The Letters of John M. Jackson–May 1, 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.

This week, we have a letter from a friend named Emma who seems to be Delinda’s roomate at Kents Hill.

Kents Hill May 21st 1863

Dear Friend,

I have learned all my lessons for today, and I still have some time before recite I should not have so much time, if I had recitations this afternoon, but we do not have any on account of a walk we are expecting to have.

It is a lovely day. Only a little too warm. I think it was the pleasantist, or most pleasant either, that we have had this spring. The trees are leaning out very rapidly. It seems hardly possible that they could change as much as they have within a few days. I think Kents Hill a much prettier place than it was when we came here. Then students have been setting out trees here this spring. Mr Torsey had two sister maples sent him, and he gave all those who had set trees the privilege of trawing(?) for the silver trees, and then they could name them for any of their lady friends they chose. And Mr Torsey promised them he would not tell who they named them for.

I am keeping house alone now. I do not think I like it as well as I do to have two in the family. Delinda went home Monday. She is going to teach at Readfield Corner. I hope she will not entirely ruin her health. But I do think she does more than she is able to. I thought she was really going to stay at home this summer. But it seems the school room had greater attractions for her. I intend to visit her school if I can do so. I am getting along nicely with my studies. I had to write a French composition last week. I have no idea that a Frenchman would have been able to understand it.

We are reading a very hard piece now. Athalie. Many of the characters are taken from the bible. I think it is a beautiful piece. It is a dialogue in v— by Rucine(?). I get along pretty well with my Latin. I like it better the more I study it, and I think that is encouraging. I wish I could study Latin at home as well as I can French. If I could I should get along considerable I wish I could go through the College course here. I should enjoy it. Sometimes I almost think I will try to and if Mother was well I know I should. If I could only have so good a chance a Many Luxbury(?). I think I would try and compare it better than she does. I intend to study at home all I can, and then see what I can do. Father and Evie were over to see me a week ago Saturday I felt almost as if I should like to go and I should have gone home this term, if it had not been for it breaking p my studies so much. Mei—Fulson who rooms here, goes home almost every fortnight. She lives as far from home as I do. I think you would fall in love with her at first sight. She is a remarkably interesting girl. This morning as pleasant it as, I think it must have been past seven o’clock before she got p. She was provoked because we disturbed her slumber. But I think it is almost wicked to spend such a beautiful morning in sleep. You ought to have heard her tumble down stairs the other day. The house is still standing.

Our school is two weeks after this. I have not yet decided whether I shall stay the last week or not. They are making great preparations for the Exhibition. There are seven graduates this spring. I want to see them received their Diploma. I am not going to write any more now, for the simple reason that I have nothing to write about. Perhaps after we have our walk I shall have something to write. Good bye.

Sunday afternoon. I left off writing very abruptly, thinking I should finish my letter after the walk, but I was so tired I could not write, and I have not had time since I did not enjoy the walk very much. It was so warm we went to the pond, it was quite pleasant there sitting in the shade of the trees. But the walk home spoiled the most of the comfort.

Delinda came back here Friday, but she is going away again tomorrow. I think now that I shall go home next Saturday. I had a letter from home last night. Mother is not as well as usual and she seems so anxious for me to go home that I shall go. There has been a great change in the weather since Friday. Then the thermometer was up to 91 in the shade and today we have to keep a fire in our room. I hope it will not to be so warm this week for I cannot study as well.

I think the last picture you sent home is better than the other, but I cannot make this look very natural to me. Perhaps if I should see you more I should think it was a good picture. Mr Allen preached a funeral sermon this afternoon on the death of William Adams. I think he was not a professor, how very sad to think that he has passed away, without any hope of that happy and beautiful home in heaven. And it should be a warning to us to be always prepared for death. Let us ever be faithful to that Saviour that we have professed to love. My paper warns me that I must soon draw this to a close. Please excuse this poor letter and write again I shall stay at home this summer, so yo will please direct to Greene.

Your sincere friend,


Emma was in fact rooming with Delinda, but Delinda has left the school to take a teaching job. Emma is currently taking both a French composition class and Latin, and enjoys long walks outside to get a break from studying. It is close to the end of the school year, so Emma is trying to decide whether to go on home for the summer or stay and watch the graduation ceremony.  She signs the letter “your sincere friend,” so perhaps we will hear more from Emma.

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