Zabud Fletcher was a native of Georgia who moved to Florida in 1825. He eventually settled at China Hill in Gadsden County. Fletcher married Sarah Ann Monroe in 1825, and the couple had five children. Many of the letters in the Zabud Fletcher Family Papers date from the Civil War period. Two of Fletcher's sons served in the Confederate army during the war. Zabud Fletcher died in 1864, while Sarah Fletcher survived until 1876.
The original letter was written at the very end of the Civil War, after the surrender of both Robert E. Lee's and Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate armies. While Florida was included under Johnston's April 26 surrender, it was not until the following month that Union troops formally accepted the capitulation of Confederates in Florida. The letter was written on April 29, 1865 from Sarah Fletcher to her son Malcolm Nicholson Fletcher. Unfortunately it is badly faded and parts are completely illegible. A typed transcript is reproduced here because of its historical importance. It is one of the few Florida letters from the last days of the Civil War that discusses the surrender of Robert E. Lee's army and the impact of the Confederacy's impending collapse on the state's civilian population. Sarah Fletcher also comments on the activities of Florida's slaves on the eve of their emancipation.
Florida Oak Grove April 29th 1865
My Dear Son according to promise I will write though I have nothing agreable to to tell you the news you sent me revived my drooping spirits considerable but I hear that it ___________________________________ our duty [?] _____ which is awful to me and you and everybody else South our doom is sealed
General Lee is a prisoner and nearly all his army we are lost without the report is true that ol Lincoln is dead if that is so we may have some chance yet I did hope you ___ Dark [?] about [?] ___ ___ ___ ___ before this but my hopes are [in?] vain [?] when will this ___________________________________________ may [?] be [?] room [?] for our negroes will break ____ in [?] spite of all that I can do they have broke into the sugar house and tooke one of my calf skins and nearly a barrel of syrup and a considerable amount of sugar and they got in the smokehouse and tooke out as much meat as they wanted I think about two hundred pounds of meat
[p.2] I told Mr. Spooner they were stealing but he said that he could not help it and I ____