The True Love-story between William F.

Gibson (1832 – 1907) 8th Arkansas, Co I and Miss Laura Sowell Capt Gibson, a Confederate soldier from Arkansas, was wounded in the face and stomach at the Battle of Franklin, November 30, 1864, fighting around the Carter Cotton Gin with Cleburne’s Division. Lying wounded and bleeding on the field, he was saved by a Union soldier, who recognized he was a Mason. Gibson was carried to the doorstep of the Cummins’ House in Franklin where he was found by a young single woman named Laura Sowell who was visiting her uncle at the time. Laura nursed William these first few days and they eventually fell in love, writing letters to one another right after the Franklin conflict, and even 30 years later.

William F. Gibson

Miss Laura Sowell

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Home of William Cummins on Cummins St. in Franklin. It was used a hospital after the battle of Franklin Nov. 30, 1864. Later became the Joe Hendricks home.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

William F. Gibson (1832 – 1907) 8th Arkansas, Co I
From: Annette Fitzgerald <jamfgen@gmail.com> To: Kraig McNutt <battleoffranklin@yahoo.com> Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:25 PM Subject: Wm. F. Gibson-vet of Battle of Franklin

I have attached an obituary of my great-great grandfather, William F. Gibson, who was wounded in the battle of Franklin, Tennessee. This obit is from "The Confederate Veteran" magazine, Volume 16 p.83. (Obit ends with last paragraph of col 1. which reads "Captain Gibson was twice married, but neither wife survived him. He was a consistent member of the church and a useful and respected citizen of the community." In our family, he has always been referred to as "Captain Gibson". Captain Gibson was the son of Robert Hamilton Gibson and Lettitia Gilliland of Kentucky. He married Margaret Ellen Hendrick on Jan. 17, 1854 in Kentucky and moved to Arkansas County, Arkansas by 1860. Margaret died June 19 1860 in Arkansas County leaving Captain Gibson with a 5 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. We don't know who the children were living with during the war years, but Captain Gibson returned to Arkansas County and in 1868 married Louisa D. Inman (widow of Dr. Elisha M. Leake) who had 2 young children herself. They moved to Austin, Lonoke Co., Arkansas where both died. He was wounded in the face by a bullet (or "ball") passing through his face and leaving him with a slight speech impediment. He was left on the steps of a doctor's house as the army retreated from Franklin. A niece of the doctor named Laura helped take care of him. Our family was contacted in the late 1960s by a descendant of Laura who had found a group of letters from Captain Gibson to Laura and was hoping that we had copies of her letters to him. Sorry to say, we did not. We requested copies of his letters and do have transcriptions of them, not copies of the originals. These letters were during 1867, before his second marriage and indicate that he had hopes of marrying Laura, but doesn't because of the speech impediment from his wound. There are also 2 letters from the 1890's, after both he and Laura had married and had children in the collection. Captain Gibson attended some of the Confederate reunions that were held in the late 1800s and was one of the veterans who helped establish a memorial burial ground for troops who died while encamped at Camp Nelson in Lonoke County, Arkansas. If you are interested in having transcriptions of these letters, I would be happy to send them to you. I also have a photo of Laura that was found in Captain Gibson's papers.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Annette Fitzgerald 9616 Alexander Rd. Mabelvale, AR 72103 jamfgen@gmail.com

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

W F. Gibson
Residence was not listed; Enlisted as a Captain (date unknown). He also had service in: "I" Co. AR 8th Infantry Other Information: died 5/25/1907 in Austin, AR After the War he lived in Austin, AR

The Eighth Arkansas regiment was originally organized at Jacksonport, in the summer of 186i, under command of Col. William K. Patterson, Lieutenant-Colonel Crouch and Maj. John Price, with Surgeon L. H. Dickson, Asst. Surgeon Gee, Quartermaster Tom Watson. Colonel Patterson was a lawyer of ability of northeast Arkansas. The regiment was transferred to Mississippi in the concentration of troops there under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, and marched in Shaver's brigade, under Cleburne as division commander, to meet the advance of Grant at Shiloh. It took part in that engagement, under command of Colonel Patterson, and lost heavily both days. Lieut. Thomas Bateman was killed, and Lieutenants Perryman, Cates, Harris and Richardson were wounded. Major Kelly commanded four companies, A, B, C and D, 122 men, of whom 62 were killed or wounded. Major Kelly seemed to have a charmed life. Upon reorganization, John H. Kelly was elected colonel; Wilson, lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. G. F. Baucum, major. Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson resigned, and Anderson Watkins was elected major. Upon the promotion of Colonel Kelly to brigadier-general, Baucum became colonel, and Anderson Watkins, lieutenant-colonel. The regiment took part in the battle of Murfreesboro, as part of Liddell's brigade, and captured two stand of colors, which were taken by Private James Riddle, of Company C, and Corp. N. A. Horn, of Company E. Colonel Kelly was wounded the second day and borne off the field, when Lieut. -Col. G. F. Baucum commanded the regiment. Lieuts. T. H. Beard, S. B. Cole, Colvin Bad and H. J. McCurdy, of the Eighth, were killed. The regiment was in the battles of Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold Gap (consolidated with the Eighth and Nineteenth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hutchison), Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Ezra Church and Atlanta or Decatur Road. The Eighth formed part of Cleburne's division, and participated in all the battles of that hard fighting officer, up to his death at Franklin, and surrendered with the army under Joseph E. Johnston at Greensboro, N. C., April 26, 1865.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Source:

Confederate Military History, vol. XIV, p. 303

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

William F. Gibson

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Laura Sowell – nursed him at Franklin in 1864

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Mrs. J. Clark Anderson, Jr. 110 Winslow Road Franklin, Tennessee January 14, 1966

Mr. Paul Gibson Austin, Ark. R#1 Dear Mr. Gibson: I have spent many hours of work searching out Sowell history. My Husband’s Mother was Jewell Sowell. His great-great-aunt was Laura Sowell. Not to many months ago I came upon some letters which had been preserved – letters written to Laura Sowell by Capt. W. F. Gibson. You see by the letters that Laura Sowell saved the good Captain’s life while in battle here at Franklin, Tennessee. All of this happened, we think, right around my Mother’s home and the Cummins home still stands. Now my interest is to find the letters which Laura Sowell wrote to Capt. Gibson. I realize, of course, that my chances are a thousand to one – but that is still the thread of hope to which I’m clinging as I write this letter to you. I’ve spent many months trying to trace a descendent of Capt. Gibson. If you’ve ever tried to do this by mail then you’ll have an idea what a task it is. Won’t you, PLEASE, see if you can find anything that might have been kept by your family that would be interesting in the book which I’m getting ready for the press. I’d so love to have Laura’s letters. Thank you for an early reply, I am Sincerely, Nova S. Anderson

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin, Ark. January 20, 1966 Dear Mrs. Anderson: We received the letters but I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. We never had any of the letters (which Laura wrote the Capt.). Paul and I were both real young when Capt. Gibson died. I can remember him and Paul can. He went to the Baptist Church. He had housekeepers, or families that lived in the house and took care of him until he died. I guess they destroyed. My husband was an only child. His Mother & Father had a lot of his things & they had his picture of the nurse that nursed him but I don’t know what became of it. We have several things that belonged to him. We have his watch and our daughter & her husband just had it fixed & put in a stand for us for Christmas. It is beautiful & we have his Mason pin. They said it saved his life – he was shot & left on the field for dead & a Northern soldier was going to kill him & take his boots & some one was a Mason & wouldn’t let him. He was wounded twice – once through the mouth & then through the stomach once. My husband thinks one was in La. We would like to keep your letters for a few days longer. Would like for our children to see them. We have a lot of Sowells around here but don’t know if they are any of your descendants. We are retired & have 5 children – 2 boys & 3 girls. Our youngest daughter is County Clerk at Lonoke, Ark. She is the one that got your letter. Our oldest son spent 20 years in the Army – returned four years ago. Paul will be 72 in September & I am 69. I would like to have the daughter at Lonoke to type the letters off just for keepsakes. Well I wanted you to know that we got the letters – we don’t get out much. Pauls health is not good. I worked until * was 67 and just retired to stay home and take care of him. We have wonderful children – they look after us & have 8 grandchildren. We will take good care of your letters & send them back. Paul & Ruth Gibson Austin, Arkansas R#1 Note added by Nova Anderson: Their daughter, Janice Phillips, wrote to me later & returned the copies of the letters which I’d mailed to them – which had finally brought the reply. Well, no luck that time, guess we get ―E‖ for trying – don’t we?

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

These letters were written by Capt. William F. Gibson of Crockett's Bluff near De Witt in Arkansas Co. and later of Austin in Lonoke Co., Arkansas, to Miss Laura Sowell of Tennessee. Miss Sowell was visiting her uncle in Franklin, TN when the Civil War battle took place there. Capt. Gibson was wounded and left on the uncle's porch. Miss Sowell helped nurse him for a few days. Capt. Gibson's 1st wife had died shortly before the war started leaving him with two young children. (Which are never mentioned in these letters—there may have been other letters written, but only these remain.) De Witt, Ark. Nov. 2nd, J.865 Miss Laura Sowell Much respected friend, I was agreeably surprised to receive a letter from you this evening. I was not looking for an answer so soon. It is a source of much pleasure to correspond with one so prompt to answer and to know that our mail communications are becoming more certain and regular. Your letter was only 10 days coming to hand. I hope the time is not far distant when I may have the pleasure of reading a letter from you every week. With what anxiety we look for a letter when we know surely to a minute when it is (or should be) due, but we here in our forest land have none of the advantages of rail roads as you have in that lovely country of yours. We here must await the slow coach which has many things to impead its progress in a new country like this and often disappoints us by lying over a week. I am pleased to hear that you have been enjoying yourself so much. It is a pleasure to know that our friends are happy and contented let our lot be what they may. \ There is but little interest manifested here in matrimony. I have heard of but 2 weddings and one of them was a runaway match. You tell, of your sisters marrying and your brothers going to marry and I suppose from the way you write I may infer that the excitement is contagious, and in the next expect to hear of your marrying or going to i marry. If so let me know. I am delighted to know that I will get your photograph so soon, not that I have forgotten one feature in that lovely face. No, although I was in your company but little I believe I would recognize you among thousands. I can see you at this moment as you were when you bid me farewell. You know not how it pained me to see you leave although the Misses Cummings were as kind to me as they could be. I would have given anything for you to have remained. Did Capt. Phillips remain in Franklin until he recovered? While in Kentucky several of my relatives and friends wished my photograph but I would not have it taken on account of my face being disfigured by the wound received at Franklin, but you shall have one as soon as I have an opportunity to have it taken. I know of no artist nearer than Memphis.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Rest assured should I ever visit Columbia I will not forget my friend and if we live you will yet realize your dream. I am as firm a be1iever in destiny as ever was Napoleon. Would that I could see into the future and read mine. Some contend we are more happy and contented not knowing what is to come but not so with me. I would like to know what the future has in store for me let it be good or bad. Your request shall be complyed with. I appreciate your letters too much to expose them to the curiosity of others if no other motives prompted me. Hoping this may soon come to hand and find you enjoying all the blessings of life. I remain as ever your devoted friend. W.F. G.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

DeWitt~ Ark. Sunday Night Jan 27, 1866 Dear Laura I have been at home all this gloomy, cold, black and melancholly Sabbath day thinking of you, the past and future and was just wishing that I could have the pleasure of your company when a friend stopped in and handed me your kind and flattering greeting of Jan. lst I take it as a lucky omen and the shadow that had been over me all day vanished before I could read your letter. I am like you, it makes me tremble when I attempt to fathom the future. I fear that I let my mind revert too often to what may be in store for me, but I will try and be resigned, let my lot be what it may. Although I for one am opposed to giving up and letting destiny take its own course. I believe in part we may rule our own destiny, but only in part. We may controll our destiny for I believe also that the great I am has much to do with it. Although I can not believe altogether like many, that what is to be will be. We have had a gay Christmas for this country. Everyone appeared to use every exertion to make the hollydays pleasant and make up for lost time. They say it is the first Christmas they have had here for 3 years. Laura, in writing I may have expressed too much for a stranger and one situated as I am but let that be as it may, I can not now recall it if I would. Could I have got the letter in an half hour after it was mailed I would not have sent it, not but what I wrote the dictates of my heart. I love you and ever will. You are the first to cause the chilled blood to flow free through my veins. The only one except one I ever loved and she now rests in the silent grave. It is a source of much pleasure to know that you have confidence in me. May it ever increase and I at some future day have the pleasure of knowing that I can claim more than confidence. I promise- you to be candid and ask the same in return. You say you are free as the sweet breezes of Heaven. It gives me pleasure to know it. How happy must the man be that can win such love as I imagine your womans heart would bestow. I suppose you were surprises at an avowal of love from one that perhaps you never would have thought of again. Only as the wounded soldier, if I had not wrote , but you must see that it was not so with me--every kind act, every smile on1y kindled the flame, and when you bid me farewell I loved you as dearly as man can love but without one hope that my love would be returned. Had you ever love without a'hope you would know my feelings on that morning. You shall have the New Years gift you claim the first opportunity I have to procure one which will not be before I go to Memphis without an artist should come into the country, receive my thanks for your kind promise to write and rest assured that my mind will have to change very much and your letters too, before they can cease to interest me, they would have an interest if the sheet was only filled with strait marks to know that you had made them would make me appreciate it. I·wish I could receive one of your interesting letters every day. You write that you are going to Franklin. Let me know something of Mr. S--ing's family--I would like very much to hear from them. Mrs. Cummings is one of the kindest and most motherly old ladys I met with while in the Army. I love her. You ought to have seen how she done up my hand and face the morning I left Franklin. My own men did not recognize me as I rode along. My intention was to try and get to your Father but the Yanks followed too close. I must close--Good night, pleasant

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

dreams to you. Write soon and never fear but that you can interest me whose every wish is for you. Yours as ever W.F.G. (Excuse this scratched up sheet. I would rewrite it but it is getting late and the mail leaves early in the morning.)

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

DeWitt, Ark. Sunday Night March 4th, 1866 Dear Laura, Your long looked for letter came to hand a few hours ago. I assure you it did not come without producing emotions of pleasure and sorrow. It gave me much pleasure to know that I never would have been forgotten by you, but sorry indeed to see the next few lines where you ask "Do you think me not capable of appreciating such 1ove? Or do you think me unworthy of it." No Laura, if I had thought either I would never have wrote to you and only remembered you with feelings of gratitude for your kindness. No Laura, it was just the reverse that caused me to write as I did. Would you think me worthy of such love, as I imagine you would bestow with your heart and hand. As to reciprocating my love, to know that such would be the case would give me pleasure unspeakable, even the hope-that such may be the case at some future day would be bliss undescribable for me and cause me to go forward with renewed vigor, and to meet the cold buffs of this unfeeling and selfish country of ours' with indifference. Can you give me that hope, I will not ask for more until we meet. Be candid I ask, trifle not with a heart whose every pulse beats for you. From the way you write I fear at times you are melancholy, after this when you watch the sun sink behind the Western hills remember there is one in the West that will never forget, or cease to love you, let his fate be what it may. Your letter is one week behind time. I Should have received it last Sunday, I am perfectly restless when in suspense. I sincerely wish that our mail communications were more regular and not so slow. I would like to receive a letter from you every day instead of every 5 or 6 weeks. I must bring my letter to a close or it will be to late to this mail. I was pleased to hear from your Uncle Will. I have wrote twice to him and received no answer. I will write again soon. Has either of his daughters married. I would like so much<,to' see Mrs. Cummings. She is such a kind lady. Write soon. Yours as ever .• W.F.G.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

DeWitt, Ark. June 21, 1866 Dear Laura Your long looked for and anxiously expected letter has at last come to hand and I assure you I am much relieved, if your letter had been delayed one week longer you would have had the pleasure of seeing how much your just request annoyed me. I had a letter wrote to send by this mail which I am more than pleased to have it in my power to commit to the flames without any eye but mine seeing it. Not that I would particularly care for you seeing it, only the melancholy mood and the fears anticipated. I know you would tease me if you had seen it. I cannot but laugh at my own fancys when I think of it I enclose your letter of March 16. I suppose it is the one you desire. I never received one of the date you call for. I have one dated Feb. 10. I see nothing in your letter that anyone could take exception to and nothing but what I appreciate& If there is one word or sentence you desire to correct after looking over it please let me know. I look upon it as being one of the best letters I have received from you. It appears to be the dictates of the heart and not a studied composition. Laura, your letters are all interesting. I know of no authors I would prefer to read after. You are wrong, you would never see an impatient look when I open one of your letters I lay aside worldly cares and think only of thee. Let the heart dictate what the hand communicates. Now that I know why you wish to see your letter I think nothing strange of it. I would take a pleasure in reading mine in your presence and hear you criticise them. I have no doubt I have expressed more than I should. At times when writing, I forget myself and the way I am situated. Fondly devoted loving one that perhaps when we meet may be disappointed (Has no such thought occured to you?) But let that be as it may. I cannot control my heart if I would. I love you and ever will, let destiny decree as it may. I cannot say that I have enjoyed myself as I could desire. We have had a very disagreeable spring here and farmers generally look gloomy. We have had more rain than I ever saw' one season and cannot with a favorable season make more than half crops. I cannot think we poor Rebs are the worst people in the world but it looks like we are still to be chastized. We came home, found nearly ever thing gone, went to work in good earnest to try to make up some of our losses, but I fear we will fail this year. Everything appears to be to our disadvantage but I still have a hope there is a better day coming and that our "Sunny South" will not be always gloomy. The epidemic you alluded to some time back is raging here. I have been to five weddings in the last three weeks and all in one neighborhood. You cannot beat that in Tennessee. It is getting late, good night. May angels guard thee. Yours devotedly, W.F.G.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

DeWitt, Ark Oct 28, 1866 Dear Laura, How gloomy is my heart this rainy, dreary Sabbath day and although I have just returned from listening to one of -the most eloquent -----of Arkansas (Mr. Lee), my mind is not changed; and while under the sound of his voice I could not go "with him in his subject. And why?--because my heart was with another and my thoughts were with you and the future. Must my life be always sad and gloomy? How long must I bear this suspense, or in other words how long can I? I imagine I hear you say "It is your own fault. Come and see me and know your doom, either be one of the happiest or most miserable of men as my fancy may dictate." It is that Dear Laura that causes this heart of mine to ache, to know that every day, every letter (if possible) is only strengthening the cords which you may have to sever, not but that I believe you would be guided by the sure dictates of your heart. I have all confidence in you and know you could not give your hand without your heart went with it. If I thought to the contrary, it would be enough let it cost what it might. I cannot endorse the doctrine' of some of the cold hearts of the world to marry and learn to love. Could I have seen you before I left Tennessee, it was my intention to come to your house when I left Franklin, but I was not allowed that pleasure and you know why. I am as great a believer in destiny as ever was Napoleon, and let mine be what it may, I can never forget the lovely face that kept the grim monster death from taking what all that saw me considered his. I even believe that those bright-eyes of yours had something to do with rekindling the few sparks that were left and letting me know I had something to live for. I am truly sorry on your account that my letter should have been opened and by one you looked upon as a friend. It pains me to know or even suspicion one I esteem as a friend.I do not recollect what I wrote in the letter or whether I signed my name or gave the initials. I cannot blame you for being angry, and if a friend of mine was to treat-me so I could not stop: at getting half mad, but I hope that will not be the cause of your not writing as you have here before. If so' I will also become angry with that intended friend of yours. I am not a member of any Church and with you can say I detest some of the exhibitions at our---- said to be the workings of the divine spirit. I do not believe in all of this heart-felt religion I hear so much talk about and that is obtained today and lost tomorrow and if I never attach myself to a Church until I get the religion that I have heard so much about of late I will be lost. After reading this letter over I am almost tempted to tear it up, but if I do I cannot write another for this mail. If I have wrote anything to offend I ask your pardon. I have only wrote my sentiments and ask that when you write you do the same. And if' you can get your letters to the office, you need have no fears that other eyes shall see what is intended for mine. Is Mr. Cummings still Clerk at Franklin? Have the Confederate dead been removed 'from' in front-of the Old Gate. Some of the bravest men were buried there and men that I honor and respect. Write soon. I remain as_ ever Yours devotedly" W.F.G. ps. I counterfited my hand in backing this letter for fear that if that friend of yours was to take it out of the office his curosity might prompt him to open it and I wouldn't want anyone reading this but you.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

DeWitt, Ark. Feb. 4, 1867 Dear Laura, After an absence of several days I have returned to what I call home, and find your kind letter of the 2nd which I should have received before I left. Your apology for not writing sooner, I accept. At the same time allow me to say I have found no society so agreeable or fascinating but that I would willingly leave it at any moment for the pleasure of communicating with you by the pen& I am truly sorry to hear of your ill health and shall be quite uneasy until I hear from you again. When I left home I anticipated the -------------------------seeing you before I returned. (corner of page missing) You asked -----------------------(corner of page missing) If I live I will -----------------------------in Tennessee this fall to see them all. I have heard nothing from Mr. Cummings or family only what you wrote. I have wrote to him and sent several clippings of a little paper printed in DeWitt, but he still remains silent. My intention was to have spent the last of January in Tennessee, but was disappointed which is becoming no new thing with me. Laura, will you indulge me for a short time and allow me to write as I feel (if you will allow the expression) and give you some of my past and present thoughts? I take it for granted you will. In the first place, I must acknowledge that since we have been corresponding, I have painted several high pictures for the future in which you were always remembered, but they are beginning to fade. Not but I love you as devotedly as I did when you so kindly suffered to do all you could for the Rebel Soldier. And had I known what I know tonight my pen should never have revealed the secrets of a love I now have no hopes of being reciprocated. I know you are ready to say "How unreasonable he writes, we have not met since a few days after he was wounded. Why should he come to such a concluslon?‖ Allow me to explain. I know you are pretty, accomplished, and suppose you have many suitors, which you find in every clime ready to kneel at Beauty's shrine. So what should one expect that has been so unfortunate? ·I know you well recollect that horrid wound in my face which has disfigured it very much. But for that I care but little, were it not that the same ball was the cause of my speech being so injured that it is with difficulty I can make myself understood when talking to strangers, which I had been led to believe could be easily remedied by the Art of Man, but it was all a delusion. Within the last two weeks I have consulted the best dentists of Memphis and New Orleans and they say they can do nothing that will be to my advantage without considerable risk on my part. You need have no fear that I shall ever forget, no no. But perhaps it would be better for me if I could. Would to God I only loved with a brother's love, and could claim that of a sister in return. I would be much happier tonight than I am. I sincerely thank you for your kind words and may I ever be remembered. Think not I am writing for mere passtime, if I were, I would not write as I have, believing you to be all you should and too high minded to trifle with the feelings or faults of another. I perhaps have not been as particular and reserved as I should have been. From tonight I will try to remember you as a kind friend, which you have been and will bid farewell to blasted hopes of my own creating. Then perhaps I can make my letters more interesting, for that is one pleasure I hope you will not deny me. When I commenced, I had no idea of writing so much. I had nothing but this large sheet to
William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

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write on and did not like to send it blank. It is getting late. Farewell and may kind angels guard thee. Yours as ever W.D.G. This is the last of the first set of letters. In January of 1868 Capt. Gibson married Louisa D. Leake, widow of Dr. E. M. Leake of Arkansas Co. She had two children who were very young. Capt. Gibson also had two young children. Around 1880 the family moved to Austin in Lonoke Co. Louisa died in 1890. The second set of letters begins in 1895. At that time Laura had been married for many years to James Rutherford Cathey and had seven children.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin, Ark Dec. 17, 1895 Mrs. Laura Cathey Union City, Tenn. My Friend, I was pleased and surprised on the receipt of your letter of Dec. 8th, and all by near accident. A Mr. J. S. Kirkpatrick called on me in November on business (although he is a citizen of my county I had never met him before). In conversation he made some remark about Franklin. When I commenced enquiring "about friends of other days‖ he could tell me nothing I did not know for I had long since heard of the death of Mr. and Mrs. Cummings and he remarked he had not visited Tennessee for 4 years, but had a brother, Dr. Kirkpatrick, living in Franklin, and that the first time he wrote to him would get the desired information and let me know. I do not know what he wrote but it has been the cause of my receiving a letter from Miss Willie telling me all about the family, several of whom I do not recollect, and also receiving your letter. Was it not Miss Lucy that could not s t and the sight of blood and had to leave the room when you was washing the blood off my face? Do you recollect turning around to her and saying, "Wait until I get this -------- off. I can do anything for a wounded Confederate. I may have two brothers wounded or dead on the battlefield." I believe if it had not been for you and Miss Cummings, and you in particular as you had more nerve, I tonight would be filling a soldier's grave in or near Franklin. You and her were the first to find me lying on the porch. Do you recollect what you said when you opened the door and came out with a lamp and saw me? "La, Uncle, there's a wounded Confederate out here and he is a Corporal, he has three bars on his collar." Do you recollect the Federal Captain's hat? I wore it back to my Command in North Carolina and from there home. You ask of me "has fate dealt kindly with you?" Like everyone else I have had my troubles and disappointments and for a long time my ups and downs, and more downs than ups. When I got home I had nothing left but my farm without fences or houses. I went to work to try to make good my hopes but for some cause I made failure after failure. But after all my disappointments and failures I have much to be thankful for. I have the esteem and confidence of my friends, don't owe a dollar, have 700 acres farm well-improved, and said to be the best fruit farm on the Iron Mountain Railroad. I don't say this boastingly but to let you know your soldier friend is not where many are--in a Soldier's Home. A Merry Christmas with my best wishes for you and yours. W.F.G. Your letter was delayed as it was sent to Lonoke, the county seat of Lonoke County and 20 miles from Austin, being well acquainted with the postmaster it was forwarded to me.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin, Ark. Jan 11, 1896 Mrs. Laura Cathey Union City Your very interesting letter of Jan. 1st would have been answered before this if I had been at home. I infer from your letter that while you may have your troubles, you have much to be thankful for and one thing in particular as you write of no vacant place at your reunion. I have not been so fortunate. I now 1n my declining years am left nearly alone. One son and a stepdaughter both married. My son is living on a farm near me. My (step) daughter living in Little Rock. She has been married 3 years. She kept house for me three years before she married. We had our reunion Christmas but there was another vacant place. We had taken a poor orphan boy when he was 5 years old and had learned to love him as our own. He graduated at the Commercial College in Little Rock about 2 months before he died and had a good position in the Gazette office when taken sick. I enclose his obituary clipped from our Baptist paper. My wife has been dead six years. Yes, I can write differently now. I am a member of the Missionary Baptist Church and have been for years. I suppose you belong to the Christian Church from what you wrote, I have often asked the question (you ask and imagine answers) ―Why have I been spared, twice during the war so badly wounded and said I would die and once since for 10 days all my friends said I could not live?" It is all a mystery now, and I often think will I ever know. I suppose it is better that we know not what the future is to be. While some might be happy--how many would be miserable? While some claim man is his own free agent, I can't see it that way. Many thanks for your kind wishes and New Year's greetings with the same to you and' I assure you that a letter from you at any time will be a welcome guest and a favor appreciated. I have in my album a photograph of a "friend of other days", a girl standing, cloak and hat on, the right hand partly concealed in the pocket. Would you mind sending me yours to place opposite. With best wishes and kindest regards to you and yours. Your friend W.F. Gibson

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin , Ark Feb 13th, 1896 Mrs. Laura Cathey Union City, Tenn. Dear Friend, I have just returned from Lonoke, our County seat where I was summoned on the 3.rd on the jury •• I have had quite a pleasant time meeting old friends and hearing a good sermon every night last week. A Minister's Institute (Baptist) with over fifty ministers in attendance was in session all week. And while I could not leave the Court House in the day, I could hear a good sermon every night. I can't say I favor union meetings. The Methodist and Cumberland can have such meetings, but when baptism by immersion and immersion only is preached the meeting generally comes to a close with no good results. But the people in ----- may not be so easily offended as ours when the truth is preached. You have my thanks for the promise and hope that you may soon comply with it. I cannot agree with you that "my girl will suffer in comparison." She never has and never will in my estimation. You have my sincere sympathy in your trouble. I so wish it was different and you could say you had always been one of fortunes favorites which but few can say in old age. ,'Write soon. Your friend W. F. Gibson

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin', Ark." July 25,.1897 Mrs. Laura Cathey Union City, Tenn. Dear Friend, On my return home yesterday from Little Rock, I was agreeably surprised to find a letter from you. I had long since come to the conclusion that you desired the correspondence to stop or maybe I had wrote something that you did not like. As to my friendship and esteem, you need have no fears of losing it. It has ever been yours since that awful night when we first met. I do not live near your boys. My home is 24 miles northeast of Little Rock near the Iron Mountain Railroad. You can rest assured if chance should ever throw us together, or I have it in my power to do them a favor, I would gladly do it for their Mother's sake and consider it as nothing compared with the debt of gratitude I owe her. I was disappointed in not receiving the picture you promised. I fear not the comparison in my own estimation. Whenever I look at the picture of ―my friend of other days,‖ it brings up recollections of the past, some bright and pleasant, some clouded. I will expect the picture soon and I assure you that you could not give one to anyone that would prize it more. I was at the reunion in Nashville and expected to take in the centennial. Made my arrangements to be away from home 10 days, got to Nashville Monday morning and left Thursday night and one day of the time had to keep to my room being quite sick. I had made arrangements with some friends to visit Franklin and go over the battlefield Saturday. But being quite unwell thought it best to come home. I was only a half day on the Centennial grounds. I was surprised to see so much and so many good houses. Tennesseans may justly be proud of the display. On my return I told some of my friends that speak of going that I believed it would give them more satisfaction and pleasure than the Exposition at Chicago as there was not so much crowd and jam and in a few days they could see all and remember more of what they did see. With best wishes for you and yours. I am as ever Your friend W. F. Gibson

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

Austin, Ark .. Aug. 22, 1897 Mrs. Laura Cathey Union City, Tenn. Dear Friend, As you say, it looks like I am quite a run-a-bout. I got home yesterday from a two-week visit in Arkansas County, my old home where I have a brother 1iving , but you must recollect this season of the year is the only leisure time I have. Crops are laid by and fruit shipping over. When we commence picking cotton my time will be put in at home from then until the last of July, only when I have to leave to attend to business. So you see I am not much of a "rover.‖ I love home, old associations and old friends. Your kind letter with picture received, for which accept thanks • Judging from the picture, time has dealt kindly with you and while you may have had your troubles (as we all have) they have not left their imprints, or do you do as I do, wait until they come and pass them by as lightly as you can. I have always tried to take the world as I find it and when anything unpleasant comes up to pass it by as lightly as I can. The two pictures are now side by side in my album, and while I appreciate your kindness in sending me the last, excuse me when I say that "girl" has not lost anything in my estimation. When I look at that picture it calls up recollections of the past, some pleasant and others unpleasant and now after so many years have passed when we are both on the downward grade, to know that my friend of "other days" is my friend of today makes amends for some of the unpleasant recollections of the past. Yes you are correct when you say you made a lifelong friend, not only of the past, but I trust for the future in every phase of the word "friend". I have never had but one picture taken since I was wounded at Franklin and have said I would never have another, but if I ever do I will send you one. With best wishes for you and yours I am Your friend W.F. Gibson p.s. A letter from you is always appreciated. I will try and be more prompt in answering in the future. I will leave home next Monday to be gone 2 weeks. I am going up into the mountains, as we call the country north of us, 80 miles in Red River. Not a pleasure trip but to buy up cattle if I can find them. You say you was too much Rebel to do anything for a Yankee. Have you got to be Christian enough to love them as Brothers? We have one in our Church, and while I treat him as kind as I know how, and I believe he is as good as a Yankee can be, I have never got to the point where I thought I had the love for him one brother should have for another.

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William F. Gibson (1832-1907) | Wounded at Battle of Franklin | 8th Arkansas Infantry, Co I

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