Letter – Lucy Reavis, 8 January 1864


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Letter written by Lucy Reavis Jackson to her new husband, Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A. Lucy is writing to Thomas even though he is expected to return home the next day. Captain Butler was supposed to visit, but was unable to come due to the frigid temperatures. Lucy updates Thomas on the state of her family members, and mentions the recent cold weather. She writes about how she recently made ice cream. Lucy is thrilled at her new title of Mrs. Jackson, though she worries that she will not see Thomas as much now that they are married as when they were engaged.

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Home. January 8th 1864

My Precious One

Mar Lou says it is foolish in me to write to you this afternoon, as you said in your letter that you’d be here the last of the week, and to-morrow is Saturday – but perhaps you will not be able to come & if you do, you will have this to entertain you to-night at the delectable Junction. Oh! I am so glad you are coming – It seems an age since you left and I have wished for you contantly – If Mar Lou were not here there is no telling what would become of me – As it is – I am in a measure contented, for I could not be so constantly with her, were you here – I am so fond of my Beloved, that I cannot stay with my best friend when he is near – We were very much disappointed yesterday that Captain Butler did not come – The cars did not go out on Wednesday – Arrived about 4 in the afternoon & found every thing so frozen up, that they could get not water from the tank – So they remained inactive until late evening. We were all glad to hear the Captain was coming & Ma had a nice dinner cooked & charged Uncle John to bring him up – Sister had her home-spun ready for the occasion & expected to make him waver in his attachment for the young lady at Jackson. What do you think of Kittie? Going down to Meridian she abused widowers unnecessarily – He was certainly kind & attentive to her, gave her his shawl to make her more comfortable & when she returned it, remarked that he prized it very highly, as it had been his wife’s. Kit was thunder-struck – she had never heard that he belonged to the abused class – I hope he came to-day. The cars arrived as we were going to dinner – Kittie got home on Tuesday – Also arrived on that day to Ma’s & Mrs Anderson’s great joy the body of the unfortunate

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Doctor – He is still unburied – as the ground is too hard frozen to dig the grave – Sallie has been very sick, so poor Mrs A- is in distress in every way. Haven’t we had a splendid freeze? The Captain was here Tuesday night, as impudent as ever. When he left, I thought it must be snowing & sure enough next morn the whole earth was covered – Mar Lou & I have had such charming walks – The next evening we started, enjoyed the walk finely, tho’ both got a hard fall. I was building air-castles for our entertainment, & like the milk-maid – I found them over-turned, by my own fall. We went to see Lizzie Bradshaw this morning – She looked really blue & wintry, tho’ we were in a glees, with the rosiest cheeks — and noses you ever saw – Poor Mr B- has been suffering from an attack of his old enemy, and is still confined to his room. He begs that you will come to see him when you return. We all wished for you Wednesday night Mar Lou & I made some elegant ice-cream – You would have enjoyed it – Your letter came that night – Pa gave it to me, saying “here is a letter for the Major” – He has not become accustomed to my new name yet. I have any quantity of things to tell you, but will wait until to-morrow. Isn’t it too nice? The idea of seeing you so soon – I am mighty sorry Edward was sick, hope he is well again & able to assist you, in taking possession of your new quarters – It will be very disagreeable for you to have to stay all night at Junction when you come down. I am afraid you will not come as often as when we were engaged – Pa & Ma send their love. Kit was delighted, at the affectionate measure in which you spoke of her – She & Mar Lou desire their love – Mammie has gone to see her father – I shall get Mr Warren to take this to the Junction as you suggested – if he finds you there he will give it to you – In the hope of seeing you soon I am your happy & devoted little wife

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I wrote to you on Tuesday & enclosed a letter from some of your friends

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 – Emmet Irwin, 30 December 1862


Letter written by Corporal Emmet Irwin of Company C, 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) to his sister, from a camp near Falmouth, VA. In this letter, Irwin condemns General Burnside, and fumes about the events at Fredericksburg. His regiment has just received marching orders. He believes they will be moving towards Washington. Irwin writes of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. He writes disparagingly of their commanders, his impressions of them were not helped by the outcome at Fredericksburg. He claims that the newspapers tell only lies about the spirits of the soldiers. He is determined not to see any more “blood and carnage” unless forced.

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Camp near Fal Vir

                        Dec. 30th/62

Dear Sister

I thought I would write you a few lines and tell you not to send the box I sent for if it is not already sent. We have received marching orders to be ready in 4 hours with 3 days rations in haversack, 5 in wagons, and 10 days meat on the hoof. I received a letter from Philip the other day. He is at Acquia Creek, Assistant Superintendent for unloading provisions. I have not see James since Christmas. We received the gloves.

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I think when we move it will be towards Washington. Excuse bad writing as it is written in a hurry.


     I received a letter from Nathaniel yesterday. He and his family are well. The namesake of mine, he says, I may be proud of. He begins to walk and talk. As I was to[o] late for the mail this morning, I did not put it in the bag. We have just received the news of the loss of Island No. 10, New Madrid, and the capture of the Aerial. This and the prospects now before us makes most of the men feel very disheartened. I have allowed some ideas to settle in my noodle though the incapacity of our numerous commanders

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that I would have banished at the first thought two months ago. And the Fredericksburg disaster has in no way lessened these ideas. I feel as if I had gone through all these hardships and danger, witnessed scenes to[o] direful for the pen to tell, and all for what – naught! And the papers tell such notorious yarns, such as the army in the best of spirits and anxious to be again led against the enemy’s of their country, and other to[o] numerous to mention. Gen. Sumner is right when he says there is to[o] much croaking and want of confidence. At the present time we have in the field without the least doubt two [soldiers] to their one, and yet they keep us at bay at every point. I have seen all the blood and carnage I

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ever hope to see. In short, I am determined not see much more unless forced to it. If our commanders felt as I feel, I think they would take a hold with more energy. They act to me as if they were satisfied they have a good position; nothing to do, big salary, and live like kings, and the longer it lasts the better for me. The weather at present looks like snow. We have had very warm [weather] for the last two weeks. Three of us have built a log house, and pass our time very comfortably in it. So much so we are loath to leave it. Please send me a package of envelopes and a quire of commercial note, as I am entirely out, and cannot get any here. It can be sent by mail. Enclose also some postage stamps. I will try write

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again the first opportunity. With this I close, remaining with much love,      Your brother, Emmet

    Give my love to all inquiring friends

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Evening still finds us in camp, but every prospect of moving the morrow. It is now raining, and this also bids fair for continuing, which will make very hard traveling. The weather has been extremely favorable for winter campaigning; the roads being as yet quite hard. It was almost impossible for a man to get around last year at this time. Nathaniel’s wife thinks I must be pretty good pluck to get in all the engagements. She says if she was in my place, she would be sick once in a while, at about the time there was to be a fight. I don’t know

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than about it would be a good plan, particular if I thought we were to be led in another Fredericksburg affair. For my part, I don’t see where Gen. Lee’s eyes could have been there, as they had us in a much worse place than we had them at Antietam, as they had their picked position at both places. The best idea that I can give you of their position at Fredericksburg is that of a range of hills, semi-circle in shape, and the city in the hollow and center. Here our troops laid in the streets so thick that it would be more of an accident if there was not some killed or wounded

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at every shot of the enemy’s. Upon the crest of the hills is where their earthworks were thrown. The regt. was never before in such a hot place. For 2 o’clock until 12 P.M. the regt. laid in a ravine, death staring us square in the face. For at the head of the ravine they had a gun, from which every shot would strike in our ranks. That you imagine the pluck that a person must have. I will tell you the effect of a single shot. It struck in the company on our right killed 4, wounded 6, & killed 1 in the 34th N.Y.V., and wounded 3. The gun that these shots came from we could see very plainly, and it is only due to our artillery

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that there were no more of us killed. The shots from our cannon drove the enemy from their gun. I think the correspondent of the N.Y. paper that says the troops have unbounded confidence in Gen.Burnside better not let himself known if he does not want some very unpleasant epithets applied which are now saved for the commanding general. But I have already written more than I intended, and will close hoping that I may meet with the same success as heretofore written, the move be backwards or forwards. 

     Remembrance to all

From Your Affec



Emmet M. Irwin, aged 19, enlisted in Company C, of the 2nd NY State Militia (82nd NY Volunteer Infantry) on May 21, 1861. He was promoted to corporal in 1862, then assigned to Co. C of the 12th Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps due to disability in 1863. He was discharged from the V.R.C. on May 23, 1864, at the expiration of his three year’s enlistment. He participated in the following battles: 1st Bull Run, Edward’s Ferry, Yorktown, West Point, Fair Oaks, Seven Day’s battles, South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Letter – Charles Wilkins, 16 January 1863


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Letter written by Lieutenant Charles Wilkins of the 1st U.S. Infantry to his girlfriend Sarah while in a camp near Corinth, Mississippi. Wilkins mentions a Union defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia. He remarks on the cold weather and snow. Wilkins aims to be in New Hampshire within three months. He describes a planned foraging trip for the next morning. The latter part of the letter is dated January 21st, after Wilkins returned from foraging.

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Corinth, Miss.

                                 January 16th 1863

Dear Sarah,

    Being once more in communication with the States, I take this opportunity to write you a few lines. I received three papers from you Jan. 4th. Can assure you they were very gratefully received, as we had not seen a paper since Dec. 16th. I am almost discouraged at times at our want of success of our army in Virginia. Our loss at Fredericksburg must have been very great. I learned through my brother at Winchester that Lt. Jas. Sanborn of the 11th N.H. Vols. left the field with two wounded and was not seen until the next day. Think he had better have been shot, if he had not the courage to stand up to the work should have

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supposed he would have had too much pride to run. What kind of a story will he tell on his return home. Suppose you are having nice sleighing. We have almost snow enough for sleighing but have not the sleigh. The weather is very cold. I had to keep up a fire all night to keep warm. We feel the cold much more when we have it, from the fact that the changes are very sudden.

I think it is a settled thing that we are to go north to recruit, probably to St. Louis Arsenal. Should like to be sent East on the recruiting service. And then; well I will not anticipate, for fear I should be disappointed. But we shall know soon, perhaps in a month. It will take at least three months to fill up our regiment. I have made up my mind that I shall be in New Hampshire

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in less than three months. I am going out with a foraging party in the morning; to be gone two or three days. I shall go from twenty to twenty-five miles. The traveling is very bad on account of recent rains. Our foraging parties are sometimes attacked, but I think there is no danger of being attacked by them, on account of the traveling. Think I will not finish this until I return.

January 21st. I returned with my train of forage night before last. I had 42 wagons and sixty men to guard them. I did not know that I was to have the command of the train until just as I was ready to start, when the post Q.M. said, Lieut. Wilkins, you will take command of the train. I started at ten o’clock on Saturday morning on the Purdy, Tenn.

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road, went about twenty miles. The first day took forage enough from a planter to feed night and morning. Started at light the next morning went to [???] got thirteen loads; then went about six miles east – to Snake Creek – where I filled the balance of my teams with corn & hay. I got 12 geese & six chickens for the officer’s mess at the same place. I then thought I would find a better road to go back, and started on the Monterey road, and camped within half a mile of that place on Sunday night. I was then fifteen miles from camp. I woke up the next morning at five, had the mules fed and harnessed, about this time it began to rain. My waiter brought me a piece of chicken, some bread, and a cup of coffee for my breakfast. It rained all day on Monday, and when I got in was about as wet as a “drowned rat.” got a little cold sleeping on the ground. The major was well pleased with my success, so were all the officers

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Received a paper from you last night. In it you say you have not heard from me for five weeks. I think I have sent you three letters and this is the fourth since Dec. 20th. I met with an accident last night. The mail arrived late, and I went out to see what I was to get, and ran against a tree, cutting my forehead and chin. This morning I found I could see out of one eye; the other is “closed for repairs.” Hope to be all right in a few days. Think in future will let the orderly fetch me my mail matter. I have been setting in my tent all day, and what do you suppose has been the drift of my thoughts[?] Will tell you in my next letter.

                             I remain very truly yours,


N.B. you will probably get another letter from me soon


Charles Wilkins was born in Henniker, New Hampshire to James and Sarah Wilkins. He originally enlisted in Company B of the 2nd NH Infantry on June 1, 1861 at the age of 25. He served as a private until wounded at the 1st Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. He remained on wounded leave at Hennikee, NH until January, 1862, when he was appointed 2nd lieutenant, 1st U.S. Infantry, to date from Feb. 19, 1862. On May 25, 1863 Lt. Wilkins was wounded at Vicksburg, MS and died of his wounds on June 20, 1863. He was brevetted captain for gallant and meritorious service in action at Vicksburg, June 20,1863.