Mary Jane Brasfield Lipscomb to Jefferson Davis
Forkland Green County Ala. 15th Nov/62.
I am compelled by necessity to call your attention to the following state of facts, and the peculiar situation in which events have thrown me, must be my apology for this intrusion upon your time.
I am the wife of Joel Q. Lipscomb now a Soldier in the Confederate service. 1st Battalion Alabama, Artilery. Immediately upon the passage of the Conscript law-- before any exemptions were made known, and under the impression that he would be compelled to go into the service at any sacrifice he proceeded to Mobile and entered the service under Gen. [John H.] Forney--where he is now stationed.
We have a farm in Choctaw County, Alabama with over forty negroes thereon, now entirely without a superintendent, negroes running at large, with the usual confusion and destruction in such cases, and your Excellency must be aware of the fact, that through the agency of the Conscript law, the male population of the country has been taken away, hence the utter impossibility of procuring an overseer or superintendent at all reliable.
I have been compelled to leave my home in Choctaw County and come here to reside temporarily with my Father untill some one could be had to control our slaves. Thus your Excellency will see that I am eighty miles from my home-- our farm and negroes, like a ship without sail or rudder, that a general wreck and destruction must ensue without relief. I have sought in vain for aid. I addressed a Petition to the Hon. Secretary of War setting forth all these facts; that officer has not found time to answer in any shape, and I am left the only and last alternative of appealing to both the Justice and magnanimity of the Government to afford relief before irreparable ruin overtakes us, and I know of no other avenue now, through which to approach the Government, but to go directly to its Head who controls the temporal destiny of us all-- I therefore ask that an order be issued from the proper authorities directed to the proper Military officer that my said husband be detailed set-apart or exempted under the Conscript law to take charge of our said farm and negroes as the produce raised upon said farm under proper management will be worth much more to the country than the Services of individual, Your Excellency will please be so kind as to let me hear from this, either forward me an order to be presented to Gen, Forney or forward it to that officer. Your Excellency is doubtless in constant attention to the ponderous business of the Government with that undying solicitude that could alone be upheld by a love of Freedom Constitutional liberty and the great principles of self Government yet I hope your Excellency will find time enough amidst all this, to give me a hearing and grant me the relief sought for. Very Respectfully.
Mary Jane Lipscomb.
N. B. It is thought by many that we will have trouble here about Christmas holidays, with our slaves, growing out of the Emancipation Proclamation of the Lincoln Government.
M. J. L.
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 8, pp. 493-95. Transcribed from the original in the National Archives, RG109, Letters Received by the Confederate Secretary of War ( M-437, reel 58, frames 1039-40). Included as an example of the types of correspondence Davis received from private citizens. Davis forwarded this letter to the secretary of war.