This letter was written by Robert Buchanan (1835-1868) of Co. K, 58th North Carolina Infantry. Robert was a 29 year-old farmer when he mustered into Co. B on 25 June 1862 for three years or the duration of the war. The descriptive roll indicated he stood 5 feet 10 inches tall. Soon after mustering in, he was transferred to Co. K. It appears Robert was with the regiment until 15 December 1862 when he went home on a “20 day furlough” but did not return to his company until 25 March 1863. Some two weeks after he wrote this letter from the company’s camp near Clinton, Tennessee, he deserted (7 May 1863).
Robert wrote the letter to his “dear companion”—Rusha Ann (Canipe) Buchanan (1839-1924) whom he married in 1852 and called “Rushie.” The couple had three children—Thomas, Sarah Jane, and Noah—prior to Robert’s enlistment. A fourth child, Mary, was born in September 1865. The couple made their home near Bakersville, Yancey county, North Carolina.
Robert’s apparent disgust with the war—expressed in this letter—was shared by a significant portion of those who fought with the regiment. When the war dragged on beyond the second year, many of them became disheartened by their absence from family and home and began to desert. In short—their heart wasn’t in it and many blamed the secessionist firebrands for dragging them into the war.
[Note: I was aided considerably in confirming the identity of this soldier by the article written by Rob Neufeld entitled, “Visiting our Past: Civil War letters reveal call to duty” that was published i the Citizen Times on 2 November 2015.]
Camp near Clinton [Tennessee]
[Tuesday] April 21, 1863
I take my pen in hand in order to drop you a few lines which will inform you that I am well as common. My jaw still keeps hurting of me. I can say to you that I want to see you and the children the worst I ever did in my life and if I have the good luck to live and keep my health, I will come home before cold weather.
We are under marching orders but I don’t know where to. We hear that the Yankees has got the Virginia Salt Works but I don’t know whether it is so or not. We had to double quick back to Jacksboro last Friday [17 April 1863] and stayed there till Sunday [19 April 1863].
So I must close by saying to you I want you to write to me as often as you can for there is nothing that gives me any more satisfaction than to hear from you all and hear that you are all well and doing well. I want you to do the best you can for if I never see you anymore in this world, I hope that we will meet where there is no war—no secession, for I tell you that that was the very cause of it. So write, write, write and fail not.
I ever remain yours affectionate husband until death, — Robert Buchanan
to Rusha Ann Buchanan