According to an article written by Elizabeth Cook in 2011, Emma Green[e] of East Spencer had shared a letter that was written in March 1865 by a Stanly County man named Joseph Huneycutt, who was anticipating his execution for desertion with the Salisbury Post. In that letter, Joseph wrote his parting words to Nancy, his wife, and their four children and wrote of his hope of being reunited with two individuals—Mary and Martha—in heaven.
Based on military records, it seems that the Joseph Huneycutt (there were at least four North Carolinian men with that name who fought for the Confederacy) who wrote this letter had enlisted at Camp Holmes in Raleigh on Aug. 20, 1864. On that same day and at the same place, Daniel M. Furr also enlisted to serve. Both men—Joseph Huneycutt and Daniel M. Furr—served in Company G of the 7th Infantry, North Carolina Troops. Both men were also counted as “present” on Oct. 15, 1864, but there were no other entries in either man’s military records. The man referred to as “D. M. Furr” by Joseph Huneycutt was probably Daniel M. Furr .
By March 1865, the Civil War was coming to a close: Sadly, if Joseph had just waited a little longer—and had managed to survive soldiering for just a few weeks more—he would have been free to go home to his loved ones after the surrender took place the following month.
Huneycutt’s letter was published in The Monroe Enquirer on Dec. 24, 1942 (picture attached), and was also reprinted in the Salisbury Post, according to Cook, during the twentieth century. Cook published it again in 2011 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the war’s beginning. (link to that article: https://www.salisburypost.com/2011/05/23/cook-soldiers-letter-going-home-to-die-no-more/ )
The following is a modern transcription of Huneycutt’s letter, which was written the day before and the day of his execution:
March 3rd, 1865
My Dear Wife:
I have to state to you the sad news that tomorrow at 12 o’clock that I have to die. I have to be shot to death for starting home to see my wife and dear children and was arrested and brought back and court-martialed and am to be shot at 12 o’clock. Me and D.M. Furr have to die. But thanks be to God I am not afraid to die. I think when I leave this world I shall be where Mary and Martha are. Dear wife, don’t grieve for me. Try and not. I drempt last night of seeing you but I shall never. You shall see your hubby no more. I want you to raise my children in the way that they should go. My dear son Julius, this is my last order to you. I want you to be a good boy and try to serve God and be a good man. Farewell, Julius. I must leave this world. And my son Ephriam, try and be a good man and serve God. My dear daughter Rebecca Heseltine, I bid farewell to you. Be a good girl and go to preaching. Farewell my dear son Joel, you have no daddy now. Be a smart boy and mind your mother. My dear wife Nancy, I have to bid farewell to you. I want you to keep what things you have and pay my debts. I want Julius and Ephriam to have my shop tools and I want them to take good care of them and remember me. I have a little looking glass that I want to send to Rebecca. I want her to remember me. I have a good blanket I will get and send home. Will send my things with — Lefler, and try and get him to send them home if he will, and I have 25 or 30 dollars and I will spend $5 of that in the morning before I suffer. Dear wife, that is four months service. I can not write like if I was not in trouble. I don’t mind death like I do to leave my family for I have to suffer so much here that I don’t fear. I don’t want you to grieve for me for I feel like I am going home to die no more. I hope I shall be with shining angels and be out of trouble. I have got a little book I want Joel to have and remember me. It has some pretty lines. I want you to send them children to school, and son Julius, I can not hear from you anymore. I sent him a letter but got no answer. I pity poor Julius for he has had no chance. I have got no chance to write so I must close my letter.
March 4th, 1865
A few lines to Daniel Lefler and Jane Lefler. I bid farewell to you and my dear mother; I bid farewell to you and father and brothers and sisters. I must leave this world. Farewell Julius, my dear son. I want you all to meet me in heaven.
To Nancy Huneycutt, farewell, farewell.
P.S. — I want you to have funeral preached at Pleasant Grove. I want Columbus Foreman to preach it, and sing “I Am Going Home to Die No More.” This is the 4th day of March at 9 o’clock. I must soon be in eternity. I don’t desire this but I am not afraid to die. I want you to get all of the children’s funerals preached that are dead. Nancy, I want to see you one more time if I could but we can’t meet any more. I want you and all the children to meet me in heaven.