In Their Own Words
March 12, 1864
Civil War Soldier Wrote on Birthday, Still Hoping for Southern Independence
A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife on his birthday, still hoping the South could achieve its independence.
“…Today I am twenty-four years old. I am growing old fast. I am spending what under different circumstances might be the most pleasant portion of my life in the army, where anyone knows there is but little pleasure. Such a state of affairs is sad and heart-rending to contemplate. But when we consider the great duty we owe our country in the struggle for independence, I cannot be but content with my fate, although it be, indeed, a cruel one. I am determined to do anything and everything I can for my country. Should we be so fortunate as to gain our independence, and I am sure we will, and a kind Providence permits me to see it, I shall, of course, expect to enjoy it. And should I fail to do my duty I shall feel that I am not entitled to be a free man. If it should be my misfortune to fall in the glorious struggle, I hope that I shall go believing that I have contributed my mite and that you and my little boy will be entitled to the great boon of freedom. …”
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 282-283.