I (firstname.lastname@example.org) acquired this letter, as well as four accompanying letters (written by three different individuals), from a Lafayette, Indiana estate in 2001. I believe they originally were in the possession of the Jack Family, who resided in and around Fountain County, Indiana in the 1860's. I have not yet been able to precisely identify the individual who penned this missive. However, as previously mentioned, this item apparently came out of the Jack Family estate and, in fact, at least two men named "Jack" (Private James M. and Private John P.) did, in fact, serve in Company F, 63rd IVI. As for 'Ross' (if I'm reading the letter correctly), this may have been some kind of nickname, so a check through the 63rd Indiana roster might clear this up.
There is also a 'Nan' mentioned, so I suspect this is actually NANCY Jacks who is, in fact, identified as Aaron's sister. A further clue is that one "Br. Bacon" is mentioned by the writer and, it so happens, a regimental chaplain who served with the 63rd Indiana was named "Rev. Henry M. Bacon." An additional clue supporting a 63rd Indiana identification is that, per Dyer's Compendium, the regiment definitely took part in W. T. Sherman's Carolinas Campaign during the late winter/early spring of 1865.
Fountain Co 1860 Federal Census p. 3 VanBuren Twp Coal Creek PO #256
John Jacks 57 Famrer $3125/570 Ohio
Martha Ann 54 Ohio
Nancy 23 Ohio
Eliza 19 Ind
Aaron 17 Ind
Here is a rough translation of the soldier's letter for your perusal:
In Camp Gold[s]boro N.C. Sund[ay] afternoon March 26th 1865
Dear friend & Sister Seated in my tent - pitched in a cornfield & the sand blowing on my paper (keeps me continually blowing it off) I hasten to reply to your very kind letter (long looked for) which came to hand while I was frying fresh beef - liver for dinner today. I had fried the pork, & some mush & Martin had made the coffee when one of our mess mates brought in the liver You see by the way we have plenty to eat & what is still better we can eat plenty I never had better health. Thought it very recently came to me. It is very strange that our letters should be delayed so long. I had despa[i]red of ever getting an answer from you. But it is better late than never is it not? You ask if I would like the Christian Record. - Here the Church call has sounded. I must go. - Well we had a very good sermon. Subject taken from Acts 24 Ch. & 25 verse. I like Br. Bacon's preaching very well. Almost any kind of preaching sounds well to me in camp behind the breastworks. But to return to the [Christian] Record. Certainly I would be verry much obliged to you for sending a paper of any discription. Tell Lide (sp?) that she cant put her pickels to a better use than to send them to me. They will sharpen my appetite for sow belly (pardon me) I will have some beans for dinner tomorrow, with which I always like something sour (Enough on pickles.) I left the hospital 20[th] of Feb - joined my regiment 13th of March. I did not enjoy the trip very well was not well enough when I left the hospital. But as I am all right now I dont regret that I came through when I did. I am sure I enjoy myself better here than while in the hospital. Marching went a little tough with me though we have not had much of that to do having only moved about 40 miles since I joined my command. We came into this Town Tuesday night 21st inst. [March 21, 1865]. Our advance drove the rebs out the day before without much fighting. The rebs are massing their forces at Raleigh. Sherman's army has been marching in ever since we went into Camp. Some estimate our force in this vicinity at 150,000. there has been no fighting since we came in except between ours & [Joseph] Wheelers Cavalry on our left. there has been nothing reported from the engagement in which heavy cannonading was kept up 5 or 6 hours. We have built heavy breastworks & only await the movement of the enemy. I believe that Sherman intends to let his army rest a few days in order to supply them with clothing, many of them being entirely destitute of Government clothing. have picked up Citizens clothes Though there are some in the service who will pilfer citizens clothing while foraging through the Country - In fact soldiers are a bold & rough set of fellows & I might go on to say wicked (with a few exceptions) For my part I intend to strive to hold fast & honor the profession I have made. I have found no excuse yet for not being a living Christian in the army. Nan there are many things I should like to say concerning home affairs, which I shall leave unsaid this time.- Things which have come to my knowledge since I joined my command last. - My very heart pains me when I think on these things & besides I feel that I have been wronged - Grossly wronged in being left ignorant of some things while I was at home & so earnestly begged for an explaination of the cause of so much coldness in [one]I tried to claim as a Sister Perhaps I am wrong
Write often I remain yours Ross Nan (sp?)
**NOTE: The Christian Record is almost certainly a Disciples of Christ periodical known to have been published at three locations in Indiana between 1843-1884.
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