1861: Joseph S. Lipe to Margaret (Brawley) Lipe


How Joseph might have looked

This letter was written by 39 year-old Joseph Lipe (1822-1862) who enlisted as a private in Co. I, 7th North Carolina Infantry (Confederate) in 1861. He was promoted to corporal in April 1862. During the Battle of Gaines Mill, Joseph was  critically wounded (gut shot) on 27 Jun 1862 and died in the St. Charles Hospital in Richmond on 2 Jul 1862. The St. Charles Hospital (former St. Charles Hotel) was also known as General Hospital #8.

Joseph was the son of Elias J. Lipe (1796-1876) and Ann Cossey (1801-1846). Elias and Ann raised fourteen children and five of their sons enlisted in the Confederate service. They were Corporal James McCree Lipp, who died of wounds received in the Battle of New Bern, North Carolina, 1862; Corporal Joseph S. Lipe; Pvt. George L. D. Lipp, who died in 1862, place unknown; Pvt. Abram A. Lipe, who died of typhoid fever in 1863 at Richmond, Virginia; and Pvt. William L. Lipe, who was wounded at Gettsburg, in 1863.

Joseph married Margaret Rebecca Brawley (1825-1900) in Iredell County, North Carolina, in 1843 and together they had at least ten children before Joseph enlisted. A farmer, Joseph owned three slaves according to the 1860 slave schedules.

In the book, Blood at my Doorstep, author Brenda Chambers McKean wrote: “In Iredell County, when Joseph Lipe descided to enlist, he wrote down a contract with his neighbors. He asked them to ‘aid Margaret and the children.’ His neighbors also promised to aid his family in their farming operations.” [See also: Ken Brotherton, A Civil War Tragedy: the Lipe Family. Davidson, N.C., Howard and Broughton Printers.]

The 7th North Carolina Infantry was mustered into serviceon 21 August 1861. By September 1861, the 7th Reg. had moved twice more and eventually found itself at Fort Burgwyn on the Neuse River on Bogue Island. In October, the unit moved once again to Carolina City eventually going into winter quarters at Shepherdsville, NC.


November the 29th [1861]
Carolina City Camp
Argyle, North Carolina

My dear wife,

I now seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am tolerable well at this time. I have had a bad headache for a day or two but I am in hopes that it is nothing more than a bad cold. I took a blue mass pill last night and I don’t feel any better today. It may be that I am taking the fever but I hope I ain’t. If I do, I will let you know. There has ten men died in the hospital since last Friday the 22nd and several more very low.

Margaret, I am in the hospital yet but I will know a Monday whether I will stay or not. I sent word by John Miller that I wanted you to send my overcoat for I need it. I don’t know when I will get one. Some of our company has got overcoats and all that I have seen are very good coats and if I can get a better one that I have, I can send it home. And if you hain’t sent it before Joseph Blackwelder come back, you can send it by him. I want you to be sure and send it.

The regiment is going to move about ten miles nearer home right on the side of the railroad at a place called Sheppardsville to put up tents for winter. I don’t see no sign of peace for Old Abe has ordered out two hundred thousand more men and if he wants, he can order out as many more as he wants. I do wish that he would do something.

They have got to making salt down here. I seen some of the salt today and is a pretty salt as I ever saw. It is white and fine and very strong.

Saturday morning, 30th of November [1861]


I will finish my letter this morning by saying to you that I am better. I took some more medicine last night and I feel a great deal better this morning. I have not had any fever but I thought I would take some medicine in time and it might keep off a spell of fever.

There is nothing new here. We get to see some of our old friends occasionally and that revives us very much.

Margaret, I will tell you that Aunt Milly sent me some provisions by Lee Westmoreland and I have plenty of bread and butter and collards and potatoes yet. I have not eat any of my peaches yet but I have to get some pies made and have some made and if I get in for a regular cook, I can store them myself. And if I didn’t get in for a cook, I will go to the camp for I would not be a nurse for fifty dollars a month. But I would rather be a cook than to be at camp for I would not have to stand guard and I would be in a house. I will write to you the next time about it. Write soon.

— J. S. Lipe



One thought on “1861: Joseph S. Lipe to Margaret (Brawley) Lipe

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s