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
f. 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
f. 215-216v. 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.

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