Letter – Thomas Jackson, 9 November 1863


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Letter written by Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A., to his fiancĂ©e Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, from Enterprise, MS. Jackson tells Reavis that he had planned to write to her the day before, but was unexpectedly busy all day and feeling ill and depressed in the evening. He mentions a herd of “Yahoos” who came to him inquiring about cattle and tithe corn. Jackson also writes of a raid carried out by the “Piney Woods women,” who brandished weapons at local merchants before they were arrested by the military. He had dinner with Major Mims, the Chief Quartermaster for Mississippi, and will soon be having dinner with Major Theobold. Jackson inquires after Reavis’ recent illness, and mentions how sorry he is that he could not be with her during the bishop’s visit.

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Enterprise Miss.

Nov. 9. 1863

My darling Lucy,

When I sent my hurried little note to you by Mr Hart, I promised myself the pleasure of writing to you on yesterday, which was sunday, and expected then to be undisturbed & free to indulge my fond inclinations towards you, I like to be entirely alone when I write to, or even think of you, my love, and cannot bear to be interrupted on such occasions, by the rude necessities of business, or common-place vanities of every-day-life. But things fell out very differently from what I expected – I was busy all the morning, had company in the afternoon & evening and was sick all day – my business was perplexing and disagreeable, my company stupid and uninteresting, and my indisposition oppressed me with low spirits, from which nothing would arouse me – even thoughts of your own sweet self, which rarely ever fail in their enlivening influence, seemed incapable of [missing] the feeling

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of depression under which I laboured, or producing more than momentary sensations of relief – Tuesday 10, I havd proceeded thus far, dear Lucy, on yesterday with my letter, when in came a herd of “Yahoos”, who harangued me about cattle & tithe corn until it was too late to finish in time for the mail – so I had to lay it aside, demonstrating my loyalty to duty, at the expense of my love & tenderness for you – I’m sure I deserve a General’s commission for such a true mark of self denial – Don’t you think so too my love? – The monotony of this dull town was broken in upon on yesterday by a very daring raid – the raiders were all captured, however, before any serious damage was done – It seems that quite a formiddable force of the “Piney-Woods Women” of this vicinage, armed to the teeth, mad ea descent on the merchants, firing their guns & pistols in a very war-like manner, & would have supplied their necessities, vi et armis [with force & arms], had they not been arrested by the military – I assure you these piney woods delivered for once, a very [for]middable array of Charms, indignant [missing] though they were.

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However much the [missing] such outbursts is to be deprecated, I have it [not] in my nature to censure the poor women whose husbands, sons, & brothers are away fighting our battles, & who slaves her eyes out for the comfort of our armies, while her babies are crying for bread, when she raises her feeble arm to secure for herself & needy family the actual necessaries of life which are withheld from her by the grasping hand of avarice – I dined with Major Mims (Chief Qrmr for Mississippi) on yesterday – the party was small & select, the dinner sumptuous, & the host admirable, Mrs M. though at home, did not make her appearance – I don’t know why – They have no family – the Major lives well – His house, which he recently purchased here, is comfortable & furnished with luxury & some taste – especially in the item of mirrors. I saw there a pious cover, which some lady wishes to exchange with him for a servant, worked in the most elaborate style – the owner says it took her fourteen years to finish it – What patience some people have! I’m sure I should have wearied of such tedious work in an hour. It is, however, very beautiful [missing] admired

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which [missing] compensate the fair architect for her [missing] & pains. We are to dine at Major Theobold’s today & the time approaches so I must make haste, or this letter may be further delayed – I felt much concerned about your illness until I came to yr delightful postscript to yr sister’s note – How good of you to write to me, and you so sick! It was so like my gentle darlin g- How is it possible, my love for he should be otherwise than like the evening shadows, which go on increasing until the close Dear darling Lucy, be careful of yr health for my sake & those who love you so much, & be careful, exceedingly careful, of your sweet voice, for your own sake, if not for mine – I add “not for mine”, because you will persist in saying, that I don’t like music. You will be convinced to the contrary some day I hope – I am so sorry I could not be with you during the Bishop’s visit – but my consciousness of the claims of duty, denied me the much coveted pleasure – I do not know exactly when I shall be able to go on a little visit to you – but it will not be long first – Thank your dear mother for her kind inteions towards me & assure her [that] I am not too proud to receive anything [missing] motherly hands – my only fear

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[is] that I am unworthy of such unvaried kindness – Bless her dear heart – a good mother aught to make a good child & I ought to be, as indeed I am, the happiest man in the world to possess the love of such a child – write soon dear Lucy, & make, as I am convinced you will every allowance for all apparent [missing] & neglible [missing] in [missing…] with your dear graceful letters

God bless you & soon restore yr health – is the constant prayer of him who is fondly yours TKJ

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.