This letter was written by Capt. William O. Rickman (1833-1868) of Marshall, later White County, Tennessee. He was the captain of Company H, 5th Tennessee Cavalry (US) during the Civil War and eventually commanded the entire regiment. [Note: This regiment was also known as the First Regiment of Middle Tennessee Cavalry]
William — a carpenter by trade — was the son of Richard S. Rickman (1809-1870) and Mary Jones (1810-1838). He was married in 1858 to Nancy Anna White (1839-1913), the daughter of Thomas and Nancy (Cresswell) White of Williamson County, Tennessee. The child identified only by the initials P. O. in the letter was [Prestley or] Presley O. Rickman (1862-Aft1882). Another child, William Thomas Rickman (1866-1932) was born after the war.
After the war, Capt. Rickman served as the commander of a band of militia in Tennessee attempting to root out ex-Confederate guerrillas and restore order which placed his life in danger — especially in Franklin County where there was an attempt on his life in 1867. He died in 1868 but I have not yet learned the cause of his death at age 35.
April 1st 1865
This leaves me well. I came down here day before yesterday and I have to go back tomorrow. I would have been glad if could of met me here. I would of sent you word if I could of done so, but I only have to travel by orders. I have sent you 100 pounds of coffee & 100 pounds of sugar and a crate of mackerel and I have got P.O. things and I do not know what you want, and I am almost out of money. I have not been paid off yet.
You can send down to Franklin or Nashville and get whatever you want. If you have not got money enough, send to Uncle M. H. Jones and get it or borrow from George White. Tell P. O. he must keep his hat for Sunday and his boots and he must not lose his knife. I got him some fine buttons to go on his coat.
Write soon as this comes to hand. Tell P. O. to be a good boy.
I am yours truly, — W. O. Rickman, Capt. 5th Tennessee Cavalry
I got you dress — 11 yards. I do not know what you bought you was down and of course I do not [know] what you want.
I have sent you some fresh fish. Tell the old man God donget I want him to have one good mess. I have sent P. O. some apples & candy. You must not let P. O. get choked on the fresh fesh. Tell the old man or George to pay William Mency for hauling.
Write soon, W. O. Rickman