Leftwich Family Letters Leftwich Family Letters, 1861-1866 Ms.2008.021

Leftwich Family Letters, 1861-1866 Ms.2008.021


Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Business Number: 540-231-6308
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu

Emily Cook, Student Assistant

Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Leftwich Family Letters 1861-1866
0.2 Cubic Feet, 1 box
Leftwich family
The materials in the collection are in English.
The Leftwich Family Letters include correspondence from James B., William, and Thomas Leftwich in addition to missives from a family friend and a bereaved lover. The soldiers' letters issue from American Civil War battlefronts and provide insight into significant battles (the Battle of Bull Run), war-time trade, and the daily routine of a soldier.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction . Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication . Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [identification of item], [box], [folder], Leftwich Family Letters, Ms2008-021, Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Source of Acquisition

The Leftwich Family Letters were donated to Special Collections in 2004.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Leftwich Family Letters commenced and was completed in May 2008.

Biographical Note

The Leftwich family has a long history in Virginia dating to the early seventeenth century. This deep-rooted family provided many Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. From Bedford County, several of John Smith Leftwich's sons donned gray uniforms-specifically, James B., Thomas, and William Leftwich.

James B. [Breckinridge] Leftwich was born in February 1836 and was a farmer by profession. He enlisted in the Confederate Army on April 21, 1861 and served in the 28th Virginia Regiment, Company F. James was wounded at Gettysburg. A POW from April 4, 1865 to June 19, 1865, James was transferred from Old Capitol Prison, in Washington D.C., to Sandusky, Ohio before his release. Following the war, James married Susan Elizabeth Jeter (daughter Jesse Jeter and Susan Robinson Jeter). They had six children. Susan was born on December 9, 1838 and died in Lynchburg, Virginia, August 25, 1920. James B. Leftwich died September 30, 1911.

Less biographical information is known about William and Thomas. Both served in the Confederate Army. William C. Leftwich was born on April 6, 1841 and died January 5, 1865. Thomas Jefferson Leftwich was born on October 29, 1847 and died on Feruary 1, 1865 in Chafins Farm Hospital near Richmond, Virginia.

Annie S. Gilliam was a mother and widow living in Amherst County, VA that fell in love with William Leftwich. After William's death, Annie wrote of her deep grief to Bettie (William's sister). Annie later moved to Marion, VA and remarried.

Scope and Content

Twenty-six letters dating from 1861 to 1866 comprise the Leftwich Family Letters. This collection of correspondence centers on a family from Bedford County, Virginia during the American Civil War. Authors include brothers James B. Leftwich; William Leftwich; Thomas Leftwich; a family friend called Prophett; and William's grief-stricken lover, Annie S. Gilliam. Salient topics consist of the soldiers' desire for goods, the use of alcohol, frequent sickness, recreation, food (both the dearth of food and its infrequent abundance), death, and significant battles. In one notable letter, James B. Leftwich discusses First Battle of Bull Run shortly after the conflict. These letters issue from several locations in Virginia (Manassas, Yorktown, Franklin Depot, Amherst County, and camps near Richmond and Petersburg) but also mention marches to North Carolina. Writing from Amherst County, Annie S. Gilliam's lengthy letters hyperbolically discuss the sorrow of losing someone in the war.


The collection is divided by material type and arranged chronologically.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Civil War
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Leftwich Family Letters by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 ( https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/ ).

Container List

box-folder 1 folder: 1
Leftwich Family Tree
box-folder 1 folder: 2
Transcripts of the Leftwich Letters
box-folder 1 folder: 3-5
Original Leftwich Letters
box-folder 1 folder: 6
Digitized Letters/Transcripts on CD