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In Their Own Words

May 19, 1862

Hardships of War Expressed in Letter

That war is not always glory is evidenced by the following excerpts from a letter written from a Richmond hospital by Confederate soldier J.C. Nunn to his family back in Georgia:

“… I have been very bad off for a few days, but this morning I feel better. I am yet in the hospital but don’t know how long I will stay here. I have been here a month tomorrow, and I was sick a week before they sent me here… . Oh! dear Father and Mother, I have seen so many men suffer death almost.

“There is one man in the same room I am in, and it looked like would die all day yesterday with pains in his side and all through his body. He could not lie down, and he was a powerful wicked man, and, while he was so bad off, he would pray and would say, “Lord, what have I done that I suffer so and the pains are sharper than any two-edge sword!” and he prayed for mercy… . The other night he told his Brother to get a book and read some to him. And his Brother … could not find any but religious books and wanted to read him some in them. But he told him, ‘No them was Methodist books, and I am a Baptist and I don’t want to hear them!’ So he heard no reading that night… .

” … I think we will all have to do something before long or we will all perish here soon. For you never saw such times in all your life. We don’t get enough to eat here. I am sorry to say so to you, but I don’t get enough… .

“… Ma, oh! dear Mother, this place is so lousy I can’t hardly keep the lice off of me. There got some in my socks and laid so many nits in them that I am compelled to throw them away and go bare-legged … . Of! how I wish I was there where I could the attention of a kind Mother and Wife and Sisters … .”

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. 120-121.