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Joel Hughes Collection



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Summary Information

University of Mississippi Libraries
Joel Hughes Collection
1861 – 1969 (bulk 1861 - 1862)
1.0 box 1 box
A collection of letters, newspaper articles, photographs, and photocopies of items related to Joel and Elizabeth Hughes. The bulk of the collection is correspondence from 1861 – 1862 between Joel and Elizabeth during his time in the 3rd Mississippi Battalion during the Civil War.

Preferred Citation

Joel Hughes Collection, Archives and Special Collection, J.D. Williams Library, The University of Mississippi.

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Biographical Note

Joel Hughes was born in 1830 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. He moved to Choctaw County (now Webster County), Mississippi with his family when he was seventeen years old. He met and married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Gary in 1854. Elizabeth was born in 1833. They continued to live in Webster County and farm until the Civil War began. On 25 October 1861 in Choctaw County, Mississippi, William N. Pittman formed a company of volunteers called the Choctaw Rough and Ready. The company agreed to a twelve-month service in the Provisional Army of the Confederacy on 2 November 1861 at Grenada, Mississippi. Grenada was only thirty miles from Joel’s home in Choctaw County. Joel enlisted as a sergeant at the age of 31. The company became part of the 3rd Mississippi Battalion which became the 45th Mississippi Infantry. The name was later changed back to the 3rd Mississippi Battalion. He was promoted to Captain shortly before he died. He died in 1862 at a Confederate field hospital from wounds received from the morning of the first day of fighting at the Battle of Shiloh. Although unconfirmed, contemporary accounts related that Joel Hughes was buried near where he first sustained his injuries on the Shiloh battlefield. Elizabeth moved to Texas sometime after Joel’s death. She died in Texas in 1897. She is buried in San Marcos Cemetery, Hays County, Texas. They have four confirmed children: Mary Emma Hughes [Hitt], [1855-1901], James Franklin Hughes, Jane Irene Hughes, and Joe D. Hughes.

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Scope and Content

This collection contains letters, photographs, biographical information, financial information, military service records, and newspaper articles relating to Joel and Elizabeth Hughes, their family, and Joel’s service.

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Items are arranged chronologically in one box.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Mississippi Libraries 2017

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.


No further additions are expected to this collection.

Acquisition Information

Received from Byrle S. Murry, Edgar Earl Sims, and Lisa S. Sims.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Amanda M. Williams, 2017. Finding aid encoded by Christine Rizzi, August 2017.

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Related Materials

Related Materials at the University of Mississippi

For more Civil War related materials housed at the University of Mississippi Archives & Special Collections, see our Civil War Collections guide:

For more digitally available Civil War materials, see the Civil War Archive:

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Confederate States of America
  • Mississippi -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


  • Soldiers -- Confederate States of America -- Correspondence

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Collection Inventory

Box 1 

1.1: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 2 November 1861 

Scope and Content

Grenada. 1p. Letter written discussing the company had to take an oath to the Confederacy that morning, the men, and the rations. Joel thinks the company will not stay in Grenada long. The company will be moving to Kentucky. Due to the cold weather, he would like another pair of pants and John would like a vest.

1.2: Letter to Joel Hughes from Lizzie Hughes 7 November 1861 

Scope and Content

1p. Lizzie will make Joel his pants and John his vest. Lizzie requests two different bolts of cloth. She ends the letter by saying how much she misses him and sees him everywhere. She claims she will not know what to do if Joel does not come home.

1.3: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 13 November 1861 

Scope and Content

Grenada. 1p. Joel writes how he is sick. The officers and temporary officers are not letting anyone go home because most of the company is sick. Discusses how the prices of molasses, coffee, and flour are increasing. Requests Lizzie write to him to tell him what she and the children are eating and how much cloth she wants. Ends the letter by claiming how much he misses her as well.

1.4: Letter to Joel Hughes from Lizzie Hughes 14 November 1861 

Scope and Content

1p. Lizzie writes how she was not able to send a letter with Capt. Pitham. She will have made Joel’s pants and John’s vest soon. She repeats her request to have him come home. She discusses the children at the end of the letter.

1.5: Leave of Absentee from Joel Hughes 24 December 1861 

Scope and Content

1p. Requests Joel Hughes [who is a Sergeant in W.N. Pittman’s Company, 3rd Battalion infantry] go to Choctaw County, Mississippi and return December 30th.

1.6: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 9 January 1862 

Scope and Content

New Orleans. 2pp. First time Joel has been able to write Lizzie. The company moved from Jackson and they kept watch, rotating every two hours. Joel says he is tired and frightened. He had a cold but is better. John is coughing but thinks it is from losing sleep. He reports there are between 30,000 - 40,000 soldiers around New Orleans. There is a measles outbreak in Joel’s company. They are stationed on a large cotton barge. He discusses how bad the gnats and mosquitoes are. He writes about how many of the men in his company have also left their wives and children. There was an election in the company of Capt. McNair’s from Pike county for the position of colonel. He thinks the company may move again soon but urges Lizzie to write to him. He ends the letter with stating his love for her and how much he misses her and the children. He discusses his potential death.

1.7: Letter to Joel Hughes from Lizzie Hughes 14 January 1862 

Scope and Content

1p. Lizzie writes about the farming and the news about the neighbors. One of the neighbors told Lizzie Joel sold him a mule for one hundred and fifty dollars. She describes how Helberd went to an old man to beg and begged him not to kill him. She ends the letter with wishing him well and for him to come home safely.

1.8: Letter to Joel Hughes from Lizzie Hughes 19 January 1862 

Scope and Content

1p. Lizzie discusses the fight in the previous letter to Joel. She says that the neighbor beat the bully and was not injured. She urges Joel to write to her. She ends her letter to Joel. She writes on the back of the page to John. She wishes him safety and good health. She tells him since he does not know how long he has left to live that he must stop cussing.

1.9: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 20 January 1862 

Scope and Content

New Orleans. 1p. Joel opens the letter by saying he is infected with the bloody flux and fever. Captain Pittman delivered two of Lizzie’s previous letters to him. Joel writes reading Lizzie’s letters are the happiest moments when he is in the camp. His company has a large amount of sickness, including: the bloody flux, mumps, measles, colds, and fevers. He thinks the city is what is making them sick as it is “the filthiest place in the world.” Small pox has infected other camps. Joel bought sugar for Lizzie and sent it to Grenada. He could not buy the coffee as he intended since the price was too high. He also tells her that it will be several months until he is able to see her or the children. He closes the letter by urging Lizzie to write to him soon. He is always anxious about her and the children’s safety and well-being. He also says he is weak and nervous.

1.10: Letter to Joel Hughes from Lizzie Hughes 26 January 1862 

Scope and Content

1p. Lizzie opens the letter by telling Joel his sister, Sarah, is dead. Lizzie and the children are well. Joel wants her likeness. She says she will have one made and send it to him as soon as she can. She wants to hold and see him again. She urges him to come home as soon as he can.

1.11: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 17 February 1862  

Scope and Content

New Orleans. Joel writes that he has recovered and gotten better. John is doing well. A.G. Brigham had a case of the mumps but is recovering. Calico cloth is twenty-five to fifty cents for a yard. He asks her to tell Mrs. Gary that he will not buy it at that price. He does not know when his company will be moved. He claims there are 45,000 troops currently being moved from New Orleans to the north. Due to the troop movement, it has been impossible to ship anything to her. He bought one barrel of molasses and sugar. He also bought molasses for Billy and Allen. He cannot ship these items before Friday. He asks if Lizzie wants any material for dresses or anything because they should buy it now, claiming the price will only increase if the war continues. Joel says that Lizzie should buy most items in their town since it is the same price or cheaper. Joel says he will not be able to visit. There is a general who was upset that some of the men were visiting their homes so often. One of Colonel Wolfs’ Company died the previous night. John will be going to visit home in March and will pick up Lizzie’s likeness for Joel.

1.12: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 21 February 1862 

Scope and Content

New Orleans. 2pp. Joel claims his health is better than the last letter. He says the disease he had was common among the troops. He wants Lizzie to write him now. He gets anxious when the mail boy comes around and disappointed when there is nothing for him. He thinks a letter may have been lost because she has not replied to one he sent earlier. He wants her to respond as soon as she gets this letter since it is unlikely the company will have moved yet. He thinks the company will be moving to Nashville, Tennessee or Columbus, Kentucky. He writes how the company will finally be able to meet people who have encountered live Yankees. The battalion is anxious to meet and battle in Kentucky. The commanders have been exchanging letters about when the battalion will be moving up north. Joel bought more molasses and sugar for Billy M Moore. He will have to ship the items by way of Memphis. They had two cold days but the rest has been warm. Joel discusses his potential death at the end of the first page. He asks Lizzie to raise the children with the fear of the Lord. Two more soldiers in Joel’s company have died. Joel writes how not a day goes by that he does not think of how alone and unprotected Lizzie and the children will be if he dies. He closes the letter by asking Lizzie again for her likeness.

1.13: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes 6 March 1862 

Scope and Content

New Orleans. 2pp. The company will be moving north the day after tomorrow. The camp cook is making gravy and bison. The company will first go to Decater, Alabama. The Lieutenant Colonel the company elected in Jackson has come to New Orleans. He will help them move from Bowling Green to Nashville and back to Decater, Alabama. Joel asked the officers in command what was happening as he thinks they are making alarming moves. Colonel McNair gives a bad account of his battalion. His company has lost twelve men since they left Joel’s company in Jackson. There are cases of measles in the company again, which are not being helped by the rough roads. The company is not used to these fatiguing marches. They hope to pass Duck Hill, Mississippi sometime Sunday. Joel’s and Lizzie’s communication may be cut off during the marches and at the new camp. Joel again talks about his potential death or capture. He tells Lizzie to direct her letters to Decater, Alabama or send them with Captain Pittman. Joel discusses that he has shipped several items to their neighbors. He closes the letter by sending his love and well wishes to Lizzie and the children.

1.14: Letter (newspaper) 27 March 1862 

Scope and Content

Corinth. Small biography of Joel Hughes by Lucile Hitt Hollingsworth. Original newspaper article from 8 September 1921 and photocopy of the same newspaper article about Joel Hughes. The newspaper published one of Joel’s letters to Lizzie. The letter is from 27 March 1862. The letter published (the last one he wrote to his wife) discusses how there will be a battle soon. He also mentions how twenty men are sick and some have been discharged. The men in his company want him to run for office but he says he will not do so. Hollingsworth’s biography says that Joel Hughes was elected Captain and he died at the Battle of Shiloh.

1.15: Letter to Lizzie Hughes from D. Longsten 15 April 1862 

Scope and Content

Camp near Corinth, Mississippi. 2pp. Condolence letter. D. Longsten writes his condolences and sorrow to report that Joel Hughes died in the recent battle [the Battle of Shiloh]. He writes of Joel’s good qualities, for business and the company. He stresses how the company is saddened by his death and they always look and listen for him. Longsten writes, “he went off in a manner that proved to us that he died in the faith under which we believe he has died.” He describes the battle as being terrible rage. He writes what the doctor told him Joel Hughes said in the hospital: how Joel said he was willing to die since his condition would be better than what it was on earth. The doctor said Joel was one of the most composed men in pain he had seen in his soldiering career. He died around three o’clock in the morning; he had received the wound around twelve o’clock the day before. He had been put in an ambulance to the hospital early the previous evening with a careful driver. Monday morning, Longsten was on the way to the hospital to ship Joel Hughes’ body back to Lizzie but the battle restarted and the wagon Longsten was riding on was needed for the wounded. Monday evening, Joel Hughes was buried by a partite detached from the Battalion. He was buried near Captain McNair who was also killed during the battle and beloved by the company. He was buried near the spot where he received his wounds. He offers his sympathy and states how Lizzie and the children will always be looked at as the family of someone who was noble and brave. Lizzie will be given about sixty dollars for maintenance of the family. He says that if Lizzie needs any assistance then she is surrounded by kind neighbors and friends. He ends the letter with reference to God’s kindness and faith in that the soldiers will reverse the impositions pressed upon them.

1.16: Letter (note) to Lizzie Hughes from Joel Hughes [not dated] 

Scope and Content

Joel begs Lizzie to send him her likeness by Captain Pittman, anyone passing through the area, or through the post. He asks if she wants anything and he will send her money soon.

1.17: Research about Joel Hughes and family [not dated] 

Scope and Content

Photocopies of Joel’s and Lizzie’s birth, death, and burial. Joel Hughes’ profile from a genealogy website PhPGedView. His details from The Civil War (U.S. National Park Service) website. Some of these details are incorrect. History of his infantry and battalion.

1.18: Photographs of Joel Hughes and family [not dated] 

Scope and Content

Series of photographs and photocopies of pictures and the inscriptions on the back.

1.19: Joel Hughes Financial Information [not dated]  

Scope and Content


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