A Yankee Writes Home:
“Our Course is to Occupy, Subjugate and Desolate”
“Secesh” Houses Burning, & More

Madison County Tennessee
~ 1862 ~

Copyright © 1997, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

The postal envelope is not available.

Head Quarters Co. F. 45th Ill. Vol.
Jackson Tenn. July 31th [ 1862 ]
My Dear Wife,
       Yours of the 24th Inst. Reached me day before yesterday, and I should have answered it yesterday, but I was on duty, consequently had not time. I wrote to you two weeks ago last Sunday which letter you ought to have received before you wrote. I hope you have got ere this, if not, I know you feel very uneasy about me.
       I am not sick. On the contrary, I am first rate. Better than I have been at any time since I came back. In fact I was never better in my life, and hope that now I have got climated my health will continue good. I got a letter from Josiah a few days ago and he said the report was all around there that I was sick in the hospital. I have not been sick enough to have any thought of going to the hospital. I do not see how rumor get started. There is but a remnant of the 45th in Jackson. Most men are out guarding railroads. There are but a few left in our company. They have been out over a week. I have not seen Edwin for that length of time, though I heard from him yesterday. He was well. Those of us that are left here are on guard duty most all the time. What keeps us on so steadily is that we have been expecting an attack on our forces at this point. The secession element encouraged by its late successes is getting very bold. The confounded rebels have adopted a guerilla warfare and are exceedingly troublesome. We can not get hold of them. They are here today, and some where else tomorrow. A day or two ago some of them attacked our guard on the R.R. and they were thinly scattered, before we could concentrate, they were driven off. While this was going on a citizen set fire and partially destroyed a bridge., thus cutting off our communication with Columbus. The bridge however was repaired next day, the bridge burner caught and I expect hung. His house with one or two others of his secesh neighbors was burned, and considerable corn and other property confiscated. Well yesterday some of those good citizens came down to Gen. Logan and asked to be paid for their property destroyed. The Gen. very cooly told them he had no money, that lightning set fire to and destroyed their property, and that perhaps when they stopped burning railroad bridges the lightning word stop burning their houses and I think very likely.
       The most notorious band of guerillas that infests these parts is headed by a son of Dr. Jackson whom I told you of in my last as being sent north because he refused to take the oath. A few days ago he had the impudence to send a message to Gen Logan telling him that he meant to take the town of Jackson inside ten days; telling him also that he understood that he, Logan, was encamped in a very nice grove, and he wished him to select the cleanest limb there was to hang on. Gen. Logan sent back that he might take the ground that Jackson stood on but that he would never take the town. He meant of course that he would destroy the town and I have not the slightest doubt that if we were attacked here with our present small force that he would do it. I had the honor of searching Mrs. Dr. Jackson’s house yesterday for arms said to be concealed there, We found nothing however but one old musket. You enter your house and proceed to search it throughout, yet we do that here with perfect impunity. I am in good spirits now although we seem to be beset on every hand. I think we can hold our position until the was policy changes and we get more men in the field. Then I hope we shall make war in earnest and soon get the thing done. The policy of the war must change or we may fight until there is not a man left to fight and then be no nearer the end. I am more and more convinced of that every day, as I heard Gen. Strong say yesterday our course is to occupy, subjugate and desolate, take and destroy everything. Leave the country desolate, take the women and children, carry them south of our lines and leave them. They would then be in communication with their friends, and would not need our soldiers to protect them. Such a course seems harsh but it is the only one. We must make them feel our power. We have tried to conciliate long enough. I got a letter from my brother Richard a few days ago. He was at home on furlough but did not know how long he would be able to stay. I hope long enough to make a good visit. He has been from home a good while, and seen some of the hardships of war. He sent his respects to you. When did you hear from Morris. When you write again tell me when you last heard from him, where his reg. was stationed, the letter of his company and number of his regiment. You must have cut a pretty figure falling off backward from a horse - well I’ll give up. I thought you was something of a rider. I solemnly charge you never to get on horseback again until you have learned how to ride - at any rate if you must fall off don’t fall backward - by the way did you learn that in attending those “female lectures”? But joking aside dear I wonder it had not hurt you. You did not say whether it did or not. How is your health this summer? Does you side trouble you any? Keep up good spirits my loving wife. Don’t be discouraged. A soldiers wife, as well as a soldier, should be brave. Trust in God for the future. He has been gracious and merciful to us in the past. He has carried me safely through many dangers and I can safely repose full confidence in Him. We have some new clothes, same color as we had before. You must send me your likeness as soon as you can. I lost the back of my locket, and my wearing it and sweating so much has spotted it so that it is nearly spoiled. Send me one soon. I can not get along without it. I will direct this to Poplar Grove as I think it will reach you there. Give my love to Josiah. I shall write to him soon.
       Tell the rest of the folks around there that I don’t know as I have any
Respects to send them.

Your loving Husband.
/s/ J. P. Jones

       John P. Jones, author of this letter, was mustered in “Dec 29/61” as Sergeant in Co. “F” 45th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Later, he was ”Discharged as 1st Sgt. Co. ‘F’ Apr, 1863. Commissioned to rank [2nd Lieutenant] from Oct 1/62. Mustered in to take effect from Apr. 9/63.” Then on 8 November 1863 he was mustered in as 1st Lieutenant. He was mustered out of service, 28 Dec 1864 at Savannah Georgia.
       The above information is from John P. Jones’ service record from our National Archives. Gordon McHenry dates the letter as 1862.

From the Collection of Frederick Smoot
Provenance: Gordon McHenry ~ 1997

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