T. P. Turner Letter

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T. P. Turner ALS to Edith Dabney (Tunis) Sale. (VHS Mss2T8582a1)


MEMPHIS, TENN. Jan. 6, 1900

My dear Mrs. Sale.

Your kind letter received. I will answer your questions as well as I can. I was in charge of the “C. S. Military Prisons” in R[ichmond] during last two years & half of war, under orders of the comd’g Gen of “Department of Henrico,” Gen. Winder, then Gen. Gardner both old Army officers. By the by, Gen. G of Ga now lives here 230 Elliott St; he is a very interesting old character, was classmate at West Point with Gen. Grant and [page break] Stonewall Jackson. As to the “commandant of Libby Prison,” that is a “misnomer” entirely. There was no such office or position. Libby Prison named after the old ship chandler who occupied the building previous to the war, was only one of the numerous buildings occupied from time to time for accommodation of Federal prisoners, & we also had a Camp on Belle Isle. I had supervision, under the Comd’g Gen. of them all. The Libby Building was used almost entirely for Federal Officers. We [page break] happened to have our office, or Hd. Qrs. in that Building, hence the reason I suppose, the general name “Libby Prison” was applied by Northern Papers to all the Prisons in R. That Building only accommodated 700 or 800 prisoners, where as the others, Belle Isle included, frequently contained from twelve to fifteen thousand. As to my “Assistants,” I had two Adjutants[1], both of them [page break] officers of the C. S. Army, viz. Lieut. John Latouche (he died in R a few yrs since - was a merchant tailor after the war) and Lieut. Virginius Bossieux. The latter is still “in the land of living ,’ I hope. He lives in R engaged in the Draying business.

Lieut. Latouche was my Adjutant in the City Side of Prisons in City. His office was with me at Libby Building where the records were kept & clerks stayed.

E. W. Ross of R (nephew of late Franklin Stearns) was my chief clerk. He was consumed in the great fire of Spottswood Hotel. [page break]

There was a man named Richd R. Turner, commonly known as “Dick” Turner, on duty at the Libby Building. He was a private soldier, I forget to what Regt he belonged. He was detailed for work at the Building in capacity of chief policeman or Janitor. Had the counting of prisoners, distribution of rations, & policing of building to look after. This man was no relation of mine whatever, but his name, Turner, has often been confounded with mine. He had no rank, was a detailed private soldier; & had no position or authority, except as I said, as a kind of Janitor or policeman. He now lives, & I am informed has become rich, in the County of Isle of Wight. He was imprisoned in Penitentiary at close of War by Federals, for a while. His brother, Thos. Povall Turner, I think, resides in R. in Livery Stable business. All my relations as far as I know, by name of Turner, live in King George Co. on Rappa- [page break] hannock river, the old ones & those contemporaneous with myself, I presume are mostly dead. I was born in King Geo.

My aunt married a Meade, bro to the Bishops. I think a good many of them, for the family was large, lives still in Clarke Co. Some have moved west. I guess most of the old ones whom I knew have departed to the “happy hunting ground.” My sister married her cousin, late Judge M of Alex.

I was not aware my bro was in Soldiers Home. I have had no communication with him in a long while. The fact is, & I regret to say it, we have become estranged. A contention, an ignoble disagreement in regard to a miserable paltry sum of money caused the estrangement - he thinking he was right & I thinking & still believing I was in the right, & [page break] hence the “parting of the ways.”

My health is bad, very bad, with prospect of ever getting better. Nothing but change of climate & occupation can improve it & I am too poverty stricken to accomplish either.

I truly regret to hear yr health is not good. Hope it may soon improve. With kindest regards for all abt you & wishing your good self every possible blessing, I am

Yrs Faithfully
T. P. T.

[P. S.] I have no relations living that I know of on my mothers side. She was a Miss Nelson. There are many Nelsons in Va but not of her family, her father was a Dr. Nelson from England. My grandmother on Mothers side, was a mass Fairfax. There are many in Va & I suppose I am distantly related to them.




[1] At bottom of page, set apart by a little line is written, in Turner’s hand: “Both of these officers Latouche & Bossieux belonged before the war to a famous mil company called the Richmond “Grays” or “Blues” I forget which.”


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