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Governors Papers, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC

State of North Carolina Wilkes Co

To His Excellency Z. B. Vance Gov N.C.

          The undersigned petitioners composed of men over 45 years, respectfully Show to your Excellency that some time in last Sept Gen Hoke[1] arrived in our County with a considerable body of troops, number not precisely known to us, but estimated at over one thousand men, that a large part of these troops were stationed at Trap Hill from which place they raided into the surrounding country carrying the property and provisions of the citizens, such as waggons, horses, mules, Beef Cattle, wheat, corn, Bacon, dry hide, Bee Stands & brandy–paying very little for the articles but for a large portion paying nothing. The heaviest levies however were made on those who were deserters or had some relations who were so, or were accused of disloyalty, but there were not wanting instances where they appropriated the property of the old and needy, against whom no charge could be prefered! 

          It was understood they came to arrest deserters but we think they have not arrested many except those who have voluntarily surrendered. They have killed in cold blood seven of our citizens, who tho deserters were some of them otherwise very industrious and quiet citizens, none of them perhaps raising arms against them. There has been troops here nearly all the time from last Sept to the present time destroying or rather consuming the little provisions made and leaving families of women & little children to Suffer for there was a very short crop made for the laborers were not here to make it, and besides the last season was extremely unfavorable. Much as has been said against Wilkes, the record of the volunteer companies which the county sent to the Army will show that Wilkes sent more men before the Conscript law was passed could reasonably be spared from the farms–many of these are dead and have left helpless families–and it does appear to us that our people cannot subsist <with> /deprived of/ all the men from 18 to 45. in fact suffering must take place this summer.

          As there are now formed Home Guards in our County who are very vigilant (indeed, their officers kept them nearly all the time on duty till your proclamation came about the 1st Decr. so that many of our old men could not gather their crops or sow their grain) it is a matter of certainty that there is no need of troops from the army here–if there are any deserters here they do not appear publickly–and the Home Guards being acquainted with the locality of the country are better suited to this service, and there is no need of army troops here. We therefore pray your Excellency to order the withdrawal of the troops from our much afflicted County.

January 25 1864

John Stealman[2]                                     James Cordill

Reubin Sparks                                           J.W. Gentry

James Cranford                                         Stephen Combs

Austin Lyon                                                Hugh Cockerman

Anderson Wood                                        Jas. A. Smith

Jacob Lyon                                                 I.H. Gentry

                                                                      Vincent Baugus

                                                                      Goodman Spenser

                                                                      James McCann

                                                                      John Cordel

[1] Robert Frederick Hoke (1837-1912), a Confederate brigadier general from Lincolnton, North Carolina, was sent with his brigade to central North Carolina in the Fall of 1863 to deal with deserters and bandits.

[2] John Alexander Steelman (1790-1888) was a farmer in Trap Hill, in the northeastern part of Wilkes County. 1860 U.S. Census.

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