Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Timeline
Timeline Home Page
home
Civil War and Reconstruction
Civil War Soldiers' Stories
Virginian Robert Carter Recalls the Civil War

Robert Carter lived in San Angelo, Texas, when he was interviewed by the Federal Writer's Project. Carter was part of the Virginia Carters and, according to the interviewer, tried to live like a Virginian rather than either a Texan or Westerner. In what ways was the Carter family split by the war? What activities were the Confederate Carters engaged in during the war?

View the entire interview with Robert Carter from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


"My uncle, Moe Carter, was an officer in the United States Army and was stationed in Texas before the Civil War, to fight Indians. He was wounded by an arrow and came home to see us in Virginia just before the war started. He would not desert his flag and fought with the Union but was killed at [Murfreesboro?].

"I can remember the battles of [Manassas?] and Bull Run. They were just eight miles apart. McDowell and his soldiers flanked [Beauregard?] near the Henry house. When Cousin Welby Carter saw the Yankees he got on his black horse and rode nine miles to tell General Beauregard that McDowell had flanked him; and the Yankees never knew how the Rebels found out their movements. The battles were fought on twenty-eight acres belonging to the Henry family. The home was demolished and old Mrs. Henry was killed in her bed. My father was four years in Stuart's Cavalry in the Southern Army and surrendered at Appomattox. I remember well that I was a small boy in the backyard playing with the little negroes, when grandmother came to the little porch, called the slaves and told them they were free. 'You may take the things from your cabins with you, she said, 'but the plantation will have to be worked and if you wish to stay, you shall be paid.' Most of the slaves cried but thought if they were free they would have to leave. Every night when the sun would begin to get low and the shadows grow long we would see them slipping back to their cabins. Some who got away would write back, 'Dear Missus, send me money to come home. I want to die on the old plantation.'

"My cousins in Washington, where I have visited many times, know John Wilkes Booth, the actor who shot Lincoln. They were his friends. The story that he was a second-rate actor is false. These cousins of mine were attending Ford's Theater the night Lincoln was assassinated and Booth held the audience spellbound. I have never believed Booth was executed. Two of my young boy cousins had a small skiff on the [Potomac?] for pleasure and late one afternoon two men approached them and asked them if they would take a wounded confederate soldier across the river. The boys did but when it became known, they came near getting into very serious trouble. I have a picture of Booth's brother which he gave to my wife. Booth and his brother were handsome men. General Wade Hampton gave me a small mule which I rode. The mule would pitch me off and my slate and batter cakes would all be mashed together. I have seen Virginia burning- homes, barns, fields, woods- set afire by General Burnside."
top of page


View the entire interview with Robert Carter from American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.