The Letters of John M. Jackson–October 6, 1862

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 another letter from Delinda, who provides us with some insight about how the war has affected her thoughts and her life at school. 

kent's hill

The original building at Kents Hill is pictured here with the 1836 addition.

Kents Hill Oct 6, 1862

My Dear Brother

I was made very happy by the reception of your last letter, for Delora wrote me a few days ago that you were not very well when she last heard from you. I am very well and have been ever since I came here with the exception of slight indisposition which lasted two or three days. When I was reported sick Mr Torsley’s first question was “Has she a cough.” I think more of him every day. By the way how did you like him? I was very glad your curiosity was gratified.

I went to prayer meeting last evening had a very good meeting. I am so glad you have the privilege of meetings but sorry you see so much wickedness- hope it will not have a hardening influence. I think we may become so much accustomed to such scenes that they do not shock us as at first, but I want you to return to us the same John that went away; your joking about my ideal to the contrary notwithstanding. Yes dear brother while going forth to defend the flag of our loved country may you at the same time raise the banner of Prince Immanuel.

I was very much surprised to hear that C. Daggett was in your regiment. I did not think that his health was sufficient. In what capacity does he go? How did C Bradbury pass this time. I guess the surgeons are not so particular. I am getting on finely in my studies. Did you ever scan Virgil? We read and scan about twenty five lines per day.

The students had a walk last Friday. I did not care to go but staid at home intending to write you then but I had work to do and did not get time I believe they had a very pleasant time. They got nicely arranged playing “Copenhagen” and happening to look farther up in the grove there was Mr Torsey quietly watching operations. I have no doubt he enjoyed it but he would not like to say he approved it. They did not come home in pairs as they did last spring. They did not go so far and I suppose the ladies were not so weary.

Oh John, I expected to read on the stage last Friday but the walk prevented. Next Friday I suppose I shall have to.

About what occurred when you were at home; I think it was just some trifing thing that you wrote about to excite my curiosity; now haven’t I guessed right?

I must tell you how much I like housekeeping but I have decided one question in my mind since I came here. I have long queried whether it would be pleasanter to keep house with one or two in a family. You know I tried it a little while with two and then with one and I must say it is pleasanter with only one. I wish I could meet you at home but I do not know as I can have a furlough at that time. I must close now and go to my studies I hoped to get this done before the mail closed this morning but I cannot.

As I cannot send this now I will add a few words more. Of the very few young men who were here when I came the most have either enlisted or been drafted since so there are only a few boys here now. In Geometry there is not a single gentleman just think of a class in Geometry all girls. The discussions in Calliope are not very good this fall The affirmative last Friday we was very well argued by a Mr Chase but there was nobody on the negative to meet him, so the argument was chiefly on one side. I must close now.

Please write soon. I know you have not so good accommodations to write as I have but you cannot feel so great anxiety concerning me as I have concerning you. Yours with all the affections of a sisters heart

Delinda

It seems like between the letters from John and the news received back at home, Delinda has a pretty thorough, insightful understanding of how war can greatly affect any person- not just the soldiers on the battlefield. The ongoing war has undoubtedly caused great anxiety and heartache among the residents of Lewiston, for not only are the families anxious about their loved ones being away from home, but some families even have to bear the burden of hearing that their loved ones were greatly injured or killed. This horrible news can lead to great resentment, and the accumulation of anxiety and bitterness that one feels will only add to the hostility that inevitably results from war. The physical and psychological effects that war can have on an individual must have terrified Delinda immensely, so she pleads with John to return to Lewiston no different than the John who left home to fight in the war.

The war has even managed to affect the academic atmosphere of Kents Hill. Whenever the students would go on walks throughout the campus, they would usually do so in pairs; however, Delinda notes that since most of the male students left the school to serve in the army, all of the students returned from the walk individually (although she does admit that the women seemed less “weary” after this particular walk, probably since they had to keep up with less shenanigans from the boys). There are even fewer students in the lectures themselves- now Delinda’s geometry class is entirely female. She admits that because fewer students are present, the lectures have become less entertaining as a result. Furthermore, having fewer students only increases Delinda’s chances for being called on to present a summary of the lecture content in front of the entire class (she suspects she’ll have to do so next Friday). The draft has definitely shaped the school atmosphere in a negative manner, but it has also caused some excitement as well.


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