The first eight letters in this series were sent to me by Terry Phillips, great great grandson of Tenison Jarvis. The last letter from Mary Jane is in the possession of Richard Tenison (Rick) Jarvis, my first cousin. The letters told me many things about Tenison that I had not known before. He spelled his name "Tenison," not "Tennyson." I have known that Mary Jane could not read or write and I assumed that Tenison couldn't either. The letters have proven me wrong as it is perfectly clear that he wrote all of his letters except for the one dated March 6, 1863 in which he states he is too sick to write himself.

It was also obvious that Tenison was frustrated in not hearing from Mary as often as he thought he should and that he worried about his family back home. Almost every letter mentions his concern for the children and on more than one occasion reminds them to study their books and learn to read.

Tenison enlisted on July 4, 1862 and reported for training on the 17th of the same month. On September 22, 1862 Tenison was listed on the sick list report. The official records show that Tenison was hospitalized in Richmond from September. 1862 until February, 1863 and at that time (September) he was sent home on 4 weeks leave. (It is interesting to note here that Mary Jane wrote to Tenison on September 26, 1862, "I am going makin my malases next week and I want you to come home and help me eat them." He walked all the way home in bitter cold, fording the James River and other small streams. When he arrived home he was "deathly" sick, spending the next weeks bedridden. He overstayed his leave and a troop of mounted horsemen was sent to fetch him, and probably several others sometime before January 23, 1863. He left for Richmond very, very, ill. His last words to Mary Jane were "You'll never see me alive again." I'm sure that Mary was relieved to read that he had not been punished for overstaying his leave. Tenison died in Chamberazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia on March 25, 1863. The records state that the cause of death was measles. His body was shipped home by rail to Greensboro, North Carolina.

September the 9th, 1862
Dear Sir I take my pen in han to drope you afew lines to let you no that we are all in the land of the liven (.) they is a gradeal of sicknys in camp I have bin very poarly but I am better(.) Sam Flint and Sandy Flint is in the horsepitle (.) I want yo to rite mea aleter suon and how the forty five boys gits along. I heard that dock armsy and buck longswarth (Buck Longsworth) had left(.) I wod bea glad if yo wod cum and sea us befoar we leave hear(.) the curniel (Colonel) ses we woant stay hear long and he ses he doant no whear we will go when we leave(.) If you and John Blackburn cums here I want one of yo to go and sea my wife and sea if she has got eany mony on the date that is counterfit she has go sum confedret mony she had those an fore twenty dollarblls and if she has I want one of you to fetch it and git it chaing of give my best respect to all inquiring friens and receive the same your self(.) your respectful and so forth

Tenison Jarvis

September the 9th, 1862
Dear wife I take this presant opertunity to drop you a few lines once more(.) my helth is not guod at this time I have bin quite porly fur the last week but I am rite smarte beter I have had the boulecomplaint I hope when theas lines fall in your hands they may find you and the children awl well I have bin luoking far a leter along time but I have not recived naryone yet(.) I want to hear from you awl mity bad I have roat you thrive letres and I have not had no aswer yet(.) they is aguodeal (a great deal) of sickness in camp(.) gust vogler has got the mumps Sam flint and Sandy flint is in the horsepitle I haint mutch to rite of importance we expect to leave hear befor long but I caint tel whear we will go(.) our curniel ses he doant no whear we will go neither dyrect your leter vurgina ritchmon the 27th north carlin ridgment in the cear of mea I want you to rite gust as sune as this cums to hand(.) if john backburn (John Blackburn) comes down hear I wante yos to let him have your mony and git it chaing of far they is aguodeal of conterfit in circltyon (circulation) you take your mony to John blackburn and he can tel yo all about it(.) I want yo to rite how meny bushels of wheat they is and rite all about our affairs at home(.) I think if I cuod hear from you all I think I wod bea beter satesfide tel the children not to clime nar fite and learn thear book so they can read till I com hom(.) we had fine preaching last sundy I think it tuck mutch affect I tel you we have many triles hear we ar surrounded with many temptations to do that that we aught not to do but I intend to do that witch I promis you so nothing more(.) love to you all, dyrect your leter to Vurgina ritchman

Tenison Jarvis

September 26 (1862) Dear husband I recivd the letter that you sent by Bob Gray that one makes 5 letters that I have recivd sence you Bin Gon and I all so have ansurd all of them I am sory a nuff to heare that you are sick and so farre off that I cant see you nore help you morr I would be Glad to come and see you But you are so fare off I cant come if I could come I Would come in hast I think you must Be in the horsepittle all thoe the letter did not state that you Was in thare But the letter signifyed as if you was in the horse pittle I Warnt you to let me know Whear you are and Who tends to you and Whether you are attende to Good and let me know What youre desease is Bob Gray told you had the measles and I want you to let me know Whether you have had the measles are not I Want you to take Good care of yourself and not Ga out too soon and I want you to rite soon how you are fore I cant rest tell I heare from you a Gain soon We kild our largest heafer yesterday she was vurry pretty and fat I wish you was only heare to see what 2 large pretty stakes I got of tallare I cep fifteen are sixteen pounds of Beff it is very Good Beef I wish you was heare fore to eat I know you Would say it Was Good the childrin has pulled between 2 and 3 hundred Bussels of fadder at the lower plase they are all gitten tired I am going to let hem quit Bud ssyes his hands is sore I am going makin my malases next week and I want you to come home and help me eat them.

(Mary Jarvis)

January 23 1863 Dear wife I take the presant opertunity rite (a few) lines to let you no that I am well (at present) & hope when theas few lines (reach) your hand they will find you & (the) children all well I haint eany thing (of importance) to rite to you we have hurde (nothing) hear we have gust commence our ( ) & news come this morning that we (will go under) Jackson & I think it is so (you had) beter not rite til you get another (letter) from me ar til you hear whear we (are I) am vary ancsious to hear from you (I want) you to rite how you get along & rite whether all of the conscripte ar gn ar not (gone or not) and wather nathan craft is gon ar not & awll the rest importent news yo have they is a gradel of sickness in camp and a grait many deths we haint draw no money yet I will giv you the price of things hear flower 15 cents per pond meal one dollar a gallen aples (two dollar per) dosen ewgs one dallar pr dosen butter two (dollars) per pound I mus bring my leter to a clous (by) remaining your hudban until deth This to Mary Jarvis

Tenison Jarvis

January the 29th, 1863 Dear wife I take my pen in hand to let yo no that I am well at present & hope when theas few lines reach you han they may find you & the children all well I am very ancious to hear from you all I have reat three leters becides this and I haint had no aneer yet I want yo to rite all about the conscripes & all the deths I hear that oald Bil Blackburn (Old Bill Blackburn) and calven craft (Calvin Craft) was ded I have sead all of the boys that left our neighborhood we ar all in the same divison under Jackson I sead winbor craft (Winbern Craft) & wes vest (Wesley Vest) and willam hoalder (William Holder) & frank rich (Frank Reich) & agrait meny moar they ar all well & luoke well & fat we have left fedricksburg & gound don the river eighttuen miles we have no tents yet only flys & I tel you the way it his bin snowing is the way the snow if about one fuot duep but it is not vary coald but it will git us tomorrow we hafto go on picket in the morning I think this snow will make the yankeys ly low fur a while I haint mutch to rite of importanc if you have eany prospect of peas (peace) I want you to let me now it fur we caint hear no news hear I want to hear from you all var bad I hurd they is a graideal of sickness thar rite wather the baby is mutch cross ar not I must bring my leter to a cloas by remaining your husban until deth, dy rect your leter to richmond virgina hokes devison fifty seventh ridgmon north carlina in the cear of capton gray.

Tenison Jarvis

February 2, 1863 Dear wife I take the presant opertunity to lete you now that your kind leter has just cum to hand witch give me grate plesher to hear that yo was all well you roat that yo heard that they was agoing to punish us I can tel yo that they was fur from it they was glad to see us they sed they was not luoking far us til spring, you roat that yo was going to send me my drawers & when yo do I want you to send me a bout a galen or quart of drid fruit ar gust as mutch as you can git eany boday to fetch fur we doant git nothing but bef and not half a nuf ofit we git a half pound a day you can guess wather we git a nuf ar not and if you can send me a littlle buter I wod bea vary glad every thing is var hy hear we can not afurd to pay the pris of things hear I want you to bea saving with your corn & I want yo to have them pigs spaid, reight off, and rite how mutch the oald sow waid and rite how the children is a giting along with thear wark and rite all that will giv me satisfaction I want yo to rite when you can, fur it is the oanly way we can have eany corspondance to gether I must bring my leter to a cloas by remaining your husban until deth, direct your leter to the 57 NC compny, D, hokes bregaid blackburns boys is all well and all the rest of our boys, you can tel, Mr Craft that winbern is well an harty & tel them that, nathan landied safe.

Tenison Jarvis

February 27, 1863
Dear wife it is with plesher that I take this opertunity to drop you afew lines agin to let you know that I am still on the mend but I am mity weak on my brest yet I hop when these few lines fall in your hands they may find you & the children all well. (I all most swear it too weary) to rite eany moar for I rite a leter every weak & some times two and three aweak this weak I have roat three & I haint had but three leters from yo sinc I have bin out hear & now I want you to beshur to rite one every weak & doant fail & get John Blackburn to back them & I think they will cum far his boys gits leters every weak & I luok every day but I git none Blackburns boys is well only Edwin is hors yet Jack Boyer is mity sick & hier is gon to the horsepitle I haint mutch to rite of importence, we ar all tierd of this war & I recken amoust every body els is about home & I doant sea no chance to every git home til this war cloases & I am afaid it will ben along time before that is don & I want yo to be saving of your grain & donant fur git that corn that nathan craft buared & doant lend no more & doant lend the mule to nobody & I want you to let the sheap run in the botom til the corm cum up & I want you to rite what fur luck you have had with your sheap & hogs & wather the cow has got a calf or not & rite every thing that is eany satsfaction to me we all kneed tearing up hear, I must bring my leter to aclous by remaining your affection husban until deth this is to, Mary Jarvis, from,

Tenison Jarvis

March the 6th, 1863
Camp near Fredericksburg Virginia
Dear wife I attemp to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am very sick at present I expect I am the weaks you ever saw me though I am still yet in good hopes I am truly hopeing thease few lines may find you all injoying good health when they reach your hands(.) Dear wife I dont want you to get Discouraged because I am Sick but write to me often I will to you evry oppertunity till I get able to write myself then I will write to you Evry few days I received a letter frome you yesterday also one last monday I was truly glad to here from you it give me greate satisfaction to here from you I will inform you that the Doctor Said he Expected to sent me off to some hospital t morrow but I cant tell where I will be Sent yet though I hope I will get to where I can rest better then here for I have ruff fare here for I just have to lay on the ground with nothin under me but a blanket or so and a blanket to cover with I must close for the presant I wil write to you in a few days again and let you know how I am getting along I want you to write to me often and let me know how you getting along no more at presant only remainging your most affectionate husband till Death.

Tenison Jarvis to Mary Jarvis

Dear husband I take my pen in hand to let you know that myself and children are all well hopeing these few lines may find you improveing I have not received any letter from you since you was in Richmond I suppose you have been too sick to write to me, I have heard from you three times since you was in Richmond Augustus Vogler has let me know how you are he sent me word in a letter he wrote to his father dated March the 24th which gave me great satisfaction to hear that you was some better. I hope you will be well enough to write to me soon as I am verry desirous to hear from you & to know how you are I have tried to get William (Tenison's brother) to go with me to see you or go himself but I could not get him to go no way so no more at present but remain your affectionate wife until Death.

Mary Jarvis

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