“I Heard that my Sweetheart was Going to War”
Franklin County Tennessee
~ 22, 24, & 25 April 1861 ~

Copyright © 2003, Frederick Smoot. All Rights Reserved.

       (This letter was started just ten days after the start of the provisional Confederate forces’ attack on Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The 12 April 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War.)

Stamped Envelope (Stamp Removed)
Corner Card:

       Robert Donnell University
       For Young Ladies
       Winchester Tenn.
       (See graphic)
Blue Circular Handstamp Postmark:
       WINCHESTER Ten. APR 26
       Miss E. M. TenBrock
       1826 Rittenhouse Square
Robert Donald University
Winchester April 22./61.
Miss Ellen Mary TenBrock
My Much Loved Neice,
I received your
picture several day since, and would have written to have let known that I had received it but I have not had a moments time until this morn. I am very very very much obliged to you for your picture, I think it is a true picture, with the exception of the mouth. As you did not write a very extensive letter, I cannot find anything in it to answer, but will tell you what news I know, which is not a great deal. Well in the first place, I heard that my sweetheart was going to war. I have not been able to study any since I heard it, and what greives me more is that he is going on the wrong side - (that is the South) Altho I have been in a slave State so long, I am not a Southerner in sentiment yet. I am the only person in school that will take up for Lincoln, the girls all call me Lincoln, I tell them, that I am proud of the name. One thousand troops, from this, and two or three adjoining counteys, are holding them selves in readiness, to start a moments warning, to fight for the southern confederacy, they are all coming to Winchester next Wednesday, and to camp until they are called upon to start to war. The Military of town went around to all of the schools, and bade them farewell, one day last week when they came over to our school, we all stood in the yard in front of the house, while Mr. Crisman addressed the Military, he had only spoken a few moments, until every one was in tears. I never witnessed a more solemn scene, The brass band was with them, and they played several peaces before they left. I think our school will continue untill the end of the session, but no longer. Mr. Brazelton has rented a Piano for me it is a very nice one. Cousin Sallie returned from Salem last saturday, after having been absent almost two months. The school that cousin Thomas is attending, will suspend this week. I do not know wether he will go to war or not. They force the season so, here, they have had on summer clothes for more than a month, there has been several hard frosts since then, and a good many cold days. I have not received my summer clothes from home yet, but am expecting them ever day. Do you correspond with brother Jimmie ? I have not received a letter from brother Washie since I have been here. I think he treats me shamefully. I have a large sty on one of my eyes, it is the first one I ever had. Cousin Lizzie Mc.Donald has been very sick, has been confined to her bed for two weeks, but is a great deal better now. I received a letter from Sam TenBrock this morning, there seems to be a great deal of excitement in Paris. I am in school, writing this, and consequently am in haste, you must excuse bad writing, and do not let any one see this. Write very soon, and write me a long letter, “yourn til deth
Gertrude Alexander.

April 24.
       Cousin Thomas returned home night before last, he is going to war, it seems as tho it will almost murder Cousin Sallie & Ellen. The Military have been called upon, and will start next Monday., the excitement seems to be increasing ever day, there was a white man caught talking to some Negroes yesterday, he was taken up, and put in jail, it was thought they would hang him, but they let him go this morning. They are looking out for “John Browns” all of the time. I do not think there is a girl in school doing a partical of good, we are all so excited, I did not go to school today, and donít know weather I shall go again this week. The was four hundred dollars subscribed yesterday for the benefit of the soldiers and there was a concert given last evening they mad four hundred dollars, and there was a collection take up of two hundred. We understand yesterday that Lincoln had one hundred thousand men stationed at Louisville. Is there any prospect of your school suspending ? Now Nell write soon and tell all of the news.
G. A.

Thursday 25,
       I do not know now but that I will start home next week, if I do, I will go with the troops that go from here, I am acquainted with almost all of them, Cousin Ellen says I shan’t go, I am going to try to persuade her, but have no idea that she will let me, I am afraid I cannot get home attall if I do not go now, answer this imeadetly, and if I go, I will receive your letter before I start.


       “The Winchester Female Academy was founded by Rev. W. A. Scott, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The building was erected in 1835, and the school opened in December of the same year. Rev. Scott and his wife were the first teachers. They continued about three years, and were succeeded by Rev. T. C. Anderson, two years. He was followed by Rev. Biddle, who taught until his death, which occurred about 1856. About this time the name of the academy was changed to that of The Robert Donnell Institute, and the faculty changed frequently thereafter. Profs. Syler and Crisman taught at different periods, and after the war Rev. McKinzie taught, and was followed by Prof. A. M. Burney. In the early sessions of this academy there were from 80 to 120 pupils in attendance, and the number afterward increased to about 160, and finally decreased so that the school had to be closed for want of patronage. The building is now used by the free school.”
       (Source: A History of Tennessee from the Earliest Times to the Present, together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Franklin County, 1887, pp. 800-801.)

From the Collection of Fred Smoot

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