferry ,known by the name of -- Ferry and we lay there about one week and then we crossed over into south Carolina where rebels had first started and you ought to have seen the hurrays when they landed on the south Carolina side. The air was filled with thousands of voices which was as much as to say, You will reap your reward for seceding from our glorious union. It looked like a leap in the dark to start through such strong rebel states without supplies, knowing that we had to live off the country but all were in good heart for we had tried it before and come out all right and we put such faith in our noble leader whose name will always be remembered by his gallant army. He starts on and we follow him and we have followed him for some time and he has led us throu South Carolina and a large portion of North Carolina and we have come through alright. We had two very hard fights but accomplished our ends in right time. The first fight was at -- and the rebels couldn't stand us but one day and then they retreated to a place called Bennettesville, where they had selected to demoralize Shermans -- army. They had some of their Richmond troops there and their Charleston forces and Wilmington forces and part of their Mobile forces. They said they was a going to demoralize and capture Sherman and his whole army. Said they know it or did they not? As it is their custom for --- run and leave their dead and wounded on the field. This was the results of half of these fights We had their dead to bury and their wounded that could not get away to care for. We took a good many prisoners and they had about 3 men killed to our one. The reason is easy, a volunteer force. They charged 3 or 4 times on our lines and had to fall back without accomplishing their mark as they said they was going to do. Their army is deserting and coming to us every day and in time of battle they would hold their --- and handkerchiefs for us to quit shooting and they would come to us and we would hallow and tell them to come on and they would throw down their guns and run to us. They say it is no use to try to fight Sherman's army for they would not stop fighting if half their army was killed. I guess it is about the case for Sherman has got a large army and one that will do to depend on. It has succeded in gaining every position that it has tried to gain. This army is the cause of Charleston and Wilmington and a number of other places being taken for we march thro their country and destroy all of their railroads and machinery that is of any use to them and there is rumors that they are --- not -- but if they want out of there they had better go before Sherman gets to near them or the will not get out at all for I think the next move will be to cut their last railˇroad and divide their armies and if we do that the southˇern --- is gone up and if they throw their forces together they are gone up - -- - - - - [the rest of letter was lost]
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