In Their Own Words
April 19, 1864
Civil War Soldier Wrote to Children
A Georgia soldier who had just returned to Virginia from Tennessee took the opportunity to write his young children; he gave them a detailed account of his actions in the war, then encouraged to them to live a good, Christian life so he would see them in heaven if he did not make it home.
“…Dear children, as you are both young and I have not written to either of you since I have been in the war and in my last letter to your Mother I stated to her that I would write just as soon as we stopped on our trip to Tennessee, so now in the place of writing to her this time, I will write to you both, and it will do her, too. This few lines leaves me in good health, and I hope that they may go safe to your hands and find you, your Mother, and your Sister, Mary Ida, in good health. … [He then goes into detail about his actions and travels in the war] Well, my dear children, as I have given you a little history of my ups and downs in this unholy war. So now I will try to give you both and your little Sister, Mary Ida, if it is the will of our Heavenly Father that she may live to take it, some advice. In the first place, I may fall in battle or die of disease and never return home to you at all. That is one great reason why I have written you such a letter as I have for you and your Mother to keep until you get older. Dear children, the present life is not all a person ought to live for. Every living person has a soul which is to live after the body is dead. The soul will live in either Heaven or Hell throughout an endless eternity. … If I should never see you again in this world, I want you and your Mother, too, to so live in this world that you will meet me in Heaven, for I am trying by the grace of God for that blessed abode. …”
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. 289-290.