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Letter of Joseph J. Hoyle to Sarah Hoyle, September 28, 1863


Letter of Joseph J. Hoyle to Sarah Hoyle, September 28, 1863


As the year of 1863 progressed desertion became more of an issue for regiments and units of the Confederate Army that were stationed in Northern Virginia. (Weitz 2005, 87, 149-150) Until this time the army of Northern Virginia had achieved a large scale of success in the war and the units had maintained a high morale. Overall morale dropped, and deserters increased throughout the Confederate Army in Northern Virginia. Fortunately for Lieutenant Hoyle his regiment remained in high spirits. Such accounts of increased desertions are seen by Hoyle since he mentions deserters in this letter. Thankfully for Hoyle the issue was of little importance to his regiment because their spirits remained high.


Joseph J. Hoyle


Jeffrey M. Girvan, ed., Deliver Us from this Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Lieutenant Joseph J. Hoyle, 55th North Carolina Infantry (Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2010), 144-145.






Wake County, North Carolina


Near Rapidan Station Va.
Sept. 28th 1863.
My Dear wife:
This will inform you that I am about well again, and I hope it may find you well. The weather is cold up here now, and we have frost plenty, and some of our men are poorly provided for cold weather. Some have no blankets at all, and I fear we will not get any from the government soon. I have two of Capt. Mull’s blankets, and one of my own and a bed tick, so I fare very well in this line. There was some cavalry fighting up here last week. We were ordered out, and expected the general fight was coming on, but the Yankees soon went back, and all is now quiet again. It is hard telling what the enemy aims to do here. It is quite sure they have a heavy force in our front, and yet they do not advance. Though they may come when we least expect it. I think our army is now in a great deal better spirits than they have ever been since we came out of Pa., and if the deserters know how cheerful our brave soldier’s now are, I think some, at lest, would come back. And I would here say that deserters are faring but middling here now. 10 or 12 have been shot lately. One was shot in sight of our camp last week, but we being on picket at the time, I did not see it. I believe that hundreds of the deserters will now be shot. It seems very hard, but the cause demands it.
Dear Sarah, I cannot help some times, but think about getting home to join your sweet company again after the war ends. I know this is wrong, for we may never see that happy time, but a great many times I am thinking about it before I know it. Dear Sarah, I would to God that we might realize it in truth. Then would our hearts be happy indeed. Le us hope and pray that the happy day may soon come. But while it is God’s will that we should be apart, let us be content. With my hope in God I can bear afflictions contentedly. Can you not, too, dear Sarah? I can tell you of one happy thing we may think of which is not wrong, and that is that our meeting in heaven. Sarah, let us think more about this and no doubt it will do us good. We should be more heavenly minded. I can tell you we had preaching this morning, and will have again this evening. Tell Rufus and Rooker I send them my best wishes, I would be glad to see them again. I expect Rufus and Sue will make up the match, tell them to go it, if they feel like it. You know I believe in marrying with all my heart. I remain yours in hope &love.
My own dear Sarah I received a letter from you last evening, containing the nice little bunch of flowers. How they remind me of your love and devotions. May the good Lord keep my dearest one.


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Joseph J. Hoyle, Letter of Joseph J. Hoyle to Sarah Hoyle, September 28, 1863, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 21, 2024,