John Wayles [Hemings] Jefferson to Beverly [Hemings] Jefferson


From the Eighth Regiment.


Camp—in the Swamp, near Sikestown, Mo. }
March 9, 1862.

Dear Brother:—We have been in the swamp just a week to-day. We were ordered away a week ago, with two days’ rations, to Charleston, Mo. As the road was in bad condition, we footed it up the railroad track—could not take our horses. We repaired the railroad from Charleston to Sikestown, 12 miles. They ran over it yesterday. The trains have not run over the road since last June before, the rebels having burnt the bridges, &c. Yesterday, we were ordered by Gen. Pope, at New Madrid, to reinforce him. We marched to this camp today.

March 10th.—I wrote the above yesterday and did not have any chance to send it. We are now at New Madrid, or two miles from the town, which is as close as our forces extend.—We have marched 22 miles to-day, together with 4,000 other troops. We will move to our beseiging position to-morrow, at 8 a. m. We have a large body of troops here, as well as the rebels; no doubt we will have quite a battle.—The rebels have a number of gunboats—we have none here. Our gunboats cannot get here until they capture the rebel forces at Island No. 10, which is 5 miles above this place.

I received a little bundle from Adj. Sprague, (who was in Cairo when his wife arrived), which mother sent me; you will please thank her for the same. They came very handy, as I had nothing with me but what I have on my back, and my rations in my haversack. My things are all at Cairo. This letter is written on a log; it will be as hard for you to read as it is for me to write, by the light of a log fire. Murphy (Col.) is not with us; he is at Cairo.

My love to all, your brother,
John W.

P. S.—March 12th.—Since writing the above we have arrived at Pleasant Point, on the Miss. River, 20 miles south of New Madrid. The place is deserted—nothing left here but negroes. We are assigned a place on the extreme right of this division of the army. The rebels have a battery on the Tennessee side, and we have one on this side. Their flag can be seen plainly. The firing from both sides is continual. If they land below us, there will be fighting for the infantry. Gen. Plummer is our General. Just this moment, one of their shells hit about 50 yards in front of our camp. We are encamped just out of range of the guns in the woods, and they shell us to endeavor to find out where we are encamped. We are down for certain in Secesh. Things look more like war than any time since I have been in the service. We are farther south than any troops who have marched through the country.

I can’t tell when I can send this letter, but will seal it up and send it by the first opportunity. The weather is very hot. Our faces are all pealed up. We can sleep without any covering.

Your brother,
J. W.
Published in the Madison Wisconsin Patriot, 29 Mar. 1862.