Letter No. XXVIII.
Morristown, January 9th, 1864.
My Precious Wife:
I have an opportunity, the first in a long time, of sending a letter to Texas direct. I did send one about a month ago from Knoxville by a wounded soldier, but as he was quite feeble, I fear you did not get it. I have besides written frequently short letters and trusted them to the uncertain mail, which has been lately established across the river from Meridian, Miss., to Shreveport.
I have written to Mrs. Carter, to Sister Mary and Brother Charles, to Judge Devine and to John A. Green and others, hoping that some one of my numerous letters might reach their destination, and that you might learn that I was well and in good health, and thus feel contented and satisfied. I have received but three letters from you since I left home, one while in Pennsylvania and two at Chattanooga. I fear that many which would have been very precious to me, which would have come as rays of sunshine to a storm-beaten traveler, have been lost by the wayside or been perused by strangers, but nevertheless, you must continue to send them, for if I get one in ten, it will only be prized the more.
Other men in the company have received letters, all of which are sent through Mr. Gushing at Houston. Soldiers are under great obligations to him in this matter. His kindness has sent a thrill of joy to many a weary soul and given strength and courage to sinking hearts. I wrote you about Colonel Harrison. He has been in about one hundred and sixty fights and is a noble soldier. He is getting quite gray but is firm and unflinching in our cause and sanguine of final success. The Waco boys are all well, but like all the rest, nearly all barefooted and half clad. Many of our best men have been killed, and we begin to look like a remnant. It is said that the brigade will be sent across the Mississippi to recruit and be rested, but I do not believe it.
If it is for the benefit of the government, I trust it will be done, as no one will rejoice more than I will at the opportunity of getting home for awhile, but I do not think it practical and doubt the policy very much. You must be contented and happy, and strive to forget me when you have other things to think of, and recollect that your uneasiness cannot help me. Attend to your scholars, your Latin, your music and your children, and you will receive your reward whether I ever return to you or not, for you will be independent of charity from either your friends or the government. Keep all the Bible injunctions in reference to appearing “not unto men too fast.” I have not heard from Columbia for some time, owing to the irregularity of the mails. The last time I heard they were greatly distressed because they had not heard from me in two weeks, and wondering how you must feel. I told them you were a heroine and prepared for the little incidents of the war. I do not think I will write you any more except by opportunities to send letters directly across the river, as I have very little confidence in the mail, and feel little satisfaction in writing. You know there is a regular mail established across the river. I live in hopes of hearing some precious words from you.
How I have seen soldiers suffer and be strengthened by the thoughts of home. I have seen many noble fellows fall—better men than I and more worthy to live— and learned afterwards that a noble and Christian wife and little ones awaited them at home, and only received the cold list of casualties without a comment, and the simple but awful word, “killed” opposite his name. This has sometimes happened when a furlough had been promised and was then at headquarters awiting the signature of the general, but the beneficiary was in his shallow grave before the paper returned to his company. Kiss the little ones and tell the servants to give you no trouble, and never look for me until you see me coming.
Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.