1864: Abner Williamson Grandy to Bettie Palmer

This letter was written by Pvt. Abner Williamson Grandy (1842-1908) who mustered into Co. C, 61st Virginia Infantry in 1861 for three years. He was transferred into Co. B in November 1862. In February 1864, Abner re-enlisted for the duration of the war.

The 61st Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment raised in Virginia for service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. It fought mostly with the Army of Northern Virginia. The core of what would become the 61st Virginia was organized in Norfolk, Virginia in summer 1861 as the 7th Battalion, Virginia Reserves with eight companies. It served as heavy artillery in the Portsmouth and Norfolk area. However, when these cities were evacuated, the unit was transferred to the infantry and merged into the 61st Regiment being formed in Petersburg, Virginiain October 1862. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel M. Wilson was placed in command. The men of the 61st Virginia were from Portsmouth, and the counties of Norfolk, Isle of Wight, and Greensville. It was assigned to General Mahone’s Brigade and which became General Weisiger’s Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia upon General Mahone’s promotion to Division Commander.

The 61st participated in many battles from Sharpsburg to Cold Harbor, endured the hardships of the Petersburg trenches south of the James River, and ended the war at Appomattox. It reported 1 wounded at Fredericksburg, had 4 killed and 28 wounded at Chancellorsville, and lost about eight percent of the 356 at Gettysburg.

The letter was addressed to a Miss Bettie Palmer. I believe this may have been the same Bettie Palmer (b. 1844) who was enumerated in Richmond, Virginia’s 2nd Ward, with her parents, William and Elizabeth Palmer and other siblings.


Camp 61st Virginia Regiment
Near Madison Run, Orange county, Va.
March 23, 1864

Miss Bettie Palmer
Much esteemed friend,

I seat myself this morning for the purpose of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am well and I hope these few lines may find you the same. I hope you will excuse me for not writing to you before now, but while I am at leisure, I will write you a short letter to let you know that I have not forgotten you and all of your folks for I love to write to good secesh ladies like you and all the rest of your family for I know you are all true to the South for you always appear true to our beloved Confederacy.

Miss [Bettie], tell Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Palmer and Miss Maggie I always think of them and I never shall forget them as long as I live for being so kind to me when I was at home. I have lost my best friend in the army—poor Whedbee Mercer [?]—he was a brave and a good soldier. He died in the defense of his country. He will be long remembered by me and others at home.

Miss Bettie, I wish I could get another furlough and go home and see you all and talk with you all personally but I am afraid it will be a long time before I will see you all again and may not never see you again. But [if] we should not meet together on this earth, I hope we will meet in Heaven and there to part no more—where wars and rumors of wars will be no more heard. How happy we shall be. I hope the time is not far distant when this cruel war will be  brought to a speedy close so all of we poor soldiers can return to our homes and live a happy and a domestic life. You cannot imagine what a poor soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia has to undergo with. But alas! I am willing to endure all the hardships that soldiers has to go through with for the sake of my country.

We have re-enlisted for the war. We shall never return home until the Northern Vandals are driven from our Southern homes who came here to lay waste our land and free all the slaves. I shall never submit a negro to be on equality with me. I heard there was a great many negro soldiers around Norfolk and adjoining counties. I wish our Division could run into them. We could make them run. I have no news to write worth your attention for everything seems to be still around the army at the present but I do not know how long it will remain—no longer than the spring opens good and then there will be some hard knocking.

Give my best respects to Miss Maggie and to Mr. & Mrs. Palmer and Miss Nash and Mrs. Nash. So I will bring my letter to a close. Excuse bad writing and spelling. Write soon as you get this. When you write, direct your letter to me and put the postage stamp—and get some of McCandless’ soldiers to bring it out, and mail it to Murfreesboro. I remain your true friend until death.

— Abner W. Grandy

Co. B, 61st Va. Regt. Mahone’s Brigade, Anderson’s Division, A. P. Hill’s Corps, A. Northern Va.

Give my best respects to Miss Amanda Wright


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