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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: April 28, 1863
Place: Camp near Edwards Ferry, Maryland
To: Betsey Mower Jackson and Delora Jackson

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 4 pages (20 x 14 cm.) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN CW 5017-15

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Camp near Edwards Ferry Md.Apr.28th 1863
Dear Mother

     I rec'd a letter from Delora [i.e. Delora Jackson] & yourself by the last mail bearing the date of Apr. 19th & 20th. That letter did me more good than a whipping would. Yes, Mother, you do wise encouraging letters & I am thankful that you do. I was on picket when your letter came & be sure the watches that I had to stand that night seemed short. There was such a breathing of affection mingled with patriotism it suited me exactly. It makes me provoked when I receive a letter mentioning that I "must be glad when" I "can come home again" & appearing to think that I came for the pleasure or honor of it. A man that has no higher aim I have no more respect for than I have for the cowards that think of staying at home as a matter of safty. Our army needs men & I rejoice that they will come from any motive but as far as esteem goes those that come from low principles, though I am glad they are here, I cannot look upon as patriots.

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     On the little slip of paper that you sent me the sentiments of both soldiers were partly right and partly wrong. They may call me traitor, coward or any thing else that suits them but I hear swearing against the war & many wishes expressed to get out of it & declarations that they "would not take a musket again if the rebels came right into Maine". I also hear what I like very much better, that is "I am ready to fight & die if need be for my country" "I think if I live to get home I shall come again" & such like expressions. A few victories that I trust are at hand "will set all right". I hardly think I am so fleshy as you judge from my picture. I am no heavier than I am at home sometimes. My weight is steady at 165 lbs & has been for three months or more. About there being so many prayers to be heard after tattoo. I am sorry to say that I fail to hear them. I pass about considerable & have never heard but one praying. I hope that others have had a more pleasant experience that way. Our earth works are nearly done & tomorrow the battery is coming down if it dont storm. Some of the inhabitants say they are

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laughing at us over in Virginia but I believe we better be in readiness for they know when we are off our guard as well as we do.
     Yestermorn there were three negroes one negress lady passed us on the tow path going toward Washington & freedom. we gave them what grub we had & sent them on their way rejoicing. not long after the owner came on "post haste" & the boys would not let him pass on the tow path without a pass of course & directed them across the country as the route the nigs took. No doubt they are safe. Please write me often.
From your ever aff. son

Dear Sister

I came off Picket this morn & fortunate for me for I believe it is going to rain by tonight. When I went on Picket Satuday morn the river was far the highest that I have seen it. The water was up to the tops as some fruit trees that stand down the bank. It fell very rapidly indeed. There are some varieties of birds here that I wish would go home with us. one in particular he sings such a sweet plaintive song I could listen to him for hours & not weary of it.

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     You cannot imagine a better time than we had to be on Picket. The first day was a little windy but the others were delightful. This morn I went down the shore of a creek & found some of the prettiest stones I ever saw There were some nearly round & of a beautiful green spotted with white that I think would be pretty in our front yard walk. Shall I bring a knapsack full of them? I almost hope that Delinda [i.e., Delinda Jackson] will be at home this summer. I quite hope so if she will be contented there.
     I tell you Sister we will have gay old times riding horse back I see how the Southern gents & misses do it. I intend to send several kinds of flowers in this but it is raining so I cannot go out to get them. I send some peach blossoms. I assure you the trees look beautifully. I am healthy & like here very much indeed. When the weather is pleasant I have a feeling of joy & satisfaction that I hardly ever had before. They are playing cards here now & I am not so well pleased with that Write often.

Your aff. bro.

Transcription last modified: 11 Nov 2004 at 11:05 AM EST

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