Civil War – Letters from Choctaw County Men to Home Folks

Four letters from or about Alexander William Thompson (who died from wounds from the Battle of Franklin, TN); he was a member of the New Prospect Grays, part of the 5th Mississippi Infantry. These letters were in Mrs. Virginia Patterson Carlisle’s book, Ye Olde Scrapbook – A Portrait of Choctaw County Before the World Changed, published in 1997.

The first letter is about 300 words. The second one is about 400 words. The third one is about 460 words. The fourth one is about 530 words, written to his widow with details of his death.

Letter #2 (Courtesy of Mrs. Roy McCarty)

[Undated letter, likely from 1863 mentioning Murphreesboro and Chattanooga]

My Dear Mother and Brother and Sister: I write you a few lines to let you know that I often think of you. I can see your lonely firesides in my imagination. Oh how lonely you all must be. I am glad to learn that Cintha is going to school this summer. I think she ought to go some yet. Let me know if Young keeps little Julia. I am going to make a little ring for her before long.

Martha mentioned that you had got a letter from grandfather, and that they had received a letter from me. I hope I will hear from them soon. Mother I have nothing more worth writing. I have not written to brother Martin for some time, due to the fact that I did not know where to write. I will write to him as soon as I hear where he is, Mother.

W. I. Blain and Jas. Catlege that were left at the Murphreesboro fight have been here a week or two. Today they are all ordered back to Chattanooga. I suppose they are not exchanged yet. I do think they ought to get to go home if anyone does, but it seems that none can get home unless it is from some hospital. The two Turnipseeds are both gone home at this time, that is, Joey and George.

I hear that there is some such report gone home that we are all going to take $25 for our 60 days furlough, but that is all a mistake. All that have not got to go home are entitled to transportation money from here home and back. I do not think we will get to come home any sooner by not taking it than if we took it, for we won’t get to come home now anyhow unless we get badly wounded or nearly die with sickness. The transportation will be about $40. I haven’t decided what I will do yet. I will not do anything to prevent me from getting home if I know it.

Write soon as this comes to hand. A. W. Thompson to Sarah R. Thompson [his mother]. P.S. Let old Mr. Jacky know that Jimmy is well and hearty. I want you to tell Martha that I want her to let you have a milk cow to milk this summer.


Letter #3 (Courtesy of Mrs. Roy McCarty)

Camp Near Dalton, Ga. January 2, 186[4?]

My dear Father: I take this opportunity of writing you all a few lines to let you all know that I am in good health. I have got entirely well of disease. Lighter rations of meat has cured me. We are having some of the coldest weather at this time that I have seen in a long time. Last night was very cold.

I have nothing of any importance to write. Gen. Johnstone is here in command of this army. The roads are getting so bad here that it is almost impossible to haul anything.

Father I received a letter from Martha [his wife] and I was glad to hear that brother Martin has not been taken prisoner. I think Martha might write to me sometimes. The soldiers are all getting in spirits now. We have all been down in spirits for sometime after I got up here.

But I am thankful to Almighty God for his kind protection saves me. I made some very narrow escapes. It did seem that no one could of escaped being shot. We got the best view of the fight that we… We could see all of the enemy.

You must write to me and let me know how many of the negroes you have hired out. Martha wrote to me that she was going to try to get some stocks hauled to have some plank sawed for to curb a well. I am afraid they will make a poor out at hauling them unless you see to them which I know you will do.

I do hope that I may get home in the spring to see you all again but I can’t tell what is on the future but let us all trust in God for his times are the best times. I have read both of the books that Mother gave through and I hope they have been of great benefits to me and others are reading them now. We get very few papers of any kind here. The politicial papers have nothing in them worth reading.

I noticed a paper some little time back of the death of an old friend of yours, C. Shannon of Camden, S.C. I heard that Van Shoemaker was mortally at the last fight Longstreet had. I have nothing more of any interest to write. If William Hanna gets to come home he can tell all the news. I remain your son. Write soon. My love to all. A. W. Thompson.

I think the weather has been cold enough to save all the meat. Well I wish I was with you all to help you eat your sausage up. I don’t think many of them would get to spoil if I was with you all.


Letter #4 (Copied from Thompson Genealogical Record by L. A. Beckman – Courtesy of Mrs. Nell Turnipseed.)

Franklin, Tenn. May 26, 1865

Dear Friend: This morning I seat myself to answer your kind letter which I received last Saturday bearing date of the 19 of April. You requested me to write the particulars of your husband. Mrs. Thompson it is painful task to me to do it and a great deal more so to you.

Your husband was brought to my house on the 1 day of Dec, and Mr. McCameron and Mr. Thompson’s brother came with him and they stayed until the morning of the retreat and the Yankees were coming in and they were compelled to leave but Mr. Thompson conversed with his brother about staying and he told him to go and not to stay and be made a prisoner.

I prevailed on him to stay and he said no that he thought it best to go and he was fearful that his brother could not live and perhaps he could be of some benefit to his wife and children. Mr. Thompson left on Saturday and your Dear Husband departed from this world on the next Friday. He died clapping his hands and praising his Maker and seemed perfectly resigned to his heavenly Father’s will.

He was engaged in prayer during all of his sickness. Almost his last words were that he could see his Dear wife and little ones once more and all the time during his sickness would be express himself that way every day more or less and nearly every morning when I would go into the room to inquire how they were he would say O that looks like my poor Mother had come and Mrs. Thompson surely I was a Mother to them for I did everything that could be done owning to the situation we were in.

Then Yankees came in the next day after the rebels left and went into their room and talked with them. They treated them very kindly. Mr. Thompson died on the 23 of Dec at 7 o’clock in the evening and was buried the next day in our grave yard.

Mrs. Thompson I have a lock of his hair that I took off for your special benefit and I have a very fine Bible that he gave me a week before he died and a very nice needle case he gave me and requested me to be sure and keep them for you. My dear Friend I sympathize with you very deeply for the loss of your dear Husband but I hope you will put your trust in your Heavenly Father and prepare to meet him in Heaven.

I will close for this time. I am in a great deal of trouble. I have a son in prison at Point Lookout, Maryland and I can’t hear from him. Write me as soon as this is received. I would have written long since but I did not know that I could get a letter through to you. Send me word whether Mr. Thompson’s brother had got home or not. Nancy T. Dotson.

[Brother Martin Young Thompson returned from the War and lived the latter part of his life near Kosciusko. He died in 1906.]