1865: Isaiah Goodin to Charles Manley Hill


William May of 4th N.C. Jr. Reserves

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North Carolina, from the vicinity of Coleraine where they expected to meet the Yankees, only to find that they had withdrawn.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).


1860 Census — District on Yadkin River, Iredell County, North Carolina — showing Isaiah Goodin and his brother Henderson Fraley Goodin in Margaret Goodin’s household (isn’t clear which, if any, of the women living in the same household was their mother). The Holland family farm was adjacent the Goodin Farm.


Head Quarters Co. D, 1st Battalion, North Carolina Junior Reserves
Camp near Kinston
February 15th 1865

Mr. C. M. Hill
Dear Sir,

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.


Thomas Holland and wife Nancy in Arkansas (1870s)

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).


8 thoughts on “1865: Isaiah Goodin to Charles Manley Hill

  1. Received following comment from Tim Goodwin:

    I read your post “1865: Isaiah Goodin to Charles Manley Hill” with great interest. Isaiah is a distant cousin (Isham was a common ancestor) and I’ve been trying to trace him for some time! I’m very interested in your sources as they may help piece the puzzle together. Are you able to share your information – where did the letter and your other information come from? Thank you, -Tim Goodwin


    1. Tim, I transcribed & researched the letter for a friend of mine who buys and sells old letters on e-bay. This letter was undoubtedly sold some time ago. As for the research, it is entirely mine and the information was collected from on-line resources — particularly Ancestry.com and Find-a-grave. Any conjectures are mine. If you can add anything or point out any errors, please let me know. — Griff


  2. Grif, thanks for sharing this wonderful letter. I am an author and researcher on Sherman’s 1865 Carolinas Campaign. One of my books, “To Prepare for Sherman’s Coming” The Battle of Wise’s Forks March 1865″ discusses the N.C. Junior Reserves at the battle. One of the interesting points Isaiah discusses is the army rations, it appears they were being fed quite well in Kinston. Poor logistic support was a major reason Gen. Braxton Bragg pushed to have the junior reserves consolidated into a single brigade organization with experienced senior leadership.

    One question, he is a member of 1st Battalion N.C. Jr. Reserves not their sister unit the 1st N.C. Jr. Reserves, the latter being an entire regiment.

    Again, great stuff. thanks for sharing.



  3. Griff and Greetings Wade, I would agree there are some errors. I currently own this letter, and decided to do a little research. Its odd Isaiah from the letter is still using the 1st Batt. designation, as that was changed the year prior, and it appears he didn’t join till Sept 1, 64. Now what’s interesting is there is a J Goodwin Co D 1st BN listed as Sgt. and I feel pretty sure it’s Isaiah the letter writer, given his written ability, a shoe in for 5th Sgt. While on the other hand there is a J Goodwin listed as a Pvt. Co. D 1st Jr, Reserves, yet his enlistment is Nov. 8, 1864, so clearly 2 different enlistment dates. Both men are noted by initial (J), instead of (I), neither note Iredell County. but Sgt. Goodwin is listed born in Chatham. Now where it really gets interesting is the pension and soldiers home application. The pension for I N Goodwin has an enlistment date of Sept. 1, 1864 which matches the Sgt. born in Chatham, yet in 1901 it is signed by his mark XXX, yet we know he has the ability to write? It appears the pensioner has disabled legs. Yet the soldier’s home application he signs I N Goodwin 1893, and it mentions the hospitalization such in the file of Pvt. Goodwin. And Griff, you are correct there are 2 Isaiah’s in the 1860 census, one in Iredell, and one in Wake. The IN Goodwin buried in Maplewood, Raleigh, most likely the Wake County Isaiah Goodwin. Yes I’m confused, but working on it. In the end, they may all be the same.


    1. Hey Chris. With no regards to the soldier’s name, there were three regiments and one battalion of jr. reserves at the battles of Wyse Fork and Bentonville. He’s signing with his unit designation as 1st Battalion, which is not part of the 1st Regiment in February 1865, but was a separate battalion in the final weeks of the war. Maybe I’m jacked up.

      Cool letter anyhow, good,luck on your research.



  4. Hello everyone,
    Let me add my thoughts on Isaiah Goodwin. I hope my contribution does not further muddy the waters!
    I just purchased a cover off eBay from John C. Goodin, one of the three older brothers of Isaiah N. Goodin. All four brothers lived with their parents in Wake County prior to the war, Jesse B. Goodin and Frances Brody Brasfield (1850, 1860 censuses and genealogy data). All three older brothers enlisted in Co. D, 30th NCT as privates. Underage Isaiah enlisted as a private in Co. D, 1st Regiment, Jr. Reserves on November 8, 1864 at Camp Holmes, near Raleigh in Wake Co., NC, not far from home. The oldest brother, Willis N. Goodin died of typhoid fever at Winder Hospital in Richmond on 30 Aug 1862 and was buried in nearby Hollywood Cemetery as Willis N. Goodin. John C. Goodin was KIA at Gettysburg on 1 July 1863 fighting the Irish Brigade at the Sunken Road and was likely buried in an unmarked grave near where he fell. Joseph J. Goodin surrendered with Lee at Appomattox but was buried as Joseph Jasper Goodwin at Maplewood Cemetery Durham, Durham County, North Carolina. Note Maplewood Cemetery is where I. N. (Isaiah N.) Good(w)in was also buried, strongly suggesting both men were brothers. The father of the four brothers was a Jesse B. Goodin, as was also cited in the Find-A-Grave memorial for I. N. Goodwin. The “Jesse B. Goodin Papers, 1829-1903” are stored at the Duke University, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library:). Although none of the material is available on-line, a short on-line summary states the collection contains the following: “Receipts, summonses, promissory notes, and occasional accounts of Jesse Goodin and letters from his sons who served in the 30th North Carolina Regiment and the 1st North Carolina Regiment, Junior Reserves. The letters give some description of camp life in eastern North Carolina and in the vicinity of Caroline County, Va., and descriptions of treatment in hospitals in Richmond and Lynchburg, Va.” https://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE000857297 Clearly, this summary refers to the four Goodin brothers mentioned above. Therefore, I believe “J. Goodwin” of Co. D, 1st North Carolina Junior Reserves is not the Isaiah Goodwin who wrote the letter transcribed in Griff’s excellent article, but is the Isaiah Goodwin buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

    Jim Bennetch


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