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Setzer COA

The CSA 'SETSER LETTERS' - Part IV

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

[editor] The 26th North Carolina was shattered at the Battle of Gettysburg. By the time of its return to Virginia in mid July, 1863, it likely numbered no more than 10% of its pre‑invasion strength of nearly 900 men. There apparently was some discussion of merging the 26th with another regiment but this came to naught. Its strength was gradually rebuilt, as those lightly wounded returned to the ranks, and some new enlistees were added. Lieutenant Colonel Lane was promoted to Colonel, Major J.T. Jones to Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain J.T. Adams of Company D to Major. All had been wounded at Gettysburg.

It is unknown how long Thomas Setser remained in the "horsepital" at Raleigh, but he had returned to the Regiment by October. As is clear from the first letter below, Company F had rebuilt its strength to about 30. Sometime in the fall of 1863 Thomas Setser was promoted to Sergeant.

Prior to Gettysburg, Thomas had always addressed W.A. Setser, father of Eli Setser, as "cousin". He now refers to him as "father" and occasionally "father‑in‑law". It seems obvious that Thomas had married a daughter of W.A. Setser, possibly Harriet Setser.

The first post‑Gettysburg letter was written after the disastrous Battle of Bristoe Station:

Campe 26 Regt Near Rhapahanack River Oct the 20th 63

Dear Father, I Seate my Self to drop you a few lines to lete you know that I am a live and well at this time, and truley hopin when thees few lines Come to your hand tha may fine you and famley well and a dooing well.

I hav nothing of eny grate intruste to write to you at this time, onley I would like to See you all a gin. I can Say that I have Come threw another Storm of iron hail Safe and unhurt, while Some of our Compney was kill on the field. it was a purty hard little fite while it lasted. tha was three men in our Compney {killed}, twelve wouned, and Seventeen taken prisoners. J A Tuttle (1) was kill by a bayonet by charing over the yankees breste works. you can tell his folks that I borrid him the beste I could, and cut his name on a pice of plank and put it to his grave. Sisero preswood (2) was kill, and Able hudspeth (3)' 'the yankees left the field that nite and we stade their too days, and then we fell back and tore up the rail rode and burnt it, and it a raining all the time and the mud half leg deep.

we croste the rhapahanock yester morning and stop on this Side, wher we air now, but I cante tell you how long we will Stay her. my Self and William bradford (4) is all the men that belong to Compney F now. Lt Carley (5) and Lt Hudspeth (6) is her with us. it is a lonsom time in Compney F now. when I look a round and See nun of our boys, and think what has becom of them, I cante helpe but cry, and it looks like our time will come next. but I hope not for I wante to see this war come to a close.

I think the fiting in this parte is over for the winter, for the mud is a giten to deep to march. So I will close an that. write how you is a giten a long and how al the friends is, and all the nuse that you have. when you git this leter tell {illegible} that I am well. tell that I said for him to stay with you, for if he had a come with mee he mite a bin wher Some of the reste is. So write Soon if you plese. So fair you well for the time. So I remain your Son untill deth.

Thomas W Setser to Mr W A Setser

1. For an account of John A. Tuttle's service, and his photograph, see the December‑January 1988/89 issue of Company Front.

2. 40 year old Cicero Prestwood of Caldwell County enlisted in the 26th N.C. on August 20, 1863, and was killed at Bristoe Stateion on October 14, 1863.

3. Able M. Hudspeth enlisted at age 22 on July 15, 1861. He was wounded in the face at Gettysburg, and killed at Bristoe Staton.

4. William Bradford was 18 when he enlisted on January 7, 1863. He was wounded at Gettysburg, at the Wilderness, and was captured at Hatcher's Run, on April 2, 1865.

5. Unidentified.

6. 3d Lieutenant Robert Hudspeth was 24 when he enlisted on July 15, 1861 as a Private. Promoted through the ranks, he was wounded at Gettysburg, and died, cause unknown, in Richmond in November, 1864.

Camp 26 Regt. N.C.T.

Gen Kirkland (1) Brigade Heath Devision A P Hill Corps the third armd Corps November the 13th 1863 Near Oring C. H.

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters, I a gain Seate my Self to drop you a few lines whitch will informe you that I am a live and well at this time, and truley hoping when thees few lines come to your hand tha may fine you all well and a dooing well. I hav nothing worth your attension to write at this time, onley I would like to See you all a gin, but tha hante no Chance now, and So it hante worth while to talk a boute it know.

we had a purty fancy time when we lefte the rhaphanock river. we lefte thair laste Saturday knite or Sunday morning at too oclock, and com oute Some too miles and Stop till day lite, and then move onn in three miles of Culpeper and formed a line of battel and thair all day a looking for the yankees, but that never com in Site in front of us at tall, but tha Come on our lefte and tha had a rite Smarte litle fite. we Could See tham a fiting, and I had giv it up to go in to a nother Storme of bulets, but at Sun down we lefte thair and we march a the knife threw the mud and water as we come too him, and it was as cold as blases, and I hav never Seen Sutch a time wit the waggens and artilery in my life before. Some was broke down, Some turnd over all a long the rode from Culpeper till Oring Court House. it was a General fall back with all the armey, and what i Call a general.

we air with old Lea and Mead. we air at the Same position as tha was when I Com frome home. after all this grate campain that we hav bin, and cante See that we hav made eny thing at tall. we got Some prisners in the time of it, but what is that to the men that we loste. in this litle fite that we had over thar at bristoe we loste eleven hundred men in that fite oute of our brigade and look. but it hante worth while to tri to tell you enything a boute that, for you know moir than I can tell you.

we hante got but Seven in our Compney, and it look like tha hanta going to bee eny moor Soon, for tha come in Slow. but I think by nex Spring tha will Come in. G.L. Powell is at the hospital it, but I Cante tell you how is. we air in Campe in Site of Oring Court House at this present time, but I cante tell how long we will Stay her, but I hope we will Stay her Some time for we hav got tents, and Chimneys to them purty well fix fer Cold wether.

but I am a ferd tha wonte lete us Stay long, but if tha will take us to North Carolina, I would bee willing to leav them all to git back to the old North State. we had a big Snow Storm her the 7 in the eavning, but it diden laste long, nor it lay, but I tell you it was cold enuf for eny use. So I will come to a close by asking you too write Soon, fer this is too leters that I hav writen to you and hante got eny anseer, and I hante got but one from eny of you Sence I lefte home, and that was from hairrete, and I have write too letters a week, but cante her frome non of you. So write as Soon as you git this leter, if you plese. So nothing more at this time, only remain your Son untill deth.

T.W. Setser W A Setser Esq

The following letter is the only one surviving written by W. A. Setser.

Nov the 27th 1863 Caldwell County N.C.

Dear Son, I take the pleasure of writing you a few lines to let you know that we all well at this time, and hope when these few lines come to hand they will find you well. I have nothing of interest to write to you at present. I received your letter dated the 15th of Nov, which gave us great satisfaction to hear that you was well, and had got back to your tents again. I have got my corn in the cribe. I did not make the nearest crib to the house full of corn this year. I think if I will be right stingy with what I have got it will do me, corn is selling from the heap from $1.50 to $2.00 per bushel, pork 30 cents, wheat $3.00 per bushel. I am going to start to Petersburg the 3d day of December. me and James hood and Leander Houk, Robert Holloway, and S. P. Dula and Richard Bush with boxes for all of you. I want you to meet us at the Depot at Petersburg about thursday Evening the 4th of December. we will be there if nothing happens. if we hant there come the next evening and so on till we come. So no more at present.

W.A. Setser

[editor] No letters from Tom survive from late 1863 to August 1864. Tom was wounded on an unspecified date in May‑June, 1864, probably at the Battle of the Wilderness. He returned to duty about July 1,1864.

The next three letters are from "D.C. Setser", another son of W. A. Setser, and brother of Eli, who was killed at Gettysburg. D. C. Setser served in Co. C, 8th Battalion North Carolina Junior Reserves, which in January, 1865 became part of the 3d Regiment North Carolina Junior Reserves {72nd North Carolina}. The Junior Reserve units were formed as a result of a law passed by the Confederate Congress in the spring of 1864, enabling special units to be formed composed of boys 16 and 17 years old, and men of 45 to 50. The purpose of these units was to supplement the Confederacy's disappearing military manpower.

Camp Vance (1) June the 23 64

Dear father, I now Seat myself to inform you that I am well and hearty. the object of me writing you this letter is to inform you that we a going to leav her to morrow morning bright and early fore Raleigh. their we will remain untill further orders. from there we will proceed to Weldon or goldsborough or Kinston. it is uncertain how long we will stay in Raleigh. Sam says we will Stay untill we draw Arms and clothings. the arms we drawed here we returnd them to day and all our Accourtments.

that box that I had here, you will find it in the comosary in care of Thomas Hall Curtis. you can com and get it if you want it.

we elected our major this morning.(2) soon we have three days rashion prepared. our co., that is co C and Co. A and co. B is a going gard, the rest is a going to stay here. Tell John and Ann that I want to be back to see them soon. Tell Tom to write to me and also tell {illegible} To tell cousin Belle and Bettie that I would like to see tham, but they know how it is, and tell them that i am sorry that I have to go off and take their wrings with me. I had no idea but what I would get to com home. tell that I would send a leter, but the mail goes out by hand, and mailcarries has been breaking letters open. tell them that I will take care of them, and send their wrings to them as soon as I get a chance. I must bring my letter to a close. write as soon as you find out where we ware, for I cant tell you where to write. you must all Do the best you can.

Yours truly

from D.C. Setser to W A Setser

Tell the girls to write to me, and tell cousin Belle and Bettie that I they will pardon me for not sending their wrings to them.

1. Camp Vance was a Confederate training camp near Morganton.

2. The Major of this three company battalion was James B. Ellington.

Head quarters Camp Davis (1) August the 16th 1864

Dear father, I now seat myself to write you a few lines which will inform you that I am well and hearty, and in fine spirits. I have to news to write worthey of youre attension. they beoys has all landed safe. they arrived last Friday. they boxes never come untill yesterday, and when they come they were all spoilt. my box was spoilt. evry thing you sent was spoilt except the apples, and they were nearly all spolit. I would like to be at home to go with they thrasher and get some Pot Pie and beans, potatoes and such like. Father, I am happy to inform you that I am in the best health now at the present time than I ever was in my life. I weigh 150 pounds. I fattend up since I come down here. they boys that was at home, when they came back they looked fotey, they dident seem galey like the rest of they boys that were here. you wrote to me that I had a fine brother at home, and that mother said She wanted me to send a name for him. I have no name to send it, unless you name it affter they Heroick Jackson or som other Fantask name. tell John he will have to eat his watermillion, for it will rot before I get home. I cant tell when I will get home. tell the Girls they will have to waite Patencely for me to come home. their is no chance but what I will get to see them som time or other. tell Rom to quirl his tail while I am her, for when I get home I will Strten it out for him. So I must close this time.

Sergent D C Setser

I Shall wait impatiencly for an ansswer.

1. Located near Wilmington .

Head Quarter Camp Davis August the 18th 1864

Dear Sister, it is with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction that I have the opertunity of Droping you a few lines this eavning, which will inform you that I am in a good State of health. I received a letter from you at the arrival of M. G. Tuttle (1). I was glad to hear from you, for I hadent heard from you Since I left home. I have no news to write worthey of your attension. we are still on Masonburough Sound yet. I would like to be removed from here for I am geting tired of this place. M G Tuttle has been verry sick since he came back, but he is near about well at this time. Those things you sent me with Game was all spoilt except the apples. Harriet, their is a strong talk of peace here. some says it will be 12 month, and others says in 6 month. I have no ide when the war will end, but I think it cant iast much longer, for old abe has ben whiped this whole springs campane. I made one mistake, I aught to had a capitol leter for abe, but it Dont make any diference, for he is not worth a capital nothing, and I think he will have to give up the gosts. you wrote to me that you hoped that I would be almost ready to start home. I am not ready, nor dont expect to be soon, although I think I will get to come home about Christmas. I must close.

Sergtt D. C. Setser

1. Marcus Gamewell Tuttle, 1st Lieutenant of the Company, referred to in the letter as "Game".

[editor] The following remarkable letter by Thomas Setser describes the two battles in which the 26th North Carolina participated in August, 1864: Globe Tavern and Reams' Station. The latter battle, in which all of the Confederate troops were North Carolinians, resulted in the near destruction of the famous 11 Corps of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Winfield Scott Hancock.

Camp 26 Regt NC Troops

Neair Petersburg Va Aug the 28th 64

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters, I Seate my Self this butifule Sabath morning to drop you a few lines whitch will in forme you that I am a live and well at this time, while Some of my Comeards has gon the way of all the liven Since my arival at the Regtmente, but truley hoping when thees few lines come too your hand tha may find you all well and a dooing well.

I hav nothing of eny grate importance to write too you, and rite Smarte too. I would bee very glad too See you all a gin and bee at home with you all, for I tell you that we hav a heard time of it her.

when I found the Regtmente tha was on the front lines in too hundred yards of the yankees, a Shooting at each other all the time, and a man couden look over the breste works with oute beeing shot in the head, and I Slade thair a week and the hole time I was thair I donte think it was a minute bewhat I hard a gun or a Cannon fire, and Some times it was giste like a Reglar fite. tha was Several men got shot in our Regt while we was on the lines, and on Satureday after I got thair we was releave and march down the Rail Rode towards weldon too miles, and lade down till day lite. and at day lite we commence throing up breste works, and before we got them half dun we was orderd a way and march down in the field and forme a line of battel, and then tha was a charg ordered and we charg the firsts line of the Sharpshooter, and then hautted and lade down. and then the battrys commence, and that was as hard a Sheling as I ever was under in my Iife. I thought I would bee kill ever minute, for the ball giste ploude the ground all a round mee, and tha was Severl men kill and wound in the time of it, and then tha Seaste, and then we was call too attension and orderd to charge the yankees brest works, and we did So. tha run as soon we got in Site of them. we taken a few prisners, but we couden take the battry and we Stop at ther breste works, and tell you tha made the grape and Canister fly. tha was a lode of grape Struck the breste work rite in front of mee, kill a man on my lefte and nock mee down, and wouned Captain Tuttle, but never hurte mee eny hardley and the fite Soon close with oute eny thing mutch gaind on our Side.

we lade thair all day in line of battel in the Sun, and it was hot in Site of the yankees, and the Sharp Shooters a Shooting all the time, and after dark that knits we fell back too the lea foundry at Petersburg on this Side. donte you recolect some larg Chmneys this side of the town in Site of town, a hundred and fifty yards this side. we commence throing up breste works, and in our fite on Sunday the Regt loste Six kill dead on the field and twenty three wouned, but now body was hurts in our Compney but Capten Tuttle, and he was struck in the breste with a grape Shot, and tha is a fele gon frome our Compney, but he was taken a prisner we think. we Stade at the lea foundry until the 24, when we march in the direction of dinwda {Dinwiddie} Courtes house Some tenn mile, when we file to the lefte and come to the Rail Rode not fur from Reames Station, when we gound the yankees a gain on the Rail Rode.

we had them too charge a gain, and we did that with some affect on the yankees. we capturd thirty one hundred prisners and sixteen paces of Cannon. when we charge them tha Shot one voley and then throde down ther guns and come runing over too us. the fite was on the 25 day of the month. our loste was very Small, considern what a charge it was. the Regt onley lost three kill dead on the field and twenty wouned. I donte now the loste of the brigade. the Brigade Capterd fore yankee flags in the time, and Cook (1) got fore or five, and lanes (2) got some. our Brigade and Lanes and Cookes captured all the prisner a moste. I tell you we giv them Sut, but we fell back too Petersburg the nex day, wher we air now lying in the age of town a resten, but exspect too hav too go on the front lines in a few days. we had too men wouned in the laste fite, A T Kerby badly (3) and Gid Philyaw (4) slitely.

but olde grants keep a cuming a now at the Sitty, or at our lines, but I think he as well too quit it for all the good he can doo. olds grants Still holes the weldon rail rode, and I exspect will for Some time at, for I think he will bee very hard too git off the Rail Rode, So I think we will hav pice this winter, and that is the oppinion of the moste of the men. So I hante eny moore to write. write Soon and giv mee all the nuse you have, and how you come oute a thrashing wheat, if you air dun, and how you air a giten a long with you work at home. I tole Hosey what you tole me too tell him. tell Hattie I am well, So write Soon. So nothing more only I remain your Sun in law untill deth from

Sargt T W Setser to W A Setser

1. Cooke's Brigade: 15th, 27th, 46th and 48th N.C.

2 Lane's Brigade: 7th, 18th, 28th, 33d and 37th N.C.

3. Private Avery Kerby, enlisted July 15, 1861, wounded at Bristoe Station and Reams Station, deserted March 29, 1865.

4. Private Gideon Philyaw, enlisted July 15, 1861, wounded at Gettysburg and .Reams Station, absent withou leave, February 27,1865.

Camp 26 Regt N. C. Troops Sept the 2nd 1864

Dear Fatherinlaw, Mortherinlaw, Brothers and Sisters, I take the opportunity this eavning while wresting for a few hours for the firsts time in Severl days to drop you a few lines, whitch will informe you that I am Still a live and well at this present time, and truley hoping when thees few lines Come too your hand tha may fine you all well and a dooing well.

I have{n't} eny grate nuse too write to you at this time, only I would like to See you all one time more. But I not a suair when I will hav the plesher too git too See eny of you a gain, for I hante eny idy when the war will Come too a close, but I hope this winter will bring it too a close Come Way or other.

we hav lefts the Breste works at Petersburg. we leftes thair the fifteenth of the month and march down the flank Back towards Dinwidy Courte house Some three mile, and forme a line of battel and throde up breste works and Slade thair untill knits before laste, and then move over towards the weldon Rail Rode some mile, and commence throing up works and Stade thair till this morning, when we move in fronte Some ten miles, and hav commence hitting up works a gin. but I cante tell how long we will Stay her, but we cante go mutch farther with oute a Coming a breste the yankees, and I wouden bee Suprise that we had a fite her in a few days.

our Cavalry Capture twenty five hundred head of Cattel and three hundred horses and five hundred prisners and Six waggons and teems with Six mules hitch to a waggon (1) and this has hapen Sence we come down her.

for eny more nuse a bout the army I hante got eny. I am very Sorow that you had too giv up your mules that you had too, but it is gists as I exspect when I was thair.

I am glad that tha hav Caught R E Fleming (2), and if tha fetch him he is as good as a dead man, for tha Shot Happeras (3), he that runaway the Same time that Fleming did, and tha hav got too moore in the guard house that lefte the Same time, Clark and Hicks. (4)

I got a letter from Lum the other day, he was well at that ime. Lum Can oute way mee, I onley way a hundred and forty pounds at this time. tell Ed that I Saide that he haden olde Tom thair too swiste pases for him when the Patterroles got a hole of him. I am glad you come oute so well a thrashing wheat. I will hay too close by asking you too write too met Soon, and give mee all the nuse you hay a boute your crop of corn is, and how mutch {illegible} you hav put up. So nothing moore, onley I remain your son untill deth frome

Sargt T. W. Setser to W A Setser Esc

1. This was Wade Hampton's great Cattle Raid behind the Yankee lines.

2. Private Robert E. Fleming enlisted in Co. F on November 30, 1863, but deserted on April 12, 1864. He returned to duty but was captured at Harrisonburg Virginia on September 25‑26, 1864 and confined at Point Lookout.

3. Private Little Hopperas enlisted on November 30, 1863 and deserted on April 12, 1864. His service record contains no further information, but it appears from the above letter that he was apprehended and executed for desertion.

4. These are probably Privates Detroit Clarke and James Hicks. Clarke enlisted on November 30, 1863, and deserted on April 12, 1864. He deserted to the enmy on January 15, 1865. Private James Hicks was 38 when he enlisted in Burke County on January 5, 1863. He deserted on April 12, 1864. He returned to duty and was captured at Hatcher's Run, April 2, 1865.

Headquarters Camp Davis, Sept the 5th 1864

Dear Father, I now seat myself to Drop you a few lines which will inform you that I am well and hearty, and trully hope when these few lines com to hand they may find you well and enjoying the same State of health. I have no news to write worthy of yours ascension. I recived youre kind and welcom letter the 2nd of this month bearing date of the 29th of August. I verry glad to hear you all was well and hearty.

We are still at the same old place yet, and I cant tell how long we will stay. we wer orderd a way last Monday, was a weak a go. we got as far as Wilmington and orders were countermanded. we come back to camp, and we are still here, although we may be orderd of soon. their is no telling.

tell all the girls that I would like to be at home to help them to Sing, but yea lords I cant tell, but I recon they will learn me how to prepar to pucher bey the time I get home.

I recived a letter from T. W. Setser yesterday wrote the 31st of August. he was well and hearty, and the rest all well. he has ben in two fight Since he went back, one the 21st and one the 25. he never got hurt in either of them. I must stop writing for this time, write soon.

Sergt D. C. Setser

Head quarters Camp Davis

Oct the 5th 1864

Dear Father, I now seat myself to drop you a few lines which will inform you that I am well and hearty. I received yours letter dated the 27th of Sept the 3d of Oct. I was glad to here from you, and to here you all was well. I have no news to write at present worthy of yours ascension. their was two men died last week out of our company, their names were John Berry and Hunter, both from Burk county. Fate Griffin accidently shot himself the other day through the foot near the little toe.

I was sorry to here that you was geting a long so slow with youre work. I wish I were at home to help you, but you know how it is. I hope at the ware will end a gainst next sumer. you wrote to me that if I would come home that H. R. would have a quilting. I cant tell you when I will get to come home. it will be a long time before I can get to to come. tell MR. that whe must have a quilting when I get home, for you need not look for me shortly. you wrote to me you had a notion coming down when you got through with youre work. I would be glad to see you com. I wante you to bring me a gallon or two of Brandy, for I am thirsty. so I must close for this time. write soon if you pleas.

D. C. Setser

Camps 26 Regt NC Troops Oct the 17th 1864

Dear Father, I Seat my Self to drop you a few lines to in formes you that I am a live and well at this time, and truley hoping when thees few lines come to your hand tha may fine you and famley well and a doing well.

I nothing Strang to write too you at this time, onley I would like to bee at home with you, but I hante theair. we air in a line of battel up a long the breste works exspecting a nother fite ever day. I have bin in too fites Sence I writen to you before, but I gess you have herd all a boute it, and it hante worth wile for me to try too tele you any thing moore a bout it.

I havy bought you a pistols at laste. I giv a hundred and thirty five Dollars for it, and I think it is a rite {illegible}. I bought it from old Hosey Bradford (1), and he sais that he thinks that he will git too come home before long, and he will take it home too you for mee. it is a very heavy one and Shoots Six times. I dont gess you ever Seen one quite like it. So write Soon and give mee all the nuse. {illegible} hav it and Mat got our box, so write. and air very mutch blight too you few the {very much obliged to you for the} things you Sente too mee, So fair you well fer this time.

Sargt T. W. Setser

W A Setser Esc

1. Hosea Broadford enlisted in Company F at the age of 60 on June 22, 1862. He was present or accounted for until he was discharged on December 3, 1864, probably because of his age.

Thus ends the Setser letters. Thomas Setser deserted to the enemy on March 29, 1865. He was confined at Washington, D.C., until he was released on April 4, 1865 after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

The Editor would again like to thank Greg Vaughn, who first located and transcribed these letters.


The Setser Letters. Part IV

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4