The following article is from the...
          October 1997 - Nelson County Historical Society Newsletter

REBEL SOLDIER'S LETTER

Our July 1997 program was entitled "Letters Home From a Rebel Soldier".  It was presented by Beth Goodwin, great-granddaughter of Hope W. Massie who entered the War in June 1861 and received a certificate of disability in the fall of 1862.  The presentation followed Lt. Massie through his letters from the Battle of Bull Run through the Tidewater Battles of the Seven Pines and Malvern Hill.

He was enlisted as a private at age 18 with Capt. Whitehead's infantry unit from Lynchburg which was ordered to go to Northern Virginia.  By fall of 1861 he had been assigned as a Lieutenant with Capt. J. H. Rives Artillery Battery from Nelson Co. as part of the defense force to protect Richmond from an eastern attack by Gen. McClellan.  The night before the Battle of Malvern Hill the rains came with such heaviness and force that all routes became nearly impassable.  The following letter was written to his mother's sister, Barbara Effinger Taliaferro, describing their march trying to get heavy artillery from the battle area back to camp.

The heading was:  Camp Stuart - July 3rd, 1862 (Thursday)

"My Dear Aunt:  Your ever welcome letter was received this morning.  Our company was drawn up in a line of battle from Monday (June 30th) morning to last night about 7 O'clock when we received orders to return to camp and were from 7:15pm to 4:15am coming from there to here, a distance of about 7 miles.  The roads were awful.  Up to the axeltree nearly all of the way.  Our teams did not stall.  We came very nearly killing two of our horses.  They stepped into a quicksand hole and went nearly out of sight.  We had to work with them for some time before we could get them up.  They were the middle horses of the third caison, Reuben Coffey, driver.  I thought that I was gone once or twice as my horse went into mud up to my saddle skirts but he did not fall and got out without much difficulty.  We could have gotten to camp by half past 9 if it had not have been for wagons and batteries stalling ahead of us.

All the Yankees have left this side of James River, considering it too unhealthy with such as Longstreet, the two Hills, a Magruder, a Holmes, and such a large Stonewall with a Lee at the Head---------.

Write soon to your affectionate nephew,

Hope W. Massie"

Soon after this letter was written, Hope's father, William Massie of Pharsalia, died leaving quite a large plantation for his widow, Maria Effinger Massie to run.  Hope's discharge was mainly due to his being needed at home.

This is a sample of our many interesting programs.  We try to have as many as possible relate directly to the history of Nelson Co.


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