Nine letters, 20 October 1861 - 29 August 1864, of the related Reaves and McDowell families include correspondence between family members who lived at opposite ends of Kershaw District in Flat Rock and Tiller’s Ferry as well as letters from Confederate soldiers James Reaves and John Ursery.
The initial letter, 20 October 1861, from J.H. Reaves to brother A.A. McDowell was written in the early hours of morning while watching over “my Darling little infant expecting the last moment of its existence to soon come.” It was a lonely vigil for “no one sits up with me, no one has been in from the neighborhood...either.” From his camp on Black River, Va., John C. Ursery wrote the Rev. D.M. McLure on 13 May 1863. He was pleased to be in Hampton Legion as several friends were assigned to the unit with him. He seemed relieved to report that the “morality of the company...is better than I expected” although “some, nay many...profane the name of God.” He acknowledged that serving God was difficult when one was “away from the influences of home and the refined society of woman, too often all the restraints are thrown off too.”
Writing his sister from Bristol in East Tennessee, 3 April 1864, J.H. Reaves related that he had just returned from transferring prisoners to Richmond and fortunately missed a march in bad weather. He had received a letter from his wife who told him that their son “was constant running to the door calling & looking for me.” He lamented—“Oh...how it does grieve me that I cannot be with those lovely little children of mine—but such is the fate of war & such are the privations of a poor soldier.”
James and his brother were within two miles of each other at Gaines Mills, Va., in June 1864, “but times are such that I cannot get the chance to go see him or for him to come to see me.” He was anxious to return home to his children “& relieve my poor Old Parents of the trouble they have with them.” Two letters in August 1864 from Ervin Reaves to his daughter concern her mother’s health and an invitation to visit and attend “the three days Meating at the school house.” She was unable to visit and therefore missed the meeting that was presided over by three ministers—“i heard they was five or six Joined the church.”