Sampson Lafayette Stanfill, one of the multitude of Sampson Lafayette Stanfill/Stanfield's in my maternal tree, was born in Campbell, Tennessee in 1836. This particular Sampson moved south to Walker County, Georgia, where he married a young woman named Mary Bridgeman in 1858. They had a daughter named Mary Jane the following year, and one named Hannah in 1861. Mary died in 1862 and no record or mention of Mary Jane can be found after her birth, leading me to believe she had also passed away. Sampson returned to Tennessee after the Civil War began (I'm not sure if it was before or after his wife's death), joining the 12th Tennessee Cavalry, Union. Among the documents found in his pension files are the two following letters written by him; one to Miller Butler and his wife Mary in 1864; and one written in 1863 to a cousin, Mary Rusel (Russell?), who seems to have been caring for Hannah at the time.
March 15, 1863. Camp comming ner Mobeil, Ala. and confeds
Der couzen mary, I for the first time in life im brace the present opertunity of droping you a few lines to let you no that I am well at present and hope when these few lines may come to hand and find you enjoying the same state of helth. I have nothing of im portended to right to you at present only that wee have harde times her at present but that is a thing of nothing after evrey body gits to it. Wee are well fixed for our camps am wee don't have to stand gard her when it is raining an wee don't have to be in evrey of the bad wether. That is a fine thing on our side.
I want you to knit for Hannah C. Stanfill a pare of stockings for sumer if you plese an if I ... ever get home I will pay you for it an I want you to help Lizy to take car of her for my baby is all of my study. I don't never go to slepe of a night a thought thinking of her an how she loved to lye of a night with her litle armes a round my neck it filles my hart with pain to think my der child an to think that I am compeled to stay so fare from her but I trust to the lord that he will spare our lives til we will meat a gane in this world. So you must excuse my short an bad leter. So I must bring my leter to a close. Some more at present only now yours cozen until deth you miss.
Sampson L. Stanfill
Right to me as soon as you got this leter and give me the news if you plese. It is hot wether here now. We have to go in our shirt sleeves people was planting corn.
Pulaski, Tenn. July the 14/64
I set my self to drop you a few lines to let you no that I am well at present and I truly hope that these few lines will come safe to hand and find you all well. I have got nothing new to rite to you only crops is fine in this country. I have sene a good deal of Tenn. since I started to travel over it. We had a litle fite with the bush whackers they kild my Capt and woonded one man and we kild forty nine of them but our hole ridgement was after them they could not run evey way with out they run into our men and they as quick as they se a bush whacker they fire at them and we shoote to hit. We have bin her two weeks that is the longest that we have stade eney wher since the first march. We have bin riding study. I think I will be a goode hand to ride a ganst. My three years is out if I have till then. I am in hop that I will live to see this cruel war over. I wood love to come home and stay vary much but I am willing to fite for our goverment for I am a full blooded yankey. I rote a letter and sent it by Spangler to you. You never sent me any anser. He sede he sent the leter to you and I sent some money to you and I wanted to no whether you got it or not. I droed some more money I could send you if I had the chance to send to you. I droed $30 dolers to day. I would love to see Hanner and all of the children vary much but if I live till fall or Chrismass I will come and see al of you if I live till then. I want you to rite to me with out fail as soon as you get this leter. Direct to Nashville, Tenn. 12 Cavaldry. So no more at present.
Sampson L. Stanfill
To M.C. and Mary Butler
Robert Jones, plese send this to Creed Butler as soon as posibel.
Robert, I wish you will rite to me and I will rite to you. Spangler got back safe.
According to testimony by one of Sampson's fellow soldiers, he died on August 14,1864 at Pulaski, Tennesee, of "brain fever." The above letter is dated July 14, 1864; perhaps he was actually not in the good health he claimed when he wrote Miller and Mary Butler. And sadly, he probably never made it home to see Hannah again.
Miller Butler became Hannah's guardian and she is shown on census records living in his home in 1870. She later married and had a family in Catoosa, Georgia, where she died in 1921.