Letter – Thomas Jackson, 1 August 1865

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Letter written by Major Thomas K. Jackson to his wife Lucy, from Gainesville, AL. This letter is the continuation of one written by Thomas on July 30th. He has just arrived in town, and Lucy’s father is busy with preparations to visit Washington, D.C. He writes that there are no African American troops yet occupying the town. He mentions an upcoming meeting with a doctor, whom he hopes will provide some advisement for Thomas and his wife.


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At Home, Aug. 1. 1865.

My Darling,

I have just arrived in town – 5 1/2 O’clk. P.M. – and have but a moment to say half a word & close my letter – I find yr Father busy as forty beehives in full operation, completing his arrangements for his visit to Washington, He has deferred his departure until Thursday, having found it impracticable to get ready earlier. I was glad to see Jimmie, & devoured yr dear charming letter rapturously – Oh my sweet wife, I am too happy to learn that your health is so good, and your spirits so joyous & happy – My Love, you must not suffer anything to disturb or depress you, & believe in my assurances that every body loves, and your husband adores you,

I learn that little Carrie is not so well this evening

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as she was yesterday – Yr Uncle John is “hors de combat” with the breaking out on his ancles – There are no negro troops in town yet, & I do not know that any are expected – I will counsel with Dr Williams to-morrow, or this evening, if I can see him, & advise you of his advice &c. I will try to write a little to you tomorrow, giving you all the news I can gather, at present, I am ignorant of the sayings & doings in town. Susan has returned, & expresses herself charmed with her visit. My best love to Mother, Sister Aunt Bet, all at Kemper, Good ngiht my precious, & may the Good Lord guide & protect you,

Your devoted husband

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.

Letter – Joseph Younger, 18 August 1864

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Letter of Lieutenant Joseph G. Younger of Company F, 53rd VA Infantry (Armistead’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division), to his cousin. Younger writes that his brothers are well, but he has been ill. He remarks on how hardened soldiers have become to suffering, observing that they hardly care if someone dies as long as it is not a relative. Younger inquires on whether his cousin has found him a “sweetheart.” Younger describes shelling at Petersburg, VA. He hopes the war will soon end. He thinks the Confederacy should conscript African Americans to fight for them like the Union has.


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Cousin August the 18th 1864,

Your long looked for letter has come at last. It has been duly perused it finds Marion & Nathan well but I am quite sick and have been for some time. I do not think I shall be able to finish this epistle on account of my head swimming so bad it seems to me the paper is turning round all the time. Cousin it is so bad to be away off here sick, where no Femenine hand is to feel of ones fevered pulse. nor any kind and affectionate sister, mother, relative or friend to watch one as he lays and suffers upon the ground, soldiers have become used to so many suffering that they have no sympathy for one that is sick, so long as they can keep will if one die it makes no difference with them so the

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unfortunate one is no relation of theirs if one gets killed in battle it is the same case. This indeed is a hard time. People are bound to become better or I think they will be cut off and perish all over the land. I think it has rained all over the state by this time we have had quite a nice shower since I have been writing and it looks like coming down down again shortly. So you have not picked me out any particular young Ladie for a sweet heart you say that there are several nice young Ladies in that neighborhood but you will wait and let me come and pick for myself. Cousin I think I should be pleased, at any choice you would make for I am shure your fancie and taste would be perfect You speak of Miss Emma Womack as being a nice young Ladie I should

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Judge so for I have heard a good deal of talk about her but Mr W or Mr Younger is too far ahead for any of us to talk about her. Marion though seems satisfied about it so I must be too as I am not acquainted with her he says she is one of his best friends and he is certain she will let him know when she is going to get married. There were terrible terrible shelling at Petersburg this morning before day I have not as yet heard the cause of it. We will have hot time here soon I think, a good deal of sickness are getting among our soldiers I am in hopes the war will end soon I have thought it would end this winter but I do not know how it will end nor when I know this much it cannot end too soon for us I think it had as well end this winter as

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to go on next spring for it will never end by fighting no-how, We have to fight negroes now driven up to us by the white yankeys our men fought them at Petersburg & also on the other side of the river a day or so ago our boys allways slay them when they get a chance at them but it is a shame for our good young white men to be killed by a yankey negro, I think if they fight negroes against us we ought to conscript some of our to meet them I reckon our negroes would fight as well as theirs. I must close as I am getting so weak I cannot sit up write soon I remain Your affectionate Cousin

J G Younger


Joseph G. Younger enlisted as a private on July 10, 1861 at Union Church, VA in Company F of the 53rd VA Infantry. He was promoted corporal August 14, 1861; sergeant December 15, 1861; but was reduced to private on May 5, 1862. He was hospitalized August 18, 1862 at Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, VA with diarrhea, then marked as ‘absent’ and sick at home in September of 1862. He was present December 15, 1862, then hospitalized again on February 28, 1863 at Lynchburg, VA. Present once more April 15, 1863. He was appointed 2nd lieutenant on April 4, 1863, but on November 12, 1864 he requested a transfer to the artillery “due to a lack of respect shown him by the men of his company.” Younger was duly transferred into the Halifax VA Light Artillery Battery on December 15, 1864. He survived the war, and later lived in Mississippi County, AR until his death April 13, 1916. His brothers Francis Marion, and Nathan, served at least through the end of 1864, both being issued clothing at Fairfax, VA on December 31, 1864. However, no further military documents could be found for all.

The 53rd VA Infantry was one of the most prominent of Virginia regiments, serving from December 1, 1861 until April 9, 1865. As a part of Armistead’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division, it was among the foremost in the famous “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, led by Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead over the stone wall at the Angle during the height of the assault on July 3, 1863. Here the regiment lost 34 killed, 140 wounded, and 150 prisoners or missing, total of 314. It is believed all three Younger brothers were present and survived this ordeal.

Letter – Zebulon Ryder, 15 December 1863

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Letter by Private Zebulon P. Ryder of Company I, 11th PA Cavalry, to his mother. Ryder describes how busy he has been since many soldiers re-enlisted and were given furlough. He claims he will not be able to easily get a furlough but will be home to stay in August. He expresses displeasure with how the African American soldiers were given “equality with the whites.” Ryder references an event from picket duty while in Suffolk, VA about a month earlier when rebels had captured 7 from their regiment. The night before they left Suffolk, Ryder and a few others discovered that Confederate pickets were staying at the Pugine House. Ryder and his comrades attempted to capture the soldiers, but were interrupted when more Confederate troops arrived. Ryder proudly mentions the two geese that he is fattening up for Christmas.


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Camp Getty Dec 15th/63

Dear Mother

I seat myself to write you a few lines and I hope you will excuse me for not writing sooner as I did not have time for thay have kept us a going all the time lately as thare is a gret meny of the boys that has Reenlisted home on a Fourlough. I reaceived my farthers letter dated the 5th but I was out on picket about 15 miles from Camp and had no CHance to answer it as i Just got back yesterday and was not in Camp but 4 hours when I was sent with a dispatch to a place in North Carolina called Caratuck [Currituck] with a dispatch it is [40/90?] miles from here I was a Rideing all last night and did not get back untill 8 oclock this morning so you can think I am prety tired although I am well an I hope you and all the famaly are the same i reaceived that note my farther sent from Gen Butler but did not shew it to the Colenell as it whould be no use now as thare is so meny Boys home on a fourlough now that I could not get one very easy and if nothing hapens I shall be home in August to stay and I can easy stand it untill then I guess and when I get home you can not drive me in

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the Service for the Negro is soldier enough now whith out haveing the whites in to help them I think it is the most and the meanest thing to Government ever done whas to put Negros on Equality with the whites which they are a doing down here and I hope you or none of my freinds sympathises with them for if you only here 1 quarter as much about them as I did you whould not. While I whas sent on picket thare whas and Old lady named Ryder Claimed Relationship with me she said she was my Cousen her folks she said lived at Sag Harbor but wether she is or not I do not know but still I would not be fool enough to say she was not as I was used so well I borded thare the day I was out thare and she dose just as well as if she had bin my Cousin she has bin down here 30 years but I forgot what her farthers name whas but she had a brother named John who whas out this side of Suffolk last month doing picket douty whe was thare 15 days and thare whas orders for some of us to go in Suffolk for the week before who came thare the Captured 7 of our Regt with 8 horses and 2 wagons but the night before whe came away

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thare was 7 of started and whent up as it was Raining prety hard and the night was dark whe thought thare whas no danger and our Rations whas prety scarce whe thought whe would press a few chickens. whe crost a small stream Caled the Jeraco Canall on a Raft whe got thare about 11 oclock and when and seed a few of our frends that whe got acquainted with while our Regt whas Camped thare and they used us first Rate so well that whe thought thare was something up so whe met a negro and questioned him and he said that pickets was stationed at the Pugine house and whe had beter leave and whe thought so two and as whe whas a comeing away whe spied 5 of them a seting in a house takeing it so laysay whe thought whe would try and capture them so drawing our Revolvers whe whent up to the door and knocked and soon as the door whas open when made a Rush in and be fore thay had time to thinck and gt thare arms whe ordered them to surender wich thay done with out showing any Resistance for thay seen it was no use whe got thare arms and whas a marching them away when whe

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heard more of them coming down the Road and whe knew whe had to leave so whe took the 5 muskets and left but not before whe had fired the muskets off at them and 3 shots a piece from our Revolvers and they Blaced [blazed] at us but whe whas behind the House and it was so dark thay did not hit any of us but I thinck by the way thay yelled whe must have hurt some of them but you may be shure whe did not stay long to see and whe knew thay would not folow us as thay did not know how many men thare whas of us whe Ran about 2 miles and then whe got as meny chickens and geese as whe could cary and started for head quarters some one fired a shot and shot one of our boys in the arm but not enough to do him any harm as it only grased him I have got 2 of the geese now fatening them up for Christmas, when you see Ruth ask her why she dose not answer my letter as I would like to here from her very much, give my love to all inquiring friends and write soon

from your Affectionate son

Zebulon

excuse my scribling for I am sleepy


Zebulon P. Ryder was born in New York City. He enlisted in Company I of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 3, 1862 at around 16 or 17 years of age. He was first assigned to duty in Suffolk, Va. with his company, and survived the war, being discharged May 16, 1865. At some point he moved west to Tennessee, married, and worked as a farmer. He died February 26, 1909 of pneumonia in Buena Vista, TN.

Another letter by Zebulon Ryder, dating from 3 August 1862, can be found at Spared Shared. Be sure to check them it as well!

Letter – William Shafter, 19 December 1864

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Letter written by Colonel William R. “Pecos Bill” Shafter of the 17th U.S. Colored Troops to his sister Ann Shafter Aldrich, from Nashville, Tennessee. Shafter is writing to his sister after the death of her husband, Captain Job Aldrich, at the Battle of Nashville. Shafter found his body on the field the next morning and will send Job’s belongings home. He also mentions that Captain Gideon Ayers was killed, along with 110 others.


Nashville Tenn

                               Dec 19th 1864

My Dear Sis,

     For the first time since the fight of the 15th inst. I have had time and opportunity to write you[.] It is useless to attempt by words to soothe your sorrow, and though you are the sorest afflicted, believe me when I say that you have shed no bitterer tears than I when I found poor Job. He was as dear to me as either of my own brothers. It was an awful battle, Sis, and we are of the many who are called to mourn. Job seemed to have a presentment that he should die, and the night before the fight wrote you a letter, the most affecting I ever read. He left it with Hattie [Col. Shafter’s wife, who was visiting Nashville] to send you if anything happened. Hattie will bring it to you in a day or two with the rest of his things. I hope his boys will remember the last words of their father. Job never knew what hurt him. He did not suffer an instant. May my last

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end be like his! He died for his country, than which there can be nothing more glorious. He left all his money and valuables in camp. Hattie has them. The circumstances were these. We were ordered to drive the enemy out of a piece of woods and take the battery on the other side. We drove them from the woods, but there was just in front of the battery a deep cut (r.r.) at least twenty feet deep. We went to that and had to stop. Job was killed there. We had to leave him. I was on the right side of the regt., and did not know he was killed till we had fallen back, or I should have seen him off. We got the ground in the morning and I was the first to find him. He lay on his face. The Rebs had taken all his clothes, everything. I had him taken up and sent to town. I had to go on myself for another fight. We have been in [the field] two days since, and last night the regt. left Franklin for Murfreesboro. We go from there to Tuscumbia, Ala. I came back after ammunition and leave at daylight tomorrow. I hope I shall get through safe. Jim is sick and can’t go. Hattie will be home in a day or two.

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I will get Job’s things all fixed up without a bit of trouble to you. Be of good heart, Sis. I feel for you from the bottom of my heart. I will write soon again.

                        Love to all,

                     Your aff. Brother,

                            Bill

Col. Wm. R. Shafter, 17th U.S.C.T.  letter Dec. 19, 1864 – 2

Capt. Gid[eon] Ayers was killed at the time Job was. He was left on the field, did not die for an hour or two. The Rebs stripped him while yet alive, and begging them not to hurt him so. One of the wounded men lay right beside him. Our wounded that were left were not hurt, but all the dead ones were stripped. 110 of my men & several officers were killed and wounded.

                            Bill

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The good die first, while those whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn to the socket.


Colonel William Rufus Shafter, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant in the 7th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 22, 1861 and mustered out Aug. 22, 1862. He was appointed major of the 19th MI Infantry on Sept. 5, 1862, and promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 5, 1863. He was captured at Thompson’s Station, TN in March of 1863. Shafter became colonel of the 17th USCT on April 19, 1864, and received a brevet to brigadier general, March 13, 1865 for war service. He mustered out November 2, 1866, but was appointed lt. col. of the 41st US Infantry, July 28, 1866, colonel of 1st US Infantry, March 4, 1879, brig. gen. May 3, 1897, and maj. gen. of volunteers, May 4, 1898. He as dubbed “Pecos Bill” while commanding the V Corps during the Spanish American War. He was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR June 12, 1895 for his actions at Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. After a long and distinguished service Shafter was retired as a major general of volunteers July 1, 1901.

Job Aldrich, the owner of a hardware store at Galesburg, MI, enrolled as a 1st lieutenant and adjutant in his brother-in-law’s regiment, the 17th USCT, on Dec. 21st 1863 at the age of 35. In October 1864, Job was appointed to a vacancy in Co. G as captain. He was killed instantly by gunfire on Dec. 15, 1865 at the Battle of Nashville. He and his wife, Ann Eliza Shafter Aldrich, (married to Job November 5, 1856, remarried to William Decker, July 1867) had three children: James H. (Dec. 3, 1858); Hugh S. (May 30, 1861); and Willard S. (June 27, 1863).