Letter, Jack Foster to former Confederate General John McCausland, 1883
African American history; Civil War, United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
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.
Jack Foster Letter, 1883
Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Permission to publish material from the Jack Foster Letter must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech
Richmond, Va., 12-13-1883