1864: Henry “Clay” Jones to Elizabeth Beard

How Clay might have looked

This letter was written by 19 year-old Henry “Clay” Jones (1845-1921), Co. C, 10th Virginia of Rockingham county, Virginia. Henry enlisted at Harrisonburg on 10 April 1862. He was detailed as orderly in September 1862 (to his brother, J. R. Jones) and was taken a prisoner of war (with his brother) on 4 July 1863 at South Mountain, Maryland. As a POW he was taken to Fort Delaware and later to Point Lookout, Maryland, where he was exchanged on 13 February 1864. At the time of this letter in late May 1864, he appears to have been detailed to Dr. Joseph E. Clagett’s Receiving & Forwarding Hospital as it retreated toward Richmond while Lee’s army was ready to make a stand at Cold Harbor.

Clay Jones was the son of David S. Jones (1801-1870) and Harriet Ann Yost (1804-1875) of Harrisonburg, Rockingham county, Virginia. He had many siblings, one of whom was John Robert Jones (1828-1901), an 1848 graduate of VMI, and the Lt. Col. of the 33rd Virginia Infantry. Another brother, David Andrew Jones (1837-1918), was a Major in the CSA Commissary Department (formerly a Lt. in the 10th Va.). Clay Jones was married in 1882 to Lillian Patton Crockett (b. 1851).

Clay wrote the letter to Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Beard, the 24 year-old daughter of John C. Beard and his wife Nancy of Rockingham county, Virginia.


Addressed to Lizzie Beard, Harrisonburg, Rockingham county, Virginia

Near Richmond, Virginia
May 28th 1864
Saturday morning

My dear Lizzie,

This is my sixth (6) letter to you without one being answered. My last one was written from Hanover Junction. From that point we moved to Taylorsville — a station on the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad. Remained there two days. From there we went to Ashland which is one of the prettiest places on this side of the ridge. We only remained there for two days. I was very sorrow [sorry] when we received orders to move.

From there we moved to this point, arriving here this morning, and are encamped at the edge of Richmond, probably three-fouths of a mile from the centre of the city. How long we will remain here, I have no idea. It may be [awhile] as our army is now so near Richmond that our hospital will be broken up for the present. In that case, I don’t know what I shall do. If I can get a transport to Harrisonburg or Staunton, will do so, though I prefer remaining here with Dr. [Joseph E.] Clagett ¹ for this reason. I met with one of Gen. Lee’s staff yesterday who informed me that my detail was made out and that I would receive it as soon as the army stopped, and if I was absent I probably would not receive it for some time. So I think it best if I can to remain here. If I should not, I hope I may be able to receive a transfer to Harrisonburg.

I think I will close this letter for I think you don’t receive my letters — or probably someone intercepted them — and will not write again until I hear from you. I hope, dear Lizzie, you are not sick and my prayer is that you may be enjoying good health and that the cause of my not hearing from you is that the mail is not regular from the army to Harrisonburg.

Battle Flag presented by the Ladies of Harrisonburg to the 10th Va. Regt.

I suppose you heard that the flag that the ladies of Harrisonburg or Rockingham county presented to the 10th Virginia was captured by the Yanks. I have learned since that Co. H (Boomerangs) ² 13th Virginia Infantry recaptured it. I hope the Old 10th will be more fortunate when they return from their rest in Yankeedom. I am sorrow [sorry] to tell you that Gen. Lee has been quite sick for the last few days though yesterday he was able to ride in his carriage and still has command of the army. ³

Please write soon and often to your, — Clay

Direct to me care of Fred Sheetz, † P. O. A. N. Va.

¹ Dr. Joseph Edward Clagett (1830-1908) was a practicing physician in Harper’s Ferry prior to the Civil War. Most of his time in the Confederate service was at the head of the Receiving and Forwarding Hospital of the Army of Northern Virginia. He was with Lee’s army at Appomattox and claimed to have served Lee his last breakfast of coffee and bacon just before he rode off to surrender his army to Grant. After the war, Clageett practiced medicine in Baltimore.

² Co. H of the 13th Virginia was known as the “Winchester Boomerangs.” 

³ General Lee became seriously ill with dysentery on 24 May 1864. It left him prostrate and diminished for several days.

† Frederick Sheetz served as a corporal with the 13th Virginia Infantry, Co. K. The 13th Virginia suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Cedar Creek (19 October 1864) and surrendered with 10 officers and 52 men.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s