Eliza F. H. Skinner

(Chowan County)

Featured Character – The Home Front

Eliza Skinner

Courtesy of Frances Inglis

Son of a well-connected Chowan County planter, Tristrim Lowther Skinner and his younger sister, Penelope, went to live with Frederick Nash in Hillsborough after their mother died.  Skinner attended preparatory schools in Connecticut and Philadelphia before going to the College of William and Mary.  He also studied briefly at the University of North Carolina.  In 1840, after his father’s health failed, Skinner moved to Edenton to manage his father’s plantations in Bertie, Chowan, and Perquimans Counties.  He also took over his father’s seat in the state house.  In 1849, just before his father’s death, Skinner married Eliza Fisk Harwood of Williamsburg, Virginia. By 1860, Skinner owned more than $148,739 in total assets, including one-hundred and thirty slaves.  Upon the outbreak of war, Skinner joined the Albemarle Guards, which eventually became Company A, 1st North Carolina Infantry.  Elected captain, Skinner wrote letters to his wife about twice a week.  He filled these letters with descriptions of camp life, war refugees, and civilian attitudes toward the Confederacy.  Skinner also advised his wife on management of the family, property, and slaves.  Taking refugee from the war in Oxford, North Carolina, Eliza Skinner formed a Soldiers Aid Society that made bandages, pillows, and other provisions for the troops. On June 24, 1862, Tristrim Skinner wrote that "Matters seem really to be drawing to a focus. ... I have not a doubt but that this week will witness the great battle for the relief of Richmond." Two days later, he died during the Battle of Mechanicsville.