The following letters are from Jasper Newton Millsaps to his wife and family. Jasper was married to Phoebe Caroline Maddux, daughter
of Adam Maddux, and sister to John Campbell Maddux. Many of Caroline and Jasper's family members also served in the war on both sides.
These are the letters of a homesick soldier who has seen the aftermath of the burning of Atlanta and battles in Nashville and Chattanooga.
COPIES OF LETTERS WRITTEN BY JASPER NEWTON MILLSAPS WHILE SERVING IN THE UNION ARMY DURING THE CIVIL WAR~
Pvt. Jasper Newton Millsaps to Phoebe Caroline Maddux Millsaps at home
(He was camped at Marietta, Georgia ~ September 30, 1864)
This letter was printed in beautiful script style, the better for Grand Mother to read it ~
I one more time take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well, and I do hope these few lines will come to hand and find you and the children and Grandmother well. I am in better health than I have been for a long time, is the best news I have to write to you. John is well and hearty. All the boys is well generally at present. I think you have forgotten to write to me as I have only had two letters from you since I left home. I have been down to Atlanta. I stayed all night down there and of all the places I have saw I think it is shot nearer to pieces than any place yet. John stayes at Atlanta. I want to see you all very bad, but I do not expect to get to see you shortly. I can't come home before my time is out. I want you to write to me as often as you can and let me know how you are getting long and how times are in old Tennessee.
We have not been paid yet, the most of us have not got a cent. Rite if you can read this ~ rite how many letters you have got since I saw you. Rite as soon as you get this.
So I will close for this time by saying I remain your loving husband until death parts us.
Pvt. Jasper Newton Millsaps
Co. C, 5th E. T. Reg. Vol. Inft.
November 16, 1864
to Pheobe Caroline Maddux Millsaps
(In printed form:)
How trying is the soldiers life
Far from his home and friends ~
Eyed with foes in deadly strife,
How sad his time he spends.
How often when he is alone,
Will flow the silent tears ~
As he reflects that there is none
Of all those loved ones near.
Having got to Nashville safe and sound I rite you a few lines to let you know where I am this morning.
I get to Chattanooga at three O'clock Monday evening. I saw your pap, and Bill Cates and George Cates. John and Sam went home and your Pap come to Chattanooga on Sunday with them. So we all got to go home and is all back all rite. We was two nights and one day coming to Nashville. The car run off the track and broke one mans leg, he was all that got hurt bad. I cannot tell yet where we are going, whether we are going to stay here or not. As soon as we go in to camps and get settled I will write and let you know where I am at. Lish went home and has not come up yet.
This is a nice looking place to what it was when we was here before two years ago. I can see all kinds of business going on from the window where I am writing from.
I went into the post office at Chattanooga and saw one letter for ou and one for Luceasy (?) Write to me if you get them. I told Tom Ralston to send them out to you. I told him to write you a few lines and let you know that I got off with the regiment and that I was all right.
Caroline since I have been writing this letter to you I have received a very kind letter from Mother. I stopped writing and have read it with tears in my eyes. It has some good advice in it to me.They are all well and doing as well as could be expected in war times. You had better wait until I write to you again before you write to me. I will write as soon as we get settled or stop to stay stopped any length of time. I think we will leave here in a day or two. Our command is at Pulaski seventy-four miles from Nashville. I think we will go down there , so as I haven't slept any since I left home. I will stop writing for this time by saying I remain your loving husband until death.
Pvt. Jasper Newton Millsaps to his Mother, Brothers and Sisters at home ~
Camped at Columbia, Tennessee
December 28th, 1864
Dear Mother and Step-father, Brothers and Sisters:
Through the mercies of a kind Creator that I am allowed this good morning to take my seat to drop you a few lines. And I am thankful to Him for the opportunity. These lines leave me well and I do hope they will come safe to hand and find all of you best with-------good blessings.
Mother, I received a letter from you dated Oct. 16th and could get a letter through I would have answered before now. Though the Rebels has had the -------------------- but so much that I did not think it worth while to write. I have waited as long as I am going to to write-----if it don't come to hand it can stop---------the way.
I have plenty to write to you Mother, if I could write half that I have saw this winter, though I cannot write one fourth. I will write the things that will do you the most good to hear. I have been in some close places and good luck has favored me and I com out alright without harm, though while I stoodmy ground -----------of better than me have fallen and are gone to unknown worlds to us.
I have had some hard fighting to do this winter, though I think we are done: in all out battles with the Rebels we got the best of them. They have gone back to Dixie and I hope they will stay gone. (Bill) Haulston, Lewis Jones, John Maddux all are through safe and are present and well. -------Lish Gann.
As my command came out of Georgia to meet the Rebel Army in Tenn. I was at home and--------alright. I left home on the morning of 14th ----my wife and children are all well at that time. I have not heard from them since. The connection were all well at that time as far as I could hear.
I have saw Jack Green and been with him -----of times. He was not very well when I saw him though he was able to go about. James Ba----- was not at the regiment and I did not get to see him. This was at Pulaski, Tenn. After we came to Nashville, I went to see Jack and James but did not see ---------them. Jackson was sent up to the hospital though he was able to still get about.
James had him another wife down where he was staying. He was well when -------left him. He was either captured or laying out --- this is all that I can tell about them (him). I am in the -----------of the place where James married, if I can I will (find out) what became of him or where he is.
Mother, I have two months to serve yet, and then I will go home if I should be so lucky as to live, and then I want you to come and see me if you please com in -------------.
I want you to write to me as soon as you get this letter and let me hear from you all. Write if Isabels man has come home or not. I now send my love to Lydia and Isabel and my brothers and sisters, and I want them to write to me.
I will close in saying, I remain you loving son & brother ~
(Note: a small portion of the sheet is torn off on the front left side so some of the sentences cannot be completed)
Pvt. Jasper Newton Millsaps
Washington, Camp Stone Man (Mtn.?)
January 27, 1865
to Phoebe Caroline Maddux Millsaps
Dear Wife and Children And Connection and Friends:
Having got to Washington City safe and sound, I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am yet on the land amongst the living. And I am in good health as I could expect at present, and I hope these few lines may come safe to hand and find all of you well and hearty.
We have been traveling for ten days, the first five days we was on steamboats on the Ohio River. We landed at Cincinnati on the evening of the 21st and left on the 22nd on the cars for some place else, I can't say where. We got to Washington City this morning. This is a nice place. We have had good luck on this trip as we could expect.
So as I have a bad chance to write I will close for the present by a good-bye tonight, as my light is almost out.
I remain your ever kind and loving husband as long as life doth last.
I am this cold night one thousand mile from Home, Sweet Home ~ Be it ever so happy theres no place like home~
Camped at Marietta, Georgia
August the 25, 1864
Dear Mother, I take my seat to rite you a few lines to let you no that through the kindess of just and merciful God I am yet permitted to live and enjoy good health up to the present. Hoping when these few lines come to hand they may find you and all the family and connection enjoying the same. Mother, I have saw more from the time I saw you up to the present than I could write in a day. I have saw a hard time and had to face more danger than I ever did in all my life before. But the Lord has brought me safe so far and I hope he will hereafter. We have had good luck so far. We have driven the Rebel Army into Atlanta and I think we will soon start them again. Our Regiment is camped at Marietta fortifying the place. We did only stay two dayes close to Atlanta before we was ordered back to this place. I had as soon do what we are doing as to fight and a little sooner. I have six --------to serve from today and if I should be so lucky as to live I will be free on time more. This country is in bad condition. I am sorry for the women and children but can't do them any good by being sorry for them. The Rebels are deserting every day more or less and coming home to their families. I wish they may all come home and take care of their families.
Mother, I received a letter from you that was wrote 8th day of July and was glad to hear that you was all well and was glad to hear from you all one more time. You must not think hard of me not answering it before now. The letter came to the regiment but at the time it came I was at Knoxville and John Maddux sent it up there and before it reached Knoxville I had left. But left word if any letters came for me to send them to the regiment and they sent it back to me, so I got it at last.
Lewis and Bill Ralston is well. Bill Jones, Lewis' brother was killed on the 22nd day of July 1864. Thomas Jones, Ales (?) son had been to see us. I have a heap of connection in this army. And we have been very lucky. We number some eight or ten, and only two has been killed and one wounded yet. Thomas Daughtrey was killed and Cousin Bill Jones was killed and cousin Bill Raulson wounded. I wrote you a letter while I was at Knoxville and told you where I was at but I have never heard from you whether you got it or not. This night six weeks ago I stayed with Caroline and the children. They was all well and doing as well as I could expect. Caroline's grandmother was with her. Write to me soon.
J. N. Millsaps - to his Mother and one and all~
Jasper Newton Millsaps
Waldens Ridge, Tennessee
March 7th, 1869
Dear Father & Mother & Brothers & Sisters:
It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to answer your kind and welcome letter of date Jan. 7th which came to hand on the 6th of March. Which found all of us in moderate health and gave us very much satisfaction to hear from you all once more.
I am able to do a little work at this time and I sometimes I think I am a little on the rising ground. My family is all in good health as common. The connection is all well as far as I know.
It may be that you may be on your way down here before this letter reaches you, but if it should reach before you start, come on and don't wait for me to come for I have nothing to come with. One of my oxen could not get to your house at all let alone coming back. Caroline says as she expects to see you before long she will not send you more than howdy. If you have not started when this letter reaches you start one back when you will be here.
So nothing more at present only I remain your most affectionate son until death.
J. N. Millsaps & Caroline Millsaps
To You All
Jasper Newton Millsaps
March 7th, 1869
Dear Brother & Sister:
You will see in Mother's letter the condition concerning our health and that we are all yet living. I was glad to get a letter from you and to hear from you. I have nothing worth your attention to write to you, as times is very hard down here and theres nothing going on worth attention. I wand you and Lyda to come down and see us this fall, if you cannot come before. I am living two miles from Joes now, nearly one days journey closer to y ou than when you was to see me before. Come down and see if you can't suit yourself in a place and move down. This is a healthy place to live and a good place to make money when there is any to be made.
So come and see us any how. Write to me as soon as you get this letter. Write often.
I now send my best love to all the children and you all. Caroline send her best love to you both and the children and wants you to come and see us.
We remain your most affectionate brother and sister.
Jasper and Caroline Millsaps
To Wm. J. and Lyda Green
This letter was written by John Thomas Grant who was a son of Perez and Mary Jane (Millsaps) Grant, and a grandson to Phoebe Caroline Maddux Millsaps and Jasper Newton Millsaps, to
Lydia Millsaps in 1961:
Dear Cousin Lydia,
As you have requested, I am relating some of the incidents in the life of our Grandfather, J. N. Millsaps, which I hope may prove of some interest to you, although I am afraid that I can add but little to the records you already have in your possession. However, I may be able to give you a more connected account of his army life based upon the movements of the army of which he was a part.
Your records show that he was born July 27, 1829 in Blount Co., Tennessee. At one time, I wrote down the names of all his families as far back as he could remember, but unfortunately these records were destroyed. I feel sure he must have mentioned his father's name, if not, that of his grandmother. My recollection was that it was a brother that went very far away from home, but I understand from members of the family that it was his father instead. Whether a victim of foul play or for other reasons we do not know.
I remember very distinctly that he mentioned having attended school as Mossy Creek and that he either lived at or worked at Greenville, Tenn., but just when -- I don't think he mentioned the date. We talked about Carson & Newman College, because I had hopes of attending that school and he was very anxious that I do so. We discussed this shortly before his death. I had attended a family reunion with him at Gold Point and visited the Farrises and had planned another trip but he was stricken with Pneumonia from which he did not recover. I think it probable that he returned to Jefferson City with his mother or after she married a Mr. Bowers, he lived with some of her or his kinfolk at Jefferson City. Whether he lived with his mother after she remarried or came to the section of Hamilton near Harrison we do not know. However, we find that the Raulstons and Madduxes owned farms and that he worked on the farm and looked after the cattle on the mountain range also.
He married Caroline Maddux in 1856 and was the father of four small children when the war broke out. He, along with many other East Tennesseeans were Union sympathizers and ran away to Kentucky to prevent being conscripted into the southern army. He has told me of the many dangers and hardships he underwent in evading the southern soldiers posted along all roads to prevent them from joining the Union Army. This was serious business.
My father's oldest brother went with the south and was killed at Stone River. Another brother ran away to Indiana. He suffered a relapse of measles and saw little service. He saw the body of Lincoln when it was returned to Springfield for burial. A brother-in-law of my father served in the U. S. Navy, and his brother with whom my father's brother served was killed at Stone Rive, joined, were never very friendly after the war although they lived on adjoining farms.
The mountain was very sparsely settled in those years. My Grandfather came to Tennessee from New York City about ten years before the war began and my father was not of military age. I am not sure whether my grandfather died before or after the war. One man who lived near them was hanged near my father's home because he refused to accompany the southern sympathizers and my father helped to bury him. I believe this took just about all the eligible men for military services and left the women and children to carry on the best they could. With one or two exceptions, I think we can trace his movements pretty accurately. While they are lacking in detail, still together with the commanders he served under and the personal letters written to his family, we do not believe we are far wrong.
Grandfather was stationed at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee during most of 1862. A number of minor engagements were fought in eastern Kentucky during that time. After the battle of Shiloh, Buell returned to Kentucky where the battle of Perryville was fought. Bragg, though claiming the victory, retreated as you map will show, in a somewhat circuitous route to Stone River where the battle was fought on the last day of December 1862 and the first day of January 1863. Buel had been relieved by Rosecrans. He was joined by General Garfield and General Thomas who were operating in eastern Kentucky at the time. Gen. Thomas was commander of the Army of the Cumberland. Gen. Burnside, relieved of his command after his failure at Fredricksburg, though he still retained the confidence of the President, was given command of the Army of the Ohio and was to protect Gen. Thomas's left as they moved south. Col. Spears in whose command Grandfather served, was an independent command at this time. He arrived in Murfreesboro after the battle and was the only command with fresh troops. He made a charge on the enemyís retreating forces. The next account we have of Col. Spears is in the vicinity of Knoxville where his command was absorbed into Burnsideís army of the Ohio. And I do not have a further record of Col. Spears activities. However, Gen. Manson was still in or around Cumberland Gap, and no doubt Grandfather was with him. When Gen. Wilcox arrived at Knoxville to take command, he relieved Gen. Manson. Burnside wished to be relieved but Lincoln refused, and he served with distinction until after the battle of Knoxville, when his wish was granted. I cannot find where either Col. Spears or Gen. Manson were at Chickamauga or Missionary Ridge.
When Rosecrans, thoroughly routed, retreated into Chattanooga after the battle of Chickamauga, his command was given to Thomas, who had saved the day for the federals at Chickamauga. Bragg felt so sure that Thomasís army would be starved into submission within a very short time that he dispatched Longstreet to Knoxville to take care of Burnside. He had retreated to Knoxville for the purpose of drawing Longstreetís army further away from Grant which had Grantís approval. Incidentally, Grant had been ordered from Vicksburg and the Mississippi to take over at Chattanooga. Sherman was on his way from Vicksburg and Hooker on his way from the east to the aid of Thomasís army.
Most of us know something of the battle of Missionary Ridge, so I will not repeat any of the details here except to say that Grant and Thomas were, it seems, never very fond of each other. Thomas was a southerner by birth and a very religious man: whereas Grant had a reputation of indulging in the brew that cheers, which may have had something to do with their feelings. And, too, Thomas was slow and cautious while Grand was driving and reckless at times. After the battle of Missionary Ridge, Sherman was sent to the relief of Burnside at Knoxville who was short of rations. Longstreet learning that Johnson, who had succeeded Bragg was driven off the Ridge, after having made one bloody assault on the fort at Knoxville withdrew. He advised Bragg that he could not help him and would return to Gen. Lee in Virginia. Longstreetís orders were to capture or defeat Burnside and return to Chattanooga, but he and Bragg were not on the best of terms after the battle of Chickamauga and he seemed dilatory in carrying out orders.
General Foster was sent to relieve Burnside. I believe he was suffering from a fall off his horse and the command was given to Gen. Schofield. So you see we, in Succession, Spears, Manson, Wilcox, and Foster -- all added to Gen. Shermanís army for the march into Georgia. It was a hard winter. Both Longstreetís army and those union men left to defend East Tennessee were so poorly equipped they were unable to do any fighting during the winter months. The drive to Atlanta took about ten months. It was a long and bloody campaign. Dalton, Resaca, Kennesaw Mtn., and finally Atlanta. It is hard to believe that with his commanders engaged in all these battles that he escaped. However, they say it takes five men to keep one man on the firing line in most battles. You will recall that Gen. Manson was incapacitated by a bursting shell at his feet at Resaca.
After the surrender of Atlanta, there were a number of changes made by Grant who had been made supreme commander of all the Union armies. Thomas was sent to Nashville to recruit an army to face Hood, who was now in command of the Confederates in Atlanta, and Sherman given command of the forces in Georgia. While they were waiting to know what direction Hood would take, Scofield, under whom Grandfather was serving, was guarding Chattanooga. And when it was known that Hood would invade Tennessee, he was sent to join Thomas, and was stationed at Columbia, Tennessee. He barely escaped capture by Hood, but made his way into Franklin, where one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war was fought, but not the largest. Hood claims that had not some of his trusted generals deliberately disobeyed orders, the battle of Franklin would have been a confederate victory. As it was, the Federal troops retreated into Nashville during the night. It was not their intention to fight a battle before reaching Nashville. One incident, I recall, is his having mentioned (which agrees with the records), is in front of the hastily thrown up trenches was that they made a abates of the thorn trees in front of the trench which slowed down the charge and perhaps saved the day for the Federals. Grant kept urging Thomas to attack Hood, but the weather was unfavorable. Impatient, he had sent a man to take over, but before he arrived, the elements had abated somewhat and he routed Hoodís army. However, Hood did manage to get across the Tennessee River at Decatur. And owing to the conditions of the roads and lack of supplies, Thomas failed to follow Grantís orders to continue on toward Selma, Alabama. Grand broke up Thomasís army. Wilson was sent toward Selma with his calvary, and it was his troops that captured Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, after Leeís surrender.
Schofield wanted Thomasís command, and when he failed to get it, asked Grant to transfer him to either he or Sherman. The orders came shortly after the first of the year and they boarded steamers for Cincinnati. Then to Camp Stoneman, and Grandfather was returned to Nashville where he mustered out of the army a few days before the surrender of General Lee. One incident I failed to mention at the battle of Franklin, was as my Grandfather related, was one of their officers riding low on his horse and calling to his men to keep their heads up and aim low. He was shot from his horse as he passed near to where he was in the trench.
After three years of service, I am sure he was glad to get home; and I imagine he lost no time finding his way to his home and family on Waldenís Ridge. His wife had been left with four small children and all the stock and food they had on hand were taken by the foragers of Braggís army on the retreat to Chickamauga and next by Sherman. It is said that you could have walked on dead draft animals all the way from Stevenson to Chattanooga.
After the war, he was active in church work while he was engaged in building a home and rearing a family. He loved to hunt and no doubt kept his larder pretty well stocked with wild meats. I recall the lovely garden my Grandmother always had in the summertime, and the lovely fruits and melons I enjoyed so much. Later when he was Justice of the Peace from his district, he loaned a gourd fiddle he had made for his youngest son, to Emma Bell Miles and Grace McGowan Cook, who collaborated to have a photo of a Negro boy playing it -- an article which was printed in a national magazine at the time. I believe there is a copy at the library at the present time.
He was the father of twelve children --- six boys and six girls. The entire family of children are buried in the family cemetery on his place, and all but two of the in-laws, with exception of one still living (in 1961). There is a place reserved for her there. He was the founder of the First Baptist Church on the Mowbray Mtn. And an ordained minister in the Hiawassee Association.
J. T. Grant
April 1st, 1961