2 July 1863: “My dear son, you are passing through one of the severest ordeals that the world has ever known. “

 Item Description: Letter, 2 July 1863, from Willam H. Thomson to his son Ruffin. Ruffin Thomson was the oldest child and only son of William and Hannah Lavinia Thomson. He studied at the University of Mississippi and the University of North Carolina, leaving school in 1861 to enter the Confederate Army, serving as a private until February 1864, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Confederate Marine Corps. After the Civil War, he studied medicine in New Orleans and began a practice in Hinds County. In 1873, he married Fanny Potter. In 1888, he went to Fort Simcoe, Washington Territory, as clerk to the Yakima Indian Agency, hoping to recover his failing health, but instead died soon after his arrival.

[Item transcription available below images.]

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Item Citation: From the Ruffin Thomson Papers #3315Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Spring Ridge, July 2/63

Dear Ruffin,

The aspect of affairs hereabouts remains about the same as when I wrote you last, and I write you more to tell you what has not taken place that what has. The Yankees have not yet got us in their clutches – Vicksburg has not yet fallen; Jackson and the surrounding country are not under the Yankee heel. Their foothold is limited so far by Big Black on the east and south, a small curve of the Yazoo on the north, and our fortifications on the west. Until the last three days they have kept up an unceasing din with their guns, night and day. Since last Monday not a gun has been heard. They are probably trying to dig into us. The last couriers from Vicksburg report very favorably. The word is, we have plenty of ammunition and provisions, and the officers and soldiers are in the best of spirits. Back in the country here we stand affected according to our different temperaments – but there is a general feeling of uneasiness, from the fear that Johnston has not sufficient force to meet Grant in the field, or to attack him in his trenches. I share in this apprehension. There are many who are very sanguine, and express the firm belief that we will be successful in driving the enemy off. There are many and various rumors afloat, which are not sufficiently supported to repeat here (Since writing the above my attention has been called to the renewal of the firing at Vicksburg). Breckenridge’s division – which has been encamped at Jackson for sometime back, has been put upon the move. They started with nine days’ rations day before yesterday evening, leaving all their tents standing. They were at (?) yesterday. It is thought that Johnston is to make or receive an attack – probably the latter, as we learned on yesterday. Grant was advancing on Johnston’s position. I am inclined to believe this is true, though you will know from the papers all about it before this letter will reach you. We are certainly on the eve of very important events, not only here but all over the Confederacy. Lee’s advance towards the Potomac, and his cavalry invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania are events that are looked upon with intense anxiety, and must bring about results of the most important character to our cause, and of the deepest interest to those of us whose sons are on that march. My dear son, you are passing through one of the severest ordeals that the world has ever known. Your powers of endurance and fortitude are sorely tired – your duties are of the most arduous and dangerous character, requiring a patient submission to every hardship and to dangers that constantly threaten your life. Be not discouraged – you suffer in a glorious cause. Your duty to yourself, your country and your God requires the sacrifice. Be faithful to the end, and your fond parents will be proud of, and bless you. The victory will be won, and you will receive your reward.

A word about home – all well – anxiously await the papers, eagerly read them. On tiptoe for more, or news from any quarter. Fine crop of fruit, peaches and apples ripening fast; sending a good many to Jackson, selling them at high prices. Wish we could send you some. The peaches are very fine, the northern trees are yielding well – pears rather scattering, plenty for home consumption – none for sale. Still waiting anxiously the result at Vicksburg, expect to leave if it falls. Thum and Alliston are still with us, in pretty health. Ray Harvey died a few days ago. No news except what you will get in the papers. The guns are now firing at Vicksburg, (?) very fast. Do write when you can. Our prayers and blessings upon you.

Wm. H. Thomson.

We received a letter from you at Petersburg, and one from Richmond – no others.

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