This letter was written by Armstead “Hill” Patterson (1840-1911), the son of David and Elizabeth (Hill) Patterson. Hill was born in Petersburg, Virginia and attended preparatory school in Milton, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina from 1858-1861 but left school in April 1861 to join Co. C, 3rd North Carolina in 1861. Hill mentions the name of several Zeta Psi Fraternity brothers in the Upsilon Chapter of the University of North Carolina who served in Pemberton’s brigade in the fall of 1861.
After the war he relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, where in 1880 he was enumerated in the city and employed as a “pork packer.” He was married in October 1881 to Jennie Patterson (probably his cousin), whose father, William Patterson (1818-1891), was an Irish-born casket maker in Louisville, and whose mother was the former Mary Culver (1829-1895). The couple continued to reside in Louisville where he found jobs as a clerk, broker, and merchant. He died at the age of 71 when he was thrown from an automobile and suffered a fractured skull. He was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery, Kentucky.
Camp Ruffin near Smithfield, Va.
Dear Zeta Psi:
“Durn it! durn it! durn it! why don’t you write to me? Have you forgotten your old friend, “the parson,” and do you intend to treat his letter with contempt! This makes the 2nd epistle to you from my humble self and if you fail to answer this, I will have to be under the necessity of paying my respects in rather a disagreeable manner on our next meeting. “Man alive!” one would think you had lost your right hand.
Where you are, I have not the remotest idea. To be sure, Sam. Snow told me you & [your cousin, John Wetmore] Hinsdale were lieutenants in this service, but in what regiments he did not state. Now I have it! you, [Charles Wetmore] Broad[foot], have shoulder straps, carry a sword, and consequently care not to condescend to notice a private’s letter. Well, well! who would have thought it. Durn it! I don’t believe that’s the reason.
Notwithstanding the prognostications of my college cronies, I have stood the campaign so far remarkably well, weigh more than ever before, and can eat almost anything. I find military life rather more pleasant than I anticipated yet have to confess that I am rather tired of it. Won’t I shout for joy when our independence is recognized and peace comes once more! Our regiment, the 3rd [North Carolina], is now encamped in the county of Isle of Wight — a few miles from James River. We are blessed with a healthful location, excellent water, and an intelligent neighborhood. Our duties are light and occupy but little of our time. We are now engaged in building winter quarters and hope to have the cabins finished soon.
In this part of the world, the Yankees are very quiet and seem to be well contented with their quarters at Newport News. But if they should bester themselves and attempt to land on this side, we are ready to give them a warm reception. Between us and the river are several embankments thrown up which completely command the road, and on either side are swamps & jungles which would perplex the acuteness of the vandals monstrously.
Brig. Gen. [John Clifford] Pemberton is a fine officer. He was brevetted three times in the Mexican War, twice in one day. If the opportunity be afforded, he will doubtless prove himself worthy of still higher honors.
It would do you good to see how many glorious Zeta Psi’s are in this brigade! In our regiment are David Settle, Dick [Erasmus Decatur] Scales, Billy [William Nelson] Mebane, Walter [J.] Jones, [Stephen Dodson] “Dod” Richmond, Tom [Thomas Clary] Evans, & myself; in the Ellis Light Artillery stationed near Smithfield are Sam[uel] Snow & James [Nicholas] Thompson — nine in all. Isn’t our fraternity well represented? Wilbur [Fisk] Foster is near Norfolk in the 3d Alabama Regiment and I believe Jules [Julius] Mitchell is also.
The boys are all getting on very well but will not complain when the war is ended. My old sweetheart, Miss Ellen Lewis, is married and is now Mrs. Lieut. Col. [George S.] Lovejoy, ¹ 4th N.C.V. I saw her last Wednesday while on her way to the camp attended by her happy husband. Jones was rather bored when first he heard of the engagement and ascribes his ill luck to the war. According to his version, the Lieut. Colonelcy proved more attractive than the charms of an insignificant private. Knowing that you hate long letters from principle, I will close. Let me hear from you soon. Goodbye.
Yours in ΖΨ — A. Hill Patterson
Respects to friends. Address your letter thus:
A. H. Patterson, Company C, 3rd Reg. N. C. V., Smithfield, Va.
¹ The Standard of Raleigh announced the death of Col. George S. Lovejoy in the 23 July 1862 edition of its paper: “We deeply regret to have to announce the death of COL. GEORGE S. LOVEJOY, which occurred at the residence of his father [Jefferson M. Lovejoy (1814-1877)] in this City, on Sunday night last. COL. LOVEJOY had been in feeble health for some time, and had been compelled on this account to retire from the service. He was an able officer, having received a military education at West Point. But when his State summoned her sons to arms, he responded to the call and offered his best energies in her defense. His death is no doubt the result of exposure in service, and he is thus as much a martyr in the cause of independence as if he had fallen in battle. He was a young man of sound moral principles and noble impulses. His death will be long deplored by a large circle of relatives and friends. [Col. Lovejoy enlisted as a Lt. Colonel on June 3, 1861, at the age of 21 at Northampton County. He was a resident of Wake. He served in Companies F & S, 4th (later 14th) Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. He was discharged on April 26, 1862.]