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Collection Title: Hollensed (John Wesley) Letters

Collection Number: M34

Dates: 1860-1864

Volume: .25 cu.ft.

Provenance: Originals were placed on loan by Herman Hollensed, John Wesley Hollensed's great-great grandson, in July 1987. Copies available for use.

Restrictions: The originals may be used only with the permission of the archivist.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

John Wesley Hollensed was born on February 10, 1827, in Brookhaven, Mississippi. He was the son of Spencer and Sally Ginn (Linn) Hollensed of South Carolina.

John Wesley Hollensed enlisted in the Confederate Army on March 3, 1862, as a member of Company C, 21st Regiment of Volunteers. The bulk of his duty was in Virginia, near Richmond and Fredericksburg. Hollensed saw action in various notable battles, such as the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1863, where he was severely wounded in the foot. During this time he was taken, as a prisoner of war, to a hospital in Pennsylvania, where he recuperated and waited for a prisoner exchange. Hollensed also saw action during the Petersburg Campaign, June 1864 through April 1865.

John Wesley Hollensed died at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia, on October 19, 1864. He was survived by his wife, Nancy King Hollensed, and his children, all of Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Scope and Content:

The bulk of this collection consists of 22 letters, both originals and copies, written between March 21, 1860, and November 6, 1864, by John Wesley Hollensed to his wife, Nancy King Hollensed, in Brookhaven, Mississippi. John's letters regularly express his love and devotion to his wife and children. He pleads for letters from home and seems desperate for news of family and friends. Hollensed speaks of his health and his desire to come home on furlough; he also tells of trying to send money home but is reluctant to send it through the mail.

Hollendsed describes his life at numerous campsites, the prices and scarcity of food, the prevalence of sickness and death: He speaks almost grudgingly of battle and its aftermath. John talks of wounds he received at the Battle of Gettysburg and how he was taken to a hospital in Pennsylvania to await a hospital exchange.

The letters mention "Burnside's Slaughter Pen," a nickname given to the battlefield during a portion of the Petersburg Campaign, where many soldiers died or were severely wounded; he tells of numerous amputations on the battlefield and describes grave markers with "Burnside's Slaughter Pen" written on them.

Among the letters are two which notify Nancy Hollensed of her husband's death; both speak highly of him and his abilities as a soldier. Also included is a single letter of Nancy's to John, dated November 6, 1864, which was seventeen days after his death at Cedar Creek, Virginia.

Correspondence from John to his unnamed sister and from Jarry King (Nancy's brother) are also in the collection along with two letters from Geoff W. Wall, Hollensed's captain, giving John authority to bring back deserters, and letters from other individuals whose connection to the Hollensed family is not known. Nancy Hollensed's Oath of Allegiance to the United States, an account sheet of John Wesley Hollensed's, and biographical information are also included in the collection.

Related Collection:

Edna L. Hollensed Papers

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