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In Their Own Words

April 06, 1863

Civil War Soldier Wrote Wife that Thoughts of Her Uplifted Him

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, telling her how lonely he was and how his thoughts of her sometime uplifted him.

“…It was very lonely in camp; I think I have not felt greater depression during the War. But in proportion as absence long continued, difference in pursuits and associations have estranged me from a large circle of friends of former times, my feelings and hopes have centered more firmly on you. Your image is prominent in every plan or picture of future life that has busied my fancy during the War. It would be impossible to explain in words here the earnestness of my meaning, unless you had been similarly situated. I give you credit for constancy and unvarying kindness. But you have been surrounded by relatives and intimate friends; social influences and pleasures have shed their genial influence over heart and feelings, and, save by a heightened anxiety on account of the dangers of the army, your interest in me doubtless has changed little since I became a soldier. Not so my interest in you. I have taught myself, for the last two years more especially, to lookto you for the reward for all my actions. In cities, when I have coldly declined invitations to visit haunts of dissipation and pleasure with my assoiciate officers, I have thought, ‘Hester would commend this refusal, if she knew it.’ When, after severe exposure, the system seemingly in need of a powerful stimulant, my comrades have urged brandy or whiskey upon me and I have abstained, the thought was ever present: ‘I promised Hester not to depart from my habits of temperance.’ I have never entered battle without the wish at the moment that, falling, you might plant flowers over my grave, be it ever so many years after, or surviving, you might consider that I had not shrunk from the post of danger. And should it please God to return me home, free from all stain of evil habits, I will ascribe much of the result to the influence of my love for you…”

Source: Anita B. Sams (ed.), With Unabated Trust: Major Henry McDaniel’s Love Letters from Confederate Battlefields as Treasured in Hester McDaniel’s Bonnet Box (The Historical Society of Walton County, Inc., 1977), pp. 147-148.