This letter was written by Jesse T. Jordan (1829-1862), a private in Co. A, 17th South Carolina Infantry. The company was commanded by Capt. John R. Culp. The letter was written from James Island near Charleston, South Carolina. According to Confederate military records, Pvt. Jordan died on Johns Island on 2 May 1862 — just weeks before this letter was written.
Mentioned in the letter is Uriah Jordan, Jesse’s brother, who also later (February 1863) enlisted in Co. A, 17th South Carolina Infantry. Jesse and Uriah were the sons of Josiah Jordan (1785-1869) and Rhoda Woods (1799-1852) of Chester county, South Carolina. In the 1860 US Census, Jesse and his wife were enumerated in Chester county with their three children — William J, (age 6), Elizabeth (age 5), and Mary F. (age 2). Jesse was a slaveholder and we know from this letter that he raised cotton as did his brother Uriah.
[James Island, South Carolina]
March 15th 1862
I am still in tolerable health hoping this will find you and family enjoying better health. I received yours by John Edwards. I was sorry to hear that you were unwell. I am in hopes that it was not measles. You had better take good care of yourself for fear it might be. We still have some cases of sickness in our company and right smart in the regiment and some deaths. One died a few days ago belonging to Capt. [William T.] Sander’s company [Co. H]. He had measles and took cold. You said that Uriah wanted to know whether he would sell any cotton or not. I had forgotten to send any word by Allan to him. Cotton was worth eights cents. Tell him he must sell enough to get the bagging that was borrowed and to get what grousers you need. I understand that bagging is worth forty-five cents per yard and that molasses is worth one dollar per gallon and few at that. My advice to you is not to buy anymore than you can get along with at present. Tell Uriah if he should take a notion to haul ad sell his cotton at any time, I want him to have mine taken and sold also. I would not advise him to sell but am willing that he should use his pleasure.
You said Allan was anxious to know what to do with the stable manure. Uriah will know what is best to do with it. You stated that the Yankees had published that they had taken Savannah. If that is so, I have not heard it and we can hear any news most we want to here but the truth. We heard a few days ago that Beauregard had given them a terrible thrashing at Paducah and that we had given them another thrashing at Manassas — likely all false.
You also stated that it was rumored that we had been run by the Yankees from Johns Island and that we had retreated back to Camp Lee. I am glad to inform you that was false.
We are still on Johns Island yet and being reinforced. Capt. [J. F.] Walker’s company [Co. I] came to our camp yesterday on their way to Wadmalaw Island. I saw Robert Crawford, Jesse Clayton, Amsi Bussle, and James Wilson. They were all well. They are a fine looking set of fellows and to see them going through the sword exercise, I would think they were pretty well drilled. I do not hear of much stir on the cost. We are working the roads from here to the boat landing on Stono River. We are also building a bridge at Church Flats below the boat landing. I do not know what it is for but I suppose it is in order that they may be able to throw over troops from Adams Run into Johns Island if we should be attacked.
Our fare is tolerable good yet. We get flour, bacon, lard, and some fresh beef besides potatoes and sugar. We get no molasses owing to the scarcity of them.
I was somewhat disappointed when Henry went to go home. I had or I thought the right kind of magnolia but it was not. John Lyle went home with him. He said he would try to get some of it in the road so if none of it gets home, you need not be surprised as they had to walk and they had a heavy load to carry.
I must come to a close. Write soon and let me hear from you as I shall be uneasy about you for fear it was measles you had. Be not too uneasy about me. We are in the hands of God. Direct your letters to Charleston, South Carolina. Company A, 17th Regiments S C. V., Col. J[ohn] H[ugh] Means
Farewell, — J. T. Jordan