Henry Blakely's Letters From Vicksburg.

Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Henry Carter Blakely was born in upper east Tennessee in the mid-1830's. He was the youngest son of James Blakely, a brick-mason that came to Tennessee from Virginia. Henry married Elizabeth Jane Estep, December 18, 1856 in her home County of Hawkins. By 1860, they were living in neighboring Sullivan County, along with their 4-month old daughter, Margaret. Also part of their household was Henry's mentally-challenged brother, John Campbell Blakely, and Henry's half-sister, Margaret Bowser, age 18.

Besides John, Henry had three other brothers living in Sullivan County in 1860. William the oldest, who was born in Virginia, Augustus, who carried on the family trade of masonry, probably learned from their father, who apparently died shortly after Henry's birth, and afterward under the tutelage of their step-father, George Bowser, also a brick-mason. The third brother was my ancestor, Jackson Blakely.

The Civil War divided many families in east Tennessee, The Blakely family was one. William Blakely, and his 18 year-old son James, navigated through Confederate lines to Flatt Lick, Knox County, Kentucky, near Cumberland Gap, where the Union Army had established a base for recruiting, organizing, and training at Camp Garber. They enlisted there on March 20, 1862. The following November they mustered into Company A, Union 1st Tennessee Cavalry. Both men survived the war. William served as a Brigade Teamster. James is named in a 1906 history of the regiment as their last man wounded in action.

Henry journeyed back to Rogersville in Hawkins County. There on Sept.24, 1862, along with his brother-in-law, William Estep, they enrolled in Captain William Francis Sturm's Company of Confederate Volunteers. They would soon be designated Company B, 61st Tennessee Infantry. Immediately after being mustered into Confederate service the regiment was placed in Brigadier General John C. Vaughn’s Brigade, along with the 60th and 62nd Tennessee Regiments, and ordered to Mississippi, arriving at Jackson, Mississippi late in November, 1862. These three regiments remained together in Vaughn’s Brigade throughout the war.

Back in Sullivan County, Jackson Blakely managed to avoid Confederate Conscription through September, 1863, and the Union occupation of Cumberland Gap, and Knoxville. On Sept.22, 1863, Jackson enlisted in Company G Union 8th Tennessee Cavalry. On Oct.19, 1863, The Yankees were routed at Zollicoffer, Tennessee, losing 57 men, killed and wounded. Jackson was among the captured. He was imprisoned at Danville, Virginia. On or about April 15, 1864, he was shot and killed, reportedly attempting to escape. He was the paternal grandfather, of my paternal grandmother, Her father was no doubt named after his uncle, Henry Carter Blakely.

Augustus Blakely, as best I can determine, saw no service in the Civil War. In the 1890's, he unsuccessfully applied for a Union Army Veterans Pension

In the late 1980's-early 1990's, I made contact via the internet with one of Henry Blakely's great-great-grandsons. I was able to assist him with Blakely genealogy, he in turn shared his transcription of Henry's letters. He left the spelling and grammar just as Henry wrote.

The 1st Letter :

Jackson, Miss Dec. 13, 1862
Dear Wife,
It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to inform you that I am well at this time and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I think the time has been a long time since I saw you, but I am in hopes that shall come home soon. I don't think I every wanted to see you as bad in my life as I do at this time, how hapy I would be if I could see you this evening and talk over all of our troubles of this war. We are all here together. We have some fun and past time here, but there is none like you to past off the time with. It is of you I think both day and night as I can not see you. You must write to me to let me know how you are a getting along. I heard of my brother as I came through Cleveland, Bradley County. Now I must tell you what we have to eat. We have Old Poor beef and the corses corn meal you ever saw in your life and we have some rice, shugar, and molasses. Now I must tell you what kind of watter we have to drink. We have the nastiest muddy watter you ever saw. It looks like a duck puddle. Such watter my horse would not drink it if I was at home, but I am here and have to drink it or do with out. If I could get a drink out of our spring this evening, how glad I would be. Your Brother is here in the ridgment. He sends his love and respects to you and his Father and Mother. He says he wants to see you all very much. You must write to him as soon as you can. He wants his Father to write to his wife if he has moved. Now I must tell you how we faired coming dowing here. We had to travel on Old Box cars and flats and the Box cars just leaked as though we had bean out of doors and that is not all, we had to sleep out in the cold damp air and on the cold damp ground and nothing to cover with but our blankets and the canopy of Heavens. Now half is not told. We was hungry nearly all the time. Cold, wet hungry all working on a man at the same time is very tuff. That is the way they sarve a poor soldier. I tell you a soldiers life is no child play. A portion of the company has draw some cloths and thet say we will draw our Bounty and two months wages. I am in hopes it so. I have wrote you two letters and I want you to write to me as soon as you received this and state to me if you have got them. Write to me all of the nuse in general. You will pleas send me a pair of pantaloons by William Boss if he comes, but send no shoes nor drawers. You must hug and kiss sis and tell her it is from it papa. Tell Sister Mag I have not forgot her. Give My best love and respects to my Father and Mother and Sister Mag and except a large portion for your self. Nothing more at present, but remains your
Henry Blakley
Derecte your letter to
Henry Blakley
Col Pitts Ridgment
Gen Vaughns Briggade Jackson Miss.

The 2nd Letter :

Hd. Quarters Camp near Vicksburg, Mississippi May 3 1863
Dear Wife
It is throug a well disicted chain of kind Providence that I am permited this beautiful Sabbath evening to write you a few lines by way of letter to inform you I am tolerable well at this time. I hope when you come to unfold these few lines, may find you and my little Daughter well. I would like to see you very much. I think the time long since I saw you last. But I am in hopes the time shall not be much long till I shall get to come home to see you and my Dear Little babe one time more. I am happy to inform you I came to camp on the morning of the 28. I was in the Hospital three months. Part of the time at Jackson and part of the time at Brandon, Miss. I am sorry to inform you the health of my company is on the Decline. There is five of our company died since we came to the place. I will give you their Names: John Emert, James Light, Hiram Presley, James M. Presley, and Andrew Jones. There has been some fighting down at Warrenton and Grand Gulf, the particulars of which I have not heard. I expect to hear in a day or two they have made it. The yankees have made a raid through this state. They was at Brookhaven, burnt a Depot or two, burnt a bridge or two and tore up a great deal of the road so as to stop our mails for a few days though we received a through to day. I received your letter the day I came to camp which contained the plat of hair you sent to me. My feelings when I saw it is better imagined than expected. If I cant see you now, I can see your beautiful hair which I once so much admired. I tell you, My loving wife, my bosom friend, it is a great sadisfaction to me to be granted with that pleasure though rivers and Mountains are between us my love is true to you and will be till Death. It is reported that our Command will be ordered back to Tennessee. I hope how soon for I want to leave the swamps of Mississippi and get back to Tennessee one time more where I can get good vituals to eat and good water to drink and pure air to breathe. I received your letter of the 15 of april in which you stated you had a fine son. Dear Wife, I should like to have bean there to wait on you, but circumstances was such I could not. O, how I long to see you and my boy. You wanted me to write to you what I wanted him called. I leave that intirely with you. Name him and write his name in your next letter. When you write to me, let me know if received twenty four Dollars sent to you by express. It was sent by Capt W. T. Strum. If you have not, search the office for it. It was sent in the case of Maj Edmonds. I sent you fifteen Dollars from Brandon myself by Mail. I want to know if you get it, also write all about it so I may know. I received all of your letters you wrote when I came to camp. I have not seen William since I came to camp, but I heard he was well and harty. I have had to opportunity of sending his letter to him yet. I received My Mother in law hair and sisters the same time I received yours. The reason i have not sent sis the present is because I was a fraid she would not get it. I hope I shall come soon and bring it myself. Dear wife, as it is getting dark, I shall have to close for the present. I want you to give my love to all and except a large portion for your self. Write soon. I remain your affectionate Husband until Death.
Henry Blakely

The Third Letter (at the end of this post) :

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/an-awful-barge-ride-under-fire.136671/#post-1593481

The 4th and Final Letter :

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/a-letter-home.83106/#post-1071593
 
Last edited:

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
east tennessee roots,

Your above letters prove to me once more on how a careful and dedicated researcher you are when it comes to Civil War documents and history. When you post such, I always find myself paying close attention, as I have come to trust your skills at providing such documentation.

Glad you have learned more about your own family history and am very glad you took the time to share it with us here at the forum.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
east tennessee roots,

Your above letters prove to me once more on how a careful and dedicated researcher you are when it comes to Civil War documents and history. When you post such, I always find myself paying close attention, as I have come to trust your skills at providing such documentation.

Glad you have learned more about your own family history and am very glad you took the time to share it with us here at the forum.

Sincerely,
Unionblue

Thanks Union, your encouraging and kind words mean a great deal to me !

Glenn
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Thanks Union, your encouraging and kind words mean a great deal to me !

Glenn

Glenn,

In the midst of all the debate over black Confederate soldiers, honoring their service, proving that they were soldiers, etc., I believe you are one of the few members of this forum doing their best to provide evidence, historical sources and other verifiable material, all without emotional distractions or pushing an agenda.

What's even more important is when you provide this evidence for all to see, without judgment, letting all who see such make up their own minds on the topic. And what's important to me is that I have come to trust your posts and feel you are doing your best to be fair and even-handed when you contribute such material.

Keep up your excellent standards and work.

It is much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Henry Carter Blakely was born in upper east Tennessee in the mid-1830's. He was the youngest son of James Blakely, a brick-mason that came to Tennessee from Virginia. Henry married Elizabeth Jane Estep, December 18, 1856 in her home County of Hawkins. By 1860, they were living in neighboring Sullivan County, along with their 4-month old daughter, Margaret. Also part of their household was Henry's mentally-challenged brother, John Campbell Blakely, and Henry's half-sister, Margaret Bowser, age 18.

Besides John, Henry had three other brothers living in Sullivan County in 1860. William the oldest, who was born in Virginia, Augustus, who carried on the family trade of masonry, probably learned from their father, who apparently died shortly after Henry's birth, and afterward under the tutelage of their step-father, George Bowser, also a brick-mason. The third brother was my ancestor, Jackson Blakely.

The Civil War divided many families in east Tennessee, The Blakely family was one. William Blakely, and his 18 year-old son James, navigated through Confederate lines to Flatt Lick, Knox County, Kentucky, near Cumberland Gap, where the Union Army had established a base for recruiting, organizing, and training at Camp Garber. They enlisted there on March 20, 1862. The following November they mustered into Company A, Union 1st Tennessee Cavalry. Both men survived the war. William served as a Brigade Teamster. James is named in a 1906 history of the regiment as their last man wounded in action.

Henry journeyed back to Rogersville in Hawkins County. There on Sept.24, 1862, along with his brother-in-law, William Estep, they enrolled in Captain William Francis Sturm's Company of Confederate Volunteers. They would soon be designated Company B, 61st Tennessee Infantry. Immediately after being mustered into Confederate service the regiment was placed in Brigadier General John C. Vaughn’s Brigade, along with the 60th and 62nd Tennessee Regiments, and ordered to Mississippi, arriving at Jackson, Mississippi late in November, 1862. These three regiments remained together in Vaughn’s Brigade throughout the war.

Back in Sullivan County, Jackson Blakely managed to avoid Confederate Conscription through September, 1863, and the Union occupation of Cumberland Gap, and Knoxville. On Sept.22, 1863, Jackson enlisted in Company G Union 8th Tennessee Cavalry. On Oct.19, 1863, The Yankees were routed at Zollicoffer, Tennessee, losing 57 men, killed and wounded. Jackson was among the captured. He was imprisoned at Danville, Virginia. On or about April 15, 1864, he was shot and killed, reportedly attempting to escape. He was the paternal grandfather, of my paternal grandmother, Her father was no doubt named after his uncle, Henry Carter Blakely.

Augustus Blakely, as best I can determine, saw no service in the Civil War. In the 1890's, he unsuccessfully applied for a Union Army Veterans Pension

In the late 1980's-early 1990's, I made contact via the internet with one of Henry Blakely's great-great-grandsons. I was able to assist him with Blakely genealogy, he in turn shared his transcription of Henry's letters. He left the spelling and grammar just as Henry wrote.

The 1st Letter :

Jackson, Miss Dec. 13, 1862
Dear Wife,
It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to inform you that I am well at this time and hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. I think the time has been a long time since I saw you, but I am in hopes that shall come home soon. I don't think I every wanted to see you as bad in my life as I do at this time, how hapy I would be if I could see you this evening and talk over all of our troubles of this war. We are all here together. We have some fun and past time here, but there is none like you to past off the time with. It is of you I think both day and night as I can not see you. You must write to me to let me know how you are a getting along. I heard of my brother as I came through Cleveland, Bradley County. Now I must tell you what we have to eat. We have Old Poor beef and the corses corn meal you ever saw in your life and we have some rice, shugar, and molasses. Now I must tell you what kind of watter we have to drink. We have the nastiest muddy watter you ever saw. It looks like a duck puddle. Such watter my horse would not drink it if I was at home, but I am here and have to drink it or do with out. If I could get a drink out of our spring this evening, how glad I would be. Your Brother is here in the ridgment. He sends his love and respects to you and his Father and Mother. He says he wants to see you all very much. You must write to him as soon as you can. He wants his Father to write to his wife if he has moved. Now I must tell you how we faired coming dowing here. We had to travel on Old Box cars and flats and the Box cars just leaked as though we had bean out of doors and that is not all, we had to sleep out in the cold damp air and on the cold damp ground and nothing to cover with but our blankets and the canopy of Heavens. Now half is not told. We was hungry nearly all the time. Cold, wet hungry all working on a man at the same time is very tuff. That is the way they sarve a poor soldier. I tell you a soldiers life is no child play. A portion of the company has draw some cloths and thet say we will draw our Bounty and two months wages. I am in hopes it so. I have wrote you two letters and I want you to write to me as soon as you received this and state to me if you have got them. Write to me all of the nuse in general. You will pleas send me a pair of pantaloons by William Boss if he comes, but send no shoes nor drawers. You must hug and kiss sis and tell her it is from it papa. Tell Sister Mag I have not forgot her. Give My best love and respects to my Father and Mother and Sister Mag and except a large portion for your self. Nothing more at present, but remains your
Henry Blakley
Derecte your letter to
Henry Blakley
Col Pitts Ridgment
Gen Vaughns Briggade Jackson Miss.

The 2nd Letter :

Hd. Quarters Camp near Vicksburg, Mississippi May 3 1863
Dear Wife
It is throug a well disicted chain of kind Providence that I am permited this beautiful Sabbath evening to write you a few lines by way of letter to inform you I am tolerable well at this time. I hope when you come to unfold these few lines, may find you and my little Daughter well. I would like to see you very much. I think the time long since I saw you last. But I am in hopes the time shall not be much long till I shall get to come home to see you and my Dear Little babe one time more. I am happy to inform you I came to camp on the morning of the 28. I was in the Hospital three months. Part of the time at Jackson and part of the time at Brandon, Miss. I am sorry to inform you the health of my company is on the Decline. There is five of our company died since we came to the place. I will give you their Names: John Emert, James Light, Hiram Presley, James M. Presley, and Andrew Jones. There has been some fighting down at Warrenton and Grand Gulf, the particulars of which I have not heard. I expect to hear in a day or two they have made it. The yankees have made a raid through this state. They was at Brookhaven, burnt a Depot or two, burnt a bridge or two and tore up a great deal of the road so as to stop our mails for a few days though we received a through to day. I received your letter the day I came to camp which contained the plat of hair you sent to me. My feelings when I saw it is better imagined than expected. If I cant see you now, I can see your beautiful hair which I once so much admired. I tell you, My loving wife, my bosom friend, it is a great sadisfaction to me to be granted with that pleasure though rivers and Mountains are between us my love is true to you and will be till Death. It is reported that our Command will be ordered back to Tennessee. I hope how soon for I want to leave the swamps of Mississippi and get back to Tennessee one time more where I can get good vituals to eat and good water to drink and pure air to breathe. I received your letter of the 15 of april in which you stated you had a fine son. Dear Wife, I should like to have bean there to wait on you, but circumstances was such I could not. O, how I long to see you and my boy. You wanted me to write to you what I wanted him called. I leave that intirely with you. Name him and write his name in your next letter. When you write to me, let me know if received twenty four Dollars sent to you by express. It was sent by Capt W. T. Strum. If you have not, search the office for it. It was sent in the case of Maj Edmonds. I sent you fifteen Dollars from Brandon myself by Mail. I want to know if you get it, also write all about it so I may know. I received all of your letters you wrote when I came to camp. I have not seen William since I came to camp, but I heard he was well and harty. I have had to opportunity of sending his letter to him yet. I received My Mother in law hair and sisters the same time I received yours. The reason i have not sent sis the present is because I was a fraid she would not get it. I hope I shall come soon and bring it myself. Dear wife, as it is getting dark, I shall have to close for the present. I want you to give my love to all and except a large portion for your self. Write soon. I remain your affectionate Husband until Death.
Henry Blakely

The Third Letter (at the end of this post) :

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/an-awful-barge-ride-under-fire.136671/#post-1593481

The 4th and Final Letter :

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/a-letter-home.83106/#post-1071593


Henry mentions to his wife in the 1st letter, "Your brother is here with the regiment" This is reportedly a photo of William Estep who actually served in the 60th TN.

William Estep.jpg


"I received your letter of the 15 of April in which you stated you had a fine son". Henry's son, Henry Gaines Blakely (1863-1949).


Henry Gaines Blakely.jpg


"You must hug and kiss sis and tell her it is from it, papa".
Henry's daughter, "sis" Margret Blakely Woods (1860-1939), seated in the center of the photo.


_Blanche, Mrs Woods, Hattie and kids across the street_ (1).jpg
 
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