Letters of Col. James G. Jones

Letters of Col. James G. Jones


Camp Andrew Jackson
Nashville, Tenn.  March 10th, 1862

        Maurice and Percy, my dear boys, I was so glad to see you when last at Evansville, and regretted so much to have to leave you so soon.  A soldiers life is a hard one, and I knew it before I became a soldier, but my country was in great peril, and as the Governor had offered me three commissions as Colonel, I felt bound by every consideration that can move a good citizen and a patriot, to take command of a regiment and do all I could for the preservation of the union.  I hope that this same duty may never devolve on you, but if, when you are men, your country should need your services, you will not fail to do as I have done.  I want you to cultivate manly feelings.  Be truthful, just, generous, and brave; do no wrong, nor submit to wrong from any one; be guided always by honorable feelings and principles.  Then you will be good citizens and useful and honored members of society.  Bless you my dear boys.  I wish I could embrace you.

                                                Your Father,
                        Jas. G. Jones

Fayetteville, Tennessee
May 7th, 1862

        Maurice and Percy, my dear-boys, if it were possible to have you with me, it would gratify me beyond measure to do so.  But you are so young and small as to be unable to take care of yourselves in case we should get into a fight.  You could neither use a gun or a sword, nor could you escape from a man who might pursue you, and you would be in just as much danger of being killed as a man, though, as vile as many of the rebels are, I would have no fear that any of them would purposely injure one of you.  They would like however to take you prisoner knowing that I would ten times rather be taken myself.

        This is a beautiful country, and when I look abroad in the morning, and see the crest of the small mountains around me gilded (gilt) with a bright glory imparted by the rising sun, and behold in the shadow the rich valleys made gorgeous by luxuriant verdure the town and all around, profoundly silent and apparently in the enjoyment of all the blessings of peace and security, but standing in fact upon the brink of destruction and with fear and dread, I mentally exclaim Oh shame! that such a land and such a people should be subjected to the miseries and horrors of man for no sufficient cause, but only for the accomplishment of the wicked ends of a few designing politicians, who care nothing for the suffering and sorrows of the people, but seek only their own personal aggrandizement.  We have been here a week and I have found but four Union men and they seem to be in more danger than any of us, and are almost afraid to be seen talking to even a private soldier.  The secessionists have been plotting all the time to get Rebel soldiers to attack us.  So far they have failed.  They may succeed however, and we may have to fight.  We are not afraid but that we can whip three times our number.  I am just now (10 o'clock at night) sending out a squad of men to arrest three men who are said to be engaged in planning an attack upon us.  An old man and his son-in-law and his overseer.  The old man is wealthy and has a large amount of cotton hid in the woods, which I will bum if I should be attacked.  I know where it is.  The Negroes tell us all they know and one of Bonner's Negroes told me just how many bales of cotton he has and where it is, so I will find it without any trouble.

        I have probably used many words which-you will not understand.  I did so purposely, and my object was to have you ask your Mother or one of your Sisters to define them - explain their meaning to you.  When in this way you learn what a word means you will never forget it.  It is just as easy to learn the meaning of one word as another, and it is better that you should learn, while you are boys, how to use the language used by educated people.  The language of the ignorant vulgar you will hear every day on the streets, and you cannot avoid learning it, unless you stop your ears so you cannot hear.  Instead of using this street talk of the ignorant, you should endeavor to learn to use other words that mean the same thing, such words as you hear gentlemen of education use, and when you hear a word used that you do not understand get a dictionary and learn, or ask some person to tell you.  Never be ashamed to ask for information.  We all have to learn as long as we live, no matter how long our lives may last, and he who asks the greatest number of questions will learn the most.

        Good night my dear little sons.  I shall be up nearly all night, watching while the other officers sleep.  They all sleep the more soundly because they know that I will be on the watch when we are in danger.  Be kind and affectionate to each other and to your Mother and Sisters for they all love you and though far away you and they are entwined by the very heartstrings of your Father.

                                                 Jas.  G. Jones


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