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In Their Own Words

September 05, 1862

Civil War Soldier Wrote of Pleasant Stay with House Full of Women

A Georgia soldier writing home to his cousin told of a painful, then pleasant, encounter he had while returning to his company after an illness.

“…This soldier [speaking of himself] had been left behind on account of sickness when his battalion had been ordered towards the north, but he was now well again and burning with all a soldier’s ardor to rejoin his comrades. …the cars were rapidly nearing Rapidan, when, stopping for a few moments…the soldier, standing on the platform looking out at the town, in a fit of great thoughtlessness put his foot on the link connecting the cars, when just at that moment the cars ran together and smashed his foot quite flat. …the foot was extricated from its position and the soldier at the advice of some friends managed to get off the cars, and, …hobbled to a nice-looking cottage house, a short distance from the railroad. The house, I say, was a nice one, newly painted, with verandah in front and nicely trimmed lawn sloping down gently to the front gate and pilings. On the verandah sat a party of ladies: Mrs. Bull, the owner of the house, a widow of forty, a cousin, a maiden lady, aged, I suppose forty; and four or five Misses Bulls, daughters of the owner of the mansion, the oldest, Miss Annie, about sweet twenty, the second, Miss Mary, eighteen, the third Miss Fanny, just sweet sixteen, …Now as this soldier hobbled towards the house…there was considerable excitement evident among the ladies and soon he was surrounded. The nature of the accident learned and having bathed his foot, which was now swollen and black from the bruise, he was conducted to the parlor, where he reclined on the sofa, surrounded by his fair assistants, where being in the presence of ladies not a groan or sound escaped his lips telling of his sufferings, but looking, as I have learned since, very ‘pale and interesting!’ Just imagine anything more romantic if you can. … The soldier stayed at that house for nearly a week, and day before yesterday started for this place (Richmond) which he reached last eve and is now quartered pleasantly at a private house and registered at the 3rd Georgia Hospital…that soldier went there free and independent, careless of woman’s powers and charm, but he came away but a wreck of his former self. To make a short thing of a mournful confession, he is head over heels, head over ears, in love, but with which one he can’t say to save his life…”

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. 183-184.