This letter was written by 17 year-old Isaiah Goodin (1846-1908), Company D, 1st North Carolina Junior Reserves. From the letter we learn that the Goodin’s regiment had just returned to Kinston, North Carolina, from the vicinity of Coleraine where they expected to meet the Yankees, only to find that they had withdrawn. The return march to Kinston was by way of Goldsboro.
The Junior Reserves were generally used for guarding bridges, etc., but towards the end of the war, as North Carolina became a more active battleground, the Junior Reserves saw combat. They helped defend Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, on December 25, 1864, and fought in the battles of Kinston, or Wyse Fork (March 8–10, 1865), and Bentonville (March 18–21, 1865).
In Confederate military records, Isaiah appears as “J. Goodwin” of Co. D, 1st North Carolina Junior Reserves. He enlisted 8 November 1864 at Camp Holms by Col. Mallett. The 1st North Carolina Junior Reserves was formed by the consolidation of the 1st (Broadfoot’s) and 6th Battalions, and Captain John A. Manning’s Company, North Carolina Junior Reserves. Isaiah’s military record indicates that he was transferred to a hospital on 11 January 1865 but by this letter we know that he had returned to his regiment in February.
Isaiah is enumerated in the 1850 US Census in the household of his grandparents, Isham Goodin (1782) and Elizabeth Beevers (1784-Bef1860) in Iredell County. I believe his mother was Elizabeth (“Lucy”) Goodin (b. 1826) but I don’t know who the father was.
[Note: There is a Find-A-Grave marker for Pvt. “I. N. Goodwin” — the son of Jesse B. Goodwin and Frances Brody Brasfield of Wake County — in the Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina which attributes his service to Co. D., 1st North Carolina Jr. Reserve. It is my opinion that that the newly erected tombstone is an error. This soldier’s original tombstone states simply, “I. N. Goodwin, N.C. — a faithful confederate soldier” without giving his regiment. The soldier buried in this grave grew up in Wake County, North Carolina, and was enumerated there in the 1850 & 1860 Census records while the Isaiah Goodin [Gooden, Gooding] who wrote this letter was enumerated in Iredell County along with all of the other people mentioned in his letter.]
Isaiah wrote the letter to his friend, Charles Manley (“Man”) Hill (1848-1912) of Iredell County, North Carolina. Man was the son of Milas Wilson Hill (1809-1899) and Prudence Lydia King (1821-1899).
Head Quarters Co. D, 1st Battalion, North Carolina Junior Reserves
Camp near Kinston
February 15th 1865
Mr. C. M. Hill
I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living and I hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same pleasure. I have nothing very interesting to write to you at the present time. I can inform you that we are camped near Kinston in the woods.I tell you, we have a bully time. We draw cornmeal and pork. We draw tolerable plenty to eat now but when we are a marching, we don’t get enough. We have just come from Coleraine. We marched 60 miles in two days. You may guess we was sorta tired at night. We had our muskets and cartridge boxes, knapsacks, and 3 days rations to carry.
We went in sight of the Yankee breastworks and the Yankees fired their cannons twice at us and we retreated back but the Yankees would not follow us. If we could get them away from their gunboats, we would a give them the best we had in our shop. I am very well satisfied they did not come out. They might a killed some of us and that would not a been so funny. Man, there ain’t no fun in staying in the army, I tell you, and you had better stay out as long as you can.
Rece received a letter from you last night. You said you was a going to school at Old Rocky Branch. I recon you have a good old time with the girls. I would like to be at home and go to. I want you to write and tell me what girls goes and whether Tom Holland ¹ and Tom Moore ² and Frail ³ goes or not. Man, I want you to tell me how Tom Holland keeps out of the army. I think he is 17 years old. I don’t blame him for keeping out. Tell him to keep out just as long as he can.
You said somebody throwed down Cruses fence the other night. I recon that old Patsy just read you school boys out. Man, does them little Norton’s go to McHargue’s yet? Tell Ruben I said now was the excepted time.
I will bring my few ill-composed lines to a close for this time by asking you to write soon as this comes to hand. I want you to write all the news. Direct your letter to Isaiah Goodin, Co. D, 1st Battalion North Carolina Jr. Reserve. Camp near Kinston, N.C.
— Isaiah Goodin to C. M. Hill
Excuse bad writing and spelling for I have nothing to write on but my cartridge box. So write soon if you please, sir.
¹ Thomas Moore Holland was born near Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina on 29 November 1848. He was the son of William Joseph Holland (1812-1900) and Sarah N. Moore (1816-1909). In the 1860 Census, the Holland family was enumerated “On Yadkin River” in Iredell County. Not long after the Civil War, the Holland family relocated to Benton County, Arkansas. Thomas was married in 1870 to Nancy P. Kerr (1849-1880).
² Thomas William Moore (1848-1922) was probably a cousin of Thomas Holland’s who also grew up in Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina. He also settled in Benton County, Arkansas, after the Civil War. He married Mary Susan Lewis (1862-1934).
³ Henderson Fraley Goodin (1848-1929) was Isaiah’s younger brother. They are enumerated in the household of Margaret “Gooden” age 40 “On Yadkin River” in Iredell County, North Carolina in 1860. Their mother was most likely Elizabeth Goodin (b. 1826).