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In Their Own Words

February 29, 1864

Civil War Soldier Related Death of Old Playmate

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote to his fiance, telling her of camp life and how much he missed her, but also of the sadness when he learned of the death of an old playmate.

“…I have postponed writing to you longer than I should have done, had I not expected in this to have seen you. As my fate however is so far as I can judge sealed for the winter, I will begin at once. … You, I suppose, are aware that there are certain duties incident to camp life, which are required to be performed daily. These duties fail, to a great extent, to consume the whole time, consequently there are enough idle hours for air castle building and retrospection. With all the arduous duties imposed, there are moments when sweet memory wafts us back to the beautiful ‘long ago.’ The reflections are mingled with pleasure and pain. Mine, for the past week or two, has been the most happy; for I’ve been living in anticipation of the happy time I should soon have in seeing you and telling you how much I love you. True I’ve had some enjoyment in thinking of by gone scenes; but by far the greatest has been the prospect of so soon being in your presence. In thinking of the past, my mind would naturally turn to my school-boy days, now ‘almost forgot.’ … But ah! when I look again through that large crowd of youthful playmates for some dear familiar face, I know too well that he is numbered among the dead. Alas how often do I see in some newspaper account of the death of some loved one whom I’ve not seen since last at school. It makes my heart grow sad…”

Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 88-89.