Letter #21 – NOVEMBER 16, 1864  

This letter records Thomas Jackson's jubilation after the election of Lincoln. Even so, he cannot stop venting his hatred for those who do not support his political views.

There are reports referencing the cruel treatment of Union prisoners while reassuringly reporting how well the Rebel prisoners were treated.

Also there are first hand reports and touching stories about the suffering of slaves at the hands of their masters.

Reading Novr 16th 1864

Dr Cousin,
Have you ever been at sea in a storm, and near a Lee shore. Have you stood on the deck then when a very dangerous point was to be weathered or the vessel would be lost?. Well if you have not seen that I have. I have stood on the deck of a noble ship and seen the sails trimmed, and the best men at the wheel, all hands at their posts, the captain conning ship, and the staunch vessel just clear the dangerous cape, where, had she struck, she would have gone to pieces in half an hour, and I heard the loud hurrah from every man when the point was passed and all were safe again in good sea room. I know how I felt then, and I feel just so now.

I am on board the good ship United states. We have been in a long storm of war, on the lee shore of a terrible rebellion. We had "point presidential election" to weather. We have had good men at the wheel, and a skillful captain conning ship, with the biggist half of the crew steadyily, sternly, and bravely at their posts, but sorry am I to say, that we had many mutinous rascals among us, who were doing their worst to cast away the ship and wreck us on the dangerous cape. But, thank God, we have passed it safely, and have 4 years more of sea room, and a ship plenty strong enough to stand it, if the storm of war lasts that long.

"Hip, Hip, Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah! - Abraham Lincoln is reelected by the biggist vote ever polled in the north since the birth of the republic; and now, if they don't return to their duty as good men ought to do, we will hang our own mutineers along with the rebellious rascals, who are in arms to distroy our liberty, overturn freedom, and set up a Slave breeding, man stealing aristocracy to rule our country with a rod of iron. We know our position now exactly. We know the fiendish, develish enemies we have to deal with, and now that the intelligent, sternly brave men among us have won the election, and will shape the policy of the government accordingly, who we know what is before us now for 4 years to come, if the infernal rebels are able to hold out that long. You may think my language too strong and spiteful against the traitors to liberty, humanity, and religion, who bullyed us into this great war & are now showing to the world how utterly develish they are and have been. But if you saw all I see and knew all that I have told to me by eye witnesses, and actual sufferers, you would agree that the very worst language is far too good for them. While I am writing now a poor old black man is sitting on my office door step, telling me the sad story of his wrongs and the life-long suffering slavery, thrice cursed slavery, has inflicted on him. He is nearly as bald as your father; His beard is almost snow white on his black face, & his whole appearence shows that he has had a life of hardship. He escaped to our army 2 years ago, and is now

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at least 70 years old. I asked him his age: "Lord bless you, sir, I dont know. None of us ever know how old we are. They never tells us; I may be a hundred years for all I knows". He says he lived many years in Richmond, and had a large family born to him there. But how many children he cant exactly say. His owner sold them all to the slave dealers, to go south, as fast as they got to be worth much. He knows of nine of them that the rebels now have in slavery some where in South Carolina, Georgia, or Alabama. Says his wife died about 10 years ago, and then his Richmond master sold him, and he was brought up into Maryland, and there he got another slave wife. When the war began he was 18 miles from Harpers Ferry on the Virginia side of the Potomac. First fair chance he had, they escaped to Harpers Ferry, and then walked all the way to Reading, over 150 miles. He seems hearty, and now works about town at any little jobs he and his wife can get.

I could fill this whole sheet with the tales of sufferings, cruelties, and barbarities he has seen. So much for their treatment of the black man. now I will tell you how they treat Northern white men when they get them into their power.

In Washington street, in our city, lives a Shoemaker named Warley. In going to & from the rope walk I pass his house 5 or 6 times a day. He had a son in the union army who was taken prisoner by the rebels, and put in the great roofless prison pen at Andersonville, Georgia. He was there nearly 4 months, exposed to the rain & weather. To the Hot sun by day and the damp dews by night. No shelter of any kind. Nothing but the bare ground to sleep on. No change of clothing. Over twenty thousand of them in together in the same condition, all filthy and swarming with lice. The very ground swarmed with lice, and the men eaten alive by them. Thousands of the men were eaten into sores all over them by the lice and scratching. And all the time they were being slowly starved to death. All the food they had was four cubic inches of meat and eight cubic inches of the very coarsest kind of indian corn bread every twenty four hours. That and water was all they had to live on. Thousands of them were sick and hundreds of them died weekly, often over a hundred died in a day.

There were armed guards all round the inside of the high plank fence; a line was drawn about 20 feet from the fence inside. Any man going over that line was instantly shot down by the guard; and many stepped over it to be shot down and end their misery. Many went crazy and did it in their delirium. He saw a young german, when deranged, go over the line and sit down. The nearest guard was an old man of some feeling who did not like to kill a crazy man, so he fired over him and then told him to go back. But the german sat still, and the guard fired over him again, but still he would not move. Hearing two shots fired an officer came to see what was matter. The guard said that man was entirely deranged and refused to go back over the "death line" (as it is called); He did not like to kill a crazy man and had fired over him twice. "O dam him, shoot him, shoot the cursed yankee" said the officer, insisting that the old guard should fire again and take good aim. The guard had to obey. He fired a third time and shot the poor crazy prisoner through the head killing him instantly. That was only one of many similar murders done there.

Well, when young Warley was nearly dead he was paroled, sent to Richmond, kept there ten days in an old store house, without windows and partly without a roof. Then delievered up to our flag of truce steamer, and then transfered to one of the hospital steamers on James river, where every care was taken of him, and every thing that skill and kindness could do for him was done. But

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it was too late; All the care and skill and kindness could not save him from the fatal effects of the barberous develishness of our infernal foes. He lived to reach Annapolis, Maryland, where he met his Father and was just able to tell the storey of his sufferings, and died in the hospital there, 24 hours after his arrival, from the effect of starvation and exposure, reduced to a mere skeleton, scarcely any thing but skin and bone.

His father brought his body back to Reading. Hundreds of us saw the sad spectacle, and attended the funeral from his fathers house on Sunday last. Thus perished a fine young man, only 23 years old; and thus thousands more have perished and are now perishing by the systematic starving to death practiced upon Union prisoners as a policy by these fiendish rascals who claim to be the only "Gentlemen" in America, and as such, ask and receive the sympathy and aid of the nobility, gentry, and capitalists of England, in a war for human slavery, to establish an Oligarchy of despots and exclude every thought of freedom from as much of this continent as they could possibly get into their power.

They starve our men in this cruel manner, so that they may die after they are exchanged, or at all events be so broken down in health as to be unable to take their place in our ranks again for a long time, if ever they can be fit for soldiers again.

And their men we hold as prisoners, we house comfortably, feed like fighting cocks, treat kindly and return to them in better condition then when they were taken. But you see we northern folks, indulge in this foolish friendliness towards our rebel prisoners, because we are the "mud sills" of America and the"offscourings of Europe," while they are the "Gentlemen" of America, the chivalry of the south, the "first families of Virginia" and other aristocratic slave lands, decended from Cromwell conquered cavaliers of England and transported prostitutes from the purlieus of London and other English cities._. I presume neither Napoleon of France, nor the tories of England will think of meddling in our domestic fight now.

We have won this election as the declared enemies of the rebels, and their infamous cause "human chattel slavery" - "Bondage of body and soul". We declared from the time that Abm Lincoln was nominated for a second term, that we fully intended to put down the rebellion by force of arms, - punish the leaders of the insurrection, and utterly exterpate for ever, the cause of the discontent by making america really the "Land of the free and the home of the brave"; To be trodden no more by the foot of the slave:

The proslavery party in the north, the "Democratic copperhead party" have opposed us with all the rancourous venom, all the vile slanderous abuse, all the infamous false hood, all the develish fraud, that the devel could use in the defence of treason and slavery. They have talked incessently of high taxes, high prices, the immense cost of the war, its terrible horrors and aweful scenes of slaughter, They have called us "nigger huggers." carried transparencies in their processions representing Abm

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Lincoln hugging a black woman, they have constantly called themselves the "white mans party" and appealed to the mean instincts, the vulgar prejudices, and brutish propensities of the ignorant, and vilest of the people in every possible manner:

They have flooded the land with the most villanous publications, and their speakers have had unlimited liecense to lie themselves hoarse with the most passionate vituperation, and the blackest defamation, and yet they are more shamefully beaten than any rival party ever was beaten before since the adoption of our Federal constitution.

To give you a proper understanding understanding of it I must explain how we elect our president and vice president of the united states. Each state, in proportion to its population, elects so many electors and on a fixed day in December these electors meet and vote for president & vice president, being pledged, when chosen by us, to vote for the candidates of the party which votes for them as electors. So that all the electoral votes of any one state must go together for one party or the other. Well the states now loyal, which voted at this election are. Connecticut 6 votes. California 4 votes Delaware 3. Illinois 16. New York 33. Pennsylvania 26 and so on for the 25 loyal states 234 votes. Of these 234 votes Abm Lincoln, as the antislavery, abolition candidate has got 213. and General Mc.Clellen, the proslavery, peace on any terms, copperhead representative of human bondage has got only 21 votes. viz. Kentucky 11 Delaware 3 (both slave states) & The free state of New Jersey 7. and Delaware he gets by a very small majority. While Lincolns aggregate majorities are nearly four hundred thousand.

If all the rebel slave states had voted with us, we should still have beat them again, and elected a antislavery president again, as we did in 1860. Thank God the rule and the power of the slave driver is gone from our national government for ever. A year or two more will sweep the whole demon scourge from this continent for ever and ever Amen.

The northern slavery lovers threatened awefull things if Lincoln was re-elected: But, owing to the display of force & determination of the National government, the election passed by very quietly. And now they see how weak their party is, and how strong and determined the brave friends of national freedom are. the copperheads are as quiet as mice, Say but little and deny ever intending any thing wrong. Most of them say that, now they know, by the large majority, what the people really wish, they will go in with us and help to carry on the war for the suppression of the rebellion and the freedom of the whole people, with greater energy and earnestness than it ever has yet been carried on.

I think one more offer of Amnesty and pardon will be offered made to the rebells. If they dont accept it, we propose to raise another million of men, and next summer carry fire and sword through & through them, and exterminate all the vile man stealing traitors, if nothing less will teach them submission to popular sovereignty.

Yours affectionately, Thomas Jackson


If you feel you "know" Thomas Jackson from previous letters, you will not be surprised to hear this hurried and passionate outpouring of joy, relief at the size of the Lincoln's victory and the disgust at members of the northern "democratic, copperhead party" who opposed him.

Unfamiliar names
...captain "conning" ship - not sure what this means. May be some reference to a conning tower concept? One suggestion is "a raised platform from which the captain gives orders to the helmsman" Any navel experts can explain?

"mud sills" 1: a supporting sill (as of a building) resting directly on a base and especially the earth 2: a person of the lowest social level (Merriam Webster on line)

"the purlieus of London" , the districts adjacent to a city; a place for spending time or for socializing E.g. "the

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Notes From: Irvin Rathman

This early account of the Andersonville horrors comes via the soldier's father, Levi Worley (1817-1902), who lived at 729 Washington St., next door to his shoemaker's shop at 727 Washington.

His son, William H. Worley (1842-1864) did a year of hard service from Nov. 1861 to Nov. 1862 as a private in Co. B, 93rd Pa. Regt. His tombstone notes this regiment. He went back in on Jan. 18, 1864, enlisting in the U.S. Marines at their Philadelphia station.

His stint as a Marine didn't last long. As a corporal assigned to the USS Mackinaw, he and five comrades were on picket duty May 22nd on the bank of the James River in Virginia, when they were surprised by Confederate infantry and captured. He was exchanged at Savannah on Sept. 3, and died of chronic diarrhea in the hospital at Annapolis Nov. 3, 1864. He was 22 years and 19 days old.

Three days later he was buried in the Lutheran cemetery at the foot of Neversink Mountain in Reading. The event drew no notice in his hometown's three main newspapers, which were preoccupied with war news and the presidential election on Nov. 8th.

Sources: 1866 Reading city directory.
Samuel P. Bates, History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5 (Harrisburg: 1869-1871), 3:303.
Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798-1892 (via ancestry.com).
His capture is recorded in Offical Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. (Washington, 1900) 1st Series, 10:80.
Selected Records of the War Department Commissary General of Prisoners Relating to Federal Prisoners of War Confined at Andersonville, Georgia, 1864-65, NARA microfilm M1303, reel 1 (via ancestry.com). This primary source gives his exchange date as Sept. 3; some other sources say Sept. 24.
List of Deaths in the United States Naval Service During the Civil War, NARA Record Group 94 (via ancestry.com).
Burial records of St. James Lutheran church (via photocopy at Historical Society of Berks County).
His tombstone can currently be found at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Reading via www.findagrave.com (accessed 11/6/2014).
Levi Worley's 5/29/1902 burial in Trinity Lutheran records (photocopy at Historical Society of Berks County).

Tombstone of William H. Worley from
with permission of Mr. Tricker