Letters of James R. Terrell
9th Florida Volunteer Infantry
(6th Florida Infantry Battalion)

James R. Terrell was born on May 9, 1820, probably in Liberty County, Georgia. He was the eldest son of John and Lydia (Ellis) Terrell.

On March 10, 1841 James married Nancy Gurthrie. She also was born in Georgia and she died December 16, 1899. She is buried at Hawthorne Cemetery in Hawthorne, Florida. Nancy and James had thirteen children:

Jasper - July 28, 1843
Talitha - December 30, 1844
Lydia - October 30, 1846
James - November 9, 1848
John - March 23, 1850
Amanda - August 31, 1851
Calvin - January 29, 1853
Elisa - December 25, 1853
Nancy - February 12, ?
Reason - December 17, 1857
Barzillia - December 9, 1859
Malvina - January 22, 1862
William - February 28, 1864

Both James and Nancy Terrell's grandfathers were Revoluntionary War soldiers. The Terrells had been a prominent family in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. James' father, John, fought in the Indian War of 1838 in Florida. Perhaps his experiences there, as told to his son James, led to the latter moving to Florida. "The rigors of the war and Reconstruction left a legacy of extreme economic hardship for this pioneer Florida family that lasted through to the Great Depression," according to descendant Brian Terrell. "Fourth son, Reason, would rear his family on the same land of the old Terrell homestead, but it wasn't until after World War II that this Florida family would no longer be called "poor dirt farmers"... poor in money perhaps, but rich in love and spirit."

According to the 1850 census for Marion County, Florida, their first child was born in Florida but their second child was born in Georgia, All the rest of the children were born in Florida. By 1856, James, Nancy and their growing family has moved to Alachua County, Florida as he shows up on the county tax rolls with real estate valued at $600, livestock at $193 and furniture at $25, paying a tax of $1.06.

James and Nancy were members of the Hawthorne Baptist Church. Several of his letters written during the War are still in the possession of the family., one of which was written from Camp Finnegan, Cedar Keys, wherein he requested potatoes and soap, and stated that he had had no bread in two weeks. According to his letters, he marched from Cedar Keys to Olustee.

James Terrell enlisted in Company F, 6th Florida Infantry Battalion (later to become part of the 9th Florida Volunteer Infantry) on August 12, 1863. The roll for this company as published in "Soldiers of Florida," page 216, shows that he was killed at the Battle of Olustee on February 20, 1864. His youngest son, William, was born eight days later.

This tombstone in the Hawthorne Cemetery is a commemoration by his children.
James Terrell actually lies buried in a mass grave at Olustee with his comrades.

August 19, 1863

Dear Wife, I seate my self to inform you that I am well at present hoping theise lines may arive safe to hand and finde you enjoying of good helth. I am Bad dissatisfied this place is very sickly. I Send you three Bushels and a hlf of Salt in cear of Silas Weaks at Waldo. I want you to send and get it as quick as you can. I ont you to Send me Some Potatoes, you and the children must Sow your greens this full moon. Kiss your Self for me and then Baby and all the Rest of the Children. take good cear of Barzillar. I want you to get them Papers of Jaspers and Send to headquarters or get Ellick Perry to do it for you.
Dear Wife I want you to Send me Some ink and a Quilt By the first chance that is Safe but don't send it without.
Dear Wife I want you and the children to Prary for me and Peace on ours Land.
Direct your letters to the cear of Captain W. No 4 to James R. Terrell
I Reamain your affectionate husband until death.

James R. Terrell
To Nancy Terrell Wife

State of Florida Leevey County

No. 4 September 28th 1863

Dear Wife I again am Permitted to write you a few lines informing you that I have bin having Chills and Fever. but I have missed them for several days. I am Salavated my mouth and teeth is very soar. Dear Wife I want you all to go the Church and enjoy your Selves and Remember me. Tallitha my dear Daughter you wrote about going to that Big meeting I want you go to it and all the Rest of the family. I want you to write whether you have worked the mare with the [words unintelligible here].
September the 29th Dear Wife my health is a improving very much. I want you to write whether you are likely to get any Sugar Boilers or not and how you are getting along with your Business and how your hog is a getting that was in the Pen when I left. P.B. Perry is Elected third lieutenant in our Company him and Webb is in tolerable health at this time but there is a great deal of Sickness in the Company at this time. Dear Wife I understand that Bragg has had a verry heavey Battle and have Captured four thousand prisoners with the loss of fifteen thousand of his men.
September the 30 Dear Wife I am still on the mend. I am able to do my cooking O wife I want see you very Bad and all the Children. I wish you would make me Some Black ink by the time I come home. I want to come home about the 15th of November if I can get of from the Captain. We have just as many fish as we can Eate. give my Respects to the olde man Guthery and family also to Amelia Guthery and all inquiring friends. Write every week. God Bless you and family. Nothing more. I Remain your affectionate Husband till Death. I send you a fine tooth combs.

James R. Terrell

State of Florida
September 23, 1863

Dear Wife again I write to you to let you know that I am not well. I have the Chill and Fever every then day hoping these lines may go _______ and finde you enjoying of good helth I want to know whether you got the Barrel of Sale or not I paid frait on it. You must write to me how you ar getting a long with your business. This morning I have taken a dost of Calonill the Chill and Fever is light as yet. You must write often to me. Dear Wife I Received the things you Sent to me. I will Send the Boxes the first Safe Chance. Dear Wife the Braid you Sent me I kissed it and kissed it and kissed it Dead Wife I want to come the worst you ever Saw but the Captain will not let me of Dear Wife I want to know whether Barzillar can talk or not Salt is worth ten dollars a bushells. We have not newes to write you must write all the news you have I am now Sick. I must to a close
I Remain your affectionate husband till death

James R. Terrell

Camp Finigan Dec the 30th

Dear Wife I Received the Sugar Cane you Sent me By Rogero. I was glad to hear you was all well and mending. Dear Wife I can Say to you that I am not well my back is not well yet. I hope these few lines may finde you all Enjoying of good helth. I can say to you we have orders to Bee Ready to march at any time but dont let this grieve you but let you Prays be Raised to God that we may bee delivered and Return home to our families again. When you hear that we are gon you must enguiry at Waldo for the things I am Send to you May God so Bless the world and People as to give PEace on earth once more and so Bless our families as to See each other once more on earth, wife and Children o have Faith in God and pray eanistly for our deliver and peace on earth, and may the great head of the Church Bless you all Amen. You may continue to Send your letters to Camp Finigan till you hear we have left hear. I will inclose twenty dollars on the one Bill to you and you must write whether you get it or not and if you get it I will Send you Some more. So nothing more at present only I Remain you affectionate husband till death.

James R. Terrell

To Nancy Terrell and family

We are a living verry hard I have not ate any Bread in better than too weeks.

According to family lore, Talitha, James' oldest daughter, was a bit of the "Scarlett O'Hara" type with a firey nature and tempestous disposition. Two family stories are submitted as proof:

"Union soldiers once again visited the Terrell farm to confiscate more property to their own ends, this time the prized family horse.... an enraged Talitha confronted them boldly declaring 'You've taken our cows--you've taken our chickens--you've taken our mule, hogs, goats, and eaten our cash crops--and by God, you will not take this horse, but over my dead body!' And the Union boys, apparently of good upbringing and taken with Talitha's spirit, backed down, and did not take that prized Terrell steed.

Much later after the war, Talitha's husband, John Epstein, an immigrant from Bavaria, Germany (they sired a huge family line) continued to put off his secret of having been a Union soldier. When he had stepped off the boat in New York, he enlisted as a two year reservist which gave him an opportunity to make a wage and learn the language right off the get-go. He worked his way down South, eventually ending up in the piney woods of north central Florida. He procrastined for years the prospect of telling this to his beloved Talitha. Finally, one day, he broke down and told Talitha. She immediately packed her bags and left their house and home in an unbridled tizzy for three solid weeks!"

The above information on James R. Terrell, his family and photograph of his tombstone was provided by James' great-great-great grandson Brian Terrell (tuffyterrell@hotmail.com) who is a descendant of James' son Reason. I thank him for sharing his history of another yet family torn apart by war.

Other Letters from Olustee
Battle of Olustee home page