Letter written 150 years ago by three Southern Unionist Brothers

Originally published on The Civil War Day by Day. Document from the Wilson Special Collections Library of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Thanks also to Chris Graham for publishing this on Facebook!

29 July 1863: “If Sutch men as yo are is christians of heaven i want to know who is the hippocrits of hell”

Posted on 29 Jul ’13 by 

Item Description: Letter, dated 29 July 1863, from Wilse Dial, James Dial, and Calvin Dial, three Unionists, probably in the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee, addressed to Capt. Quill Hunter, possibly a Confederate conscription officer, threatening retaliation against attempts to find them.

[Item transcription below images.]



Item Transcription:Item Citation: Wilse Dial Letter, #3143-zSouthern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

July the 29th 1863
Capt Quill Hunter if yo ever hunt for us a gin i will put lead in yo god dam your hell fired soll yo have give the people orders to Shoot us down when they find us and if yo dont take your orders back i will Shoot yo If Sutch men as yo are is christians of heaven i want to know who is the hippocrits of hell we have never done yo any harms for yo to hunt for us we will give yo something to hunt for heareafter  here after when any body sees us i will know where to watch for yo the Secessions needent to degrudge what we steel for we are the United States Regulars (Seal)
Wils. Dial. Jim. Dial. Cal. Dial

[Look on the other Side is a little more]

We dont ax [Sprinkles houns?] no more adds than hell does a powder house ave got orders from the Govenor to take yo because yo dont take us that is our latest orders we dist dare yo to go and Abuse Mother or talk about trying them When the Yankees comes we will go and Show them Some Secess to kill If this dont give yo warning enough the next warning we will give yo with powder and lead take the hint in time we are the old United States Regulars
Wilse Dial is one one 
James Dial is another 
Calvin Dial is the other

– See more at: http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/civilwar/index.php/2013/07/29/29-july-1863/#sthash.icrg9D5W.dpuf

Categories: Uncategorized

15 replies »

  1. Quick Ancestry search shows that a Wilson (19), James (15), and Calvin Dial (13)–brothers, I guess–lived in the household of Martha Dial (40), with two sisters in the Richmond area of Forsyth County in 1860.

    Two Sprinkle households are in the same district. Thomas Sprinkle (44) and his family lived thirteen households away (in the census, that is.)

    Quill Hunter might be Aquilla Hunter (21), the farm laborer son of Solomon Hunter of the same neighborhood.

    In August 1863 Confederate troops and Home Guard clashed with Unionists just over the border in Surry County at Traphill, so the timing makes sense.


  2. Thanks for the family info, Chris! There’s probably a great article here–are you planning to include this story in your own work?



    • Like everyone else here, I had never heard of this letter until this morning, so I haven’t had a chance to think about how his religious sentiments fit into my larger picture. What he/they say re: Christian behavior is on point with what I’m trying to argue… that the other side [and that could go either way] is to blame for violating the harmonious doctrines of Christian practice. I think maybe that those who leaned Unionist (whether “militant” Unionists like the Dials or simply “reluctant Confederates”) had a core distaste for secessionists and Confederates because the later had abrogated the usual course of communal unity by usurping the process of disagreement learned in ordinary disciplinary practice: i.e. patience, harmony, and peaceful disagreement… at least among the evangelicals. (Secessionists said the same thing about abolitionists and Republicans.) I am relying heavily on Bryan Tyson for this, even if he is a little nutty.

      Anyhow, I’ve spent the day trying to rewrite my conclusion, or the part in the conclusion that covers this, so I’ve ended up attempting to hammer some of it out here.


    • In a superficial search of the 1870 census for Forsyth County, I can’t find any of the Dial boys, but Aquilla Hunter is doing well–if not very prosperous–on his farm. … an answer, but more questions!


  3. I’ve been reading civil war day by day for the past two years. My favorite civil war site. Some of the letters are amazing, poignant, wrenching. This one from Wilse Dial is the best of all – militant, fiery, wow! Liz


  4. dear is one one, is another, and the other, you make being from the south considerably less humbling and i say thank you.

    gg grand daughter of simeon collins


    • Quite some letter, isn’t it, Deena? Great-great-Granddad Simeon (cousin to me) would have understood!



  5. Aquilla R. Hunter 1839 – 1916, buried Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pfafftown NC,
    Calvin Dial 1847 – 1934, moved to West Virginia prior to 1870. Wilson uses the southern custom of going by his middle name (Thomas “Wilson” Dial). No idea if Wilson or James survives the war.


  6. Per “Civil War Courts-Martial of North Carolina Troops”
    By Aldo S. Perry (2012). Thomas Wilson Dial was executed for desertion on March 24, 1864.


    • Hi Folks,

      This last post was quite interesting. Iam supposed to be related to Thomas Sprinkle Dial, I wonder if that is the same family. My name is almost the same, Tom Dial.

      Fascinating Letters.


      • Thanks for your comment, Thomas Dial. I’m particularly intrigued by these letters as well because one of my Mississippi aunts (who was a Bynum) was once married to a Dial.



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