Letter from Near Savannah, April 1864

Wilborn Hancock is one of my first cousins through the Huckaby and Hunt lines on my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. In 1855 he married Mary Jane Gunter. Wilborn was twenty-five when the Civil War began and volunteered with Company F, 57th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. In May, 1863 he was wounded in the side and left lung during the Battle of Baker’s Creek (Also known as the Battle of Champion Hill) during the Vicksburg campaign.

It seems he never recovered from that injury. By December, 1864 Wilborn was in the Confederate hospital in Macon and, though he survived the war, it was not by much. He died from “consumption,” probably as a result of his injuries, on June 10, 1865.

But, on April 20, 1864, despite his injury, Wilborn was still with the 57th camped near Savannah, Georgia. From there, he wrote a letter to his family. I have kept his original spelling but added breaks and punctuation to make it easier to read:

Wilborn HancockDear Wife, I this morning seate my Self for the purpose of writing you afew lines which leaves me well hoping thees few lines may come safe to hand and finde you and the children all well. I have no nuse to write inpertickler this time. The boyes are all tolerbly well this morning with some few exckption. Summerlin is bade sick this morning. It is thot he will not live untille night to night. The rest that is sick is better. Mr. I.N. Long is going to start hom this eaving and I am going…this letter and the box and thanges that I spoke of sending by Avera the box is not mine (it) is a box we made to sende som palmeto in so the thanges will go to I.B. Long. You can git the thanges from there. I shall send the cuitles and my coat and one paire of pantes that I drawed this morning they don’t suite campes much, thare are too white. I want cotton pantes to ware no. I shall send my shoes and som rice I think will buy twenty pounds. I sent you one squire of paper by Avera which cost me eaigt dollares. I shall bee very short of money when I git the rick and pay my part of the frate on the box, thoe I thinke we will bee pade soon.

Mary, you neade not sende me any thange only what I can care on my back, thoe if you have got my shirtes ready you can sende them by Long. He will leave hom on friday the twenty ninth of this month so you will have my shirtes ready if you can. May when you write, tell me how you are giting along, youre farm and all such tell me…ones you have to and wheure the olde speckld hen lade and how many chickens she hatched and wheure the olde pide gooes had heure nest and what for luck she hade in seting. It all is pas time for me when thees spelles of the bewes (blues?) come on. They give me the devil sometimes here lately though I try to knock them off as well as possible. That is enough of it for the present. I almost forgot to tell you, furloughs has been stopped; only special furloughs in case of sickness, those are all that can be gotten now.

I must now close for this time. I am

Yours, as ever

W.H. Hancock

P.S. Mary, my friend Sumerlin is dead. He died some twenty minutes ago. He will be sent home, I suppose, accompanied with some one or other. Sumerlin was a good boy as ever did live and as good a soldier as anybody. It makes me feel solemn to think how quickly life can be taken from one. This is evening now and the time is getting short when Long has to start.

I am yours, as ever.

Wilborn died fourteen months later in Macon, GA. Three generations earlier, Wilborn’s great grandfather, Clement Hancock, Jr. gave his life as well during the American War for Independence.

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