A letter from the Civil War camps

jacob-willHere is a transcription of a letter written from Jacob Will (pictured at right) to his father while Jacob serving in the Confederacy during the Civil War. This comes to us courtesy of Martha Lytton Van Trees.

12th July 1861

Dear Father

Having promised to write to you I now comply by imparting a few lines to you to inform you that I am well at present.  We are now encamped on the fair-ground about nine miles below Winchester called Camp Carson.  I can’t tell exactly how many soldiers are here.  The reports vary from 25 to 50 thousand including Militias and all.  All seem to be lively, faring well, and well satisfied.  We have plenty to eat here though it is a little rough.  The retreat of Col. Jackson’s Brigade from Bunker Hill, created considerable excitement.  It presented a very sublime scene, and was performed with great military skill.

They have about 75 Yankee prisoners in Winchester.  It was rumored here today that there will be 8000 volunteers in on tomorrow from Georgia.  This is just the report, we don’t know whether it is so or not.  I must close for the present, but will ever remain, your dutiful son,

Jacob Will

I will write soon.  Direct your letter to Care of Capt. Peters, 2nd Regiment, Virginia Militia

References and Notes

  1. Jacob Will was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia on March 16, 1820, the son of Jonathan (John) Will (1786-1864) and Hanna Byrd (1788-1864).  Jacob married Elizabeth Jones (1843-1890) about 1863. Jacob was 23 years older than Elizabeth.
  2. They were farmers and lived about two miles west of Moore’s Store, Shenandoah County, Virginia. (Harpine, p. 194).
  3. In Klaus Wust’s Old Pine Church Baptisms, there is an entry for Jacob, son of Georg Will and Catharina, born 14 March 1820, baptized April 8, 1820, by Rev. Paul Henkel. This George Will is the brother of Jonathan. However, we believe that George passed away around 1844, and the letter above was written in 1861. So perhaps George and Catharine were the sponsors for Jacob’s baptism?
  4. In Burruss’ The Rinkers of Virginia, it is noted that Jacob Will married Mary Rinker (born July 13, 1820), daughter of George Rinker (1792-1829) and Elizabeth Moore (born 1800), on November 19, 1841. This certainly could be our Jacob, but if true than Mary must have died young because Jacob is living in Jonathon’s home in 1850 and Mary is not mentioned.
  5. Jacob and Elizabeth are buried in St Lukes United Church of Christ (County Line) Cemetery, Moores Store, Shenandoah County, Virginia.