Civil War Letters of William (Billy) A. Elliott


The following letters are reasonably accurate transcriptions of handwritten letters from Billy (William A.) Elliott to his father, Dick Elliott (Richard W.), during the Civil War. Billy Elliott was my father’s great uncle, the brother of his grandfather David Elliott Sr. On July 7, 1862, shortly after his 19th birthday, Billy enlisted in the 11th Regiment, Company A, of the North Carolina Confederate Troops. He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

Billy’s 19 letters home were written between September, 1862 and May, 1863. I’m emotionally touched by this twenty year old boy writing to his “Pa” during the year before giving his life to the history of our nation. The cause for which Billy fought and died has been harshly judged by history. From the Confederate perspective, however, their discomfort and suffering was as noble as that of their Revolutionary War forefathers nearly 100 years before. One must understand that Billy came from a family, my ancestors, who were not Plantation masters but pioneers of the Carolina wilderness who fully believed that theirs was a cause against a Northern Revolution intent on tearing apart the fabric of their history and freedom. The written history of my family and these letters from an ancestor allow this life-long Yankee to judge the Confederate spirit and conviction in a little more even-handed manner.