is a letter written by my Great, Great Uncle William Hackworth on March
18, 1863 while camped near Columbia, Tennessee. He was a private in H
Company of the 4th Tennessee (McClemore's) Cavalry which was part of
Bedford Forrest's Cavalry. He was born February 22, 1840 in Marion County,
Tennessee (about 35 miles east of Chattanooga). He died February 16,
1929, and is buried in Condra Cemetery in Marion County. One of his brothers,
Levi Hackworth, is listed on the muster rolls of the 35th Tennessee Infantry.
After researching pension records, I have determined that he (Levi)also
survived the war. Try as I might, I have not been able to find a service
record for either of them, so I have not been able to determine exact
sign-up and muster out dates. If these records ever did exist, they probably
do not anymore. I did however find a unit history of the 4th Tennessee
Cavalry, which lists every battle in which the unit participated during
the war, so it is certain that he (William)participated in a number of
these battles. From this unit history, I have deduced that he most likely
signed up January 1, 1862 at Camp Cheatham (Cheatham County, Tenn) with
a group of other men from Marion County.
One copy is an actual transcript of the letter with all spelling and
punctuation errors intact. The other copy has all spelling and punctuation
errors corrected as much as possible.
W. J. Thompson]
near Columbia, Tennessee. March 18, 1863
Dear Father, Mother, Brothers, and Sisters,
It is through the kind providence of God that I have once more the opportunity
of addressing you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present,
and I do hope these few lines may find you all enjoying the same like blessing.
I have nothing very strange to write. I received a
letter when Jonathan Hargess came to the CO. That is the only correct
news I have had from home since I left. I wrote an answer and sent
it by mail. I can't tell whether you have received it or not.
I suppose that you hear of all the hard fights we have
without me writing about them. I will just remark that on the 5th day
of this (month) we fought one of the hardest battles that I have ever
experienced. The battle was fought at Thompson Station. That is between
Columbia and Nashville on the railroad. I believe we fought from ten
o'clock in the morning till three o'clock in the evening. We whipped
them completely. Their cavalry all ran off and left their infantry.
Our cavalry then ran around in the rear of their infantry, and we gave
them shot and shell on every side until the whole of them surrendered.
I have never heard the report of the killed and wounded on either side,
but I know one thing; the number that surrendered was five regiments,
supposed to be 3,300 men, besides the killed and wounded. I was over
a portion of the battleground myself and there was at least two dead
Yankees to one of our men. These are facts that I saw with my own eyes.
Our brigade, under General Forrest and General Van
Dorn's command, were the men engaged in the fight on our side. The
(union) force was supposed to be Grant's army from Mississippi, come
to reinforce Rosecrans at Murfreesboro. We lost nary a man out of our
company. One wounded. Tillman Boyd was wounded in the leg, but not
dangerously. The rest of the company are all in tolerable good health,
with the exception of some four or five that are wounded. They are
getting along as well as could be expected.
I received a letter from James Smith in Capt. Deakins'
company. He wrote that he heard from home a few days before he wrote
to me. He stated in his letter that you was all well except Father,
and that he was sick. I want you to write as soon as you get this and
let me know how you are all getting along through this lonesome and
troublesome world. I heard that the soldiers had taken all the corn
in the valley there without respect of persons. If you have anything
to live upon, write that. If you have not, write that. Write the truth,
let it be good or bad. If you have nothing to eat, write. I feel like
I would do you justice, my country justice, and my God justice to come
home and make bread for you, although I feel like it was my duty to
fight for my home and every other man.
I have made one draw of money. James Richard is getting
a discharge and is coming home. I will send one hundred dollars by
him. If you need the money in the way of something to live on, use
it. If not, pay Jesse Tickett toward my horse. Tell him to credit the
note. You will know how to fix that. Tell Aunt Bobbie Hendrix that
Samuel came to our company some four of five weeks ago and was taken
sick in a day or two after he came to the company. He is in the hospital
in Columbia. He has been very bad, but is getting well.
Col. Starnes is promoted to brigadier general. Gen.
Forrest is promoted to major general. I would like very much to see
home one time more, but no chance to get a furlough now. I will just
have to grin and bear it. There is but one general that ever can whip
the South, and that is general starvation I don't think we need fearhim,
for I think he will always be on our side.
So, no more. I still remain
Your son until death,