Letters From a Confederate Soldier Stationed in Pensacola

Contributed by: Nancy Bell

From John L. Sansom to his son William Carter Sansom*. Feb. 13, 1862 Camp Jones,

       I have not received any letter from you nor James since your return from
Bowling Green. James says he wrote four or more letters to you since any in
return. The news here is not much only expecting an attack in a few weeks
or probably in a few days.Our force at this time is not as strong as it
should be provided a large force should land here which can be easily done
between here and Perdido, we will however give them the best fight we can if
they should succeed in landing.

       If you have not been to Butler I wish you would as early as possible so I
may know how that matter stands, also inform me what has been done in the
Morrison note.If you can succeed in raising enough to pay I.W. Thornton
the interest on a school for one year and fifty dollars besides, if you fail
to raise that much or any let him know it, from what I can learn Miss. will
be dreaned very close, you likely will have to go again if so, it must be
soon for now is the time the great battle will be fought, this is the dying
struggle with the north, it is with them victory or disgrace, and the South
must to prevent a defeat put forth all her strength, our reverses of late
are giving the North a stimulant that may be hard to check be that as it may
our independence must be sustained at all hazards for further particulars
enquire of Col. Rambo, write me shortly giving a history of your Camp town.

                                    John L. Sansom

                                    April 10th, 1862  Warrington, Florida

       This is to inform you that James has taken the fever, I think from the
symptoms, typhoid.He was first taken on last Friday with light fever but
did not give up until Saturday night, on Tuesday he left here for Pensacola
hospital and is still there. I just returned from Pensacola, he informed me
that he was no better, though as yet not dangerous. I look for a severe
attack, as he had improved so much over his ordinary health. I view it as a
forerunner of sickness of some kind.Martha (James's wife) wrote to me in
her letter that she did not wish to be misled, if James was sick, let his
situation be what it might, to let her know it.I therefore will endeavor
to do so, as it would do no good to keep it-If he becomes dangerous, I will
write immediately.I look for a long attack and probably a severe one.I
can hear from him every day, and if he is any worse I shall go up and stay
with him if I can get leave to do so.I have nothing important to write
from here, when we will leave is uncertain, likely in a few days or weeks.
I suppose you have all the Tennessee news as fast as we get it here, which
would be unnecessary to say anything about.I will write every other day
until a change takes place.
My own health is as good as common.

                                    Yours in haste,
                                    John L. Sansom

Pvt. John L. Sansom enlisted July 29, 1861 at Holder Church, Jasper Co, MS
(Co.E, 8th MS Infantry - "Tallahoma Hard Shells"). He was 55 years of age.
His son, Capt. James Sansom, a surgeon, was in the same unit.

This unit was organized in 1861, Col. Guilford G. Flynt; field consolidation
with 32nd Infantry Regiment between July 24, 1864 and April 9, 1865;
consolidated April 9, 1865 with 3rd Infantry Bn, 32nd Infantry Regiment, and
part of 5th Infantry Regiment...designated 8th Infantry Bn. Consolidated.

After rendezvous at Enterprise, MS in August 1861, the 8th Regiment was
mustered into Confederate service in early October and immediately sent to
Pensacola, FL along with the 5th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. As part of
Gen. Braxton Bragg's forces, they camped opposite of Union-held Ft. Pickens
through the fall and winter of 1861 where severe artillery engagements
occurred between Fts. Barrancas and Pickens. A return shows the Regiment at
"Camp Burt near the Warrington Navy Yard, FL" from Oct. 18 - Dec. 31, 1861.
A return for Jan. and Feb. 1862 shows the Regiment at "Camp Jones near
O'Bannonsville, FL."

A further return for March and April shows the Regiment encamped at
Warrington, FL.Although not ordered to Corinth as were the Ninth and Tenth
Regiments they remained in the Pensacola, FL area until May of 1862 where
they were evacuated to, Ft. Morgan near Mobile AL under the command of Lt.
Col. J. Gates. During the summer of 1862, the 8th was sent by rail to
Chattanooga, TN.

Source: "Mississippi Civil War Information" website (www.misscivilwar.org/)
and letter from War Department to Mrs. Clara Sansom Mabry (1936).

John L. Sansom died May 18, 1862 in Montgomery, AL, probably from typhoid
fever. He was buried in Magnolia Cemetery (Confederate Rest) in Mobile, AL.
According to information in a letter written by Private Y.W. Boggan (Co.G,
8th MS Infantry) to his brother (dated May 4, 1862 from Warrington, FL),
there was "sickness" in the regiment. "Dr. Moore says it is camp fever". He
further states that orders from headquarters were to move the sick to
Montgomery, AL. Private Boggan died on July 15, 1862. The family was not
allowed to bring the body home because he died of "sickness". It is believed
that he is buried in Mobile, AL. This is probably the reason John L. Sansom
was buried in Mobile. {from "Remaining yours..." American Civil War Letters
of Private Y.W. Boggan (1840-1862), Co. G. 8th MS Infantry, (CSA) "Tolson
Guards" at http://www.izzy.net/~michaelg/ywb-8ms-g1.html.

*William Carter Sansom was a 1ST Lt. in Co. K, 1 MS Infantry. He was the
grandfather of Lucy Sansom Scott, who was married to Roger Q. Scott, Sr. of