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In Their Own Words

June 18, 1863

Soldier Wrote Letter to Family Shortly Before His Death

Joseph L. Almand, from Conyers, GA, wrote this letter to his family while stationed in Alabama, guarding railroads between Murfreesboro and Chattanooga. Unfortunately, he died of an illness two weeks after writing it:

Bridgeport, AL

June 18, 1863

Most affectionate companion I received your very affectionate letter yesterday. I was truly glad to hear from you once more and to learn that you are well though I understand my little Gippy boy was sick. I hope that his sickness is not unto death. I hope that he will recover soon.

My dear I want you to take care of yourself and not be disheartened because I can not come home. I hope the Lord will be with you and give you strength to bear up under all of your afflictions and troubles. We hear one of the old sayings, “many are the afflictions of my people.” It is with great tribulation that we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; if it should be our lot to enter that happy place where we will be done with troubles, trials, pain and sorrow it will be enough.

Our life here in this world is compared to a vapor that appears and soon passeth away. Then let us take encouragement if we suffer in this life it is only a ten days’ tribulation when we will be done with it all although my dear Annie, I feel fearful that I am not an heir to that glorious inheritance. My mind seems to be confused. My dear I have one thing to mourn over, that is neglect of duty which I once had the privilege of bowing down with you and our dear children around the fireside and asking the Lord his blessings. I must acknowledge that I have neglected that one too much and now I have that to grieve over though my dear I try in my weak manner to ask the Lord to be with you and our dear children and give you strength and health and to guide you and direct you by His will. I make one request of you that is do not study about me to the injury of your health. I hope to meet you again sooner or later in this life.

Johnnie I am glad that you and Buddy are getting along so well with your crop. I am proud that I have such smart boys. It is a source of great satisfaction for me to think that my little boys are trying to make a living for their dear Ma and their little sisters. Now my children it may be possible that I may never see you again and if it should be the case my dear children I want you boys to be good boys and kind to your Ma and take her advice and try to provide for your little brothers and sisters. Be kind and affectionate to them. Recollect that you are brothers and sisters and if you see one of them suffering try to do all you can to relieve it. Never suffer yourselves to impose on each other. Love one another and try to live honest if you have to live hard. Live honest above all things. A good character is better than riches. Try to conduct yourselves well. Keep out of bad company. Always treat old people with due respect. Be subject to the Higher Powers in a right manner. If your country calls for you to defend the rights guaranteed to us by our forefathers, step up to defend our rights. Do not wait to be forced to fight for your country though I am in hopes you will never have that to do. I desire peace but we as a nation have trampled the mercies of God under our feet and now we are suffering for many instances. Now do not forget my advice to you for I love you well and lay you near my heart.

A word to Sis and Georgia Ann. My dear little girls you lay near my heart when I think of you. I know that you are poor little girls. I want you to be good girls and obey your kind Ma and wait on her when she is sick and always take her advice. I hope the Lord will provide for you and it be His will to save your precious souls with an everlasting salvation. I must close. Take good care of Gippy. Pa wants to see you all very much. It will not do for me to give up to grief for I am feeble though I hope to be well soon. Do not grieve for me.

A word and I must close dear companion, it is a source of pleasure to me to know that I have got a wife that is of noble heart one that had rather suffer privation than to bring reproach on your husband. My dear I love you and my children as dear as any one heart but if I never get home until I desert, you will never see me. I’d rather die than bear the name of a deserter. Give my love to mother and tell her I hope that I can see her one more time in life. Give love to all inquiring friends and connections. Write me as soon as you can and let me hear all the news. I hope you will do well. Oh may the good Lord be with you and be husband to you and a father to my children. I remain your husband until death. When this you see remember me although we be apart the tie that binds never can be broken only by death. Weep not for me for I will surely come to thee.

Signed; Joseph L. Almand

Source: Thomas Lanford, Jr.