AUTHOR: John Stevens
Evin Smith was born in Smith’s District, Stanly County, North Carolina about 1836. In the 1860 Census, he was living with his father working on the family farm with personal property valued at $140. In March 1861, Evin married Lucy Page from Locust Level just down the road. He then bought land next to her father, Sion Page, and the couple started to build a family.
Everything changed when the war started. Evin enlisted at age 30, on September 7, 1861, in Company K, 28th Regiment North Carolina State Troops. Shortly after he left a pregnant wife and was off to train as a soldier, his company moved to New Bern, arriving just as the troops were withdrawing from that fight. Ordered to Virginia in May 1862, the 28th Regiment was assigned to General Branch’s and Lane’s Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. Following is a transcribed letter Evin wrote to Lucy:
“January the 12 day 1862
Wilmington New Hanover County
I received your kind letter in due time and was glad to hear from you and hear that you was all well. I am well at this time for which I feel thankful to God and I am in hopes when these few lines reaches you that will find you all well. I want to come and see you all but I can’t come yet nor cant tell at this time when I can come, but I will come as soon as I can get the chance, The furloughs is all stopped for a while so no man can go home for we expect to get in a fight every day. We don’t know what or when we will be called into a battle but we are ready for it at any time. We don’t dread the thought of it much but I can’t tell whether I will ever see you again and if I don’t, I want you to do the best you can for yourself and the child.
Brother John is going to leave tomorrow or next day, and I will send this by him. As soon as you get this u
must write and let me hear from you and your people and tell me how you are getting a long and I want
you to take my son down to his grandpa and let him see him. I want you to be sure to go. [I]f I am spared to get back to you, I will never leave you again so I think I’m about as stout as anybody in camp Willington, and if I could come home I could tell you a heep and if you was hear you could see a heep. We are drumming one man out this evening. I intend to conduct myself as well as I can so when I die I can die in peace and if we never meet again on earth I hope we will meet in heaven where there is no war. So I will quit by saying to you my wife write as soon as you get this.
Lucy I bid you good evening.
So no more at present but remains your husband until death Evin Smith”
. . . . . . . . . .
Evin was captured at the battle of Hanover Court House, Virginia, on May 27, 1862. He was confined at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and then Fort Columbus, New York Harbor. He was paroled and taken to James River, Virginia where he was received on July 12, 1862 for exchange. After being exchanged, Evin returned home on furlough to see his wife, Lucy, and son, John Franklin, who he had not seen since leaving the previous year. Evin returned to duty prior to January 1, 1863, again leaving Lucy pregnant, that time carrying another son he would never see. That son was named after his father, James Evin Smith. If not for his capture at the Battle of Hannover Court House, I would not be here to write his story.
Another transcribed letter home to Lucy:
“Camp Gregg near Fredericksburg VA. March the 17 day 1863
Dear wife … I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know I am in the land of the living. I am as well as common at this time and I hope when these few lines come to your hand they may find you well and doing well and all the rest of my friends. It is very cold weather here snow and rain. We don’t expect any fight here soon. I want to see you all very bad but I don’t think I will get to come home before fall. I don’t know whether I will then or not. We fair hard we don’t get one pound of flour a day to a man and one quarter of pound bacon a day. Sometimes sugar and rice once a weak. Tobacco is high 50 cents to a dollar a plug. Corn meal is worth 50 cent a quart and can’t get it we haft to buy half what we want. If we didn’t buy we should suffer sometimes. I want to know how corn is selling at by the bushel and wheat there write soon.
I want to hear from you. I haven’t had no answer since John Crayton come back and I think very hard of you for not writing to me. I want to know whether you have received that money that I sent by Dunkin Tucker or not and how much. Write to let me now as soon as you can. I want to see you and the baby. I think I get to come home this summer if furloughs aren’t stopped. Be sure to take care of that hundred dollars I sent to you and the rest you may spend it for such things as you need. I want to know whether you have sent after them shirts that I sent by Lee Farmer. He said he would leave them with Even Herne or John Ross. If you haven’t, I want you to go and get them. I would send you some more money but I don’t think I can spare it now. I have nothing more to write at present. When this you see remember me. I must close. I remain yours truly till death Evin Smith to Lucy Smith I forgot I want you to send me something to eat. If there is any chance send it by Thimey or Almond if you can.. . . . . . . . . .
On May 12, 1864, Evin was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, during the Battle of the Wilderness. He was confined to Point Lookout, Maryland, and then transferred to Elmira, New York on August 10, 1864. Elmira, or “Hellmira,” was the notorious Union Civil War prison camp on the banks of the Chemung River. Evin died at Elmira prison on April 2, 1865, never seeing his second son.