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In Their Own Words

May 02, 1864

Civil War Soldier Visited James Madison’s Burial Site

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote his fiance, telling her of visiting a famous - and beautiful - site, but then getting an unpleasant surprise on his return to camp.

“…it was at Montpelier, rather noted as being the burial place of President Madison. Like most places in Virginia, it has felt the influence of this ravaging war; but still it is a most beautiful place. I enjoyed myself finely in going over its extensive grounds. The mansion is situated upon a pretty high place, and the view in front is most enchanting. Far away to the North may be seen the ‘Blue Ridge Mountains’ rising in majestic beauty. When we look in other directions, the scenery is indeed beautiful, varied by hill and vale seasoning, with cattle and the beauties of spring. I think it by far, the most beautiful place I have seen in Virginia. On our return a terrible storm arose, giving us all a good ducking, which by the way, was not very well for me. When I arrived in camp, what was my surprise to find my tent blown down, and my blankets perfectly saturation with rain. …”

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. 114-115.