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In Their Own Words

April 22, 1861

Letter Explained Reasons for Volunteering for Confederate Military

From Dawson, Ga., Edwin Bass wrote to his sister with an impassioned statement of his feelings that honor and duty required him to volunteer for military service :

“… And now I must speak to you and to Ma and all the rest about a matter that must so deeply interest us all and stir our hearts with deep emotions of sorrow. We know, my Sister and Mother, that our country is threatened [with] destruction by an inveterate enemy that is willing to show no regard for humanity nor the rights of our section and people. A Call has been made upon the young, brave and chivalrous sons of Georgia and the South to leave home and the endearments that bind us to our families to defend the rights and interests of our mothers and sisters and homes. that they will be defended successfully I have no doubt. Your interests and rights, my Mother and sister, must [be] defended and fought for, too. Would you have me and my Brother remain inactive and contented at home, while others, more ready than we, are fighting for you and us? We are the ones to fight for you, and we are the ones that will fight for you! I know it is hard for you to consent that such a necessity exists. And I know you will agree that none will shoulder their muskets to use them against their enemies who has to fight [more] than Johnnie and myself. Our appreciation and love for you all is measured only by yours for us, and we cannot and must not consent that you should be defended and protected by others and we look on inactive at the contest. And you, I know, would bid us go, though with sad and heavy hearts.

The company in Dawson will perhaps be called out this week, though I do not know that it will, and I want you all to join in bidding me to go and fight bravely like a soldier and not let our family want for a brave and patriotic heart and arm to fight for them. Your liberties and rights are dear and sweet to you. Who shall fight to defend them if not your own sons and brothers, Johnnie and I? …”

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. 5-6.