A Guide to the Jack Foster Letter, 1883 Foster, Jack Letter Ms2008-018

A Guide to the Jack Foster Letter, 1883

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2008-018


Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2008 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.

Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Jack Foster Letter 1883
Physical Characteristics
1 container; 0.1 cu. ft.
Foster, Jack
Letter from Jack Foster, former slave 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.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

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

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Jack Foster Letter, Ms2008-018 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The Jack Foster Letter was purchased by Special Collections in 2008.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Jack Foster Letter commenced and was completed in April 2008.

Biographical Information

At the time of the Civil War, Jack Foster was a slave of the Tompkins family of Virginia. Though Christopher Q. Tompkins, Foster's owner, 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.

Scope and Content

This collection contains an 1883 letter written by Jack Foster, a former slave 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.

Related Material

Letters from Foster to Christopher Quarles Tompkins may be found in the Tompkins Family Papers at the Virginia Historical Society.

Separated Material

Index Terms


  • Civil War
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Letter 1883
Folder: 1