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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: July 4-5, 1864
Place: Near Petersburg, Virginia
To: Betsey Mower Jackson

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 4 pages (21 x 13 cm.) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN CW 5017-22

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In the woods near Petersburg Va. July 4th. 1864
Dear Mother

     I rec'd a letter from home night before last & very glad I was to get it. It contained two dollars & that came very acceptable for I have been out of money for considerable time. Today I have had some butter & cheese & it seemed like a treat. Money, butter, cheese & all were very insignificant compared with the letter. I read it at night & then yesterday I read it as often as morning noon & night. & certainly I believe it did me more good than the meals. I have read my old letters over until I think I have them by heart very nearly. You think you will write me oftener & certainly I hope you will. I was expecting that this would be a merry day here but it is as quiet a

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day as we have seen for a month.
Last night we came off picket where we had been for forty eight hours. The two lines were not more than about stone's throw from each other & the boys of each side fire at the others just as soon as they can see a head above the works. Our Picket line is now an advanced line of battle, that is it is as strong as a line of battle. We fill the line in two ranks. Every day more or less of our boys are killed or wounded.

July 5th

     I stopped rather abruptly last night for we had a dress parade & after that I did not have time before dark. A dress parade. Yes it was all that. Our Co. reported "whole number on parade. twelve. the balance accounted for." It seems hard; Our Regt. is under command of Capt. Noyes [i.e., Captain Amos F. Noyes, Co. B, 32nd Maine Infantry] of the old 23d Me. He is as good a man as ever lived though not very military. I used to like him when we out before. We are to have a Co drill at seven oclk for one hour. No doubt we shall make a grand appearance but our Co (except their

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their commander) will do as well as the rest so I dont care. Our mail has come in this morn & brought me a letter & in it some paper & envelopes. It was under date of June 29th & 30th. It was a letter that suited me first rate. The other letter that I spoke of was dated June 26th from you & Delinda [i.e., Delinda Jackson]. You cannot think how well I like to hear from home. By my letter that came this morn it appears that prosperity attends my efforts in the past. My colt is worth more than I expected. I hope success will attend the next effort I make which I expect will be to take a portion of Petersburg. As we are situated we cannot judge what they intend to do with us. We expected to be ordered forward long ago but here we have been first going forward into the trenches to watch the "Johnnies" for forty eight hours & then back here in the woods for the same length of time to rest. When we are ordered forward all I have to say is "God protect me" & I hope He will. I love to hear of your prosperity at home. It is time to go on drill. Drill is over. We have nine guns including our Sergt. There was a Regt. of hundred days men passed us while we were out. I am feeling very well I am well enough all the time but when it is very hot & sultry I feel sort of languid. today there is some breeze.

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Three of our boys that have been back sick have come in, that is came in, two or three days ago. One is one that I have always liked but the other two are two of the cheapest kind of soldiers. Last night at dress parade, when the parade was dismissed (a time I suppose you hardly understand) the Capt. commanding the Regt said "Fellow officers I am happy to meet you on this occasion & hope that our next dress parade will be in Richmond & that in a very short time." I believe we felt to respond "amen" to that as heartily as to any thing we have heard for a long time. God will give us the victory in His own good time, if we are in the right, I wish there was more trust in God & less in the number of our arms. I love to think of you all at home I can seem to fancy how you all look as you pass about performing your usual labors. I wish I could see you in reality. I am ahead of you in that, for you cannot justly imagine how I look never having seen me or anyone else as I am at present, & I am glad you never have. I should like for you to see an army pass but I have no desire for you to see one in this condition. I am still firm in the opinion that this is the last year of the war & I as ardently hope it is as "any other man" I do not hesitate & declare that I am tired of it & it will be a happy day for me, if I live to see it, when peace shall be proclaimed through the country. Live, of course I expect to live & for a few days I have been feeling that if I got hit it would be a wound that would not finish me. I should not cry at all if I got wounded just enough to get home until this campaign is over. I know that writing home as much as I do there may be such a sameness to my letters & the same things told over so many times that it must be unpleasant to read them but I love my folks & love to write them & as I have but "one talent" as regards letter writing so I must improve upon that if at all & then I trust to your love to overlook many of my imperfections in every thing I ought to be writing for the Co. but I dont care as they put very much more upon me than it is my place to do I am not so particular about our "Co. bummers" being attended to before my own concerns. I tell every one that I have occasion to speak to about it all that "let me be what I will I have as good folks as any one I dont care what it is" I love to think of my dear friends & then feel that they are anxious for my safe return home. still it would not seem half so hard for me to think of dying by the rebs hands if I was as much alone in the world as many seem to be. I rather feel however that there are loving

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hearts somewhere in the world that beat for me in part. I hope, Dear Mother, that you will write me just as often as you can for be sure I dearly prize your letters as the number of times I read them over would testify. Why I made a blot of the word in the line above, a "Johnnie" sent a "minnie" so close that I felt decidedly inclined to look up & in doing so my pen refused to write until my attention was on it again. I like to hear the "minnies" when they are pretty well spent. They kind of sing along & dont sound as if they meant any mischief. Hoping very soon to hear from you again I remain your very affectionate Son

John M Jackson

Transcription last modified: 12 Nov 2004 at 03:07 PM EST

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