1864: James Gregory Turner to Wife

This letter was written by John [or James*] Gregory Turner (1842-1865) of Co. C, 12th Georgia Infantry. James was captured during Early’s Raid on Washington (13 July 1864) and was imprisoned at Elmira, New York, where he died of pneumonia on 22 January 1865. [* Census/Family records show his first name as “John” in 1850 and 1860; however, roster/prison records show his first names as “James”]

“J. G.” was the son of Levi Turner (1806-1883) and Elizabeth Snellgrove (1810-1860) of Macon County, Georgia.

J. G. Turner served in the regiment with his brothers Julius C. Turner (1840-1896), Thomas C. Turner (1831-1864) and Richard (“Dick”) F. Turner (1844-1928). At the time this letter was written, we learn that Julius was in Savannah — presumably in a hospital. Thomas was later wounded and captured at Silver Spring, Maryland on 13 July 1864 (Early’s Raid) and died in a hospital in Washington D. C. on 26 December 1864. Dick was wounded sometime in 1864 and sent to a hospital.

Turner wrote the letters to his wife who had the initials “E. Z. Turner.”


Letter from Elmira Prison informing of death of J. G. Turner


[Camp six miles northeast of Orange Court House]
April the 20th 1864

My Dear Wife,

I received two letters from you yesterday evening after I arrived at this camp and was glad to hear from you and the children. I also received one from Sam and one brother Julius at Savannah.

We left our old camp last Thursday and arrived here yesterday. We are six miles northeast of Orange Court House and in about fifteen miles of Meade’s army. I stood the march extremely well — better than a good many of the old soldiers. Dick stood the trip very well and is in good health as well as myself. Sam is well but Julius is sick at this time and badly worn out by the ____.  I do not like this part of Virginia as well as I do the valley. The lands are not so good and the water is not so good. We are in sight of snow this morning.

It is the general opinion that we will have to fight soon and the soldiers are in high spirits and very cheerful. I have but little to write that will be news to you — only that I am in the best of health and hope to remain so. Tom wants me to write to him but I have neither paper nor money to buy it with at present but we will draw [our pay] before a great while and I will write then.

The money that I gave to Tom he spent for tobacco for your Father which was two hundred dollars. You need not trouble yourself about me not having any money for I have but little use for it — only to buy tobacco and paper to write on. When we draw [our pay] we will get the new issue two dollars of which will be worth three of the old. I saw George Davis yesterday. He is well. I sent you five cuts of shoe thread and a letter by Mr. Jolly who is at home at this time with instructions to leave it at Dave Worsham’s. I hope you will get it all and use it to your own advantage. Jim Hays will want some and you can keep some and double and twist if it is not too coarse. I have several skeins of sewing flax and would have sent you some of that but I knew that I was going to leave the Valley and could probably get no more and I thought best to keep it as I do a good deal of sewing. The boys owe me some ten or twelve dollars but cannot pay me until they draw money.

I will close. Direct your letters to Richmond and i will be sure to get them. I remain as ever your loving husband until death. Farewell.

— J. G. Turner


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