1862-64: George Waterman Jackson to James Hall Smith

A post war photograph of George Waterman Jackson

These letters were written by George Waterman Jackson (1843-1919), the son of Waterman Jackson (1797-Aftt1870) and Sophia Gunn (b. 1803-1860).

From the 1900 Farmers Directory for Greenbrier Township, “George W. Jackson, was born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, in 1843, and is of Irish-English extraction. When he was two years old his parents moved to Portage County, Ohio, living there eleven years and then moved to Porter County, Indiana. He was reared a farmer and educated in the common schools. When a boy 18 years old he enlisted [Sept. 30, 1861] in the 4th Battery Indiana Light Artillery, Capt. A. K. Bush commanding, and participated in many important battles. He was wounded in the right leg at Chickamauga, and confined in hospital 6 months. Afterward he returned to the field remaining till expiration of term in 1864, when he re-enlisted and was made 2d Lieut., a position he held till close of war.”

George wrote the letters to his cousin, James Hall Smith (1839-1909), the son of John W. Smith (1808-1877) and Electa A. Jackson (1810-1864) of Boone township, Porter county, Indiana.


November 28, 1862

Cousin Jim,

I received your letter of the 20th yesterday and was glad to hear from you. I am well and hope you are a getting well as fast as possible. Jim, I am the toughest man in camp. I had a rassle [wrestle] the other day with the best man in camp. He is a nigger cook. We rassled for five dollars. I throwed him very easy. He hated it the damndest worst kind.

Jim, there is nothing new in camp. Bill Delurya is well and so is Tom Sterns. Jim, if you don’t get some money, that is not very good. Send it to me and I will give you half of the profits of it and any kind [    ] here as the gold. I have not heard from home since the Battle at Perrsyville. I have sent four hundred dollars home since the Battle of Perryville. That is doing pretty well for me. I hain’t heard from home since and I feel a worried about it. Jim, I don’t want you to forget me if the rest does. Direct as before. Don’t forget to write and I won’t. No more at present.

From George W. Jackson

To James Hall Smith



Nashville, Tennessee
December 21, 1862

Well Jim, I received your letter today and was glad to hear from you. I am very sorry to hear you was sick. Jim, I am well and wish you was. How is [your brother] Wat Smith and what is he doing? Jack Christy was over here today and Tip Kellum was with him. Jack was well. He said he wrote you and had not received any answer yet. Jim, it is very lonesome here without you. Jim, we use to enjoy ourselves first rate together. If I could see you, I could tell you a good deal for there has a good deal transacted since you was with us. The boys are well save [William J.] Rowlands. He is in the hospital in Nashville. John Hodson is with the latter again. I am the hardiest I ever have been since I have been in the service. I weigh 187 lbs. with mades [?] coat on.

Is Dick and [  ] at Indianapolis yet? Or where are they? Has Marias kitchen taken a contract of furnishing soldiers for the government or how does she get them? Who is the father of her child? I was over to the 15th Regt. and seen Jo Carns the other day. He is well and so is Jim Marsh. I was over to his regiment too. He says John is discharged and to home. Is that so?

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 7.41.59 PM
A CDV of Asahel Kidder Bush who commanded “Bush’s Battery (4th Indiana L. A.)

Tell Jane Cobb she must not put herself until I come back and then I will show her style of shafting. Them two little whores that I stole the money from is on Smokey Row. ¹ Now Smokey [Row] is burnt almost all up, I have to go down and tend to them once and and hell to keep alright, hain’t that right, Jim? I wish you was here to advise me once in awhile. I always done as you said, didn’t I? Well, we always got along well together.

Today is Sunday and it is almost dark and supper is ready and so I will quit writing for this time.

Diret in the care of A[sahel] K[idder] Bush, 4th Indiana Battery, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, Nashville, Tenn.

Yours truly. Goodbye. From George W. Jackson

To James H. Smith

¹ Smoky Row was the brothel district in Nashville. It was two blocks wide and four blocks long. 


Camp near Murfreesboro, [Tennessee]
January 22, 1863

Cousin Jim,

It is with great pleasure that I write to you to let you know that I am well hoping these few lines will find you the same.

Jim, I received your letter and was glad to hear from you but I wish that you was well so you could fuck them girls around there for me. I get all I want here. When we was in Nashville, I just run them little whores all of the time. There is a plenty of wench fucking here but I don’t like that kind. But it will do if we can’t get any other. You know I am a [  ] that.

I wish you was here to help me make money. I have been pretty lucky since you left. I have got considerable a coming too for poker. I will tell you a few that owes me. [Les] Hale 28 dollars, [John] Hodson $14. Bill Delusya $11, Ike [Isaac] Reynolds $14, Flandsburg $10, [Joseph] Shaw $20, and lots of other debts.

Jim, tell me where to direct to Li and Dick and do write as soon as you get this and don’t delay. What is [your brother] Wat[erman] a doing this winter? Is there any snow up there or not? Write what Carnis Worth and everything else. Jim, there is not a house in ten miles of here but what is turned inside out. I have got a ring I will send to you. I want you to keep it until I come home and then keep it.

Jim, do you have Mary come up to see you? What does the gunner do now? Is she as hot as she used to be and is C. A, married again? What is Vina doing with Mike Con? He fuck[ed] her enough. I have wrote a letter home today and sent my likeness to Helen. She wanted me to send it to her.

I am on guard today to the commissary. The boys are drawing new pants today. I just thought I would draw when they was not there. I can beat them all a playing poker.

As I can’t think of anything more to write, and so good evening. Direct in the care of A. K. Bush, 4th Indiana Battery, Sheridan’s Division, Rosecrans.


Murfreesboro, Tennessee
February 8, 1863

Cousin Jim,

It is Sunday eve and I just received your letter today and was glad to hear from you but it displeased [me] to hear you could not get your prick hard when the little maids rub their ass against you. I will send you my cock in a letter if you can fuck with it. I would like to know who it was you finger fucked. Can’t you let me know, Jim, when you get this.

I want you to write and let me know if the rebels there are raising up and rebelling right there. If they are, just shoot some of them for me, God damn them to hell. They ought to be hung every one of them. How is it with Old Pennick. Is he a rebel? Tell me in your next who is the rebels [Copperheads] there.

We was out with our gun the other day on a scout. We shot six times at the rebel cavalry—just about such a skirmish as [we had at] Gallatin [Tennessee] when you was with us. We didn’t get anyone hurt. I wrote you a letter and sent you a ring in it—the Champion of England. I have one more just like it. I picked them Jim.

Hy [Hezekiah] Holdridge wants to know if you a boarding on your brother-in-law’s as you said you would. Jack Christy was taken prisoner at Murfreesboro and was sent to Chattanooga, from there to Richmond, where they paroled him and sent him to Washington, so Tip Kellum told me today. Their sergeant is in town.

Who teaches your school this winter. What is the kitchen girls a doing this winter? Ed and Bill Abbott is a getting along first rate. They are both in Murfreesboro together.

As I can’t think of anything more to write, I will quit writing and so goodbye. Direct in the care of A. K. Bush, 4th Indiana Battery, First Division, Third Brigade Center

From George Jackson

To James Hall Smith

Well Wat[erman Smith], I just received a letter from home saying Wat Smith is the father of another daughter. I think you had better make some boys for the army, Wat.  Did Jim ever tell you about me and him taking a little whore’s money one night? I have realized several since that of money and watches, hain’t that right when a man is a soldiering, Wat? What is Starr a doing there? Has he got any recruits for the Battery yet or not? You must fuck Phebe once for me and so goodbye from George Jackson

To Wat Smith. Write soon.


Camp near Murfreesboro [Tennessee]
March 22, 1863

Cousin Jim,

I received yours of the 8th and was glad to hear from you. Jim, the day I got your letter we went out on a scout and got back last night after dark and today is Sunday and I will [write] at a little town by the name of Milton. Our men and the rebels had a pretty hard fight. Our men whipped them like hell and we was sent out as reinforcements. We got there just as they commenced running and we had nothing to do.

Jim, you wanted to know who is the sergeants of the companies. I will tell you. George Goodhue is sergeant of Co. A, James Lockwood of Co. B, George Johnston of Co. C, Les Hale is Orderly Sergeant if Co. D. William Frost of Co. E and Hank Youngs of Co. F. I don’t know who will be sergeant of Co. D.

Jim, you must fuck Viny once for me. Don’t [let your brother] Old Wat [Waterman Smith] stick her 18 little. Why don’t he write to me. I wrote to him. What is Old Wat a doing this spring? I wish I was there. I would like to try Jim [  ] a twist. By God, I think I could use him up. I think I could clean a most any of them. I wish that I had of scratched Aloyes eyes out, God damn him. Jim, I can’t think of anything more to write and so I will quit. You must write when you get this. Direct as before. Yours truly, — George W. Jackson

To James H. Smith


Camp Davidson
Crow Creek Valley
August 18 [1863]

Cousin Jim
Dear Sir,

After a few days of hard marching we are once more permitted to lay in camp and it is thus that I get a chance to write you a few lines to let you know where and how I am a getting along. I am well and I do sincerely hope these few lines will find you the same.

Well, I will give you some of the details of our march. We started the morning of the 8th of August at 6 a. m. for to cross the Cumberland Mountains. We went about one mile when we came to the foot of the mountains. Here we halted for about one hour when the bugle sounded and we started for the top of this awful mountain. Some of the guns got stuck and he boys had to put their shoulders to the wheels to keep them out. We marched in this way all day when we camped for the night.

Daylight the next morning found us all ready for to start and the bugle sounded and we all made out for another days hard and dreary marching. We march all day and night finds us in this Valley about 8 miles from the Tennessee River and five miles from Stevenson [Alabama].

There is more fucking in this country that ever I saw. I was out over the mountain into what is called Little Crow Creek Valley. I was to 3 secesh whorehouses, the latter house having 3 whores. There was 3 of us. We was all on horses and the mountain was so steep we had to dismount and hang on to our horses tails to get up the mountains. It was awful hot but we was after the little skin and didn’t feel the heat, I and my partner is a going back tonight. This is one hell of a place for skin. They ain’t like any other way. Jim, I wish you could be with me a little while. We would have some fun.

Jim, I had a little bit of a rassle [wrestle] the other day with a great big cuss by the name of [George M.] Lamb. ¹ He is a recruit. He weighs 200 and we had a bet of 5 dollars. We rassled back [  ] I throwed him twice. He did not get me in at all. I am the heaviest I ever weighed. I weight 180 and can beat them all at 3 jumps or one stand and and jump, or the hops. Well, as I have no more news to write, I will just close saying goodbye.

Direct in the care of Capt. A. K. Bush, 4th Ind. Battery, First Division, 2nd Brigade, 14th Army Corps

I have just wrote to Helen and I forgot to tell her where to direct and so you tell.

— George Waterman Jackson

To James Hall Smith

¹ George M. Lamb joined the 4th Indiana Battery as a recruit on January 9, 1863. He later rose in rank to 1st Lieutenant of the battery.


Stearns Gap, Georgia
September 14, 1863

Cousin James,

I take the present opportunity of informing you of my health which is good at this time, and hoping when you receive this that you will be as stout as a yoke of bulls. Jim, I have just witnessed another battle. We had a small skirmish with the enemy the 11th of this month. It did not last long. They had lots the largest force and we was compelled to fall back 2 miles to the foot of the mountain and we have been reinforced by two divisions since. I don’t think that the rebels will make another fight for there was no man killed in the battery but Hank [Henry A.] Youngs was wounded and Tom Sterns was missing and nowhere to be found yet. I think he was taken prisoner. Tom ain’t a very good man in a battle. He is rather scarry but my men, all the rest, done well first rate.

John Hodson is joined in my detachment and David Goodwin he is to the regiment that Jack Christy belongs to. They was our support for our battery and they run like hell—all of the regiment.

It is damned warm here now and I have not much news to write. You know all of the news long before his reaches you, I suppose, and so I will quit for this time. I want you to write as soon as you get this. I want you to fetch some cable for me if you can and I think you can.

This is all for this time. From George W. Jackson

To James Hall Smith


Stevenson, Alabama
Field Hospital
October 5, 1863

Cousin Jim,

I have little time to spare and I will write you a few lines to let you know how I am. I am well but I caught it stuck to me this time through the right thigh but it did not break the bone. I was wounded on the 18th of September [at Chickamauga] and I can walk some now. We are at Stevenson, Alabama, but don’t know how long we will stay here. They of sending is to Nashville. If they do, I will be alright on Smokey Row. ¹

We had a battle on the 11th of September at Bailey’s Crossroads. We had a pretty warm time there and Tom Sterns was missing. I don’t know whether he was killed or not, or taken prisoner, and then on the 13th we had another damned hot time and I was wounded right in the start and then the rebels [overran our battery] and took it and then our men took it back again.

It is dry and cool here now. We do have lots to eat here and lots of doctors to attend to us.

Jim, I can’t hardly get a hard on now but I will soon be so I can just stick it to them pretty soon if I get to Nashville. Jim, I wrote a letter to Father the other day. He has had time to get now. When you get this & you tell them about it and that I hain’t very bad and so I will quit for this time.

From George W. Jackson

To James Smith

You needn’t write until you hear from me again because they are going to move us someplace.

¹ “According to the 1860 U.S. Census, Nashville was home to 198 white prostitutes and nine referred to as “mulatto.” The city’s red-light district was a two-block area known as “Smoky Row,” where women engaged in the sex trade entertained farmers and merchants in town on business. By 1862, though, the number of “public women” in Nashville had increased to nearly 1,500, and they were always busy. Union troops a long way from home handed their meager paychecks over to brothel keepers and street walkers with abandon, and by the spring of 1863, Rosecrans and his staff were in a frenzy over the potential impact of all that cavorting. But Rosencrans, a Catholic, wasn’t worried about mortal sin. He was worried about disease.” [Angela Serratore, The Curious Case of Nashville’s Frail Sisterhood]


Madison, Indiana
December 12th 1863

Cousin James,

Yours of the 7th came to hand in due time and I was very glad to hear from you. I am very sorry to hear of your other’s sickness and also Helen’s and Hiram’s. I was sick from the 13 of November until the first of December with a fever and then my wound. It was pretty hard on me.

You wanted me to come home by Christmas if I could. I don’t expect I will be able to for there is a hole in my leg where the ball come out 3 inches square but it is a getting better now. I think I shall come home before I go to the front again. If a man take as French [Leave], what do they do with him? When my leg gets well, I am coming home a short time whether I can get a furlough or not. Do they hunt a man pretty close if he hain’t got a furlough? I wrote a letter to [your brother] Wat[erman] the other day but I haven’t got an answer yet.

You say Tom Robinson and Wes Cunningham and L___ Briggs and Jim Endington has gone to war. What regiment are they in? You had better stay at home for I can’t be with you now Jim. You will have to take care of them females around there. I hain’t been out of bed only yo shit since I come here and that was the 13 of November. I am a sitting on my bed now as I write. It is a raining here today and it rained all last night.

Our hospital is one mile from town right on the bank of the Ohio River. Madison is quite a town. There is lots of fucking there, they say, but I can’t get down to see. But I think I soon will be able to for I got ale to drink and milk punch and I am just a coming right out.

When you answer this, give me Dick’s address for I want to write to him. I heard he was sick. Is he?

As I have no more to write, I will close for this time hoping to hear from you soon. I will close. I remain as ever your friend and well wisher, — George W. Jackson

Don’t let them women suffer.

Direct [U. S.] Hospital, Section First Ward, No. 8, Madison, Indiana


U. S. A. Hospital
Madison, Indiana
January 27, 1864

Cousin James,

I received your very interesting letter of the 22nd inst. and examined it with much interest. I am very sorry to hear you are sick and can’t get a hard on for old Caroline Bails and I pity her also. Hiram will sand it into the ground.

Jim, I am almost well now. I can just go it. I was up town last night to church. I had a good time generally. I think if they don’t look well, I will run some of their [  ]. There is one that I seen last night what is pretty nice. I shall try and set her. Jim, I will tell you the particulars. There is another man at running her—or was at least. He had her engaged for last night and after he was there and engaged her, I went and seen her and she said she would go with me. I didn’t know as he had of been there and so I went up just dark and to my surprise there he sat as stiff as a prick just as I went in. He said to her I came pretty near not getting here tonight. The guards took me but I got away. Well, says she, it would of been just as well if you hadn’t for I am a going with Mr. Jackson. He thought that was hell. I haven’t seen him since. I expect he will be mad as hell but I can clean him pretty easy, I think, so I don’t care. Fucking here is no object, such as it is, but I take that is nice.

Jobe Brooks and Mat Thatcher are both here wounded. Jobe is in the Invalid Corps. I don’t much think I will come home until my time is out. Jim, you must excuse my bad writing and read it if you can.

Yours very respectfully, — G. W. Jackson

to James Smith

Write on the receipt of this.


Madison, Indiana
March 7, 1864

Cousin James,

Yours of the 2nd inst. just is at hand and finds me well and hoping these few lines will find you the same. The old [  ] just made things get, did they? I wish I was there to show them a sign as well there. Then Old Neal Cartright just run Ann Miller, did he? That is bully. And Joseph Fehrman is married? ¹ He will make a pretty bed fellow, won’t he? Well, old boy, who is it you are going to wife? I would like to know in your next. Let me know. You need not be afraid of my saying anything to anybody but you.

I did talk some of wifing but I can’t see it now as she let me shove it up her trousers leg. If it hadn’t of been for that, I guess I should of took her before.

I went to the front again but it is played out.

You and [your brother] Hiram  must [have] looked nice at fucking old lady Dwellinger. ² How did you manage it? One stand off and look on while the other done it? Has Jane Gates got back yet. If she has, you must shove it to her if you have to do it by law.

I had a letter from the Battery this morning and the boys are still facing a bully time now. They have never had no horses. They are in the fortifications at Chattanooga.

Jim, where is Dick now? I hain’t heard from him in a long time. Be sure and write and give me his address in your next. You wrote about Jane Cable. She has gone back on me, I guess, for I have had no letters from her in one month. I wrote her a pretty damned hard letter the last one I wrote her. I told her I was a coming home on a furlough and I wanted her to get ready to fuck me for I hadn’t had any since I was in the army and I guess she didn’t like it very well.

No more. Write on receipt of this. — George to James

¹ Joseph (“Joe”) Fehrman (1843-1912) was married to Barbara Ann Nauman (1844-1917). 

² The only “Old Lady” Dwellinger residing in Porter county, Indiana, at that time was 63 year-old Martha Dwellinger, the wife of William Dwellinger. 

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