Letter – Thomas Jackson, 8 May 1863


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Letter written by Major Thomas Klugh Jackson, C.S.A., to his fiancée Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, from Jackson, MS. Jackson expresses his love for Lucy, and writes of how he longs for the day when they may see each other again. He writes that General Pemberton detained him to assist his Chief of Subsistence. Jackson is unhappy with this position, and hopes that he will be reassigned soon. He mentions a Dr. Whitfield bringing sick men up from Vicksburg, and that the doctor is in high hopes concerning the city. Jackson has heard rumors concerning the movements of General Beauregard, and the possible assassination of General Van Dorn. Jackson desires to set a wedding date, but his military duties make planning in advance difficult.

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No 1.

Jackson Miss:

May 8. 1863

I devote the first unoccupied moment to you my love. Every thought is yours, & every instant increases the liveliness of my regard. When I parted with you, whom I love so so tenderly, so unselfishly & so entirely, the wide world seemed like a wilderness, devoid of sun, verdure & flowers, and my heart was filled with a wretchedness that only my perfect confidence in your truth, your constancy & your love, could soften – Dear Lucy, will you not accept this unreserved confidence as assurance of my own love and fidelity? Oh! believe me dearest, all my hope of future joys is centered in the pure love

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I bear you, & to it alone must be ascribed whatever of good may radiate from me in the future.

I scarcely knew the extent & depth of my love until called upon to separate from you, and the dearest employment I have, is in thinking of the time when I shall see you again, behold your radiant smile, & listen to the sweet tones of your voice – how soon that may be, I cannot say; it may be in a few weeks, & again many long months may elapse, in these perilous times, before that joyful occasion – I can only hope that the time may be short – ‘Tis sweet to hope, & I shall cherish the inspiriting consolation now, with a liveliness never before felt.

You will be surprise that I address you from Jackson – the fruitful wit of Mr Dobb would, perhaps, pro=

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=nounce this a real Jackson letter – I am surprised myself, and Capt. Williams will win his bet after all, for I shall not go to Grenada – not at present at all events – General Pemberton having detained me here to assist his Chief of Subsistence.

The arrangement does not suit me at all, & I frankly told them so – I would much prefer to have a Dėpôt, & have been assured, that after the present pressure on the Department, occasioned by the sudden arrival of reinforcements, is abated, I shall be assigned to some more agreeable & satisfactory post.

There is great activity here, & there dust & bustle always beyond endurance – I must have been born for a quiet life, for I feel as if I never could get settled again.

Important developments are looked

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for in the next few days – And attack on Big Black, & a raid upon this place about the same time, are expected – everything is being done to meet them – Although much excitement prevails among non-combattants, the people are aroused, & those in authority are calm & confident.

I saw Dr. Whitefield yesterday – He came up from Vicksburg with some sick – He seems pleased with affairs at V. & in high hopes.

General Pemberton is there. Our Army is gaining strength every day.

I have heard a rumor that Gen’l Beauregard was coming here, but I do not credit it. It is reported today that Gen’l Van Dorn has been assassinated – no particulars given, I sincerely regret leaving Gainesville without telling

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your Aunt Carrie goodbye – I fully intended calling on her for that purpose, but was so much annoyed by McMahon’s putting off his settlement with me until the very last moment, that I forgot all about it – Be good enough dear Lucy, to explain this to her, & express my regrets – I enclose a little note for your mother, which you can read – I hope you had a pleasant visit in Greensboro – you must tell me all about it.

I desired to say something to you about one prospective marriage – you regard it as prospective, do you not? – but scarcely know what to say – If the times corresponded with my wishes, I could desire it to take place immediately, but I fear that such a step would be impracticable, as well as inadvisable

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this summer, for my movements are necessarily uncertain in the present unsettled state of affairs – I have thought however, that by next Fall we may see the dawn of brighter prospects, & then my dearest hopes might be fulfilled, & my happiness complete. My wishes in all respects, in this matter, dear Lucy, are subordinate to yours, & however impatient I may be for the accomplishment of this dawning glory of my life, I trust I shall submit with becoming cheerfulness to whatever you think best. You see I write to you very frankly, my love, and I will regard it as a great favor if you will express yourself on the subject with like frankness. It is now quite late, & I must say good night – Give my love to yr Father & Mother & all those you & I hold dear –

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Good night my own sweet Lucy, & may the perpetual smiles of Heaven shine around.

Ever yours,

Thos K Jackson

Miss L. Reavis

Gainesville Ala.

P.S. I shall number my letters so that you may know if you receive them all, & I suggest the same plan to you

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.

Letter – Marcus Nelson, 20 September 1862


WARNING: This letter contains racist slurs. We neither support nor condone the use of such language and have therefor decided to censor the words out of consideration for our readers.

Letter written by Private Marcus S. Nelson of Company D, 14th MO Infantry, Birge’s Western Sharpshooters (later the 66th IL Infantry), to family, from Corinth, MS. Nelson has heard that generals Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn are at Iuka, MS, with a force of several thousand men. He expects a great battle to be fought soon. Nelson’s company went out skirmishing, though he was unable to join them. Nelson calls Company F as the “cowardly company,” and states that Company K mutinied. He has heard that the Confederates in Iuka are retreating, and that General Ulysses S. Grant is in full pursuit, mentioning that Grant “always does what he undertakes if he ain’t drunk.” Nelson also mentions that while African Americans are not allowed to be soldiers, they are employed in other areas in the camp.

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Corinth, Miss. Sept. 20th 1862

Friends at home:

Congratulate us! Once more there is a prospect of something being done in these parts. Price & Van Dorn are at Iuka, twenty one miles from here with a large force variously estimated at from twenty to sixty thousand men (they probably have not over twenty-five thousand) and are menacing this place. We have a heavy force at Burnsville, seven miles this side of Iuka, and it is expected that there will soon be a great battle fought at or near one of these places. The number of our troops at Burnsville is about equal to that of the enemy at Iuka, and we have the railroad to facilitate the transportation of reinforcements from this place if necessary in case of a battle. Three companies of Sharp Shooters, “D” among the number, have been out since a week ago today, skirmishing with the enemy’s advance. As they left the day after I returned from the North , I did not go with them. I should though, if my feet had not been blistered with my rascally boots so that I could not march. They have had some pretty hot work out there, but at the last advice, not a man was hurt. At one time Company D was alone with the exception of three of Company F (the cowardly company), the remainder of that company having sulked, and Company K mutinied on account of the senior captain having put their [captain] under arrest for his superior bravery. The Rebels were in the edge of a piece of timber, at the top of a hill, and the S.S. were ordered by the infantry colonel who had

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command of the expedition to dislodge them. This of course was work for bayonets. But Co. D never flinched. Only two men in the company backed out. The rest “charged” with loud shouts up the hill in the face of the enemy’s fire. It seemed like madness to rush into the woods with no arms but long range rifles [the regiment was armed with the Dimick American Deer and Target Rifle, a sporting rifle not fitted for the bayonet], but the command was “forward” and Co. D always obeys orders. Rushing through a perfect storm of balls, they reached the top of the hill in safety, and , discharging their rifles into the woods, dashed in after the already retreating Rebels. Through this piece of woods they pursued them, and held the woods until ordered to return to Burnsville. The infantry which was ordered to support the Sharp Shooters in the attempt to dislodge the Rebels from the brush followed on slowly until met by the first volley from the concealed Rebels, when they absolutely refused to proceed, and our boys were obliged to drive them out alone. To show the coolness with which the boys conducted the whole thing, I will relate a couple of incidents. One of the boys, Dallas Brewster by name, when double-quicking it up the hill, saw a ball strike between his feet. He stooped down, dug it out of the dirt, put it in his pocket, and went on the same as though bullets were not flying like hail stones around him. Another dropped on one knee to load, and had just poured the powder in his gun, when an English rifle ball struck close to the toe of his boot. He picked it up, tried it in his gun, and coolly remarked, “just a fit,” – “saves my going into my pouch for one,” and loading his gun with the Secesh ball, he was off after the Butternuts again. This Dal. Brewster has a step brother by the name of George Yerington in our regiment, whose mother is related to the Abbys in some

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way. I believe Mrs. Fred Abby & she are sister. At all events, George has seen the whole of them and remembers them, and I presume Carlista will recollect him but I don’t know.

     My health has been steadily improving since my return from the North, and if I can get all the milk I want, I guess I shall get along.

     I cannot make out a meal of victuals without milk, and I have to pay fifteen cents a quart for it. When I was in Alton & St. Louis it was brought to me for five cents per quart, but here we usually have to pay twenty unless we can steal it. I should like to come home and stay long enough to get in the wheat, but as we some expect a “harvest” here soon, I suppose Uncle Sam don’t wish to spare any of his “reapers.”

     You say you have only four head of cattle, and I have noticed several times that you have spoken of old Tom, or Jim, or John, or some other name which I supposed belonged to some old crowbait, which father had jayhawked, or had given to him. But I begin to mistrust that the steers are gone, and that old Tom is in some way connected with the trade. Please tell me something about it, and who owns the steers now, if you know. I think when I come home I shall bring along a pair of mules, first for the sake of their music. I have become so accustomed to it that I don’t think I could get along without it.

     I think, Valeria [oldest sister], you were guilty of a kind of an “Irish bull” when you told the folks that “if they stayed and kept you they would leave you, etc.” Do you see it?

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But without joking,  the quicker you get out of that hole, the better it will be for all parties concerned.

     If you send me those things by express, send them immediately, as we may be ordered away from here in the course of a few weeks, perhaps a few days. I think, however, we shall probably stay here for some time yet. I am very grateful to Harriet for her kindness, and hope her present will be something which I can preserve. Good news comes to us from Iuka tonight. The Rebels are in full retreat, and General U. S. Grant, who always does what he undertakes if he ain’t drunk, is in full and close pursuit, bagging “game” by regiments. A train of 21 cars has just gone out for prisoners, and many have been brought in before, within a few hours.

     There is some prospect of taking the whole Rebel army. That’s the way we do business in the West. We are now using every means in our power to crush the rebellion. They won’t allow us to use n****** for soldiers, but we use them for teamsters, cooks, etc., & their women cook and wash for us, and their children wait on our officers. The most robust of them (the men) we employ in fatigue work when we have any [work] to do. They have done a “big job” of clearing for us within a few days to open a range for our siege guns to the S.W. of Corinth. I must wind up now as it is getting rather late. Write as often as you can, and believe me, as ever,

                          Your affectionate son & brother,

M.S. Nelson


Moses Nelson

Sp’port, [Springport] Mich

Marcus S. Nelson, a school teacher from Van Buren County, MI, enlisted in Company D, of Birge’s Western Sharpshooters on March 10, 1862. He joined his company at Pittsburg Landing, TN on March 25, 1862, and was present at the Battle of Shiloh, and the Siege of Corinth, MS. Private Nelson was killed in action (shot in the head) at the Battle of Corinth, October 4, 1862.