The Letters of John M. Jackson–June 9th, 1863

On one of his usual treasure hunts in Maine, our CEO, Will Seippel  stumbled upon a massive collection of letters that belonged to a soldier in the Civil War. These letters will be published in chronological order in The Insider over the coming weeks, months and years, as we follow John Mower Jackson’s personal victories and struggles within the greater national struggle of the Civil War. Click here to read our introduction to this new column that sets the stage with our soldier’s background story.

Here we have another letter from Delinda, John’s sister. She is excited to hear that John’s draft is almost over. Apparently, he’s due to return home in 3 weeks; however, another draft is scheduled to occur July, so Delinda hopes that John won’t be called again.

Readfield, June 9/63

My Dear Brother, I rejoice that the time is so near that will restore you to your friends and home. Only three weeks: I wish it was but three days. There is to be a draft in July; the officers are enrolling names now preparatory to the draft. They say the returned soldiers will have to take their chance with the rest. I am sorry but I suppose they will be worth much more than raw recruits. I hope you will not have to go back; don’t you think I am patriotic?

Since I last wrote you I have attended the exhibition. The exercises were all very interesting. The first day the gentlemen declaimed and ladies read selections for a prize. The prize for declamation was awarded to Roscoe Sanderson of Farmington. He is a very good speaker but somewhat conceited.

Miss Anne Cox, a little miss not more than 13 or 14, took the prize for reading. Will. Bryant took the prize for original declamation. His subject was “Resolution.” His subject and composition were characteristic of himself. The prize for best composition by a lady was awarded to Mrs Maria Fernald. Her subject was “The Jewish Lawgiver.” She has been married since she entered college and her husband is in the navy. Mr Torsey announced her place of residence as being formerly Kent’s Hill now the blockading fleet off Charleston harbor. Mr Torsey was as funny as ever at exhibition. When Mr Lincoln was awarding prizes he interrupted him and and called Sanderson up to the stand to receive his prize as soon as it was announced saying it would be a violation of their rules for a gentleman and lady to come up to the stand together. Mr Torsey has been obliged to be very watchful this term for he has had some that he has called notorious cases. Those, however, were sent away before the close of the term. I forgot to tell you of the prize for the best oil painting warded to Miss Emily Burly. The prizes were valued from $5 to $10 each. The prizes for writing & bookkeeping were presented at the exhibition. Among all the prizes not one for me.

Dea. Barrell and Mrs Tolsom & Fannie were over to the exhibition but went home at noon of the second day thus losing all the originals. I did not see Fannie at all. Mr Tillebrown visited my school last Friday. I have heard that he was very much to be feared but he appeared quite gentlemanly and I did not fear him at all. The girls who were examined before I was said the committee did not treat them well. They were quite indignant that the young lady who appeared for the Corner school did not get a certificate and said they would walk ever so far to hear a young lady examined who could get a certificate for that school. But when I engaged the school and invited them to go to hear the examination they would not go.

We are having a cold rainstorm. We have not had much rain for a long time and the earth was getting very dry I think I shall like my school very well. I like my boarding place very well.

June 10

A very fine morning and I hope it is going to be warm; at least warm enough for comfort.

It was very cold before the storm for several days. I am reading Virgil; commenced the first and read 60 times per day. I never have read all the first book I would like to make up this summer a part of the first book all the 2d part of the 3d, 6th all the 7th and part of the 8th.

I intend to come to school here this fall but do not before the time comes. I want to read Latin one term more at school; and term more will finish my French course and I want to finish Geometry. That will seem to be a better stopping place than I have reached yet.

I must write Emma this morning. I promised to tell her all about the exhibition.

I have not received a letter from you since one dated May 20; hope I shall get one tonight.

From your aff sister Delinda


Delinda mentions that since she last wrote, she attended a reader’s exhibition recently. One of the male winners was “Roscoe Sanderson” who is said to be a very skilled reader, but also very conceited. He probably just likes to hear his own voice. A little girl named Anne Cox, who is only around thirteen, even managed to win the prize for reading. Apparently Fannie had also attended as well, but unfortunately, Delinda never had the chance to catch up with her. All in all, the event was full of many talented participants, and it seems as if everyone had an enjoyable time.

As Delinda writes to John, the weather is rather unpleasant; it has been cold and rainy for several days. But there hasn’t been much rain for some time, as the ground has become very dry. What’s more, Delinda is very excited to start school next term. It’s wonderful how she’s able to stay so optimistic even during such dreary times.

Fortunately, the next day is considerably warmer, and Delinda has taken to reading Virgil in order to pass the time. She is looking forward to studying Latin for one more term once her classes begin, as well as French and Geometry. She closes by saying that she must also write to Emma to tell her all about the exhibition, and that she also wishes to receive another letter from John soon.

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