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In Their Own Words

November 30, 1864

Advice from One Captured Civil War Soldier to Another

A Georgia soldier who had been wounded and captured in the Gettysburg campaign, wrote to his brother - who was also a prisoner, being held in New York. The letter writer had been a prisoner longer, and had advice for getting through the ordeal, and news of yet another brother had also been captured, but exchanged.

“…We were very glad to hear from you, particularly to learn that you had got an outfit of clothing. I had felt uneasy about it, knowing how cold the weather becomes in this latitude during the Winter. You will find more need of constant exercise in the open air now than in Summer or Fall. Don’t lie up in your quarters too closely in good weather. I am also very glad to know you have books. … You should improve your time to the uttermost, not only by reading miscellaneously, but by the study of text books if you can obtain them. No matter how simple the study, you can learn much that will be valuable in life. … As to associates, you haven’t much choice, I suppose, but you can avoid intimacy with anyone with whom you would not associate at home. I am sure you will not carelessly or recklessly fall into habits which would grieve our father and relatives. … I reserve my good news to the last. Ira has gone to Savannah for exchange and, I trust, is now at large in our dear old state. Be of good cheer. Your time and mine will come after awhile. And don’t forget to thank our Heavenly Father for the good fortune of our brother. …”

Source: Anita B. Sams (ed.), With Unabated Trust: Major Henry McDaniel’s Love Letters from Confederate Battlefields as Treasured in Hester McDaniel’s Bonnet Box (The Historical Society of Walton County, Inc., 1977), p. 208.