The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Prescott (Thomas C.) Letter
Collection Number: M76
Dates: December 11, 1864
Volume: 1 Item
In the spring of 1862, Commander Farragut brought his fleet up the Mississippi River from New Orleans and landed Federal troops in Natchez without a shot. For more than a year following, the city vacillated between supporting the Confederacy and maintaining a neutral position which benefitted Natchez merchants and property owners.
When Natchez was finally occupied and fortified by Federal troops in July 1863, the focus of leading citizens was to cultivate the friendship of the conquerors. Many Federal officials succumbed to bribes from the wealthy, and business and social activity thrived in the city.
The corrupt practices in Natchez eventually came to the attention of military superiors, and post commander General Tuttle was replaced by Brigadier-General Mason Brayman. The new commander is described as energetic and hard-nosed, one who tightened Federal policy toward Natchez citizens. However, according to references in this collection, social engagements between townspeople and Federal troops continued.
In July 1864, 4782 troops were garrisoned in Natchez, but they were frequently sent across the Mississippi for reconnaissance and raiding. As late as November 1864, General Brayman wrote of an expected attack and requested additional troops for Natchez.
Thomas C. Prescott served in the Eighth Regiment of New Hampshire Infantry. The regiment was organized at Manchester between October 25 and December 23, 1861, for three years of service. Thomas was probably an original member of the regiment, as he was one of the nineteen men mustered out on January 18, 1865, at the expiration of their term of service. At the time of his muster out, Thomas held the rank of captain. A John H. Prescott served in the same unit and was mustered out at the same time as Thomas; their family connection is not known.
This collection contains one letter written on December 11, 1864, by Thomas C. Prescott, a soldier in the 8th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, to his friend, Cyrus, a member of the 13th New Hampshire Regiment. During December 1864, Prescott was the Acting Assistant Adjutant General of the post in Natchez, Mississippi. Cyrus was at home on a furlough when he wrote to Prescott on November 24, 1864.
The first page of the letter contains an authorization to the Post Office Department to transport said letter and declares that the letter contains no contraband.
The text of Prescott's letter contains primarily personal information, reactions, and comments. Two friends named John and Eastman, both apparently in the Natchez area, are mentioned along with hometown acquaintances John Hascam, "His Majesty Noah," and John Foss. Prescott comments upon his living accommodations and social activities in Natchez, the course of the war locally, and his expectations from General Sherman's military maneuvers. Prescott describes the people of Natchez as good, honest, and loyal to the government (United States) and mentions attending a masonic lodge meeting in Natchez on the day he is writing. Several paragraphs also refer to activities and attitudes of friends at home.
Provenance: Connie Marks
Volume: 1 booklet
Dates: Circa 1837 - 1885
Form of Material:
A photocopy of a 57-page booklet titled, "A Brief Biographical Sketch
of the Life of Thomas Chick Prescott, Written Expressly for His Children."