Excerpts From the Journals of Cornelia Henry,
and Selected Henry Family Letters
1861 Wednesday 27th - I finished caps and began a gown to put the trimming on Sister Jane sent over. She is a good sister to me, so kind of her to come and stay with me through my confinement in which time lags so on my hands. It was so kind in my dear husband to write asking her to come but he is ever mindful of my comfort. Mr. Henry went to Asheville today & he & Terry had a finish of their arbitration. Terry gets the house this year for $500 and allows Mr. Henry nothing for last year. Oh! he is a vile old wretch as ever went unhung. At night Jim Nicholds & a man named Cole came down about 11 o’clock (two patrols) saying George was at the stillhouse playing the fiddle for them to dance, which so provoked Mr. Henry as he had given him a pass to his wife’s house telling him not to stop at the stillhouse, but the men deceived him & had the negro to come & play for them, so Mr. Henry & Terrys (the old man & two boys) picked a fuss with Mr. Henry and they had a general row. No one hurt much. Old Terry got the worst end of the row & Bill Terry I guess hurt him as he did all the shouting but thanks to a Divine Providence, Mr. Henry & negro George come out with no bones broken, ’tho George got a lick on the neck which will disable him several days. Old Terry got a hole through one ear besides other scratches & so ended that row. I fear they will have more of it yet.
Thursday 28th - Mr. Henry went to election at Bent Creek and got a warrent for Terry & his boys. Came back in the evening & he & Tom Hendrix & Hendrix had another warrent put out for them as they threaten his life so they were both sent that night to J. Rich by D. Ledford. Hendrix staid all night, Russell left his morning. We are having some pretty weather, spring like. The frogs been hollering some time. The birds singing like spring & lastly the ducks are laying. Finished my gown. Atheline finished her quilt. Paid Mrs. Jones for some onion buttons in a bunch of thread.
1862 Friday 21st - Mail came, no news. The federals have taken Roanoke Island with some 2500 of the Confederates prisoners. They have taken Fort Henry on the Tennessee River also, with 50 prisoners. Things begin to look dark. The state of N. C. has a draft out. Oh! how can I give up my devoted husband, ’tis death to contemplate such a thing. I had a letter from him today. He was in Columbia, had been detained two days. I had a letter from Dora & Matt saying all were well. The people about here are volunteering at a rapid rate to avoid the draft. I wish they would take the Parker boys & T. Hendrix for they are doing no good here.
I made Willie an apron today & began another for him. I went to Mrs. Fanning in the evening to see the cloth, it looks tollerable well. It is cloudy again. Aunt Tena is dying blue. Mr. Henry got the indigo in Henderson at two dollars a lb.
Saturday 22nd - Washington’s birthday. What a trouble the once happy United States is in. We are determined to be a free people & we have got our freedom to fight for a second time.
William L. (Bill) Henry to Cornelia C. Henry
My own dear wife and children
We and the horses passed the top of the Smokey Mountains about 11 o’clock. The mountains are lightly covered with snow. A great deal of ice in the road and fords on the branches & streams. No accident to any person or horse has happened since we left home. We are jolting along the stream. Have much ice all day Sunday. We have had very little feed for our horses. I will write again tomorrow or some other day.
14th I did not write anything to you yesterday. I was prowling around about 16 miles from Sevierville. My company on picket last night, all but five men who were sent to hunt J. L. Henry as he did not come to Tenn. He came in about 10 o’clock last night but the men sent to communicate with him did not find him and are out yet 3 o’clock in the evening.
General Vance took about 100 horsemen & went to Sevierville & captured about 19 Yankey waggons and teams & drivers and two negroes and was trying to run them to the mountains in the direction of Cosby. I saw the men who were present at the capture. Jimmy broat in twenty odd horses & mules. We have played smash if we can get away all sound. Our scouts are now looking for the enemys. I do not expect a fight in this locality, of any moment we may skirmish a little but not a regular hand to hand tilt. I think the enemy are too busy to look to little things and are closely watched by Longstreet so it will not surprise me, either a fight or no fight.
This 14th is a beautiful day and the ice is thawing a little. Yesterday was a little cloudy and warm but not so warm as this day. It did not thaw much yesterday.
I will tell you how the waggons and artillery down this mountain. The horses were unhitched & everything turned loose. Artillery went over the ice and snow and did not break anything or lose anything of any account.
Near Parrotsville, Tenn.
Sunday morning 17th Jany.
General Vance is certainly a prisoner & some men I do not know. Five men of my company are, I expect, among them. They were sent to carry a dispatch to Genl. Vance.
I and Co. B. are in good health and spirits and would like to see home and it’s comforts. Oh that I was at home this Sunday to roll about with my wife & babies as I once did, as I always do when at home (Dear word). We were in the hearing of cannon all day yesterday. Please give the bearer a good dinner or something nice to eat. I have some of the bread & meat you cooked for me & I will only eat when I need it.
We are camped in one mile of Parrottsville & will go to church this day if permitted. I now see the church steeple.
Write to Pinck & tell him & my children of their father’s love for them. Remember the poor soldier. Work on mill dam & keep a warm & cheerful heart. Never despair. Longstreet is in 6 miles of Knoxville, west of Smokey mountain, on the road from Webster to Sevierville Tenn..
I want to see you. Good bye my Dear Wife & Dinah & ten thousand kisses to my wife.
Columbia, April 6
Dear Aunt Cornelia,
Many thanks for the beet seed and the letter you wrote me on the 17 Feb. asking if I was not afraid of old Sherman (the old dog). You little thought he was so near me, that the very moment you was writing that he and his hosts were entering our town. Oh! Aunt to read about the Army and see and feel it are two things. I do assure you, I feel as if I was 50 years older. It is no use for me to try to give you any idea of what I have seen and heard since I last wrote you.
The Sunday before the yanks came, Aunt’s family left for Marion. She ran over before she started & said they were only 15 miles away and she had to leave & I must take care of her things. Well Mr. H. went down street Sunday as it was and tried to get some one to move in the house for we know it would be burned if there were not some one in it and he tried all the week up to Thursday and could not get any one in it, so I went over and had her lard and flour and some other things carried over to our house, but we fully expected to be burned too for the wind blew a perfect tornado.
Friday morning at 11 o’clock they entered the town and then the work began. Sherman gave them 36 hours to do as they pleased only not to abuse the Ladies. They ransacked our house from one end to the other, took everything they could haul. All those doyles you gave me but three that was dirty and I can not begin to tell what all they did take and Harry’s nice overcoat, and poured something on my bed that eat up my bed clothes. Oh! it would take six months to write you all. Uncle’s house was burned and the things they carried with them was burned at Blackstock’s on the Charlotte R. R., so they are left with out a change of clothing and not a thing and all their men went off with the yankees and our boy too.
Uncle and Eddy came down two weeks ago. Uncle is going back next week to bring Aunt & the girls down here and stay with us. Mr. Hopson & his father lost everything at their store, did not save even a tool to work with.
Columbia had 124 squares and 84 was burned so you can see what a fire we had. There is not a house from one end of Main Street to the other. We are on the brink of starvation. I don’t see what is going to become of us. The Lord will provide. His ear is not deaf that he can not hear and his arm is not shorter that it can not save.
Many thanks for your kind words of comfort about my little Lamb. Oh! Aunt how I miss her. I feel as if I can never be myself again. Every where I go I listen for those dear little feet after me. I hear them not. When I go to her little grave I feel as if I must dig her up & look at her. Oh this world is so dark without my little sunbeam. A few moments before she died, she was in her Father’s lap & she told him to put her in her crib, she wanted to go home. He told her she was home in Papy’s lap. She said “No, I want to go home”. He laid her in her crib and in a moment her little spirit had gone home. Oh! you don’t know how I miss her. I do pray for Grace to say “Thy will be done.” It is hard, so hard.
Harry Deaver grows so fast, is a great big boy. Tell Pinck he can throw him down now. Howdy to all. Write soon,
Willie Arthur had to be put in the asylum in January. His mind is gone & he has lost his voice, is not able to talk.