A Confederate officer's request

Edited by Henry H. Mitchell.

A letter1 from Powhatan Bolling Whittle, an officer of the 38th Virginia Infantry, to his brother James Murray Whittle in Pittsylvania Courthouse (Chatham), highlights soldiers' financial uncertainties two and a half months after the war's first engagement at Fort Sumter.

The 38th Virginia Infantry included local companies A (Capt. Daniel Townes Co.), B (Pittsylvania Vindicators), C (Laurel Grove Rifleman), D (Whitmell Guards), E (Cabell's Guards), H (Secession Guards), and K (Cascade Rifles).2

Fair Grounds
June 22nd 1861.
My dear Brother,

Cook & Davis3 arrived here safely. I thank you very much for getting the saddle for me. I have not been very well for the last two days. The weather has been so hot. Carrington4 is well — he has not purchased a horse yet. He will probably get one in Richmond. We have now seven companies — The Cabell's came down yesterday. I will go to town this evening and look at the horse which you mentioned in your letters. Can you lend me some money until I can get some pay from the State? I have had to buy uniforms & go to much expense. I hear that we will be paid at the end of every month but don't know that it is true. Tell Mary & Matoaka,5 with my warmest love that I will write to them before long. I can't write more now. We look for Mr. L___6 tomorrow.

Your affec. Brother
Powhatan B. Whittle

A further annotation on the document, in the handwriting of James Whittle, says, “… sent $150 ….”


  1. This letter is from the Richard Reid Collection (MSS 550), Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library, copyright © 2000 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia.
  2. Michael K. Williams, Confederate Soldiers of Pittsylvania County and Danville, Mountain Press, Signal Mountain, TN, 1987.
  3. "Cook & Davis" were apparently slaves, probably sent by James Whittle.
  4. Probably Maj. J. C. Carrington (see Williams).
  5. "Miss Mary" and Matoaka were James Whittle's two daughters.
  6. Handwriting is uncertain, possibly "Lacy."

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