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,
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
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.
last updated on