Letter from Peyton Wheeler to his wife, 1863
The information below is courtesy of the Fannin County GenWeb site.
PEYTON WHEELER, farmer, and one of the old settlers and substantial citizens of Fannin County, was born in Campbell Co, TN, October 19, 1837 and is a son of Samuel A. Wheeler and Nancy J. Smith Wheeler. His father was also a native of Campbell County, born there in the year 1813, and lived there all his life, dying October 5, 1844. He was a plain substantial citizen trained in the olden ways of industry and frugality, common among the earlier settlers. He was a descendant of a Virginia family, which settled in Tennessee about the time the Indians were removed from that locality.
The mother of Peyton Wheeler, Nancy Jane Smith before marriage, was a daughter of Wiley Smith, also of Campbell County, TN, but originally of NC. Mrs Wheeler was born in NC and brought to TN when a child. She moved with her family to TX in 1850 and settled in Fannin County, where she died December 21, 1888, in the seventy-fourth year of her age. She was a kind, good woman. On her shoulders was thrown the burden of rearing her family after the death of her husband, and this duty she discharged faithfully. She was the mother of four children, all sons, and all of whom reached maturity. They were --- Peyton, William Henry, Benjamin F. and Samuel. R. All of these were volunteer soldiers in the late war, Confederate Service. William Henry was taken prisoner, and died in the hospital at New Orleans. The remaining three are among the representative citizens of the several localities where they live.
The oldest of them Peyton, whose name is placed at the head of this sketch moved to Texas in 1850, settling in Fannin County where he has continued to reside. Mrs Wheeler's mother's maiden name was Mary A. Farris. Mrs Wheeler was born and reared in Fannin County.
At the opening of the war the subject of this sketch, being born and bred Southerner, naturally inclined toward the Southern side, and in 1862, when the call was made for volunteers, he entered the Confederate service. To his children, he has given them good educations, and all of them he has trained in habits of industry and usefulness.
In Camps near the Southern Rail Road 25 miles east of Jackson, Mississippi July 19, 1863.
Dear Beloved Wife:
I again seat myself this evening to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present, hoping these lines will find you enjoying good health. Martha, we was in a fight on the 11th and 12th at Jackson. Our Battallion lost three killed and nine wounded. I will give you some of the names. S. M. Holloway in the arm and had it taken off, Braye Hart in the thigh severely, James Howard in the thigh slightly, those were all of our Company B. John Young of Company A. was killed, Adjutant Dulin was killed shot through the heart, the balls and shells flew thick and fast, the battle commenced on the ninth and we fell back on the night of the 16th, that makes seven days we fought them. On the night of the 17th, I stood guard on the front lines outside of the breastworks. I could hear the Feds talking all night. Next morning at 8 o'clock, they commenced the (most) terrific bombardment that I ever heard. We left about 50 killed. I do not know how many was wounded. The Feds loss that I know of was about 750 killed and a great many wounded and 300 prisoners, one Battery and three stands of colors, perhaps you may want to know the reason we fell back. The reason was the Feds surrounded us, trying to cut off our transportation. Our men planted torpedoes in the road to blow them up if they pursued us. They were big shells full of powder and shot with a match when touched, it will explode. The Fall of Vicksburg and Fort Hudson has disheartened the Army very much. I do not know where we will make another stand. It is thought on Tom Bigby River in Alabama. Martha, tell Mother she has got one brave boy. Tell her, Ben stood up to the music like a man. The bullets came close enough to me to feel the wind of them. The most disheartening thing in a battle is the groans of the wounded. I do not care how wicked a man is, the first word when he is shot is O'Lordy. We could hear the Yanks when they were shot. Martha, if the Feds ever come in Texas and I can hear it, I am coming to Texas to fight them. I will not stay here and them there. I recond Will is at home or will be by the time this comes to hand. I heard they were payrolled and set across the river so I will quit as I am very tired and think it doubtful about you getting this although I give a dollar to send it across the river by a man in Arkansas. I do not expect you will hear from us often and I never expect to hear from home til I come home, and God knows when that will be, I do not. Write if you ever have a chance to send them. I never have heard from you.
Peyton’s three brothers, who were also in the Civil War, are William Henry Wheeler, Samuel Alfred Russell Wheeler and Benjamin Franklin Wheeler. Note that “Will” or William Henry Wheeler is “payrolled and set across the river” but, in fact, is captured and dies in a New Orleans POW camp hospital.
Samuel Alfred Russell Wheeler
Unit: Co. B, 1st Bttn of TX,
Additional Notes: b. December 07, 1844, Campbell co, TN d. March 18, 1915, Fannin Co, TX Burial-Brown Cemetery, near Bonham, Fannin County, Texas A Sharpshooters in War
William Henry Wheeler
Unit: Co. B, 1st Bttn of TX,
Additional Notes: was taken prisoner and b. 1840 in Campbell Co, TN. D. died in the hospital in New Orleans
Benjamin Franklin Wheeler
Unit: Co. B, 1st Bttn of TX,
Additional Notes: b. 1843, Campbell Co, TN, A Sharpshooter in Confederate Service in TX
Note: Minnie Wheeler Clark had the original copy of this letter. It is now in the Wheeler Scrapbook in the Archives Room 6 of the Eugene Barker Library of the University of Texas and is a part of the Simson E. Clark Family Collection. The Call Number for the Wheeler Scrapbook is C 31/29.