James and John Clarkson – Civil War Soldiers

Note by Phyllis Brown:  James and John Clarkson were the oldest sons of Theodore Clarkson and Martha L. Edwards.  It is said they lied about their ages to join the Union Army.  The following is a letter written by John.  James died of measles and typhoid in April of 1862 and was buried at Nashville.  John died two weeks later of the same.  John was 18, James was 16.

January 11, 1862

Dear Father and Mother,

I take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well at present, but James has been very sick.  But he is getting better.  I would like to see you all.  We are ten miles on the other side of Columbia and still marching on to meet old Zollicoffer and I am in hopes that we may have a good time of it.  He has thirteen thousand men and we have twenty thousand, and we expect to meet them in a few days.

We have very little sickness in the camp now, though we have a very hard time marching through the brush and the mud.  We miss the pike very much.  The brush is so thick that a rabbit could hardly get through it.  Tell Mr. Spalding that James says that he wants to get home in time enough to help him harvest this summer and he wants him to have plenty to eat.  He says that he knows he will be hungry.  Tell Mrs. Spalding that I would like to have the flags to march into meet old Zollicoffer.  As soon as I draw my money I will send it to you, but it will be some time before we draw it, I expect.  James says that he would like to see you all and tell Maggie that he will be home to have a few more quarrels soon as he whips old Zollicoffer, which he expects to do very soon.

It is near time for roll call.  You must give my love to all the neighbors and keep a portion for yourself.  You must write soon because I want to hear from you very bad, and direct it to the Tenth Kentucky Regiment of Volunteers, Company 3.  You must write soon.  We have no ink and I had to write with pencil.

John H. Clarkson, A Good Soldier

Maggie was the boys younger sister.  Quite poignant to think she never saw them again – no more quarrels!  This was not the first sadness in the family.  Son Francis Polin Clarkson died of scarlet fever April 10, 1858, and his three-year-old sister, Annie, died just eight days later.  Three children remained to these parents – Edward Barbour Clarkson, Margaret Mason Clarkson and Sidney Albertus Clarkson.

Felix Zollicoffer was a Confederate Brigadier General who commanded the only army in East Tennessee, which was headquartered at Knoxville.  He led the first invasion of eastern Kentucky and was shot and killed when he accidentally crossed the Union line at the battle of Mill Springs near present-day Nancy, Kentucky.

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