Letters of General James Conner, C.S.A.

James Conner (1829-1883), Brigadier General, C.S.A. From South Carolina, before the war he was appointed U.S. District Attorney and delegate to the secession convention. After participated in the capture of Fort Sumpter, he was elected captain of the Washington Light Infantry of Hampton's Legion. Promoted to major as a result of his service at First Manassas, in the summer of 1862 he was elected colonel of the 22nd North Carolina Infantry. A severe leg wound received during the Peninsula Campaign kept him out of action for two months. It is apparent that in the spring of 1863 Conner served as judge advocate on Ewell's staff. One year later, he was promoted to brigadier general and temporarily commanded McGowan's brigade. After McGowan's return Conner took command of Kershaw's old brigade. In October 1864, he was wounded again at Cedar Creek, and the same leg shattered two years earlier, was amputated. He soon recovered and resumed command of the brigade until the war's end. After the war, Conner returned to South Carolina where he was active in the politics of his home state.

Saturday May 14, 1864
Near Spottsylvania Court House

My dear Mother:

An opportunity offers for reaching the mail from which we have been cut off of some days, so I will give you the news to date.

We left camp on the third and fourth; have been fighting ever since. It is an unprecedented struggle; not so much one battle, but a series of battles. Grant was evidently endeavoring to march past Lee and get position, and thus force Lee to attack him, but "Robert" was too smart for him, and struck Grant as he was on the march, and forced him to fight just then and there. In that fight, we whipped them. We drove them back, and then built breastworks, and they charged them furiously, coming up again and again to the attack after the most terrible punishment. We just slaughtered them, and with comparatively slight loss to ourselves.

Saturday we made off to the right, and came to Spottsylvania Court House, and have been fighting here ever since--same style--we behind breastworks, and they attacking, latterly all of the prisoners full of whiskey. Our loss is heavy in officers. Poor Frank Gaillard killed; General Jenkins also, and McGowan wounded. Don't be uneasy about me. You know that I am in the life insurance also. Courier won't wait, so good-bye. Love to all.


Mary Conner Moffet, editor, Letters of General James Conner, C.S.A., (Columbia, South Carolina: R.L. Bryan, Co., 1950), 127-128.