The Civil War: Treasured Letter Tells of Great-Grandfather's Death

Family's treasured letter, sent to great-grandmother, tells of esteemed officer's death during Civil War battle.

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The following letter was written on May 18, 1863, to my great-grandmother, informing her of the death of her husband, my great-grandfather, Capt. William Carbee. Carbee was killed in the Civil War battle at Champion Hill, Mississippi, on May 16, 1863.

Edwards Station, Mississippi 

It becomes my painful duty to inform you that on the 16th, our worthy Captain and your beloved husband fell on the Bloody field of battle while nobly and bravely leading his gallant Company in one of the most desperate charges (on a Battery of five guns) which had been made during the War. 

He was struck by a ball in the Right breast, which killed him instantly. I was by his Side when he fell. Our, as well as your, loss is irreparable. His Kindness and affection and Promptness in the discharge of his duty not only won for him the admiration and esteem of his own company, But of the whole Regiment. 

When we get possession of Vicksburg, if the authorities will permit, I will have him taken up and sent home, as it was his request, and doubtless it will be a great source of comfort to you. I will write to John Carbee as soon as we stop. 

Yours truly, 

A.R. Knott, 1st Lieutenant  

Alice Stewart
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.