One Civil War source that is not utilized as often as it should be is the correspondence of
Mississippi’s wartime governors. In addition to letters from politicians, army officers, and influential businessmen, there are numerous letters sent to the chief executive of the state from the ordinary citizens of Mississippi. These missives help to bring home the toll that the war took on the common people as they pour out their wants and needs, their hopes and fears, to the governor. A good example is this letter written by Private J.L. Broom, a member of Company F, 4th Mississippi Infantry (State Troops). I have kept the spelling just was Broom wrote it – he was not an educated man, but he certainly gets his point across:
Camp Durgin April 12th 1863
Lt. A. Swain commandind comp.
Sir I wish you to grant me a Furlough for the following reasons first because I have been from home near four months. 2nd i have a wife and five children all being small and the eldest one of them a daughter of thirteen years old and I being a poor man my family is entirely dependent on my labour for the sustenance of life and I being a member of the ms malitia I want to goe home to try to get some person either a man that is over the age of malitia service or under the age of conscript service to plant and cultivate a small corn crop for the comfort and sustenance of my family for next year also my my wife being in a state of vary dellicate health especting to be confined in child bed about the 25 of April she is liveing in a vary remote and thinly settled neighbourhood I wish to goe home to see that she has the necessary attention requisite in such a case her children all being small if you will grant me this favour I pledge myself to be punctual to return to my command where ever it may be at the end of my furlough. J.L. Broom a private in Capt. Fontains comp. (F) 4th Regt. Miss. State
A. Swain, 1st Liut. commanding Co. F
W.C. Bromley, Col.
I believe the material statement of the above petition to be true and herefore recommend respectfully forward Charles Fontaine
This letter is from the correspondence of Governor John J. Pettus at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Despite much looking, I have not been able to find any information on Private Broom other than the 1 card in his Civil War service record. This one letter may be the entire legacy of J.L. Broom, a common soldier of the Confederacy who served in the great Civil War.