In March 1862 22 year old Private John Barnett Mathews of the 13th Georgia Infantry wrote the Confederate President Jefferson Davis asking for appointment to a more important position so he could better help support his newly widowed and “nearly destitute” mother and 7 younger siblings back home in Heard County, GA.

Private Mathews may have felt deserving of special treatment because he had attended medical school and was a school teacher before the war. He’d enlisted as a Private in June 1861 but, as he wrote the President,

My qualifications I think, sir, render me capable of filling a station that would better enable me to relieve myself of the embarrassment [the poverty of his family] of which I have spoken.

The letter was received in the office of the President on 25 March, and was apparently answered (those may be the President’s initials at top right), but the reply in not Mathews’ file. In any case, no new position was immediately forthcoming. Instead, he was elected by his Company to Junior 2nd Lieutenant in September 1862, and was their Captain by 1864.

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