2006-03-23 / Front Page

McCorkle donates copies of Civil War letters to library

Wells McCorkle of Matthews, Georgia, recently donated copies of Civil War era letters to the Lincoln County Library's genealogy department. The letters were written by John McCorkle CSA to his wife, Martha, a resident of Lincoln County. Pictured with McCorkle are Charlotte Poss, a relative of McCorkle's, and Dianne Poteat, genealogy librarian. Wells McCorkle of Matthews, Georgia, recently donated copies of Civil War era letters to the Lincoln County Library's genealogy department. The letters were written by John McCorkle CSA to his wife, Martha, a resident of Lincoln County. Pictured with McCorkle are Charlotte Poss, a relative of McCorkle's, and Dianne Poteat, genealogy librarian. Wells W. McCorkle of Matthews, Georgia, recently donated copies of Civil War era letters to the genealogy department at the Lincoln County Library.

The originals are currently housed in the Georgia Historical Society's archives in Savannah. They were presented to the society by a man from Thomson who had purchased them at an auction.

The letters were written by John McCorkle, a private in Company H, 37th Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, CSA, to his wife, Martha (Mattie), and sister in Lincoln County. It is believed that the McCorkles lived in the Amity Community.

The collection includes letters from Oliver Hospital, LaGrange, Georgia; Missionary Ridge, Dalton, Georgia; Gamble Hospital, Newnan, Georgia; a site near the Chattahoochee River; Atlanta; Tuscumbia, Alabama; and Florence, Alabama. There is also a telegram from Mrs. McCorkle sent April 23, 1864, notifying her husband that she received the $30 he sent her.

The collection likewise features a letter from Mrs. McCorkle to her husband, dated January 17, 1864. Unfortunately, the letter is unreadable because the ink bled through.

As for Pvt. McCorkle, he was captured near Nashville, Tennessee, on December 16, 1864, and died of pneumonia at Camp Douglas Prison in Chicago, Illinois, on February 6, 1865. He was buried in a Confederate cemetery there.

However, according to Wells McCorkle, the cemetery was later moved, and his ancestor was laid to rest in a mass grave.

What follows are excerpts from a letter written by Pvt. McCorkle to his wife from Atlanta on August 2, 1864:

"My Deere Wife,

"I received two letters from you today dated 17th and 20th of July and I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you and the dear children was all well and am glad that I can say to you that these lines leaves me well but wore out as we have been running from pillar to post every since the fight....But I feel thankful that is it no worse than what it is as the good Lord has spared my life.

"My dear Mat, you spoke of starting our box (a care package). I hope you did not. If you did, it has gone off as our railroads has been out (or cut) and we have no communications for several days but thank God we have broke up the railers (people trying to destroy the railroad) and captured a great many of them and the ringleader of them and our trains has got to running through again...

"Well, Mat, if you did not start the box, don't start it as times is uncertain now. Well, my dear Mat, for that is a dear name to me, I am out of close

clothes) as I had to throw away my napsack when I was in the fight as it was all that I could do to save myself. I was nearly give out...

"My dear Mat, I hope these lines will reach you in safety and find you and the children all well. My dear Mat, I think of you and the children all of the time and there is never a night passes but I ask the good Lord to watch over and take care of you and I pray him to give you grace and strength to overcome all of your trouble and trials and that you may serve him in the right way and that you may have grace to live in a right and acceptable manner before him. Mat, pray for me that I may live right and try to do my duty in the best manner that I can...

"Well, Mat, cheer up and keep your spirits up. I hope that there is a better day not far off. Mat, write as soon as you get this and write all of the news and about your little matters as it would do me a heap of good to know of these little things. Write whether you have got out your wheat and how much you made and how your corn is aholding out..."

"Well, Mat, our rations is very scarce. We do not get near enough to eat but I reckon they do the best they can. I would not mind living on half rations if I knew that you and the children could get enough but I trust it all to the good Lord. Mat, tell the children to be good children and to help you all they can. Tell them that I always think of them...

"Tell Mrs. Bell that I have not heard from Bary since the fight but I guess she has had a letter from him before now. Give her my best respects. Mat, if you hear of any chance to send me any close I would be glad to get some as it seems I can't draw any.

"Well, Mat, pray for me and do the best you can and may God bless you and take care of you is the humble and sincere prayer of your husband."

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