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Jack Foster Letter, 1883 (Ms2008-018)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms2008-018


  • 1883


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Jack Foster Letter must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical Information

At the time of the Civil War, Jack Foster was a slave of the Tompkins family of Virginia. Though Christopher Q. Tompkins, Foster's owner, served with the 22nd Virginia Infantry during the war, Foster found himself in the 36th Virginia, body servant to a young soldier in the regiment. By 1883, Foster was living in Richmond, Virginia. He may have been the same man as a driver named John Foster enumerated in the 1880 census living in Richmond, Virginia with wife Virginia and daughters Hattie, Lucy, Ada and Ida. By 1900, Virginia Foster was a widow in Richmond, living with children Ada, Ida, and Chris.

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The Jack Foster Letter was purchased by Special Collections in 2008.

Related Material

Letters from Foster to Christopher Quarles Tompkins may be found in the Tompkins Family Papers at the Virginia Historical Society.

General Physical Description note

1 container; 0.1 cu. ft.


Letter from Jack Foster, former slave and body servant in the 36th Virginia Infantry, to Confederate General John McCausland, reminiscing about the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain and his time in camp service.


This collection contains an 1883 letter written by Jack Foster, a former slave who served as a body servant in the 36th Virginia Infantry during the Civil War. Foster writes to former Confederate General John McCausland, one-time commander of the 36th. After inquiring about the general's wellbeing, Foster mentions his family, then begins to reminiscence about his time in the general's camp. Foster mentions being at Camp Narrows (Giles County, Virginia) and being present when McCausland took command following the death of General Jenkins at "Floyds Mountains" [i.e., the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain, May 9, 1864]. Foster then proceeds to recollect a discussion between Jenkins and McCausland regarding battle strategy and the Confederate units present. He also recalls baking bread in the camp.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Jack Foster Letter commenced and was completed in April 2008.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US