Letter #6 to Brother Abel, Jackson Miss, May 4th, 1863

Letter #6 to brother Abel, is written from Jackson, Tennessee, May 4, 1863. It is noteworthy for several things. As you heard, Jesse shares his opinion of the South both with regard to the climate and the people. He calls them “traitors” which reflects on his own views of the war. He comments about Grant at Vicksburg whose seige will commence on May 18th and continue until its surrender on July 4th. His view of Grant is not a good one, but he praises the soldiers fighting in the west although he hates the idleness of his regiment. The rest of the letter will touch on matters at home, some harsh thoughts about his eldest brother Charles and questions about some others. Finally he shares news from his sister Sarah back in Iowa.

Letter #7 comes 3 weeks after his last one and as usual is sent to his brother Abel from Jackson, Tennessee. Here he again shares his opinions on a variety of war related items from his praise of certain generals to the frustration of how the war is going, particularly in the east, as he laments Hooker’s defeat at Chancellorsville in early May. Interesting to note, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was a victim of friendly fire at Chancellorsville and died shortly afterward, dealing a serious blow to Robert E.Lee’s army.In this letter, Jesse also mentions his namesake, Uncle Jesse, who was a graduate of Norwich University and he suggests that with his military training Uncle Jesse would be very useful in the army.

While stationed at Butler’s Bridge Jesse becomes friends with a Mrs. Butler whose son fights for the Confederacy. Although she is a ‘rebel’ he sees her as kind and pleasant. Finally it is clear from this letter that he is tired of being a soldier and in closing he throws out the very revealing line, “I believe that I am a good patriot am willing to do any thing in my power for my country but after all there are two sides”. His questioning of the war will continue. It will be more than 6 months before we hear from Jesse again.

Letter #8 to Brother Abel

New Year’s Eve 1863 will find Jesse in Memphis where he will write to Abel again. Much of the letter will delve into the politics of how the running of the army is led by certain political views that he thinks are a hinderance. He will even go so far as to question Lincoln and feels that perhaps a new party is needed before the 1864 election. And again he shares on the perceived futility he is feeling.