Vanderford, a lieutenant in the 21st South Carolina, was stationed at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor when he wrote this pair of letters to his wife Cynthia in March 1864. In the first letter, written March 18, Vanderford states that their "duty is very heavy" and that we are up all night but sleep all day, or the largest part of the day. " He expects his company to soon be relieved, but finds Sumter as pleasant as their regular camp "when the yanks are not shelling. The yanks have not shelled any now for two days, and I think that they have got tired of the job and are going to quit it.
On last night we had an alarm and I was in command of the 2nd detachment, and we were the first out on the parapet. If it was not my time to go home I would just as here stay here as in camp. There are three things here I don't like-shells, brickbats, and lice. But a soldier can stand most anything. Before closing the letter Vanderford predicts that this is the last year of the war." He adds, "there are many a thousands dollars worth of iron laying around this old fort. I expect ten steamboat loads of old shells. Vanderford wrote the second letter just a few days later on March 22. Still stationed at Fort Sumter, he hopes to soon be relieved and to get a chance to visit home. " The weather had been "cold and rainy and windy, but we don't mind that much. Have got used to it. " He also plans to "get to the city" to "have the coat cut, and if you have bought the Confederate cloth write to me so that I can get some trimmings for it. Of happenings around the fort he writes that the yanks throw a few shells at us sometimes, but have not done any serious damage as yet.
" He continues, "it is thought that they are mounting a gun to bear on the angle next to the city, perhaps referring to Union artillery positions on Morris Island. "It is a weak side, " he writes of Sumter's city-side defenses, but we are putting up sandbags so as to be in time for them. "Tell Sallie to be a good little soldier and Pa will come home soon, " he closes. Six weeks later the 21st South Carolina would be transferred to Virginia. Vanderford would be severely wounded at Petersburg on June 24 and would have his left leg amputated, but would succumb to his injuries on June 28.
The two letters were written on letter sheets measuring about 7 1/2" x 10". Excellent condition with light toning. Creased at the original folds.The full transcripts follow below. Fort Sumter, March 18 1864. We are up all night but sleep all day, or the largest part of the day. I don't know when we will be relieved.
Can't find out, but it is as good place as camp when the yanks are not shelling. I hope to get a letter from you tonight, but I may miss it. Don't write to me at fort until you hear from me after Monday. A letter written on Monday will get here on Wednesday, and I hope we will be relieved on Thursday, and if we do then I will put in for a leave of absence.I think that this is the last year of the war. I do think that it must close now soon.
Tell your Pa that there are many a thousands dollars worth of iron laying around this old fort. Give my love to all at home. Tell Sallie to be a good little soldier and Pa will come home soon. Write to me on Monday.Be sure and get the cloth as all the rest are getting new uniforms and I want one too. Nothing more at this time. Fort Sumter, March 22, 1864. I expected to get a letter from you last night, but did not. Maybe I will get one on tomorrow and if I do I will write on Thursday evening. We expect to be relieved on that night. Capt Tarth got a letter from his wife and she says that Charles is at home.
Write and let me know how long he will stay. I will try and get off just as soon as we are relieved from here.It will take 4 days to get my papers through. Tell C that I would like to see him and if there is any chance I will be at home some time the first of next week. It has been very uncomfortable here for the last 4 days. Cold and rainy and windy, but we don't mind that much. If we are relieved on Thursday night I will try and get to the city on Saturday and have the coat cut, and if you have bought the Confederate cloth write to me so that I can get some trimmings for it. I will try very hard to get off home next week. Tell Charles to make his stay as long as possible at home. There is nothing new in the fort.
The yanks throw a few shells at us sometimes, but have not done any serious damage as yet. It is thought that they are mounting a gun to bear on the angle next to the city. It is a weak side, but we are putting up sandbags so as to be in time for them. Kiss little soldier for me.Have you given her the crow soup or not? You did not write to me anything about the note that F. I hope that he has not paid it. Love to all at home. I will write again Thursday evening. Don't write any more letters to this place. Vanderford, Co D, 21 S. Please see my other items for more original Civil War items.