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William A Jackson was a coachman for the family of Jefferson Davis for only a few months. According to an article in Harper's Weekly, dated June 7, 1862, Jackson fled to Union lines outside Fredericksburg, leaving behind his wife and three children. Harper's summarizes a letter written to the Secretary War by General McDowell giving instances of information Jackson provided Union officers. He provided some information he'd gleaned from overhearing conversations with some of President Davis' confidants, but most of the information he passed along, which seemed of greatest interest to his hearers, had to do with his understanding of the personal opinions of Davis, his family and close advisers having to do with their fears for the future of the Confederacy. Claims have been made in recent times that Jackson's recollections could be specially relied upon because slaves, unable to read, depend much more on memory. Ironically, the Harper's article, evidently unread by some who've made these claims for Jackson, makes a point of saying not only that Jackson was remarkably intelligent, but also that he read and wrote quite well.