I’m sorry that Mrs. Lynch is trying to be so large.

This partial letter is excerpted in Hugh Buckner Johnston, Jr., ed., “The Confederate Letters of Ruffin Barnes of Wilson County,” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. XXI, no. 1 (January 1954):

Camp near Kinston

Feby 22d 1864

Dear wife,

Your letter by Tom has been Read. I am glad to hear that you are all well. I am well & hearty. I am sorry that Mrs. Lynch is trying to be so large. I think the best way you can manage is for her to stay to herself. I want you to let her go Back to her house & stay there. If you & she can’t get along, there is no use trying to stay together. You may give her all that you think you can spare. I told Lynch when he came I could let him have what you could spare. You may tell Lynch that I had rather she would stay in her House as you & she can’t agree. I don’t see why she made such a bargain & then flew from it so quickly. The Best way you can do is to attend to your own Business. I think you will be better satisfied. I want you to tell Lynch that our Bargain shall all be right. I told Lynch his wife could have corn from my House & all the Bacon I could Spare. I left that to you to say what you could Spare & he & I were to settle that ourselves. You may tell Lynch that all will be right with me & him & tell his wife I rather she would not stay as one of the family. I think you had best attend to your own Business than to be run over by a negro. You know already she will not do to depend upon.

[The remainder of this letter has been lost.]

Footnotes to the letter: “Caroline Lynch was a free Negro woman born in 1837.” “Wyatt Lynch, an illiterate free Negro, was born in 1830. He was a plasterer and brickmason by occupation.”

In another letter written 23 May, 1864, Captain Barnes told his wife, “Tell Lynch he must make my colt gentle.”

——

In the 1860 census of Saratoga, Wilson County: Wyatt Lynch, 30, wife Caroline, 23, and child Frances, 3. However, in the 1870 census, Lynch’s wife is named Nicey. Lynch married Nicey Hall on 5 June 1860 in Wilson County. It appears that Nicey and Caroline were the same woman. Nicy was the freeborn daughter of Lucy Hall, who is listed in the 1850 census of North Side Neuse, Wayne County with her children.

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