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Letter from Rev. Mr. Fitch, Pinckney Island
May 8, 1862
AMA Records South Carolina Roll 1
Rev. Mr. Fitch,
May 8;62

Pinckney Island SC May 8’62
My Dear Brother

My last letter to you was written in Beaufort where I was waiting for a steamer to return to Hilton Head. I
am writing now in my quarters on Pinckney Island. My associate Mr Weeks myself are getting along
pretty smoothly in our work; have enough of it to do, but are not accomplishing the tenth no not the
hundredth part of what we feel out to be accomplished. There are over 500 negroes on this small
island of the mostly whom we have the charge. There are quite a number of the men who are
employed at the Fort at Hilton Head who reside on this island. About three weeks ago we received
strict orders to set all at work male and female, who were able to work and not employed elsewhere
planting cotton and to make them get in all they possibly could before the first of May. We were
authorized to call on the soldiers for assistance if any should refuse to go to the field. Most of them
went to work with apparent willingness but a few of them had to be driven at the point of the bayonet
and two of the most refractory we put into the guard house. The negroes on this island were in a very
demoralized condition when we came, probably more so than any within our lines at Port Royal.

They have planted 40 acres of cotton, some of which has come up over 200 acres have usually been
produced on Pinckney Island of the very best quality. A number of steamers are constantly employed
in gathering cotton in this vicinity of plantations above Beaufort taking in to Beaufort where it is ginned
and then shipped to New York.

I cannot say much in regard to military movements in this vicinity. Everything seems to be very quiet at
present. I have seen no New York papers of a later date than the tenth of April although I have hear
war news of as late a date as the 26th. I wish you would send me a few copies of the times and
Tribune and one of the Observer. They would be very acceptable just at present. I have not yet
received my box of bedding & c. It may have been sent on the Massachusetts’ which arrived this
week. I forgot to tell Lois that I found my trunk safe and sound in the care of Rev. Mr. French.

Mr Weeks has very fortunately enough bedding for both of us or I should have been rather badly off
for accommodating. Some other articles I needed I purchased at Sutlers at about double the price I
could have obtained them for in New York. Mr. Weeks went with a company of soldiers on a foraging
expedition to Spring Island a few days ago an island which has been deserted by the rebels but not
occupied by our pickets. He brought away 2 mules, two horses, a cow and cal, bedstead, table, chair,
two bureaus and about 100 bushels of corn. This island formerly belonged to a Mr. Edwards who died
last year on it there are four or five plantations and about 800 slaves. Nearly 200 of this number are
now under our charge having escaped from their overseers and come over to Pinckney Island. Some
have been carried away by the rebels and the others are scattered I know not where. There are
women here whose husbands, husbands whose wives, parents whose children, and children were
carried away by the rebels. Some of the stories I have heard from those who escaped were perfectly

I have two schools, now in operation one on each plantation I devote a couple hours each day except
Saturday to each. One of my schools is in the cotton house and the other is or rather under the cotton
mill. A few lack in each school are just beginning to read. The majority are yet in the alphabet. They all
seem very eager to learn, those had been little trouble in controlling them thus far. I have also
preached in the former plantation every Sabbath in over on the upper. I am teacher, doctor, and
minister besides assisting Mr. Weeks more in / in his department especially in giving out rations,
writing, ? It is very warm probably from 80 degree to 85 degree. The old cotton fields are completely
covered with ripe blackberries. I have never before seen such vast quantities of this fruit. Write soon. I
want to hear from you very much.