Letters from the American Civil War

Reference: NLW MS 22421D

 

The American Civil War, 1861-5, saw the bloodiest fighting in the history of the United States. A collection of letters at the National Library of Wales show that Welsh immigrants were directly involved in the conflict.

List of letters in the manuscript

  • ff. 1-3 John Jones, Bryn y fedwen, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 8 March 1860
  • f. 4 John Griffith Jones, Camp Randal, Madison, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 31 Aug. 1862
  • f. 5 John Griffith Jones, Pencadlys, Camp Randal, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, September 1862
  • f.8 John Griffith Jones, Camp Randal, Madison, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 13 Sept. 1862
  • f. 10r John Griffith Jones, Cincinnati, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 17 Sept. 1862
  • f. 12 John Griffith Jones to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin 19 Sept. 1862
  • f. 14 John Griffith Jones, Cincinnati, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 19x20 Sept. 1862
  • f. 15 Owen Owens to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 21 Sept. 1862
  • ff. 16-17 John Griffith Jones, Camp Bates, Kentucky, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 21 Sept. 1862
  • f. 19 John Griffith Jones, Camp Bates, Kentucky, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 28 Sept. 1862
  • ff. 20-21 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 12 Oct. 1862
  • ff. 23-24 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 20 Oct. 1862
  • ff. 26-27 John Griffith Jones, Cincinnati, Ohio, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 24 Oct 1862
  • ff. 29-30 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 30 Oct 1862
  • ff. 31-32 John Griffith Jones, Lexington, Kentucky, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 2 Nov. 1862
  • ff. 34-35 John Griffith Jones, Louiseville, Kentucky, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 16 Nov. 1862
  • ff. 37-38 John Griffith Jones, Memphis, Tennessee to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 28 Nov. 1862
  • ff.40-41 John Griffith Jones, Memphis, Tennessee to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 2 Dec. 1862
  • ff. 43-44 John Griffith Jones, Memphis, Tennessee to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 14 Dec. 1862
  • ff. 46-47 John Griffith Jones, Memphis, Tennessee to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 20 Dec. 1862
  • ff. 49-52 John Griffith Jones, Yazoo River, at Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 2 Jan. 1863
  • f. 54 John Griffith Jones, Ohio Belle, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 5 Jan. 1863
  • ff. 56-57 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 18 Jan. 1863
  • f. 58 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 24 Jan. 1863
  • f. 60 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 30 Jan. 1863
  • f. 61 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 7 Feb. 1863
  • ff. 62-63 Thomas S. Hughes, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 19 Feb. 1863
  • f.65 Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, to John Griffith Jones, 27 Feb. 1863
  • f. 66 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 1 March 1863
  • f. 68 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 6 March, 1863
  • f. 70  John Griffith Jones, Camp near Mulligan Bend, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 13 March 1863
  • f. 72 John Griffith Jones, Millikens Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 23 March, 1863
  • ff. 75-76 John Griffith Jones, Millikens Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 30 March, 1863
  • ff. 77-78r John Griffith Jones, Millikens Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 6 April, 1863
  • f. 80 John Griffith Jones, Millikens Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 11 April, 1863
  • ff. 81-82 John Griffith Jones, Planhigfa Homes, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 16 April, 1863
  • f. 83 John Griffith Jones, No information available
  • ff. 84-85r John Griffith Jones, Planhigfa Homes, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 20 April, 1863
  • ff. 87-88 John Griffith Jones, Planhigfa Homes, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 24 April, 1863
  • f. 89 John Griffith Jones, Memphis, Tennessee to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 25 April, 1863
  • f. 91 John Griffith Jones, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 6 May, 1863
  • f. 93 John Griffith Jones, Camp Rockey Springs, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winsconsin, 10 May, 1863
  • ff. 95-96  John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 29 May, 1863
  • f. 99 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 9 June, 1863
  • ff. 101-102r John Griffith Jones, to Owen Jones, Beaver Dam, Dodge County, 10 June, 1863
  • ff. 103-104r John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 10 June, 1863
  • ff. 105-106 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 20 June 1863
  • ff. 108-109 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 1 July, 1863
  • f. 110 r John Griffith Jones, No information available
  • ff. 111-112 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 10 July, 1863
  • ff. 113-114 John Griffith Jones, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin , 12 July, 1863
  • ff. 116-117 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 25 July, 1863
  • ff. 119-120 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 27 July 1863
  • ff. 122-123 John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 30 July, 1863
  • ff. 125-126r John Griffith Jones, Camp near Vicksburgh, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 4 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 128-129 Thomas E. Hughes, Vicksburgh, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 6 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 131-132r John Griffith Jones, Vicksburgh, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 12 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 134-135 John Griffith Jones, Vicksburgh, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 17 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 137-138 John Griffith Jones, Vicksburgh, Mississipi, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 21 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 140-141 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Orleans to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 27 Aug. 1863
  • ff. 143-144 John Jones, Llanrug, Bryn y fedwen, Llanrug to John Griffiths Jones, 1 Sept. 1863
  • ff. 145-146 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Orleans, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 10 Sept. 1863
  • ff. 148-149r John Griffith Jones, New Orleans, Louisiana to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 15 Sept. 1863
  • ff. 151-151 John Griffith Jones, Carlton, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 19 Sept. 1863
  • ff. 154-155 John Griffith Jones, Gwersyll ger New Orleans, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 22 Sept. 1863
  • f. 157 John Griffith Jones, Gwersyll ger New Orleans, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 26 Sept. 1863
  • f. 159 John Griffith Jones, Gwersyll ger New Orleans, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 1 Oct. 1863
  • f. 161 John Griffith Jones, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 6 Oct. 1863
  • ff. 163-164 John Griffith Jones, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 12 Oct. 1863
  • ff. 166-167 John Griffith Jones, Camp Vermillion Ville, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 17 Oct. 1863
  • ff. 169-170 John Griffith Jones, Barnes Landing, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 31 Oct 1863
  • f. 172 John Griffith Jones, 1862 Nov. x Dec.
  • ff. 173-174 John Griffith Jones, Vermillion Bayou, Louisiana, at Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 6 Nov. 1863
  • ff. 176-177 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Iberia, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 12 Nov. 1863
  • ff. 179-180 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Iberia, Louisiana, at Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 21 Nov. 1863
  • ff. 182-183 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Iberia, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 25 Nov. 1863
  • ff. 185-186 John Griffith Jones, Camp near New Iberia, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 3 Dec. 1863
  • f. 188 John Griffith Jones, Brasier City, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 11 Nov. 1863
  • f. 191 John Griffith Jones, Algiers, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 18 Dec. 1863
  • ff. 194-195 John Griffith Jones, Algiers, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 20 Dec. 1863
  • ff. 197-198 John Griffith Jones, Algiers, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 24 Dec. 1963
  • ff. 200-201 John Griffith Jones, Matarogda Bay, Texas, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 3 Jan. 1864
  • ff. 203-204 John Griffith Jones, Drouce Point, Texas, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 9 Jan. 1864
  • ff. 206-207 John Griffith Jones, Drouce Point, Texas, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 16 Jan. 1864
  • ff. 209-210 John Griffith Jones, Drouce Point, Texas, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 15 Feb. 1864
  • ff. 212-213 John Griffith Jones, Morganza Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 15 Aug. 1864
  • ff. 215-216 Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Dodge County, to John Griffith Jones, 16 Aug. 1864
  • ff. 218-219 John Griffith Jones, Morganza Bend, Louisiana, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 20 Sept. 1864
  • f. 221 Thomas E. Hughes, Helena, Arkansas, to Richard D. Jones, Beaver Dam, Winconsin, 4 Nov. 1864

John Griffith Jones

In 1861, John Griffith Jones, originally of Penisarwaun, enrolled with Company G of the 23rd Wisconsin Voluntary Infantry of the Union Army. The regiment travelled through Kentucky to the heart of the Confederacy and the swamps of Louisiana. The letters, written between John Griffith Jones and his immigrant family in Wisconsin, recount the story of a common soldier. Details about army life and fellow Welsh conscripts are intertwined with accounts of the ravages of war, illness and death. The letters also document many strange and wonderful things - exotic plants, large snakes, alligators and the beauty of New Orleans. All of the letters are in Welsh.

John Griffith Jones was killed in service in 1864.

The Welsh in America

Thousands of Welsh families emigrated to America in the 19th century to escape a life of hardship and poverty in Wales. The majority settled in the northern states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. Welsh-speaking communities kept their native culture alive through religion, the eisteddfod and Welsh-language publications such as Y Drych.

Slavery and the Civil War, 1861-5

The American Civil War was fought between the northern Unionist states and the southern states of the Confederation. Human slavery was common in the 19th century, especially in the mainly agricultural Confederate states. These feared that the newly-elected President, Abraham Lincoln, had plans to abolish the slave industry. This led to secession and ultimately to war. The war involved 3 million soldiers and over 600,000 lives were lost.

Further reading

  • Hunter, Jerry. Llwch Cenhedloedd: Y Cymru a Rhyfel Cartref America. Llanrwst: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2003.