Letter written by Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A., to his fiancée Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, from Enterprise, MS. Jackson writes that he was asked by the Chief Commissary to take over control of the purchase of beef cattle, and was consequently sent to Enterprise. He was glad to leave Meridian, as he felt his health was declining there. He is staying with a friend, Major Theobold, who is the Depot Quartermaster. Jackson expresses his love for Reavis, and describes her many virtues. Jackson suspects that the army may move in his direction soon. Unlike many, he does not think the Confederacy is doomed from the fall of Vicksburg. However, he has heard that thousands of Mississippi troops deserted after the surrender. In a small addendum, Jackson writes that General Sheppard expects the war to be over within a year due to foreign intervention, and that Confederate independence will be recognized and slavery will be abolished.
July 31. 1863.
You will be surprised, no doubt, my dearest Lucy, to find me writing from this place, after my letter to you of the 22nd inst – So I proceed to explain at once – The Chief Commissary – who, by the by, is an old friend of mine – came up to Meridian, before I had commenced my duties there, & urged me to take executive control of the purchase of Beef Cattle throughout the Department – I hesitated as indeed I well might, to take charge of so important a branch of the service as supplying meat for the Army has become – My objections were over-ruled however, & finally, I gave a reluctant consent, whereupon a Major & several Captains were ordered to report to me – I was burthened [burdened] with a large sum of money & authorized to establish my Hd.qrs. at any convenient point I might select –
I have, therefor come here, as the most central position, & the most convenient for the discharge of my duties – I am living with an old friend – Major Theobold, Dėpôt quartermaster, who resides here with his family, & on the whole, am not uncomfortable, nor altogether dissatisfied. I was glad to leave that abominable place Meridian.
for had I remained there much longer I really think I must have died – I was sick all the time while there, whereas here, my health seems to improve daily.
I received your cheerful, delightful letter, No 2 last Sunday – I did not recognize the superscription, & my heart nearly failed me when the Postmaster said that was the only letter for me – I thought it was from Capt. Williams, but was amply rewarded for my fears when the open envelope disclosed your well known hand – Dear Lucy, you do write such a charming, beautiful letter – what a treat I enjoyed as I read, re-read & read it again & again, & constantly with the liveliest satisfaction & pleasure, & you will not be surprised, that my reflections upon your unbounded goodness, yr graceful simplicity & frankness, yr true nobility of thought & feeling, yr firmness, yr truth & courage, yr unvarying kindness to all, yr amiable charity, yr devotion to yr parents, yr sympathy with sorrow, yr pure, unsullied thoughts, yr delicate taste, & your deep relegion, should inspire me with the constant desire to become, if possible, worthy of so much loveliness – Almost from our first acquaintance, you have been to me, the universe & I have no hope or joy, except in your love –
Your sweet fair face rises before me, in the busy scenes of life, like a star from out the sea, & I cannot be conscious of yr noble heart, yr pure, true woman’s nature, so tender, yet so firm, & be the same careless inconsiderate, wicked man I have been – My affection for you, dearest, springs from those feelings which make true love sublime as honor, & meek as relegion, & God knows, my own darling, it must influence my future life –
I received a letter from Capt. Williams this morning – He mentioned you, Miss [Narmie?], & Mrs Shotwell in his usual rattling style of expression, & acquainted me with the postponement of Miss Colgin’s marriage –
I should not be surprised if the Army were to be moved in this direction soon, there is some talk of it – There is a perfect dearth of news just now – I haven’t a word worth communicating – I am not like many of the Mississippians who think the fate of the Confederacy was sealed when Vicksburg fell – Vicksburg, tho’ of the highest importance to the country, was not the Confederacy, & I do not believe Mississippi is “gone up yet” – I do not feel competent to give advice, but if I owned property I the State I would not dispair – It is said that Miss: Troops have
deserted from the Army by thousands since the surrender of Vicksburg, & I fear there is much truth in it – This looks bad for our cause, for if there ever was a time when the entire strength of the country ourght to stand together, shoulder to shoulder it is now –
I am obliged & flattered by Mrs Lacy’s message, say as much to her, & give her my love – You say Miss Mattie is a “constant source of amusement” to you – Oh! she is young, & the brightest little being that ever breathed – She enjoys all those little pastimes which you sexagenarians have abandoned & forgotten – Give her my warmest love, & tell her, that I take a great interest in all that concerns her – I should like to be with you ate the Barbacue tomorrow, I know I should have a delightful time, but I am too much occupied to think of pleasure just now – I am the busiest fellow you ever saw, but hope soon to have my duties so arranged as to have a leisure day now 7 then – I have made one young lady acquaintance since coming here – a Miss Kate McKinney – she is beautiful & interesting – I met her at Mrs Theobold’s – Give my love to yr dear mother – I miss her kind, motherly, thoughtful attention – Her motherly kindness is new to me & I fear she has spoiled me – Much love to yr cousin Narmie yr Aunt Assie, to Dr. Mrs & Miss Barrit, with a kiss to the latter – Good bye my love, may the light of heaven continue to shine around you – Ever very affectionately yours TKJ
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My kindest regards to your Uncle John, Reavis & Dr Dobb. I miss them so. If you see Miss Lizzie tell her I think of her very often & of our pleasant evenings I have passed in her most agreeable company – Give her my love,
Genl Sheppard has just called to see me – He thinks the war will end in less than a year by foreign intervention that our Independence will be acknowledged & guaranteed & that slavery will be abolished what do you think of all that?
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 five 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 c. 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.