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In Their Own Words

February 17, 1865

Soldier and Fiance Wrote on Same Day

A Georgia soldier and his fiance wrote to each other on the same day, both worried about their letters getting through, and both missing the other after seeing each other briefly while he was home on furlough. He was now on his way back to Virginia; she mentioned the “coms” - referring to the peace commissioners at the Hampton Roads Peace Conferenc - in her letter.

His letter:

“…The sadness I feel now is inexpressible, and can be equalled only by the heart-rending pangs I suffered when I so recently parted with you in person. … Never, except for a very short time, since the commencement of our correspondence, have we been deprived the inestimable privilege of regularly hearing from each other. Others have been debarred this priceless boon, almost during the whole of the present struggle. Now ‘tis probable that we, too, are to be subject to a like fate, it does indeed render me sad and gloomy. Not that I think the separation will be for a great while or that absence and silence will conquer the love of either for the other; but because ‘twill be so painful to be separated for however short a time. … I have no hope whatever of receiving letters by soldiers at home on furlough. To surmount this difficulty, will you write me one more long, long letter, and enclose it in a letter to Sister Fannie, requesting her to forward it by some one coming on to the Army of Virginia? I will surely get it. This may be the last opportunity and you know not how anxious I am to hear from you once more. … Sherman, contrary to my expectation, seems to be marching to Columbia. If he is successful, all communication, by any means, will be effectively destroyed, for awhile at least. That he will be successful, I haven’t the least idea. …”

Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 186-188.

Her letter:

“…As I anticipated the detestable Yankees have cut the road at or near Branchville, but however slight may be the probability of your receiving a letter, I will write you. One week has elapsed since the road was interrupted, but I don’t know whether they still hold possession or not; as I haven’t seen a paper in several days, neither have I heard any late news from that point; though I hope the road has been repaired and communication is again open to Virginia. … Since our Coms have returned and informed the people of the result of their interview with the Federal Coms, I hope now the urgent request ‘Send Coms to negotiate with the Federal Government’ will cease, and that such a dishonorable proposition for peace, will not have a discouraging effect upon our soldiers and the people at home, but to the contrary, will unite and inspire them with redoubled energy to fight on, fight ever, rather than submit to Yankee rule and oppression. I confess, I did hope some honorable proposition would be made that we could accept of though I didn’t hardly think there would be consequently I was not much disappointed…”

Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), pp. 188-189.