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In Their Own Words

September 07, 1863

Letter Contrasted Peaceful Scenes and Harsh War

A Georgia Civil War soldier stationed on the coast of South Carolina wrote his wife, contrasting serene night scenes with the harshness of war.

“…The moon rose beautifully and calmly out of the sea between 1 and 2 o’clock, bathing the broad expanse of waters and the marshes and low-lying islands in a flood of subdued, tranquil light, strangely at variance with the lurid, vengeful glare of the flaming batteries. For a moment everything would be as calm, as peaceful, as noiseless as the grave - and the heart lifting itself in sympathy with the peace of nature - the eyes gladdened by the pale moonbeams and the beauties of the Pleiades, of Jupiter, of the Dipper and of the stars as they look down from their homes of tranquil light - and the ear catching no sound save the voices of the waves as they chafed with the far-off shore - could scarcely realize the fact that, while nature slept, man waked to deeds of rude death and direful destruction. The next moment the air would be filled with the discordant sounds and the wild lights of war, and thus the antithesis was rendered more striking. …”

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), p. 265.