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

Post image for John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

October 9, 2013

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

Letter No. XIX.

Camp Near Chattanooga,
October 9th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

Your letters of 16th and 26th of July, enclosing one from Mrs. Carter, reached me three days ago, but I was sent out on picket, immediately on receiving it and had to use spade and pick all day yesterday on a redan, which prevented me from answering sooner. You cannot conceive what pleasure Mrs. Carter’s letter gave me. All stereotyped newspaper paragraphs about “the poor soldier,” etc., seem insipid compared to such a kind, sympathizing note from a beloved friend. I have read her letter almost as often as yours, and treasure it next to one from you. I put all the letters I brought from Texas for Georgia in the postoffice at Augusta with my own hand, and told Mr. Rogers at the drug store that I had done so. Mr. Carter had gone to Charleston to attend a sale. I only saw Wiston in Richmond and asked him to attend to the delivery of the letters there as I was pressed for time.

Tell Stark that I cannot love him if he does not say his lessons and obey you and tell little blue eyes she must be smart and beat her brother reading. I am glad you were thinking of me in those hot July days, for from the 15th of June until the 27th of July was one constant march or manouver, while we were parched with thirst, pinched with hunger, foot-sore and weary. I have written quite a full account of all these things to mother and Decca, and requested them to save the letters for you. I hope you have received all these letters, and I regret to see you so desponding about our cause. The loss of Port Hudson and Vicksburg are small affairs, and did not cause me a night’s uneasiness except as cutting off communications from you, which has all the time been so doubtful that I do not consider the coming of letters as a matter of course, but only as delightful luxuries to be enjoyed “few and far between.” I have had only two in six months, in which you speak of others which have never come. You must not despond about me—what if I do suffer a little—better men have died in a worse cause. I have passed through trials of endurance and of my courage to which I thought myself uneqaul, but the hollow of an Almighty hand has been over me, and the trials of yesterday I can smile at to-day. Suppose we did pass seven days and nights soaking wet, marching, eating no meat and having bread without salt? What if we marched for days through briar fields, with worn-out low-quartered shoes until our ankles were a mass of blood? What difference is it now that we frowned and groaned with pain, when the soles of our feet were one great bruise? What boots all this if we returned from the campaign stronger and in better health than we ever were before? Now, when God brings us safely through all these difficulties and saves us amid a shower of bullets, when inside the Yankee line stricken down amid the dead and wounded of the foe, exposed to a torrent of shell and grape which literally tore up the earth about us, shall we not take courage and be grateful?

We have eaten corn-bread half done, made with unsifted meal, accompanied with bacon raw or broiled on a stick, for three weeks at a time—yet I am well, perfectly well. Verily I believe that God has guarded and preserved me every hour. I firmly believe that he will save me harmless through this dread day of our country’s danger, or He will answer my constant prayer that I may be taken, if die I must, in the very midst of my country’s foes, and that my spirit may ascend amid the smoke of battles, a fit offering to liberty and truth, and my body rest among the brave where the dead lie thickest, and here let me emphasize what I have said before, you must not cherish a hope of recovering my body if I am lost in battle. It will be the merest accident if you do so. You must not be troubled in mind continually. I can excuse some uneasiness when you hear of a battle, but do not be worried all the time. Of course there is great danger every time we go into battle. It seems to me it must be the utmost stretch of divine power to save one in the thickest of a fight. The rescue of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego was no more a miracle than the preservation of some of us on the afternoon of Saturday, the nineteenth of September, at Chickamauga. Don’t have the blues. Study your Latin, your music and your children, and leave the result to God. Kisses for the children, and love to Mrs. Carter. note

Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.

note —May 1st, 1897. Mrs. Carter mentioned in this letter, is now Mrs. Henrietta Harrison. She is still living in Waco—in a green and beautiful old age, a joy and a benediction to a large circle of loving and devoted friends. In matters of taste and propriety her word is an oracle to the young. In works of benevolence her hand is ever ready, and the poor rise up and call her blessed. In the church her light shines more and more as toward the coming of a perfect day.

“None know her but to love her,

None name her but to praise.”

J. C. W.

Previous post:

Next post: