Letter written by Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, to her fiancé Major Thomas K. Jackson in Jackson, MS. Reavis expresses how much she misses Jackson, and talks about visiting family friends to keep her mind occupied. She describes a dream she had in which the Yankees had formed a plan to overthrow the Confederate army, and her disclosure of this information to the president led to a great victory and a promotion for Major Jackson. Reavis laments the death of General Stonewall Jackson at the hands of his own men, and mentions that General Johnston is currently in Vicksburg. She describes everyday life in Gainesville, including relationships, engagements, and church. Reavis is determined not to reply to Jackson’s wish to marry soon, as she wouldn’t see him any more frequently than she does now.
Gainesville, May 15th 1863
You cannot think, my dear Major Jackson how delighted I was yesterday, when Alfred brought me your letter- It was quite a disappointment to me to find none awaiting my return from Greensboro- but I was sure you must have written. Your letter was just like your dear, good self, and I believe makes me want to see you more than ever – We all miss you terribly and I so much, that I do not intend to remain at home many days at a time –
Although we only reached home Wednesday evening I am going to Mr Giles on Monday – Ma is at “Cedar Bluff” and Pa will be at court, so I must go some where or do something in self-defense – I hardly know what to tell Mr Giles, when he asks me about our engagement. You know he begged me to make no rash promises until he had had a long conversation with me on the subject- But I am not afraid – think I can prove to him satisfactorily that there is but one Major Jackson in the world. and when he knows you, he
will not wonder at my great love for you – I am so glad Major Jackson that you have such perfect confidence in me. and assure you that I will strive ever to be deserving of it. Nothing gives me pleasure if you disapprove of it-
Ma and I went up to see Mrs Whitesid the evening before starting on our little trip. I thought she might like to send a message or letter to Willie – As usual, she was arranging flowers in Lizzie’s hair- and informed me that it was for the purpose of making an impression on the new Commissaries – They are to take their meals at Mr Bradshaw’s – Mrs W- was quite disconsolate, said she could scarcely refrain from tears – either when you left or when she thought of your cruel desertion of us. (Of her, she means) She asked me to tell you, when I wrote that she had lost her appetite & enjoyment of everything – even her flowers were neglected- I told her to write it herself, but she replied right pitifully – as the darkeys say, “he didn’t ask me to write to him” – I am not romancing, or adding a single word – Ma’s sympathies were so deeply aroused, that all the way coming home she was persuading me to write & tell you to
love Mrs W – instead of me – But I refused positively- she ought not to have loved you first. Lizzie Bradshaw made her so mad, she said she could scarcely keep from calling her some bad name, when she teased her about Dr. Stuart- She begged me never to speak of it- if I did she’d be my mortal enemy, in spite of her great regard for you.
We had a delightful time over at the Council – There was a great number of the clergy there, and still more lay members – the first day, as I sat in Church, looking around at the new benches &c & feeling a perfect stranger, in a strange place, who do you think I saw, come in? I was so pleased dont think my heart could have made such a bound at the appearance of any one else but yourself – It was Mar Lou- I went immediately & sat by her – Every body laughed when she jumped up & kissed me in the most delighted manner. We had a charming time together and of course she insisted that I should go home with her, as did her father & my other friends from the [Cane?] Brake. But I resisted, because I wanted to come home & hear from you. Dont you think that was a great proof of my affection for you? I had
such a funny dream about you, while I was over there. thought that the Yankees had formed a most beautiful plot for the overthrow of our army. that I discovered & disclosed it to the President Consequently we gained a perfect & glorious victory – As it was owing in a measure to me, the President proposed doing me some kindness & suggested that he should bestow some command on you, which he cheerfully did, saying if you were gallant & brave, you should be made a General. Was that not curious? The last thing in the world I should ask, for I’d be perfectly wretched the whole time, fearing that some harm might befall you. Isn’t it too bad that our other great Jackson was killed? and by his own men they say. Who do you suppose will or can fill his place? Pa thinks we lost more than we gained in that last battle- I dont believe the war is ever to end – I suppose Genl Johnston is now in Vicksburg we travelled with some soldiers who came as far as Selma with him-
You cannot think Major, how mortified Bettie Pierce is at the Captain’s treatments. We spent a day in Eutaw on our return & she told me that he was there three days, visiting & riding with Miss Rhoda
and others & did not go near her until the last day when he knew she was not at home – Wasn’t it wrong? She declares she had nothing to do either with that report or the one that is now much talked of in regard to Uncle John. When she talks to me I believe every word she says, but afterwards it does not seem true – I wish I knew whether she is like her brother in that respect, or not – She wanted to know what was the matter with Mattie, Bro had written & complained to her of Mattie’s profound silence – I had a long letter from my sweet little Sister when I returned, she was in the highest spirits & her heart overflowing with love towards both you & me, because I had written her all that had passed between us She says, she does not object to my caring some, for you, but I must promise to love her best – Which do you think I ought to care most for? Harriet Colgin told me all about her engagement & showed me the Dr’s picture – & some of his letters. I wonder if it is right for girls to show these letters. Mr [???] & a great many persons were at the council, from Tuscaloosa – I wish you had been with us – The ministers all dressed in their pure white surplices, really looked beautiful, when they’d
come in & kneel around the church. They have an excellent organ & good choir also – Mr Dobb did not pass his examination, at least not to the Bishop’s satisfaction, so he was not ordained. I am right glad, for I would not like for him to administer the Holy Communion – I do not think I should feel right. His constant amusement is talking to me of you – Hee firmly believes that we are to marry in July, and I do not undeceive him. Did I not tell you, that I would not reply to that part of your letter, if you said anything on this subject? Would I see anymore of you if were to marry this Fall? Don’t ask me what my wishes are on the subject, I have but one, to please you in all things.
Aunt Carlie was highly gratified at your message, said she did not think you would ever remember her after you left. Marmie sends her love & says she intends writing to ask if she may see your letters – I would not show this one to her – You wrote Ma, a mighty nice note, I will give it to her when she returns – I am so afraid of writing too much, that I will not tell you how much I want to see you – Try to come soon, and until then, write as often as you can.
Lucy Reavis (age 21 in 1863) was the daughter of prominent judge, Turner Reavis. She met her future husband Thomas K. Jackson while he was stationed in Gainesville AL. They married December 16, 1863. At least 30 known letters exchanged between them during the war years have survived. They had four children together. Lucy passed away in 1876 at just 33 years old. Thomas never remarried.
Thomas K. Jackson was born December 12, 1824 in SC. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1844 and graduated with the class of 1848. He was appointed brevet 2nd lieutenant of the 4th U.S. Artillery, then transferred to the 5th U.S. Infantry, then the 8th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in 1849. He served about 7 years on the Texas-Mexico frontier with James Longstreet, until he was assigned as an instructor of infantry tactics at West Point in 1857. In 1858 he rejoined the 8th in Texas. In 1861 he resigned from the U.S. Army and was made a captain in the Confederate Army. On September 26, 1861 he was announced as Chief Commissary of the Western Department under General Johnston. He was appointed major on November 11, 1861. He was captured at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and imprisoned at Fort Warren. He was exchanged in May and returned to duty as depot commissary in Gainesville, AL, where he met Lucy Reavis. They courted and were married December 16, 1863. Jackson was stationed at various sites throughout the remainder of the war. He was paroled at Gainesville on May 13, 1865 following General Richard Taylor’s surrender. He remained in Gainesville with Lucy to raise their family and work as a merchant and farmer.