1862: Western Berkley Thomas, Jr. to Emmeline Few Thomas

This letter was written by Western Berkley Thomas, Jr. (1835-1863), the son of Western Berkley Thomas (1799-1836) and Emmeline Few Thomas (1807-1882) of Augusta, Richmond county, Georgia. In 1859 and 1860 he is enumerated among the students at Cambridge in the the Harvard Law School. In the 1860 US Census, he is identified as a lawyer working in Augusta.

Western served the Confederacy as 1st Lieutenant in Co. K (“Davis Musketeers”), 10th Georgia Regiment. He enlisted at Richmond, Virginia, on July 7, 1861. In March 1862, Co. K of the 10th Regiment was transferred into artillery. Three months later, Lt. Thomas was suffering so severely from the “stricture of urethra & unstable condition of the bladder” that surgeons judged him unfit for duty. On June 6th, 1862, Western submitted his resignation from the service to Hon. George W. Randolph, Secretary of War. Western died on 14 February 1863 at Chickamauga, Walker county, Georgia.

When Western wrote this letter in late January 1862, the Davis Musketeers were manning a battery at Pig Point in Suffolk county near the mouth of the Nansemond river overlooking Hampton Roads.


Addressed to Mrs. E. F. Thomas, Augusta, Georgia
Postmarked Norfolk, Va.

Pig Point ¹
January 30th 1862

My Dear Mother,

I have not written to you in some time because I have been waiting to get an answer to my last letter about what money I had at home. I have not sent you the money because I have not yet been paid for the two months I had due me on the 1st of January. But tomorrow, if it does not rain, I shall go to town and try to get it when I shall probably be able to send you $800.00. I told you this in my last letter and I hope to find an answer to it in Norfolk tomorrow. I will send you a check payable to your order and you can endorse it and get it cashed at the Railroad Bank or you can draw on me for that amount ($800) which would be best. I will attend to this in Norfolk tomorrow.

Id I have any money at home and I know I have, send me a Railroad Bank check and I will fill it to your order. Take twenty dollars and pay that old German fool who has annoyed you. His name is Rappes. Send to Spaeth’s ² for him and let him sign a receipt or pay him in the presence of some white person. I am truly sorry to give you all this trouble but I cannot attend to these matters myself. I am afraid to send money in a letter. These mails are so sadly managed lately. You need not send for the German unless you find it easy to do for he will annoy you by coming himself before long I suspect. If not, I can send him an order on you by the next man we send home and you can pay yourself out of th coupons I have due.

I am truly glad they have got rid of their captain in Jimmy’s Company and hope we shall some day get rid of ours [Theodore C. Cone]. I have nothing against him except that he will not attend to his duty.

I hope your fears about the Burnside Expedition are groundless and I hope instead of being in Pamlico Sound, the ships are at the bottom. I know they must be if they were at sea in the late storm that visited us. It blew awfully and even here the waves washed away ten feet of the high bluff and left our battery so near the edge that another such storm will compel us to remove the guns and build a new battery entire[ly]. I see no change in the vessels at Old Point and I do not think they will ever try us on this side. We are too strong.

I will leave this page open to write you if I get to Norfolk tomorrow, about money matters. I am in very good health having long since recovered from my chills.

Norfolk, January 31st

No letter for me or visit until you hear from me as I have not got my money from the C[onfederate] S[tates] yet.

Map of Hampton Roads showing Pig Point fortifications at left

¹ When secessionists seized the Gosport Navy Yard, they obtained more than 1200 heavy guns and 300,000 pounds of gunpowder at Fortress Norfolk. Several of these large guns were deployed at Pig Point. The shoreline was indeed formidable but Confederates had to withdraw from these fortifications to defend Richmond when McClellan threatened in the spring of 1862.

² Charles Spaeth (b. 1829 in Germany) kept a grocery in Augusta.


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