Tristrim Lowther Skinner

(Chowan County)

Featured Character – A Soldier's Life

Tristrim Lowther Skinner in the Albemarle Guards

John A. Benbury, Tristrim L. Skinner and  
  Lemuel C. Benbury

Courtesy of the North Carolina State Archives 

Tristrim Lowther Skinner was born in 1820 and raised with his younger sister, Penelope, in the household of Frederick Nash of Hillsborough, North Carolina. Tristrim left to attend preparartory schools in New Haven, Connecticut and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was a young boy. From 1838–1840, he attended the College of William and Mary and also studied at the University of North Carolina in 1840 before returning home to manage his father’s plantations in Bertie, Chowan, and Perquimans counties. Tristrim served as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons during the years 1846–1848 and married Eliza Fisk Harwood of Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1849. By 1860, Skninner owned more than $148,739 in total assets, including 130 slaves. Eliza and Tristrim had four children before he was commissioned captain of Company A, 1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment. During encampments near Richmond and Fredericksburg, Virginia, and briefly at Camp McIntosh near Goldsboro, North Carolina, Tristrim received and wrote letters to his wife about twice a week. He filled these letters with descriptions of camp life and of war refugees along with the sentiment of the local civilians toward the Confederacy. He advised Eliza on how to secure family property and how to manage the household and slaves. Eliza, with other ladies in Oxford, North Carolina, formed a Soldiers Aid Society, in which bandages, pillows, and other provisions were prepared for troops. Tristrim wrote his last letter home on June 24, 1862, stating,

“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.”

He was killed two days later at Mechanicsville, Virginia.