Letter, Jack Foster to former Confederate General John McCausland, 1883 (Ms2008-018)

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Letter, Jack Foster to former Confederate General John McCausland, 1883 (Ms2008-018)


This collection contains an 1883 letter written by Jack Foster, a formerly enslaved person who served as a body servant in the 36th Virginia Infantry during the Civil War. Foster writes to former Confederate General John McCausland, one-time commander of the 36th. After inquiring about the general's wellbeing, Foster mentions his family, then begins to reminiscence about his time in the general's camp. Foster mentions being at Camp Narrows (Giles County, Virginia) and being present when McCausland took command following the death of General Jenkins at "Floyds Mountains" [i.e., the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain, May 9, 1864]. Foster then proceeds to recollect a discussion between Jenkins and McCausland regarding battle strategy and the Confederate units present. He also recalls baking bread in the camp.

At the time of the Civil War, Jack Foster was enslaved by the Tompkins family of Virginia. Though Christopher Q. Tompkins, Foster's enslaver, served with the 22nd Virginia Infantry during the war, Foster found himself in the 36th Virginia, body servant to a young soldier in the regiment. By 1883, Foster was living in Richmond, Virginia. He may have been the same man as a driver named John Foster enumerated in the 1880 census living in Richmond, Virginia with wife Virginia and daughters Hattie, Lucy, Ada and Ida. By 1900, Virginia Foster was a widow in Richmond, living with children Ada, Ida, and Chris.


Letter from Jack Foster, formerly enslaved person and body servant in the 36th Virginia Infantry, to Confederate General John McCausland, reminiscing about the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain and his time in camp service.




Permission to publish material from the Jack Foster Letter must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.





Bibliographic Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Jack Foster Letter, Ms2008-018, Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Rights Holder

Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.


Foster, Jack, “Letter, Jack Foster to former Confederate General John McCausland, 1883 (Ms2008-018),” VT Special Collections and University Archives Online, accessed December 6, 2023, https://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/AmericanCivilWar/Ms2008_018_Foster_Jack_1883_1213%0D%0A.