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.

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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

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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

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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.

Letter – Frank Bond, 2 January 1885


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Letter written by former Major Frank S. Bond, Aide-de-campe on the staff of Major General William S. Rosecrans, from NY. Bond is responding to a request from Louis Garesche who is writing a biography of his father, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, who was Rosecran’s Chief of Staff. Bond was with Garesche on the day of his death. He was riding behind the Lieutenant Colonel and Major General Rosecrans when they came within range of Confederate artillery near Stones River. Lieutenant Colonel Garesche was hit in the head with a Hotchkiss Shell. The Lieutenant Colonel’s body was originally buried in the field, but was disinterred a few days later so the remains could be sent to Nashville. Unfortunately Bond is unable to provide information in regards to a headboard marking Garesche’s grave. He directs Garesche to a Major Skinner if he has any more questions, as Skinner was also present when Lieutenant Colonel Garesche died.

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58 West 23rd Street, New York.

January 2nd, 1885

Louis Garesche Esq.,

P. O. Box, 550, Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir: –

I am in receipt of your letter of December 28th, asking for any information I may have as to the circumstances attending the death of your father, the late COL. Julius P. Garesche.

My knowledge concerning the death of that gallant officer is limited to what I saw. I was attached to General Rosencrans Staff as Aide-de-Camp, and was riding just behind your father at the time he was shot. General Rosencrans and Col. Garesche were riding together, then came Maj. Skinner and myself, then the other members of the Staff, and after them a few Orderlies and an Escort Company.

While riding across a cotton-field, we came within range of two or three batteries of Artillery, posted upon an elevation on the opposite side of Stone River. The Commanding Officer of the Battery seeing a General Officer with Staff within easy range, brought his guns to bear upon us, and for a short time we were under a very heavy Artillery fire.

Among the guns in the Battery, were some Rifled Cannon, carrying what is known as the “Hotchkiss Shell,” having a conical

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solid head. The solid part of one of those Hotchkiss Shells struck your father squarely on the temple, carrying away all that part of his head above the chin.

For an instant I did not realize what had occurred, as the body preserved its equilibrium in the saddle while the horse continued in motion at rather a fast walk, but it very shortly leaned towards the left, taking the horse out of the line, and then fell from the saddle to the ground.

I immediately looked for the Sergeant of the Orderlies, whose place was on the side of the column near to where I was riding, but he had also been shot in the thigh, probably by one of the bullets from the same shell when it exploded.

I then called an Orderly, pointed out the body, and told him to see that it was cared for, so that it could be found after the battle, and then rode alongside of Gen. Rosencrans and told him what had occurred, that Col. Garesche was killed. The Gen. was at the time so much engrossed in watching the movements of the enemy that he was not aware that his Chief of Staff had been struck.

In the evening, or next day, it was reported that the body had been buried on the field, near where he fell, in or near what was reported as a private burying ground.

A few days afterwards, the body was disinterred, I was

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present at the time, and helped to identify it, by the blanket in which it had been wrapped, and by his chin and goatee, the balance of his face having been carried away by the shot. The remains were then sent to Nashville.

These are my recollections of the matter. I shall never forget the shock and impressions made upon my by your father’s death, and the sight of his apparently headless body maintaining its pose in the saddle for a few seconds after he was killed.

I knew Col. Garesche but slightly. I had been presented to him by Gen. Rosencrans, two or three days before the advance of our army from Nashville that resulted in the battle of Stone River, but as the army was under marching orders, no opportunity was offered for social intercourse among the Officers.

I recollect his demeanor as being calm and cool on the morning of the battle, and that he took from his pocket a small religious book, and spent a few moments in reading it, while we were dismounted for a few a moments, quite early on that or the preceding morning. This unusual incident in my limited experience among Staff Officers, impressed itself very distinctly upon my memory.

In reply to your question as to the head board, I can only say I have no distinct recollection as to it, other than the report that a mark had been placed at the spot where he was first buried. I think that two or three bodies were disinterred be-

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fore we found the right one, but when it was found, it was identified beyond all question, both by myself and others who were present.

Among those with whom Col. Garesche was associated, when I knew him, he was esteemed a most brave and gallant Officer, and always a courteous and pleasant gentleman, and I well know the regard and esteem in which he was held by his Commanding Officer Gen. Rosencrans, as well as by all others of his Staff, most whom had known him longer than I.

That the fortunes of war should have removed from so responsible a position, a soldier so capable and so useful as was Col. Julius P. Garesche, is one of those mysterious events occasionally occurring, that lead one to almost doubt the wisdom of an Over-ruling Providence.

I would suggest, that, if you have not already done so, you write a note to Major Skinner, now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, who at the time was Judge Advocate on Ge. Rosencrans’ Staff, as he can perhaps give you additional information, having been, as I was, a witness to the manner of your father’s death, and he will of course be able to correct any errors in this statement, which is made altogether from memory after more than 20 years since the occurrence. If I recollect rightly, Major Skinner was looking directly at Col. Garesche when he was struck.

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I believe I have answered all the inquiries of your letter.

I am very glad to know that Biography of so gallant an Officer is in course of preparation. If intended for general circulation, I shall be greatly obliged if you will let me know where a copy can be obtained.

Yours truly,

Frank S. Bond

Frank Stuart Bond was born in MA on February 1, 1863. He was living in NY when he enrolled in Company B of the 10th CT Infantry as a 1st Lieutenant on March 27, 1862. He was formally appointed Major, A.D.C. on General Rosencrans’ Staff March 11, 1863 but was already serving in that capacity during the Battle of Stones River. He resigned November 18, 1864 and lived in NY and CT. He died February 26, 1912 and is buried in New London County, CT.

Julius Peter Garesche came from Cuba. He was appointed to the US Military Academy at West Point, NY in July of 1837. He graduated 16th in his class and became a 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th US Artillery on July 1, 1841. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant June 18, 1846; brevetted Captain November 9, 1855; brevetted Major May 14, 1861; promoted to Major August 3, 1861; and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel July 17, 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Stones River by a Hotchkiss Shell to the skull December 31, 1862. His son Louis Garesche published the Biography of Lieutenant Colonel Julius P. Garesche in 1887.