Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Elisha Franklin Paxton – Letters from camp and field while an officer in the Confederate Army

Letter From Henry K. Douglas To Mrs. Paxton

May 4, 1863.

Madam: As the senior officer of Gen’l Paxton’s staff, and a person with whom he was probably more intimate than with any one in the brigade, I deem it my duty, although a painful one, to notify you of the circumstances of his death. He fell yesterday morning while bravely leading his brigade into action, and lived only about an hour after receiving his wound. As soon as he was struck he lifted his hand to his breast-pocket. In that pocket I knew he kept his Bible and the picture of his wife, and his thoughts were at that moment of heaven and his home. Beloved and esteemed by officers and men, his loss is deeply mourned, and the brigade mingle their tears with those of his family relations. I have for some time thought that the General expected the first battle in which he led his brigade would be his last, and I had observed, and am satisfied from various conversations with him, that he was preparing his mind and soul for the occasion. It is a consolation to know that while he nobly did his duty in the field and camp without regard to personal consequences, he had been convinced that there was a home beyond this earth where the good would receive an eternal reward. For that home he had richly prepared himself, and, I confidently hope, is there now. Almost the last time I saw him, and just before the brigade moved forward into the fight, he was sitting behind his line of troops, and, amidst the din of artillery and the noise of shell bursting around him, he was calmly reading his Bible and there preparing himself like a Christian soldier for the contest.

Dr. Cox, A. D. C, has already departed with his body for home.


Letter From Henry K. Douglas To J. G. Paxton

Hagerstown, Md., Feb. 18,1893.

Yours of the 14th is received to-day. I knew your father very well. When he was on the staff of Gen’l Jackson, so was I; and for a time, when he commanded the Stonewall Brigade, I was the A. A. G. and A. I. G. of the brigade, in rank its senior staff officer. My relations with him were very close—indeed, confidential.

I had observed, during the winter of 1862-63, a growing seriousness on his part in every respect. There was nothing morbid about it, but he was much given to religious thought and conversation. He was a very regular reader of the Bible, and, I think, often talked with Gen’l Jackson on the same subject. He was thoroughly impressed with the conviction that he would die early in the opening campaign, and was determined to prepare for that fate.

In my letter to your mother, written the day after his death, I merely alluded to certain conversations which I will now explain more explicitly.

The night of the 2nd, Gen’l Paxton seemed—as we in fact all were—very much depressed at the wounding of Gen’l Jackson. Late that night, in the course of a conversation with me, your father quietly but with evident conviction expressed his belief that he would be killed the next day. He told me where in his office desk certain papers were tied up and labelled in regard to his business, and asked me to write to his wife immediately after his death. I was young and not given to seriousness then; but I was so impressed with his sadness and earnestness, and all the gloom of the surroundings, that I did not leave him until after midnight.

The next morning we were astir very early. I found Gen’l Paxton sitting near a fence, in rear of his line, with his back against a tree, reading the Bible. He received me cheerfully. I had been with him but a few minutes when the order came for his brigade to move. He put the Bible in his breast-pocket, and directing me to take the left of the brigade, he moved off to the right of it. I never saw him again. I find, in looking at my brief diary of that day, that he had been killed for some time before I knew it, and that I was commanding the brigade by issuing orders in his name long after his death. “When I knew of it, I informed Col. Funk, who immediately assumed command. I mentioned in the letter to your mother that he lived an hour after his wounding. Capt. Barton says this is an error, and it is probable he is correct. I was not with Gen’l Paxton when he was shot, and I suppose that what I stated in my letter was obtained from some one else. Capt. Barton was with the General. I find this in my notes: “I missed Gen’l Paxton and the rest of the staff; but as I missed part of the 2nd Regiment, I thought it and the General had become temporarily separated from the rest of the Brigade.” I find in my notes of the 4th: “I wrote a letter to Mrs. Paxton concerning the death of the General.” This is the letter a copy of which you sent me, and I am very glad to get it.

Gen’l Paxton was a unique character. He was a man of intense convictions and the courage of them. Kindhearted, he was often brusque to rudeness. He was conscientious in the discharge of his duties, and painstaking. He was of excellent judgment, slow and sure, and yet fond of dash in others. He was esteemed by the officers, beloved by the men, and respected by all. He was an excellent officer, a faithful, brave and conscientious soldier. He had a keen sense of humor, well restrained, and often laughed at and condoned recklessness of which he did not approve. I think I must have tried him often; but if so, he never let me know it. I had his friendship, and in all his friendships he was staunch and true.

P.S. I find this in the account of my interview with Gen’l Jackson on Sunday evening, the 3rd: “He spoke feelingly of Gen’l Paxton and Capt. Boswell, both dead, and his eyes filled with tears as he mentioned their names. He asked me to tell him all about the movements of the old brigade. When I described to him its evolutions: how Gen’l Paxton was reading his Bible when the order came to advance; how he was shortly afterwards mortally wounded; how Gen’l Stuart led the brigade in person, shouting, “Charge, and remember Jackson!” etc., etc., his eyes lighted up with the fire of battle as he exclaimed, “It was just like them—just like them!”


Letter From Randolph Barton To J. G. Paxton

Baltimore, MA., Sept. 14, 1885.

My recollection is that in the summer or September of 1862, your father, who up to that time had been a member of the staff of Gen’l Jackson (Stonewall), was by that officer appointed to the command of the Stonewall Brigade,—Gen’l Winder, its last commander, having been killed at Cedar Mountain.

I was a brevet second lieutenant in Co. K, 2nd Va. Infantry, Stonewall Brigade, during the winter of 1862-863, and your father was at that time acting Brigadier Gen’l. Early in 1863, upon the recommendation of Mr. Henry K. Douglas, your father detailed me to act as Assistant Adjutant-Gen’1 of the brigade, and about March or April, 1863, I left my company and went to his headquarters. A little later the Confederate Congress confirmed his appointment as Brigadier-General, and thereupon, although he did not positively tell me that he wished me to remain with him permanently, he suggested that I should supply myself with a horse, which I took as a hopeful sign of my promotion.

My impressions are not clear, at this length of time, as to your father’s religious life during the period immediately preceding the opening of the campaign of 1863, but I am sure he daily read his Bible, and on Sunday went to the brigade’s religious services, held in a large, rude log house, in which I remember distinctly to have seen Gen’l Jackson with great regularity.

On the afternoon of May 2, 1863, about three o’clock, Gen’l Jackson’s command completed the flank movement which placed him in Hooker’s rear. Your father’s brigade brought up the rear of the column, and as it emerged from the dense pine forest and blinding dust upon the plank road leading from Orange C. H. to Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, Gen’l Jackson halted it, allowed the rest of the column to go on, and for some moments, seated on a fallen log back in the woods, engaged your father in earnest conversation.

Gen’l Jackson then rejoined his column, your father formed his brigade across the road, about evenly divided by the road, and with his staff advanced down the road some few hundred yards. After a while firing commenced on the left, and one of us was despatched by your father to bring up the brigade in line of battle, which was done, and by nightfall we had resumed our position at the right of Gen’l Jackson’s line. The enemy had been completely surprised by the advance on our left, had fled in great confusion, and our brigade had been very slightly engaged.

We spent the early hours of that night on the roadside, or in shifting positions. Finally, about one o’clock the next morning, we got into the line of battle not far from the enemy. Our rest was constantly broken by volleys of musketry, and we all knew that daybreak would usher in an awful conflict. I was close to your father all this time, as my duty required, and recall now with vivid distinctness the fact that he was dressed in a handsome gray suit, which had only a day or so before been received from Richmond, having on its collar the insignia of a Brigadier-Gen’l. Perhaps the wreath was not on the collar, only the stars,—one of your father’s characteristics being aversion to display. By the very first dawn of day, when with difficulty print could be read, your father opened a Bible,—a very thick, short volume, probably gilt-edged,—read for some time, and as the sound of approaching conflict increased, carefully replaced it in his left breast-pocket, over his heart. In a few moments a staff officer from Gen’l Stuart, who had succeeded Gen’l Jackson, hurried us to the right of the plank road, and we were immediately engaged in a terrific battle. Our brigade had faced the enemy and were slowly advancing, firing as they advanced. I was within a foot or two of your father, on his left, both of us on foot, and in the line of our men. Suddenly I heard the unmistakable blow of a ball, my first thought being that it had struck a tree near us, but in an instant your father reeled and fell. He at once raised himself, with his arms extended, and as I bent over him to lift him I understood him to say, “Tie up my arm”; and then, as I thought, he died. Some of our men carried him off, and after a while, being severely wounded myself, I went back, passing his body in an ambulance.


The following extracts are taken from the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. XXV,—Chancellorsville:


No. 398, P. 1006. Report Op Brig.-gen. E. E. Colston, C. S. Army, Comdg. Trimble’s Division

This was a most critical moment. The troops in the breastworks, belonging mainly (I believe) to General Pender’s and General McGowan’s brigades, were almost without ammunition, and had become mixed with each other and with the fragments of other commands. They were huddled up close to the breastworks, six and eight deep.

In the meantime, the enemy’s line was steadily advancing on our front and right, almost without opposition until I ordered the troops in the breastworks to open fire upon them. At this moment Paxton’s brigade, having moved by the right flank across the road, and then by the left flank in line of battle, advanced toward the breastworks. Before reaching them, the gallant and lamented General Paxton fell. The command devolved upon Colonel (J. H. S.) Funk, Fifth Virginia Regiment. The brigade advanced steadily, and the Second Brigade moved up at the same time. They opened fire upon the enemy and drove them back in confusion. . . .

I cannot, however, close this report without mentioning more particularly, first, the names of some of the most prominent of the gallant dead. Paxton, Garnett and Walker died heroically at the head of their brigades.


No 399, P. 1012. Report Of Col. J. H. S. Funk, 5th Va. Infantry, Comdg. Paxton’s Brigade

I have the honor of submitting the following report of Paxton’s brigade in the late operations around Chancellorsville:

The brigade, under the command of Brig.-Gen. E. Frank Paxton, composed of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-seventh and Thirty-third Virginia Infantry Regiments, left Camp Moss Neck on the morning of April 28, marching to Hamilton’s crossing, where we bivouacked. . . .

On the morning of May 3 (Sunday) we were aroused at daylight by the firing of our skirmishers, who had thus early engaged the enemy. At sunrise the engagement had become general, and though not engaged, and occupying the second line, the brigade suffered some loss from the terrific shelling to which it was exposed.

At 7 A.M. we were ordered to move across the plank road by the right flank about three hundred yards, and then by the left flank until we reached a hastily constructed breastwork thrown up by the enemy. At this point we found a large number of men of whom fear had taken the most absolute possession. We endeavored to persuade them to go forward, but all we could say was of but little avail. As soon as the line was formed once more, having been somewhat deranged by the interminable mass of undergrowth in the woods through which we passed, we moved forward. Here General Paxton fell while gallantly leading his troops to victory and glory.


No. 309, P. 1006. Report Of Gen. R. E. Lee, C. S. Army, Comdg. Army Of Northern Virginia. Sept. 21, 1863

Many valuable officers and men were killed or wounded in the faithful discharge of duty. Among the former, Brigadier-General Paxton fell while leading his brigade with conspicuous courage in the assault on the enemy’s works at Chancellorsville. . . .

elisha f paxtonTelegram

May 3,1863.

The enemy was dislodged from all his positions around Chancellorsville and driven back towards the Rappahannock, over which he is now retreating. We have to thank Almighty God for a great victory. I regret to state that Gen’l Paxton was killed, Gen’l Jackson severely and Gen’l Heath and D. H. Hill slightly wounded.

(Signed) R. E. Lee,

Gen’l Commdg.

No date, first page of letter being lost. Probably April 27, 1863.

We had a snow here on Saturday night which continued yesterday morning and is now about gone. The roads are now in pretty good condition, and if the enemy wish to make the attack, there is, I think, no reason now for deferring it on account of the roads. But, darling, there is no telling when it will be. The future, ever a mystery, is more mysterious now than ever before. Our destiny is in the hands of God, infinite in his justice, goodness and mercy; and I feel that in such time as he may appoint he will give us the blessings of independence and peace. We are a wicked people, and the chastisement which we have suffered has not humbled and improved us as it ought. We have a just cause, but we do not deserve success if those who are here spend this time in blasphemy and wickedness, and those who are at home devote their energies to avarice and extortion. Fasting and prayer by such a people is blasphemy, and, if answered at all, will be by an infliction of God’s wrath, not a dispensation of his mercy.

The future, as you say, darling, is dark enough. Though sound in health and strength, I feel that life to many of us hangs upon a slender thread. Whenever God wills it that mine pass from me, I feel that I can say in calm resignation, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” In this feeling I am prepared to go forward in the discharge of my duty, striving to make every act and thought of my life conform to his law, and trusting with implicit faith in the salvation promised through Christ. How I wish that I were better than I feel that I am; that when I close my eyes to-night I might feel certain that every thought, act and feeling of to-morrow would have its motive in love for God and its object in his glory! Well, so it is. Why is it we cannot feel sure that the sins of the past are never to be repeated? May God give me strength to be what I ought to be—to do what I ought to do! And now, darling, good-bye. When we meet again, I hope you will have a better husband— that your prayer and mine may be answered.

Camp Winder, April 20,1863.

I received your welcome letter of the 15th inst. on Saturday. I am very sorry to hear that Jack is still unfit for work, and that Phebe, too, has taken sick. Bear it all in patience, and do the best you can. I would be very glad, indeed, if you would hire another. Pay almost any price rather than not get one. If you get behindhand with the work, you will not soon get it up.

As to C, I can’t be far wrong. He is not as bad as you think he is; but even if he cheats me out of the whole crop, it would be better than to leave it idle. Somebody, and certainly the country, will get the benefit of the crop, if we do not. As to the pay for grazing Mr. ‘s cattle, you are right; say nothing to your father about it. I would rather lose the price than have an unkind feeling about it. I have a strong aversion to having any business transactions with my kin, as they are so often the cause of ill feeling.

I have been waiting for nearly a week for a fair day to change my camp, and moved this morning, hoping to have sunshine for one day at least to fix up. But I have been unfortunate. I had hardly reached the new camp before the rain commenced, and my men, I fear, being poorly provided with tents, have suffered much from it. My old camp, I thought, from the accumulation of filth during the winter, was the cause of an increase of sickness among the men. I hope now, as we have a good supply of spring water and clean ground, that the health of the men will be better. I have hardly ever known the army so quiet as now. We had every reason to believe that as soon as the spring opened the enemy would advance and we should have a great battle, in which I anticipated a splendid victory, but heavy loss. Three weeks of spring have passed, and so far from an advance, there is every indication that there will be none. So, too, all along the line. There seems no disposition on the part of the enemy to hazard an advance. How different the future now from this time last year! Then the enemy were pressing at every point, and all was gloomy for us. Now it is all bright and prosperous. If we wait for activity here from the enemy, we will, I think, remain in this camp all summer. The prospect is not so cheering when we look within our lines. Christian people have forsaken the God of their fathers for the sake of money, an idol worse than images of metal or stone.

The President’s patriotic appeal, I see, is answered by the committee of one county: “Hay, twenty cents per pound”; by that of another: “Wheat, $6.50 per bushel.” I do not believe there is such a scarcity as to justify such figures, but the famine is of Christian charity and public spirit. Men wish to grow rich upon the miseries of their country, and there is no limit to their extortions. All seem holding back what they have in the hope that a starving army will raise the price of bread and meat still higher. God will give us the blessing of independence and peace fully as soon as we deserve it; and our prayer should be now not so much for victory to our arms as for patriotism and charity to our people, wisdom and integrity to our rulers. The depravity of mankind is alike the great truth and the great wonder of the universe. These times seem to develop it in a degree of monstrosity which we could never have supposed it would obtain.

And now, darling, good-bye. Give my love to dear little Matthew and Galla, and kiss little Frank. May God bless and take care of you all!

Camp Winder, April 12, 1863.

Your letter of April 7th came to hand yesterday, bringing the welcome intelligence of all well at home. I will spend part of this quiet Sabbath in writing to you in answer to it. It is a very pleasant and warm April day, —so pleasant that our log church has been abandoned and the chaplains had service in the open air. I witnessed to-day what I never saw before: the sacrament administered in the army. It was, indeed, a solemn and impressive scene; a congregation composed entirely of men, standing around in the circle of which the chaplain was the center, receiving the bread and wine in renewal of their vows and fellowship as Christians.

A number were admitted for the first time to the sacrament, and received into the church. The whole assembly wore such an air of seriousness and devotion as I have seldom witnessed before. There was no excitement, but an exhibition of earnest devotion in the discharge of the highest duty on earth. Far away from wife, mother and sister, separated from them perhaps forever in this world, they met, this mild April Sabbath, in the open air, some of them for the first time, and others to renew their sacramental vows of faith in Christ and fresh exertion to deserve his mercy. Men like these, however gloomy the future may be, look to it pleasantly and happily, contented to receive whatever of good or ill God has in store for them with the supplication, “Thy will be done!” Relying with implicit faith upon his mercy, the future is stripped of its gloom and becomes all bright, beautiful and happy. To such men death is no enemy, but a messenger expected from God sooner or later, and welcome as the quick path to a holier and happier life. With such soldiers in our army and such men at home, we might bid defiance to all the boasted numbers and strength of our enemies and feel sure of victory. But it is sadly true that the mass of our men here and at home are not of this type. Very many of our officers and soldiers— very many more, I think, of our people at home—have grown worse instead of better by the calamity which has fallen upon us. It is strange that it should be so; strange that adversity makes us no wiser and better; that our depravity grows deeper and darker in proportion to the severity of affliction. How little we know of the future! Last Sunday I thought another week could not pass without more blood. The reasons which prevented it during the winter—the weather and the roads—no longer exist. We have for some days had good weather and good roads, and no reason why the enemy should not advance, if so disposed. I place but little confidence in my judgment as to what will happen; but I have rather come to the conclusion that the enemy does not mean to attack us here. There is nothing which seems to indicate an advance. I am inclined to believe we have nearly as many men at our command here as they have opposed to us, and I think it likely they know it.

Their balloons go up every day, and from these they have a full view of the location of all of our troops; I suppose we shall have some activity after a while. If they do not move, we shall, I think. Whenever the struggle comes, I feel sure of success—that God will bless us with another signal victory. We have a just cause and a splendid army, and I trust that our next engagement may be attended with such signal success that much will be accomplished towards closing the war. I look to the future with much confidence. Many of us must go down in the struggle, never to rise again. Such may be my fate. Sometimes I try never to let my hopes fix upon anything beyond the war, such is the uncertainty of surviving it. Then I find myself happy in the dream and hope of the time when it will all be over, and I shall be with you again, to spend the rest of life in peace and quiet. God will that it may be so! If not, I am content. Sooner or later we must separate in this life, and it will be whenever God so wills it. Despondency and despair under such circumstances is foolish and sinful. Far better to be contented and complaisant, ready to do our duty and submit in patience to our fate, whatever it may be.

And now, darling, good-bye. Give my love to Matthew and Galla, and a kiss to little Frank. Write often, and believe me, dearest, ever yours.

Camp Winder, March 31, 1863.

You will have, in your troubles on the farm, much to try your patience. My advice to you is to bear it all in good temper, to know all that is going on; and by devoting your mind to it you will find that you succeed much better than you anticipate. There is no work so profitable in one’s business as thinking about it. I have always found that when I was interested in what I had on hand, and thought much about it, that I found some good and easy plan of accomplishing what I wanted to do. I have, as you know, short as my life has been, followed all sorts of trades. I have been lawyer, banker, farmer, soldier, etc., and any success which I have met with I ascribe to the thinking which I have devoted to the business. You, I doubt not, have found the same about your housekeeping. Now apply this to the farm, and you will have an easy time.

Whilst I value your love as the best treasure which I have on earth, I would not have you harass yourself with a painful anxiety about my fate. The thread by which I hold my life is brittle, indeed, and may be severed any day. I have thought much of it, and think that I feel content to accept whatever fate God’s justice and mercy has in store for me; and my prayer is that he will give me such faith, repentance and conformity to the law of his holy Gospel as is required of the sinner. I feel that I can say, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; but thy will be done.” Sooner or later I must drink it, and if it be God’s will that it be now, I am content. Sooner or later I must die, and, if prepared to die, my life can never be given to such a cause as that in which it is now staked. I may survive the dangers before me; many thousands will. If such be the will of God, I trust that his law may be the guide in what remains for me of life. Sooner or later, darling, the ties which bind me to you and the children of our home must be severed forever. If I be the first to go, and the charge devolve upon you, teach them, as the experience of their father’s life, that there is no honor on this earth save in the path which God’s Word points out for the humble and contrite Christian. Outside of this there is no success in life, no wealth or distinction which does not bring wretchedness as the reward for the labor which it costs. Perhaps there may be many years of happiness in store for us, dark and bloody as the future may seem. May God in his mercy end the struggle!

Camp Winder, March 22, 1863.

I am grateful to you for the tender interest in my health manifested in your last letter, received some days since. For the last week I have felt better than I have before this winter. I have gotten a half-bushel of dried peaches from Richmond, and, living upon these for the most part, I have improved very much. I am so much pleased with the medicine that I think I shall send to Richmond and get another bushel. So, I think, you may give up your idea of a furlough.

It commenced snowing again on Thursday evening, and snowed or rained all day Friday and Saturday. To-day the sun is shining brightly, the birds chirping, and some signs of spring again. I hope now we may have good weather, and that you may be able to make some speed with your farm work.

I had an unexpected visitor at my tent yesterday evening—Mr. Junkin of Falling Spring Church. I divided my bed with him, and did what I could to make him comfortable. He has special claims upon my hospitality as the pastor of my old church. It is associated in my mind with many loved friends who have now gone to their long homes, and from it I derived my earliest impressions of the church and the pastor. Twenty long years have passed since I used to go there to church. I have grown that much older, but I fear not much wiser or better. I remember and reverence the teachings of my venerable pastor, but have not made them the guide of my life as I ought to have done.

I laid aside my pencil and paper just here to go over and hear a sermon from Mr. Junkin. It was impressive and eloquent. When he alluded to our missing comrades of the past campaign, there was a solemn stillness, and many eyes moistened with tears. It is sad, indeed, to think now how many good men we have lost. Those upon whom we all looked as distinguished for purity of character as men, and for gallantry as soldiers, seem to have been the first victims. I never saw an audience more attentive than our soldiers are at church. The great mass of them are good men, who have not lost in the army the habits which they learned in their churches at home. I like to see those whose lives may be spared to return home without being contaminated with the vices of the army.

Camp Winder, March 15,1863.

I will devote a part of this quiet Sunday evening to a letter home. Our camp looks to-day like it was Sunday. We stop our usual work when Sunday comes, and, like Christian people, devote it to rest. To-day I attended our church and listened to a very earnest and impressive sermon from one of our chaplains. He is one of the best men and best chaplains I ever knew. He devotes his whole time to his duties, and remains all the time with his regiment, sharing their wants and privations. I am sorry to say we have few such in the army. Many of them are frequently away, whilst others stay at houses in the neighborhood of the camp, coming occasionally to their regiments.

To-day I had a visit from the father and mother of a poor fellow who has been tried by a court martial for cowardice. She was in great distress, and said it would be bad enough to have her boy shot by the enemy, but she did not think she could survive his being shot by our own men. I gave her what comfort I could, telling her his sentence had not been published and there was no means of knowing that he was sentenced to be shot; that if it turned out to be so when the sentence was published, she could petition the President for his pardon; that he was a good man and would pardon her son if it was not an aggravated case. I pitied her, she seemed so much distressed. I heartily wish this sad part of my duties were over. I have about twenty of my men in close confinement, whose sentences have not been published, many of whom are condemned to death. It is for Gen’l Lee to determine what shall be done with them.


Whilst I write the sleet and hail are falling fast, accompanied by frequent claps of thunder, cold and chilly withal. Winter, it seems, will never end. Last week it was all the while a severe wind and freezing cold. I really don’t care much now how long it lasts. I do not wish to move from here until spring is fairly opened. My men are comfortably fixed here, and when we move the huts must be left behind, and, besides this, most of the blankets sent off, as we have no wagons to haul them. My men, I fear, when we move will have to get along with such clothing and blankets as they can carry. Many of our horses have died this winter for want of forage, and those that remain are much reduced in flesh and strength.

I have received your miniature, reminding me of times when you and I were young; of happy hours spent, a long time ago, when I used to frequent your parlor in the hope that you might be what you now are, my darling wife. Then the present was overflowing with happiness, the future bright and beautiful. We have seen much of each other, much of life, its joys and sorrows, since then. By the grave of our first child we have known together the deep sorrow of parting with those we love forever. In this long absence of two years, we have felt the sadness of a separation with such chance of its being forever as we did not dream of when we began life together. May God in his mercy soon bring us together in our dear home, never to separate again, to spend what of life is left to us in peace and happiness. Good-bye.

Camp Winder, March 8, 1863.

To-day I went to our chapel to hear Dr. Hoge, who preached a very fine sermon, Genl. Jackson being one of the audience. We have preaching in the chapel twice on Sunday, and, I think, pretty much every night. It looks odd to see a church full of people, and all of them men. It would be really refreshing to see a woman among them, to give the audience the appearance of civilization. But the women and children who adorn our churches at home are missing here. Well they may be! I am glad, at least, that mine are not here to share the miseries of this business with me.

During the past week it has been a blow or rain, a hurricane or a shower, all the time. The wind seems to dry up the ground, taking the water up somewhere, and it is no sooner up than down it comes again.

In army matters we have the most profound quiet. It has been so long since I have heard a musket or a cannon that I have almost forgotten how it sounds. I suppose, however, in the course of a month we will have something to refresh our memories and revive old scenes. Yes, we will have the long roll to warn the men that another battle is imminent; then the solemn march to the scene of the conflict, each pondering upon the misty future; then we are halted and our line of skirmishers thrown to the front; then we have the occasional shots, which gradually thicken and extend until there is one continual roar of musketry and artillery; and, perhaps, to close the scene, we lie down exhausted to sleep upon the field, among the dead and dying. You civil people at home all look upon this as terrible. So it is, but we soldiers must get used to it; each waiting in patience for his time to fall among those who rise no more for the contest.

Give my love to Lou [his wife’s sister] and say to her that Mr. Newman’s regiment is now at Fredericksburg; that I will send up to him and let him know to-morrow that his box is at the depot; and that I will write to an officer from my brigade who is on duty at the depot to take charge of it until he sends for it. I was very sorry, indeed, that I was not able to bring the other box with me.

I have had more to do of late than usual, and have sometimes spent four or five hours at my writing-desk,— not, however, without some pain in my eyes when I quit work. I am able to keep pretty well when I live on rice and bread, but if I eat a hearty meal it puts me out of order again. I hope by care to keep fit for duty, but do not expect to get right well until I get a better diet and am able to lead a more regular life. I heartily wish that I were right well. It gives me much anxiety lest, when my services are most needed, I shall prove unfit for duty and be compelled to leave my brigade in charge of some one else.

Camp Winder, Caroline Co., Va., March 1, 1863.

Your very welcome letter of Feby. 23 reached me day before yesterday, and I am very happy to hear that you are all well at home. Very happy, too, my dear wife, to know that I am missed, and that even little Frank remembers me, if no other way than associated with the candy which coaxed him into my lap. You have had bad weather for farm work, and we have had as bad for our comfort. But it must come to an end. The war may last, but winter cannot. We will soon have weather when you farmers can get to ploughing and we soldiers to fighting.

Since writing this much of my letter, I have been to church. We have a chapel built of logs, not so comfortable as some churches I have seen, but still much better than the open air in winter weather. I was much pleased with the appearance of my men. They look clean and comfortably dressed, and were attentive to the sermon. We have, it is true, many bad men in the army; but, as a whole, I would not expect to find better men in any community than I have in my brigade. I never saw them in better health or spirits; and, what is so gratifying to me, Love, they give me every evidence of their affection and good-will. Winning this, I feel, is the proudest and happiest achievement of my life. May God give me strength, in sharing their danger and providing for their comfort, to merit it.