5 August 1863: “Isaac, Henry and John were left behind to take their chances. Sarah and Diana ran away, and I suppose are with the Yankees…”

Item Description: Letter, dated 5 August 1863, from William H. Thomson to his son Ruffin Thomson.

More about Ruffin Thomson: Thomson was the oldest child and only son of William H. Thomson and Hannah Lavinia Thomson. He studied at the University of Mississippi and the University of North Carolina, leaving school in 1861 to enter the Confederate Army, serving as a private until February 1864, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Confederate Marine Corps. After the Civil War, he studied medicine in New Orleans and began a practice in Hinds County. In 1873, he married Fanny Potter. In 1888, he went to Fort Simcoe, Washington Territory, as clerk to the Yakima Indian Agency, hoping to recover his failing health, but instead died soon after his arrival.

[Transcription available below images.]
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Item citation: From the Ruffin Thomson Papers, #3315, The Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Marion, Perry County, Alabama,
Aug’t 5th/63.

Dear Ruffin,

I write you from this place where we arrived on the 27th ult., having been on the road since the 9th of last month. I started from home at the last mentioned date with your Ma, Ellen, and seven of the negroes, viz., Milly, Ella, Jane, Fanny, Reuben, Adam and Tom, and a negro man left in my charge by Mr. Lake of Tennessee. Isaac, Henry and John were left behind to take their chances. Sarah and Diana ran away, and I suppose are with the Yankees. We brought with us of clothing, provisions and other articles as much as we could haul off in two two-horse wagons and the carriage. Everything else was left behind to the mercy of the Yankees, including bacon, sugar, molasses, syrup, all our furniture. John C. moved in as we moved out. He promised to remain and take the best care of the property he could. Many of our neighbors left with all they could carry off. Mr. Doc Bracey sold his place and most of the negroes, and started eastward the day before we did with Heron Little, Bill Bracey, Gerald Holmes, with their families. We passed them on the road. Mrs. McRae and L. Grimball, with a few of their negroes and a wagon road left the same evening we did, and overtook us the second day. We traveled together as far as Enterprise on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. She went on to her aunt Aipsey’s (?). I sold my teams, wagons, and carriage, and came on here by way of Mobile and Selma. Where we will go from here depends upon contingencies. I intend to remain here until I can better determine what to do. We learn that Hinds has been rendered a waste. The negroes and everything else of value have been carried off or destroyed. Last accounts say the Yankees have abandoned Jackson, and have fallen back beyond Big Black; but that marauding parties occasionally return and pick up what they can, keeping the people in a state of constant uneasiness, and making subsistence very precarious. For the present we cannot think of returning – nor are we satisfied to remain here long. Marion is a pleasant enough place but living is very expensive. Several families from Jackson are here , and others through different parts of this country. I have some idea of going on to North Carolina, and take up my abode for the present among the mountains of that state. Our movements will depend on the course events may take. We will  stay here until we have something definite from you. We have heard that you have been wounded in the shoulder, but as to the nature of the injury we can learn nothing. Of course,we will be very unhappy until we hear you are doing will. Do let us know your condition as soon as possible.  I would go right on in search of you, but have been made sick by fatigue, exposure and trouble. In a short time I will be all right again, and if your situation should require it I will be with you as soon as circumstances will allow. After the fight at Gettysburg we heard nothing of the casualties in your company until we reached Enterprise, between two and three weeks after the battle was fought. We knew that Barksdale’s brigade had suffered much, but could learn nothing in relation to yourself until the time mentioned. How rejoiced we will be to hear that you are doing well. Write me, or have me written to, or telegraphed to, as soon as possible. I will go to Selma tomorrow to telegraph to Divine. If you telegraph send the dispatch to Selma, as there is no office here. Your  Ma and Ellen send their love. Our hearts are hoping for your safety.

Wm. H. Thomson.

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