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Letter to Eleanor Stuart Brooks

Andrew Brooks describes his surroundings in northern Virginia and comments on the general "confusion" there. He also reports on the pay owed to his family following his brother's death in the service.

ALS .pp September 18, 1861 Andrew Brooks to Eleanor Stuart Brooks, September 18, 1861 Notes

Tuesday Sept. 18th, 1861

near Fairfax Court House

Dear Ma,

You will perceive by
the heading of this, that we have changed
our camp a few miles. Though you need
fear no hostile demonstrations on the
account as we are yet ten or twelve
miles from the outposts. We were only
moved about five miles—only one
mile below us in Fairfax Court House[1], a
very pretty village in time of peace,
but now every where you see signs of the
presence of soldiers; a general air of neglect
and confusion, fences torn down, tents
of regiments and brigades seem in every
direction as far as can be seen through the
openings of trees. The country here is very
pretty; it is hilly, though not such high
hills as we are accustomed to in the valley,
but a succession of low parallel[deleted: l] ridges

[page 2]

running nearly north and south, which
render the appearance a great deal more beautiful
than the low flat country around the Junction.
It is very densely wooded—mostly pine
and the whole filled up with thick under
growth, forming the very best protection
to the pickets and scouting parties, and also
a shelter for those terrible engines of destruction
(to the Yankees)-"masked batteries."[2]

Troops are still concentrating between this
place and our picket lines—the main body
of the army is here—what it all means
no one of course can tell, though you may
rest assured there will be no more falling
back on the Junction, unless we are com
pletely beaten, of which however I have
little fear. I do not believe the Yankees are
ready to fight us yet—their loss was too
great on the 21st July for them to have
recovered from it so soon.[3] All military
operations are exceedingly dull
and sluggish.

We are both very well and right
pleasantly situated, if indeed a camp
life can be, at all pleasant. The camp
is a right good one, the water not quite
so good as that we left.

William Wilson[4] reached camp
this morning, from Fairfax Station
where he left the boxes, and for which
we will send tomorrow. He gave us
all the news, both from home and
Rockbridge. The Cars now run regularly
to Fairfax Station, about 3 miles from
the Court House. You will hereafter
direct your letters to Fairfax Station
Company I 4th Regiment Va. Volunteers.

I suppose Charles told you that
Capt. White's resignation has been accepted
and that Mr. Morrison has been elected
Captain. He will make an excellent
captain. I like him very much.
He is one of the most industrious and
intelligent men I ever saw.[5]

Father wished to know that amount
coming to William from the Confederacy.[6]
Capt. White is not here and Capt.
Morrison knows nothing about it, he
can only make the calculations at $11 per
month which results as follows: $31.63
up to the first of July and then 16 days
in that month $5.50 making $37.13.
The pay master made a note on the pay
rolls, that William had died and the day
of his death (16th of July) but the amount
could be drawn at anytime without
difficulty. Any statement from the Capt
could in no way, be of any service, I think.
He can find out better in Staunton than any
one here can tell him.
I am going to Fairfax Station today for the boxes.

Much love to everybody.
As ever your son.

Andrew Brooks

Eston is very well, the most con
tented man in camp.
John D.[7] is pretty well.
Lieutenant Wilson has been right sick
but is now nearly well.


[1] While Jackson's Brigade was stationed at Fairfax Court House, Company I of the 4th Virginia Infantry (the Liberty Hall Volunteers) was assigned to guard General Gustavus Smith's headquarters (Bean, 64).

[2] A "battery" was a unit of organization for the field artillery. A battery usually consisted of four or six guns. See for more information about Civil War artillery.

[3] Andrew refers to the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Manassas, which was fought on July 21, 1861.

[4] William N. Wilson, a fellow student at Washington College, volunteered for Company I of the 4th Virginia Infantry in June of 1861. Wilson was captured at Kernstown on March 23, 1862 and exchanged on August 5, 1862, so when this letter was written he must have just returned to the service. He was listed as a deserter after November 27, 1862 (Robertson, 4th Virginia Infantry, 81)

[5] James J. White (1828-1893) (cf April 14, 1861, July 16, 1861) was a professor of Classics at Washington College and was commissioned as a captain when Company I was organized on June 2, 1861. He resigned on September 6, 1861 and returned to teaching at the College (Bean 11; Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 1, 80). Henry Ruffner Morrison, also a teacher, was elected captain of the company on September 12, 1861. Morrison was one of those captured at Kernstown on March 23, 1862, but was exchanged on August 5 of that year. He eventually resigned from the service and died in 1879 (Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 65).

[6] William Brooks died of a cerebral or spinal disorder on July 16, 1861. See Andrew Brooks' July 16, 1861 letter to his mother, as well as James White's letter to James Brooks on July 16, 1861; both letters broke the news of William's death to the family.

[7] John D. Brooks, perhaps a cousin of the Brooks brothers, enlisted in Company H of the Fifth Virginia Infantry on April 19, 1861. After serving five months as regimental quartermaster clerk, Brooks was promoted to first sergeant in September of 1861. In April of 1862, he was transferred to Company E, and he was promoted to captain in 1864. He was paroled at Appomattox Court House in April of 1865 as Captain, Assistant Quartmaster, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.

Works Cited

Bean, W. G. The Liberty Hall Volunteers: Stonewall's College Boys. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 1964.

"The Civil War Artillery Page" Chuck Ten Brink. Visited April, 1998

Crenshaw, Ollinger. General Lee's College: The Rise and Growth of Washington and Lee University. NY: Random House, 1969.

Denney, Robert E. The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the Life of a Nation. NY: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc., 1992.

Driver, Robert. J. 52nd Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va: H. E. Howard, 1986.

Lankford, Nelson D. "Alexander Robinson Boteler." Encylopedia of the Confederacy. Ed. Richard N. Current. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993. I: 197-8.

McMurry, Richard. M. "Joseph E. Johnston." Encylopedia of the Confederacy. Ed. Richard N. Current. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993. II: 859-61.

McPherson, James M. The Atlas of the Civil War. New York: Macmillan, 1994.

Robertson, James. 4th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1982.

—. The Stonewall Brigade. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963.

Sublett, Charles W. 57th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H. E. Howard, 1985.

Turner, Charles W. Old Zeus: Life and Letters (1860-'62) of James J. White (Professor of Greek at Washington College 1852-1893, Captain of the Liberty Hall Volunteers 1861-'62). Verona, VA: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1983.

Wallace, Lee A. 5th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H. E. Howard, 1988.

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