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  (transcriptions only)

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Manuscripts of the American Civil War
John M. Jackson Letters

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: John M. Jackson
Date: October 27-28, 1862
Place: Near Seneca, Maryland
To: Betsey Mower Jackson

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 8 pages (20 x 13 cm.) on 2 folded sheets

Number: MSN CW 5017-5

(Please click on our Technical Details button at left
for more information on transcription conventions,
image scanning conventions, etc.)

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On the line of the Potomac some 22 miles above Washington & 4 or 5 miles below Seneca. Oct. 27/62.
My Dear Mother.

     As my duty allows me sufficient time I will now write you a few lines & will not promise to be very brief as I have forgotten how to write short or sensible letters.
I have written quite a number of letters since I left Portland but have received none but am in hopes that they will be forthcoming soon.
     Mother I am fairly engaged in "Uncle Sam's famous Excursion" where the excursionists receive one hundred & fifty dollars in advance & are clothed & fed during the whole Show

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As I have already written about visit to Washington I need not repeat that but will tell you something of our adventures since we left there only saying that I have seen the White House, Treasury Department & the other wonderfuls about the capital of this great & glorious Country.
     Last Satuday morning we received orders to strike our tents & be in readiness to march & also to pack our knapsacks with our overcoats in them & to retain our blankets to carry on our backs. our knapsacks were to go in a boat. we accordingly did so & rolled our blankets in our tent canvas, which by the way is a piece of cloth about two yds. square allowed to each man & six of these put together makes what

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is called a shelter tent. the very meanest of all tents. I wish you could see one. With our blankets & tents we left our beautiful place for encampment on "Capitol Hill" where the wind had blown the dust incessently for the whole time since we arrived & marched up to Georgetown about five miles where we arrived about one o clock as dusty & sweaty creatures as you ever saw. after a halt of some three hours we had ten rounds of cartridges dealt out to us & resumed our march taking the tow path of a canal [i.e., the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal] which I think you will find on the military map running along side of the Potomac from Georgetown. After a march of three or four miles, which took us until into the eve. we camped for the night near an old fort said to have been built in eighteen-twelve. It was a curious looking old thing I assure you.

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I enjoyed a good nights rest & was ready to march early Sunday morning we had not proceeded far when it commenced raining & rained faster & faster until about noon when we arrived at our place to encamp about twenty miles from Washington.
     We pitched our tents on the top of a hill where it had been plowed not many years since & the water stood in every little hollow the rain also was falling in torrents.

Oct. 28

I was also called to assist about preparing for night & have not had time to write much until now near night again but I will commence again where I left off. After we had pitched our tents & were calculating how we might make the night as

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tolerable as possible some of our boys discovered a stack of straw about half a mile off & many of us started for it with light hearts & heels than we had had for some time. we got our arms full & left giving others a chance to pay if they saw fit to do so. by this time I was wet as you never saw me wet but every thing except the weather seemed to favor us for very soon word came. "every man to the boat."
To comply with this command we were obliged to descend a hill that from a short distance looked perpendicular & was as muddy as you can imagine. we were not backward however for it was to get our knapsacks & thus our overcoats. Near night we drew some rubber blankets which we spread on our straw thus making

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our nest comparitively dry.
     We packed ourselves pretty close & although the wet spattered through so that it completely soaked our blankets & our rubber blanket was wet from the ground--I think that I hear you saying "poor boy & & you are thinking that I am sick of my bargain & all that--I "slept like a pig" and awoke just in time to hear the Orderly calling them at a tent near me & roused up & opened our tent just as he got along & called for some of us to go on guard. All the others immediately began to complain of their health (for it was raining like- like- well it poured right down any way) but I told him that I was all right & would go. "Glad to hear it" said he "you are the first well man that I have found in the Co." I accordingly started, the wind blowing a perfect gale

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& the water falling in almost a sheet but very soon after the guard mounted it cleared off & was as good a day as could be, & the guard proved to be picket guard on the Potomac & a reserve at that, so that all I had to do was just to stand & "cast a wishful eye" across the Potomac one hour in the night & nothing at all in the daytime. When I wrote what I wrote yesterday I was sitting on the bank of the river in just pretty a place as I was ever in, which is what can be said of but very little part of the country here. Last night I slept right out in open air with the sky as a our tent. It was very cold so cold that water froze in our canteens, & hardly any one of our number of about a dozen slept at all but I got quite a good night's rest & have felt well as I ever did all day.

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Our pickets have to go about two miles up the river & stay twenty four hours & when the relief came this morn, I would have prefered to stopped another term if they had wanted me.
     When we got to our camp we found that the boys had pitched their tents over again & were in a thick growth of pines where the ground is dry & no wind cannot trouble us at all.
     This afternoon I have been out picking chestnuts & do not have to pay ten cts. a quart I got far the nicest nuts that I ever saw but I did not enjoy eating them half so much as I should if I could have passed them round the dear old circle at home for although I am hardening into a soldier much better than I expected to I still love my friends as much as ever & hope that I am remembered at home although you do not write me so often as I want you to I bless the day that I decided to be a soldier. Write soon & tell me how things are getting on at home.

From your affectionate son

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I sent some songs to Delora [i.e., Delora Jackson] & I shall want to hear them sung in warlike style when I get home

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I was sold on some whiskey at less than half price. I will you about it when I get home that will be better than to write it now, dont fear I did not drink it

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We are in Grover's [i.e., Brigadier General Cuvier Grover's] Brigade & in Hookers [i.e., Major General Joseph Hooker's] Division & have been moved on to what they call the front so that we may have some fun yet.

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Tell me about home, my friends, my colt & every thing else.

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We hear any quantity of frightful stories but you hear as much reliable news as we do. We expect soon to go over into Virginia but no knowing, Please take these stamps & pass them if you can they have been wet & are good for nothing for me. Please send me a few good ones, say 5 or 6

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I know that you will be tired once if you never were before.

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The boys had to sleep on their arms last night thinking that there were three thousand rebels near them but they had no troubles all

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Direct to Washington D. C. Care of D. B. Varney [i.e., Captain Dudley B. Varney] Co. A. 23 Me Regt. until I tell you differently

Envelope, front     Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

Envelope, back     Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

Transcription last modified: 11 Nov 2004 at 12:28 PM EST

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