Camp near Richmond, August 5, 1861

Tristrim Lowther Skinner to Eliza Fisk Skinner

Camp near Richmond,

Aug: 5th 1861

Dearest Eliza

hat front copy

Cap belonging to Captain Tristrim Lowther Skinner of the Albemarle Guards, 1st Regiment, North Carolina State Troops. Courtesy Frances Inglis.

I am officer of the day today and in expectation rather than having a certainty of leaving tomorrow for Manassas. I hoped to find time to write you quite a long letter today but am disappointed as I have much to do, & can probably only half fill this sheet. Yesterday Lt. J. A. Benbury & I went in to accompany our Edenton friends to church & pass the day with them. We heard a sermon fr: Mr. Minnigerode & dined at the Spotswood house having a very pleasant time. Dr. W. and his two ladies[1] go tomorrow to Charlottesville & cannot well get home before Monday next. Maria takes home some clothes for me. I was most agreeably surprised & greatly pleased to meet her. I had gone into one hotel to write to you, but finding the room rather crowded, went on to the S. house, & had finished my letter & was passing out of the street door where a gentleman asked me if I had seen Dr. T Warren who was there with his daughter & Miss Page. They would have sought us out, but I was happy thus to save them the seeking. They visited us at dress parade on Saturday.

Dr. Minnigerode 1 copy

Rev. Charles Minnigerode of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, known as the “Pastor of the Confederacy,” had known the Skinners for almost twenty years and had performed their marriage ceremony in Williamsburg in 1849.

Our orders were renewed yesterday to go to Manassas & though we have some reason to suppose they will be able to take us tomorrow, I do not yet feel satisfied that we will go then. If we go, I will write you immediately on arriving there, but you will not know it till next Monday. It is quite provoking to be so uncertain. If you write me, directing to either this place or Manassas, I will get the letter with but little delay as P.M’s, now have to forward our letters without additional charge.

If you write me this week I suppose you will direct here & by next week you will, I hope, know certainly how to send directly to me again. Baker arrived safely yesterday, & to my surprise, for I thought he would not be able to resist staying till Monday night which he on Friday received permission to do. The bottle of tamarind was broken but the mass of its contents (except the liquid) remained in its corner. The butter & vegetables were quite acceptable. We have no sick men in our company here, but Dennis[2] has not yet come. Out of the other companies about 25 are sick, mostly with measles, & some few sick enough to send to one of the city hospitals. We hear from the Dixie boys, that last week only 15 were out to answer at roll call, 58 being sick. I am truly thankful that we enjoy such good health. Amid the hardships and privations to be looked for in the crowded camp at Manassas, I will be surprised if we keep as well as we have been.


St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1865. Library of Congress.

We hear but little from the army there, but have good reason to believe that active preparations are being made to redeem Maryland and take W. City.

How happy you must have been to see our dear baby so well & hearty, & to find her knowing you all and so happy to see you. Maria tells me of many of her pretty little ways & sayings. I hope you are all well & that the care of your quite numerous family will not be wearying to you. Give my love to each one of its members. I shall hope to see them before a great length of time, though I feel hourly sensible of the necessity for my being prepared on any day when we may meet the enemy, to fall in my country’s service.

8 Willie Lyne copy

The Skinners’ friend, Willie Lyne (1841-1936), was a popular belle in Norfolk, Virginia. Drawing from the Galt Papers, Swem Library, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.

I am glad to hear you saw so many friends in Norfolk. I suppose Godma & Willie[3] could not well be more in their glory than in having the daily attentions of of  so many young soldiers. Give the dear children each one a message of love from me & write about each one in your letters. I have hurriedly reached the end of my sheet, I see. With kind regards to all enquiring friends.

I am with prayers for our meeting again, Your affectionate husband


T L Skinner



[1] Dr. Thomas D. Warren, his daughter Maria (Tristrim Skinner’s niece), and Ann Page. The Pages and the Warrens were neighbors in Edenton, North Carolina.

[2] Samuel R. Dennis, age 18, Private Company A, 1st Infantry Regiment North Carolina. “Military Records of Individual Civil War Soldiers,”

[3] Fifty-eight-year-old Godma (Mary Ann Galt ) and 21 year-old Willa Lyne appear on the Norfolk 1860 Census as residents of the Atlantic Hotel.


Excerpt from Mary Maillard, ed., The Civl War Letters of Tristrim Lowther Skinner 1861-1862, forthcoming. For another sample letter see June 5, 1862.


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