1865: Thomas Willis Blanton to Lindsay Branch Walthall

The following letter was written by Thomas Willis Blanton (1829-1920), the son of Thomas Willis Blanton (1802-1850) and Martha A. E. Ligon (1804-1829) of Amelia county, Virginia. He wrote the letter to his friend and comrade, Lindsay Branch Walthall (1840-1912) with whom he had entered the Confederate service as a member of the Old Dominion Riflemen (ODR) in May 1861. That company eventually consolidated with other companies to become the 53rd Virginia Infantry. Lindsay was married to Martha Susan (“Suzie”) Overton whose mother was Martha Willis Blanton so the two were probably cousins from Prince Edward county, Virginia.

Thomas was married in April 1858 to Martha Frances Bruce (1830-1899), the daughter of Samuel B. and Elizabeth Bruce of Amelia county, Virginia. He served as the 1st Sergeant of Co. C, 53rd Virginia Infantry. He was wounded in May 1862 and did not return to his regiment for nearly six months. He submitted a pension application for a “Disabled Confederate Soldier” in 1906, claiming that he was nearly blind. He died in 1920 in Lockett, Prince Edward county, Virginia.


Houston, Texas
December 18, 1865,

Mr. Lindsay B. Walthall
Dear Friend,

I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your favor of July 16th, which has just ben handed me—having been delayed about five months by the irregularity of mails.

To say that I was delighted at again beholding your familiar autograph, would be but weak expression for the high gratification I felt at the consciousness of being remembered by at least one of my old friends and associates who were my companions in boyhood’s early happiness—friends whose memory neither time nor separation can ever efface. I tender you many thanks for initiating the renewal of our former, pleasant  correspondence which was so unceremoniously ended by the commencement of hostilities and I trust that for the future, it may be as interesting as it was in the past.

You are the first and only one of my relatives in Virginia who have manifested any inclination to resume further communication with me since the close of the war. I have written to all of them except yourself and would not have excepted you but the last letter I had from your vicinity contained information that you been killed or captured—most likely the former, as nothing had ever been heard from you since reported as missing. So I concluded it would be best to await further developments before writing.

Doubtless many changes have taken place among our friends and relatives there since I last had any advices from them. I fear that the unhappy termination of our late struggle has placed many in awkward  circumstances. It has almost left me penniless; but while I possess health, I shall not complain. It was the sad result for which I had long since prepared myself. I entered the contest fully resolved to attain our object or lose everything in the attempt. I have at  present a situation as book-keeper in the counting house of a large firm in this city where I expect to remain for several years. As yet, I have formed no settled plan for the future, as the present confusion in political affairs precluded the possibility of arriving at a conclusion about anything.

I scarcely knew what to advise you in regard to coming to this state. Everything is unsettled. We have a tyrannical, despotic, military government with but little prospect for an early change for the better—although the resources of the state are inexhaustible and emigration with industry and energy are wanted to develop them. Planters are in requisition to cultivate the lands which yield abundance and are pastured by the exertion of but little care and attention. The only [ ] at present is the labor question. Planters have been taught by this year’s experience that freedmen will not comply with their contracts, and only half the work can be obtained from them as formerly. Lands are renting at low figures and can be purchased on desirable terms if preferred.

There is no doubt but that Texas will some day—not far distant—become the leading state in the South. Manufactories are being  established, and with enterprise once started in our midst, wealth and high commercial advantages must necessarily result. All transactions here are made upon a specie basis; gold is in fact the currency of the country, and no planted cotton can be obtained without it.

I have not been to La Grange for a long time, though I hear from there nearly every week. My parents are in good health and doing well. Papa expects to continue planting on a larger scale than ever—with what success remains to be determined by time. He thinks the continued high price for cotton will in a few years amply compensate him for the loss of his shares.

You would confer many obligations upon me by making inquiries of Capt. Dickerson and Mr. Johns relative to what became of my Father’s estate. I have written to  them but have not heard from either as yet. Present my highest regards to your father and family—as also to all my relatives. An early reply to this containing all the  news will be highly appreciated by

Your Friend, — Tom Blanton, Box 128

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