Letter – Mattie McDonald, 25 February 1864

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Letter written by Mattie D. McDonald to her brother, Major Thomas K. Jackson, from Abbeville Court House. McDonald begins by expressing her feelings of depression, as her son has just left to join the Marion Artillery in the Confederate army. He is happy, and only worried about the possibility of his mother “grieving for him.” McDonald finds comfort in her faith. She writes that her husband was re-elected to a position, and that they now live on a farm, which she finds lonely. They have experienced financial difficulties, and they may have to sell their slaves. There is much “grumbling about the taxation and present currency” [inflation]. She mentions a recent visit from a cousin, who had previously been taken prisoner and concludes by complimenting her brother’s new wife, Lucy, and imploring him to write when he can.


-Page 1-

Abbeville C. H.

Feb 25th. /64

My Dear Brother

I have postponed writing to you on account of business and until I should feel more in the humor for writing the latter feeling has not arrived and I must this evening begin feeling as if I had not two ideas in my head, I wrote to sister Lucy the letter you will please forward to her as I did not know exactly how to direct, I am sure she will consider me very dull and prosy, but I fear I shall never feel as I once did, nor ever be light hearted again.

My darling has left me two week ago for the army, he joined the Marion Artillery on the Sh & Ch. R.R. near Charleston, he intended going in Cavalry until three days before he started, when he changed his mind and joined the light Artly Mr McDonald went with him staid until he was regularly established, when he returned leaving him as Willie himself expressed it “as happy as a Soldier can be,” poor child his youthful eyes look on the bright side alone, he thinks not of danger and the only thing which seems to disturb him is, the

-Page 2-

thought that I will grieve for him, I conceal it from him as much as possible, try to write cheerfully and resigned but I tell you “my heart is bound up in the lad” and I am miserable at times, had I not long ere this learned to seek comfort from a higher source, and to commit my all to a higher power I know not how I should bear this greatest sorrow and trial that has ever fallen on my path – Brother if you ever pray (and I trust you do) ask the great God to spare my boy.

You ask about Mr McD – he was relected by quite a majority – but business is at a low tide – he has bought a nice little farm moved to it, and we are now enjoying rustic life. I find it lonely, we live two miles from fathers in a pretty cheerful looking place on the road to Calhoun Mills; the house is small but quite good for a country place and susceptible of improvements which latter we intend making as soon as circumstances will allow – We were almost obliged to make a change, or sell off our negroes, Mr McD prefered the former course, and this decision finds us in the country – Our wheat and Oat crop looked well this is encourageing for provisions are enormously high

-Page 3-

Things or times rather in Abbeville are dull and gloomy at present. you do not hear much but grumbling about the taxation, and the present currency – persons without money are bad off and those who have it, not much better off – I cannot see why persons should grumble at loosing, when all suffer alike, more or less as they have possesions; for my part if my friends can be spared it is all I ask, if everything else should go I will not murmur once

We had a visit from cousin Willie Turner, you remember he was wounded in the foot at Fishing Creek and taken prisoner he looks well, but quite lame – his mother is dead, uncle Turner very feeble and infirm, one of his brothers was killed at Corinth – cousin Henry H. is in the army stationed in Columbia, Humphrey is not in the army, never has been, he is exempt – on account of his attention to the Mill ___ Well, you are married at last and I am glad to think it, I feel that you have gotten a good and gentle wife, Make her a good and gentle husband, always have patience, and love her above all others, you must not think this strange advice – but remember it ever – Minnie has another son two children now – write when convenient and always remember me as your

affectionate sister M. D. McDonald


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.

William Thomas McDonald was the son of Martha D. Jackson McDonald and Matthew McDonald of Abbeville, SC. He was born in 1846 and was just 18 years old when he enlisted. He survived the war and went on to become a merchant and mail carrier. He died in 1916.

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