1861: John W. Jordan to Francis Elizabeth (Walker) Jordan

This letter was written by John W. Jordan (1842-1864). He was one of at least seven children born to Thomas M. Jordan (1812-1893) and Frances Elizabeth Walker (1819-1897) of Winnsboro, Fairfield county, South Carolina.

John Jordan enlisted in April 1861 at the age of 18 to serve one year in Co. B, Sixth South Carolina Infantry. This regiment was raised in Winnsboro and referred to as the “Boyce Guards.” They were led by Capt. James N. Shedd. From this letter we learn that Pvt. Jordan became ill while in Virginia and was taken to a private home to be nursed but he was later admitted to CSA General Hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the 9th of September 1861 suffering from Typhoid fever.

Recovering from his illness, and after completing his term of service (1 year) with the 6th South Carolina Infantry, Pvt. Jordan re-enlisted on 15 June 1862 in Co. F, 6th South Carolina Cavalry (also called Dixie Rangers, Aiken’s Partisan Rangers and 1st Partisan Rangers). He was promoted to a corporal in February 1864 but was captured by the enemy in the Battle of Trevilian Station on 11 June 1864, taken as a prisoner first to Fortress Monroe, and then transported to the prison at Elmira, New York, on 25 July 1864. He died less than two months later on 22 Sept. 1864, suffering from chronic diarrhea. Prison records indicate his personal effects consisted of 1 pair of boots, 1 jacket, 1 pair of pants, and 1 hat. In October, 1866, his body was returned to South Carolina and buried in Winnsboro’s First United Methodist cemetery.

The Fairfield County Museum Manuscript Collection has another letter by John W. Jordan written to his father a couple of weeks after this one. See footnotes.

From the original painting by Mort Künstler, “Charge at Trevilian Station.” ©1997 Mort Künstler, Inc.


Camp near Germantown [near Fairfax, Va.]
September 5, 1861

Dear Ma,

I wrote home to Nannin [Nancy J. Jordan, b. 1844] since writing to you. I received your letter yesterday morning and will answer it now but it looks like sissy’s writing, I [am] now writing in the country about 3½ miles from our camp. Uncle J[ohn] has been waiting on me for 3 or 4 days. I haven’t much fever nor haven’t had much expectorant. At first it would raise very high in the nights & sometimes noon or evening. You must not get alarmed for I could get no rest or peace in the little hot tents. I got here at this place safe the same evening I got your letter.

Mr. Joseph Cal[d]well from Chester District was at our camp with a little wagon & Uncle William got them to bring me. Uncle couldn’t come but William came with me. William is down again today [and is] just leaving. He brought some pills and mixture for me. Uncle will be here tomorrow. I suppose when he writes, he can tell more about it than I can.

The surgeon can visit me also for I’m just on the road to the hospital where they spoke of taking me but I said I would stay in my tent (of course Uncle J. didn’t want me to go to the hospital). William went in the country, engaged this place for me several days ago but I couldn’t get off. Uncle John says if it is necessary for me to go to Charlottesville, he’ll get off & W. B. C. says he will take me. But I don’t think it will be necessary. The Colonel would not consent for me to come here but Uncle [John] & William got me off. All I want is a place to recruit. I’ll not be sick long.

Some of the men asked the Colonel [John Bratton] to let me go to Charlottesville to which he consented so if I don’t mend up, I’ll go to Aunt Maria. Uncle J[ohn] says he would just [so] she would wait on him when sick as anybody. I’m very weak today. It is a good thing that I came out yesterday for it has been raining very near all day long. I know it is a horrible place in camp. The place where I am is a pleasant place & the people treat me kind. They have a fine spring right in the yard—no use for a pail in the piazza. It is no one water [?].

so2 2
Micah Jenkins, 5th South Carolina

I haven’t [seen] Dr. Fleming ¹ to speak to him yet but have seen him several times. He looks hearty enough. Dr. Bryce is better. I think his father is here attending. He is not our Surgeon. They spoke of making him our company surgeon. ²

I wonder why Pa don’t write & what has he done? Col. [Micah John] Jenkins’ regiment left camp the night of the 4th & went to the Potomac with some artillery company & fired from this side upon them & put them to flight. Jenkins’ Regiment had to march about 16 or 18 miles. So you see the Yankees are not very thick this side of the river. ³

I suppose you have heard that General Longstreet has taken a position called “Munson’s Hills” or some such a name. I’ll try and find out the name. I hope when I write again, I’ll be about soon again.

Your son, — Jno. W. Jordan

¹ Possibly Dr. C. E. Fleming who at was with the 5th South Carolina Regiment. He later served as surgeon in the 22nd South Carolina.

² Possibly a reference to Dr. Thomas Michael Brice (1832-1864) who was serving with the 6th South Carolina Infantry. Brice’s father, Dr. Walter Scott Brice (1804-1871) was from Fairfield county, South Carolina.

³ “Company left “Camp Near Germantown” on the 3d or Sept at 9 o’clock P M by order of Col. [Micah] Jenkins Marched to Great Falls on the Potomac arriving there about 8 o’clock A M was thrown out in advance of the regt to guard the road leading from Seneca Falls. Remained there about 1 hour when by order of the Col we rejoined the regt. was then put on the march for our camp where we arrived about sundown distance marched about 40 miles.” [From Record of Events on Muster Roll of Co. F, 5th South Carolina Infantry.]

The Fairfield County Museum Manuscript Collection has the following transcribed letter in its collection:

Charlottesville, Va
Sep 24, 1861

Dear Pa,

I received a letter from you yesterday. W.B.C., I suppose, got home the day you sent your letter off for he said he would get home on Friday. I wrote to you by him. He came this far out of his way to see me & Mr. Wm. Ellison came to see me too. I’m getting along pretty well now. The Dr. has quit giving physic except wine. I’m setting up some today with my clothes on.

Aunt M is sick with the Cold but up & about every day. She thinks she will go home in a few days. But Mrs. Rion pays a great deal of attention to me for Aunt M is not able to wait on me much. I get nourishment which helps me along. It is nonsense to perish one to death. I have found out that much since I took sick for these Drs allow one to eat though of course light diet. I’m very weak yet. I never was as poor in my life as this little spell made me. I could span round my arms above the elbow. I think I’m mending now though. I had most of my fever in Camp—the worst place in the world to be sick. But Uncle John soon knocked it in the head when he got at it. He had my fever broke before I came here. I had very little after I got here. I brought the turpentine mixture here that he gave me & continued to take it here so Uncle John stop[p]ed the fever. He wrote to Aunt M to take care of me for I had every symptom of a long case of typhoid fever, but I’m in hopes that it will end at this.

To let you know something about how we are treated, I’ll tell you. After being sick 3 or 4 days & having very hot fever every night, one morning I thought I would go to the Surgeon. I stated my case to him & he never looked at my tongue nor felt my pulse nor anything of the kind—never as much as touched me at all, but as he happened to be making some pills, handed me 2 of them. That is the way he does, Whatever he happens to have in his hand when you go to him, you get it no matter what it is or what the matter is. Now what do you think of that?

Young Gladney went & brought Uncle John to me the same evening just after dinner. If I get sick again I’m not going about that Surgeon but strait to Uncle John. I hear no news but that Floyd has whipped the Yankees in Western Va. They brought 56 prisoners through here today. Has the place you bought any houses or any land cleared or any improvements at all? I hope you are not going right in the woods without houses or any shelter until they can build some little log houses.

I got 2 letters from ma & one from Nannie since I came here. G[eorge] H[unter] McMaster brought them from the camp to me. He is here in the S.C. Store House which is full of all sorts of things, clothes, medicines &c. I’m getting tired so I’ll stop for this time. I have been here 2 weeks today (Tuesday). I’ll let you know as soon as I can when I leave this place. Love to all, your Son — Jno. W. Jordan

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