In Their Own Words:
Letters of Dr. Robert H. Peel

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[Letter from Robert Hunter Peel to Julia Matthews]

Camp Lamar, Richmond June 23rd/61
Dear Julia,

I regret that circumstances have prevented me from writing you so long, as you were kind enough to send me the papers from Holly Springs and what was much more importance, your love, and your present success.  This is the holy sabath day and I am up soon in order to write you before the noise and the duties of camp life disturb me.  I have not received a line from any living soul since I left home, except a half dozen lines from you and Sis Martha, written upon the margin of some newspapers.  Oh! Sis, if you could only know how a soldier appreciates a letter from home, when he scarcely expects to see the dear spot again, or to grasp once more the hands of kindred and friends, you would certainly find time to write me often if you could only know how deeply I feel the disappointment, when each eavening our post-boy returns to camp without a letter or a word for me, while all others around me are made glad with kind words from the dear ones, from home, You would write something, if twas only a line per weak.

I have been here two weaks, and have become pretty well used to camp-life.  I am in only tolerable health, having had a severe cold and cough since leaving home, most of our men have suffered from the same affections since we left, and several are unable to do duty now, though none are seriously unwell.

We have to work without ceasing, to acquire our men, and when one of us is made officer-of-the-day, we have no time for sleep or rest for twenty-four-hours.  Richmond is and old looking place, and remarkably quiet, considering the excitement that generally prevails in the neighbourhood of an invading enemy, and around a spot where thousands of soldiers have congregated.  Nought is heard but the sound of the drum, and the shrill note of the fife accompanied by the regular tread of hundreds of soldiers, as they pass through, or leave this city for Manassas gap, Harpers ferry, Norfolk, or York-town and if yankee troops could only witness what I have for the last thirty days, they would never entertain a hope of conquering such a people, South Carolina & Mississippi are well represented in the old-dominion of this time, and virginians believe them the best fighters in the south, as indeed in the world.

Ere another month pases over our head, we will be called to face the enemy upon the bloody field of battle, and you may be assured that our boys will send back a tale to dear old Marshall, that will not disgrace her former reputation , as the home of the brave and the free.  Give my love to all, and believe me ever, Your affectionate brother

Robt. H. Peel

[Letters from Robert Hunter Peel to Alice Maud Matthews]

Camp of the 19th Miss Regt.
Near Centreville Oct. 6th   1861

Dear Sister,

Your last letter was received a few days since, but I have been too much engaged to reply until the present moment.  Our Regt left the camp near Bristowes Station ten days ago, and as we had no regularly appointed Surgeon, I was left in charge of 223 sick & feeble, both as Surgeon & commander of the post.  As fast as the men were ready for duty I sent them forward to the Regt at this place, and those who were very sick I sent to the Hospital at Warrenton.  The general health of our men is improved but still bad, and I am sorry for it as we are expecting a fight in a few days.  We received orders this morning to send all men who were not able to fight, back to Manassas, with all our heavy baggage &c, and to inspect our arms and ammunition, and in short to put ourselves in perfect fighting trim.  All of your acquaintances in our company are well and ready for whatever may turn-up.  My own health is fine and I have never lost an hour from duty since I joined the army.  Dutch & Add are very well, and are always at their posts Dutch [a comment by another soldier in A. L. Peel's diary, appeared to refer to Albert Peel by the nickname Dutch].  I was in Richmond on the 3rd, but only for one day, as my services were needed here and I feared the fight might begin before I got back.  I had gone to look after some of our sick in Hospitals, and also to ascertain what had become of a certain Petition sent up to the President, by the Colonel & All the Captains of our Regt, asking that I should be appointed Surgeon of the 19th.  I found that the petition had been filed with a large number of papers, and had been overlooked but when the Secretary of War was informed of the circumstances, he said the appointment should be made at once, and I presume that my commission has been forwarded to the Col, though it has not yet reached us.  Should I receive the appointment as promised, I will rank as Major, and all my aspirations will be gratified, in a military point of view, for I much prefer my profession, to Brass-Buttons & Epauletts.  But be this as it may, I shall fight this war through, or die in the attempt.

Much as I love you all Sis, and happy as I should be to see you again, nothing but Providential interfearance shall ever drive me from my post.  Sis, I have been wondering where your gay, happy – little heart can be since you declared in your last letter that it was in the Old Dominion, is it possible that you would suffer it to stay so far from home, perhaps to dwell in the tent of a poor rough soldier.  I imagine that you would call it back again, could you see us in our rude, dirty garb, with our unshaven faces, cooking and washing around our tents.  I think that you should have no secret from me, and I would like for you to let me know, in your next letter, where the dear little heart is, for you must remember that I have an interest in its affection, and a right to enquire its whereabouts.

Give my love to all and tell Mother I will write to her soon.  I will write to Sis Martha soon – Heaven Bless her, and to my dear good sister Julia.  Bob shall hear from me soon, would that he was with us now.  Tell the Doctor that I will give him a long letter soon, with All the war news in this part of the world.  If you see any one from home send Thom and sis Olivia word to write us how all are at home, as their letters are few and far between.  If the expected fight comes on soon, and I survive it, you shall have all particulars at once.  If I am kilt-enthirely you will excuse me.  Write soon and direct your letters to Manassas Junction.

       Believe me ever your
        Affectionate Brother
         Robert Peel

Dec the 24th 1862
Dear Sister,

From Sis Julias letter received and answered a few days since, I learned that you were refugees from home and sojourning for a time near Carrollton, Miss; and while it pained me to think of you being driven from the natural root[?],  I can but rejoice that you are within our lines, and that you will at least escape the taunts & insults of an unscrupilous foe.  Amongst the many trials & troubles a rebel soldier has to bear, there is none so bitter & humilliating as the thought that his mother, sister, wife or sweetheart must feel the blow & suffer the horrors of this cruel war.  God bless our women; their hearts are always in the right places, and if the men only prove as true to our cause as the ladies have themselves, all will be well in the end.  You, who are now a refugee, can appreciate the feelings of our Miss Soldiers whose homes have fallen into the enemies hands, and who are yet compelled to remain on this far-off field where they can only indirectly assist their friends.

Our army has just achieved a glorious victory over Burnsides "Grand Army" at this place & we are very anxious to have him make another advance toward Richmond from this quarter.  The dead yankeys lay in heaps upon the fields, actualy piled upon each other where they attempted to force our boys from their position on the sides of the hills commanding the town & river.  The health of our army is very good, and never were our men in a better humour for a fight.  Albert & Add went through this battle untouched & indeed our loss was remarkably small, as our boys worked all night long with spades & picks to cover their positions from the enemies fire.  None of your acquaintances were injured.  The town of Fredericksburg is "played-out" completely torn to pieces & destroyed by fire balls & shells.  The place was given up to pilledge & well did the vandals do their work, every house in the place was broken open and all distructable property, public & private was completely mined.  The iron & stone fence that enclosed the cemetery was torn down and the graves of the dead trampled under their unhallowed feet.  The grave of the Mother of Washington is in this place & it looks like sacrelidge to have that sacred plot thus desecrated.  This army of ours has a most heartless & [?] set to contend with, but we have [whipped?] them on every field where we have met & the thought of defeat has never entered the heads of our brave boys in this "Army to the Potomoc".  Would to Heaven our [southern?] army had so bright a page to adorn the future history of this bloody [strugle?] Now that we have sent you one of our very best generals [Joseph?] Johnson and [?] has gone in person to look after the welfare of the South, I expect to hear of great battles and glorious victories won by our arms in Miss.

Tomorrow will be Christmas, but it brings no rejoicing to the hearts of Mississippians.  God grant our month will be a happy one.  Give my love to Julia, Bob & Billie & write me soon & often.  Farewell my dear Sister & believe me ever your affectionate brother.

Robert Peel

Field Hospital - Posey's Brigade
Near Fredericksburg - June the 10th/63

My dear Sister,

Imagine my delight on the reception of your dear, kind letter, situated as I am at this moment - in a field hospital - temporarily erected for the accomodation of the wounded whom we are hourly expecting.  The enemy have crossed to our side of the Rappahannoc and our army is now drawn up in line of battle to meet them.  We feel no aprehension for the result, for we always whip them, and our soldiers here, go in with no other calculation than to win.  I am sitting on a sack of corn from which I have just fed my handsome pony (Alice Maud) and am writing on a book with my lead pencil- the only substitute I have for a pen at present.

Thus romantically situated my dear Sister, you will of course expect nothing particularly interesting from your affectionate Bud, but my anxiety to communicate with you, and the uncertainty of my future movements induces me to make use of this opportunity bad as it is.  I did not consult you about naming my pony, but am sure if you were to see her you would not wish it changed.  I called it after you because it is a little beauty, because it is kind and gentle, and because I love it.  It is my pet and follows me about camp and begs for biscuit and ginger bread of which it is very fond, thus resembling my dear little Sister in another point.  I had some lady friends in town last winter, who used to ride the pony sometimes and frequently called on me at my little tent in the green wood near by, to drink egg-nog and eat peanuts with me.  One black eyed beauty (Susie) was so much pleased with the pony, that she even agreed to take the owner to get possession of it and had she not been a Pensylvania girl by birth I fear I should have given-up pony rides and all, for Susie was a sweet little flower from the valey of wyoming, and used to sing songs to me, and call me her dear Brother.  She favored you some and for that reason I called her Sister, and became quite attached to her while I was near town and could visit her at home.  I have one other lady friend in this state, in whom I feel deep interest because of her peculiar circumstances, and because she has ever shown such a disposition to confide in me though I have not met her since she left Manassas for school more than sixteen months ago.  She was cut-off from home by the yankees and now refuses to return to her fathers house because he has taken the oath to the Lincoln Despotism.  Knowing the regiment to which I was attached, she wrote to me last fall, telling me how she was situated and asking my advice.  I told her to remain at school until her education was completed, and sent her means to pay her board and tuition, which she indignantly refused at first but finaly accepted as a loan until she can communicate with her unfortunate father.  She writes to me frequently now and calls me her brother & protector, and I am quite fond of my little friend.

You see Sister, I have friends everywhere and should I get sick again in Virginia these new sisters of mine have promised to nurse me until I am "all right" and ready for duty.  Sister; do not imagine for a moment that any one can supplant you in my affections, for your every looks remind one of brighter days, and I love you more than others, because I am happier when you are near, and because I feel that no other being can ever influence me or control my destiny so much as yourself.  Write me soon and often my dear Sister, and tell me all the news from Home for you & Sis Julia & Sis Martha, are my only correspondents in Miss" now , and I feel as much isolated while cut-off from home, as you do cut-off from the confederate army.

Give my love to our dear Mother, to the Doctor, Aunt June, Sister Martha, Sis Julia, and all the rest.  Do not fall in love with any of these rebels, until I tell you whom I have selected for you, and if you are not satisfied with him, then try your hand, and exercise your own taste & judgement in the selections, for I am persuaded you will make the best soldiers wife in the world, if you find a rebel with Sense & Soul enough to appreciate your good qualities.

Excuse the pencil, and believe me my sweet Sister, you are more than all the world to me.

Your brother Robt"

Field Hospital, Harris's Brigd.
Petersburg  Va  Sept. 7th 1864

My dear Alice,

Hunter reached Richmond a week ago but in consequience of a demonstration made on that city at the time, Lt. Bowen, who accompanied him, was pressed into service for the time and did not come on to the Army as we anticipated he would.  Hunter and his companion – Ron Austin, were left at the Miss Depot in Richmond, where Ron was taken with Measles, and they are still there.  Hunter sent the letters &c to us for distribution on yesterday, and I have just sent up an application for a leave of absence, in order that I may go with him and Ron to Col Austins in Cumberland, Co, where I expect to put them at school untill Hunter is old enough o be put into the Army.  I am greatly relieved by your dear letter, for in it you tell me to be happy, and aprise me of your constant devotion to your unhappy brother.  There is but one [?] in your letter at all ambiguous.  You say that you will unburden your heart when I come to see you and hope to make all right, when certain obsticles are removed.  I had hoped dear Alice, that there was no longer any impediments to the consumation of our happiness, and that your ? and resolutions were irrevocably fixed.  You say also, that you will make no other arrangements untill I come; what these other arrangements are I am at a loss to concieve, since I cannot believe you capable of acting in bad faith with any one, but of all, myself.  I regret that all of my letters have not reach you before Hunter left home, as I had written freely and fully to you, and had, I hoped, made sufficient explanations and appologies for my past course.  Please do not mention that unfortunate letter of mine any more, as I have suffered enough from it already.  You know the motive which actuated me, and must confess, twas a just and pure one.  But, enough of that!  You have forgiven me, and have promised to love me always;  This is enough for my happiness in this world and I shall be content untill I can come to Mississippi & claim you for my own. Oh! Alice, you can never know how entirely my life, my hopes, my destiny, my all are in your hands, to be cherished and encouraged, or blighted forever.  You will say tis undignified and childish in me, to write this, but tis true, and to you, I may speak plainly and comfidentially, well knowing, that if you cannot appreciate you will at least respect my feelings.  I have seen all the woes of men – pain, death, remorse and worldly ruin; they are little, weighed with the woe of man, forsaken by one he has loved and trusted.  May kind Heaven protect us, My Alice, from every thought or action which may bring regret in after years.  With your love to inspire and encourage me, I feel that I can make music from the common strings with which this world is strung, and from life, clear and sweet, and harmless as spring water welling its way through flowers.  This feeling is involuntary; we do not make our thoughts dear Alice; the grow in us like grain in wood: the growth is of the skies, which are of nature, nature is of God.

But stop! I did not wander away off here in the pine woods to write a sermon, save will I bore you with my vagaires.  Let me tell you something of my everyday life in the Army  My Hospital for sick and wounded is about one mile from the City of Petersburg, on the opposite bank of the river (Appomattox).  I have but few sick at this time, and have had no wounded for several days.  There is a constant skirmish on our front, and Grant is doing every thing that his yankee ingenuity can suggest, to take this place.  I do not think he will be indulged in his earnest desire to come to town, as Genl". Lee requires all the room just now for the use of his own boys.  We expect Genl". Forrest to cut the communications in Shermans rear, and believe it will be done soon, when that army will be ruined if not destroyed entirely.  But! come back, I commenced telling you of my own little affairs, and now I'll go on – I am sitting with my black book for a desk, and my knee for a table.  The ground is my chair and a fine tree is the back to it.  The Autumn sun shines warm through the open boughs above me, and far below, amongst the huge rocks the angry river dashes its broken stream along.  All is still save the occassional sound of canon in the distance, where our batteries on James River are shelling the enemy at their work in Dutch gap.  I have tied little Nellie to a bush close by, and lefr her to amuse herself with the leaves, of which she seems quite fond.  I sent little Alice-Maud down town last eavening to a friend of mine, Mss Maggie Russell Who has fallen in love with the little beauty and wished to have a ride to day.  Miss Maggie has promised to send me some chincupins when she returns, and says she will take good care of dear little Alice-Maud.  She is very curious to know why I named the pony Alice-Maud – and declares tis the sweetest name in the world.  I told her I had given the pony to a lady friend of that name, and intended to take it home with me this winter or when the war is over, and deliver it to its propper owner.  I have but three lady acquaintances in the City, and see but little of them since I moved to this side of the river,  We will have musical concerts, given by the musicians of the army, every week, for the benefit of the poor of this city,  and I anticipate a good time, as I have an engagement to go with Maggie Russell to the next one which is given.  How I wish you were with me dear Alice, instead of being shut-out from the world in the dear old town of H. S. where you can neither see nor hear what is going on.  I should be so proud of my dear pretty litle wife, and so happy in making you so.  I expect to be in Mississippi in January or Febury at least, and I look forward with the deepest interest & anxiety to that important moment.  I cannot tell if I will be able to get a longer furlough than 30 days, but will go to Jeff-Davis in person, and try to have it extended to 60, as my business in Miss" is of so much importance to myself and my country.  Adjt" McKie was with me on yesterday & he is looking well and was of course delighted to receive a letter from Miss". M. which came with your letter to me.  I hope we may return together next winter, and, and, well never mind;  I'll tell you when we come.  Dr. Sharpe is as well as usual, and has just sent in for his good cloths to go and visit some fair one he has found on the front line, somewhere.  Sam, Pryor & Lou Alexander are well and jolly.  We expect to have a rough time this winter, unless we get sufficient reinforcements to drive Grant away, and we fear furloughs will be few and far between.  I really do sympathise with you dear Alice, now that you have been forcibly promoted, but I am sure you become that long, white apron very much, and no badge of honour a southern girl could wear, would make her so pleasing in my sight.  I have read the picture you have given me of yourself after the days work was over, when with flushed cheeks and that sweet new dress, you sat down to write to your far-off brother Robert.  I feel flattered, to be this remembered, and hope you will not let the irregularities of the mails prevent you from writing often.  McKie often gets letters from H. S. by mail, while I as often look and hope in vain for me from you.  Continue to write me, and trust to lucks for the safe arrival of your letters.  A letter from Sis Olivia informs me of Add, The only news I have had from him since July,  She says he was well on the 14th of August.  I have written him by flag of truce, and have sent him money, but do not know that my letters ever reached him.  I received a letter from Volney about ten days ago; he was in Montgomery Ala", and had just recovered from a wound he had received in the head, at the battle near Atlanta.  I have heard nothing from Jimmie or Billie, and would write them if I knew where to direct my letters,  I will endeavor to find out their address.  I will send this as far as Brook-Haven by a furloughed soldier, and hope it will reach you from that place by mail.  Give my love to all and believe me, my dear Alice

Ever Yours
Robt Peel

Field Hospital, Harris?s Brig
Petersburg Va Sept. 23, 1864

My Dear Alice,

I have written you so often since receiving your last, that I feel some dellicacy in troubling you again; how would I do so now, but that I fear most of my letters may have failed to reach you.  If you have received them, however, you will understand why I wrote you the letter you complained of so much, and you will, I know, accept my applogies, as good and Sufficient ones.  Untill I hear from you again I do not know what to say in regard to the affair nearest my heart, for since you choose to consider yourself rejected, you may determine to return the favor by discarding me.  Be this as it may, my dear Alice, there can never be any change in my feelings for you.  I have cherished the passion too long, and have learned to regard you as the only being on earth I can ever love again.  I have been too generous, to seek my own happiness at the sacrifice of yours, and dearly as I love you, I would give you up this hour, if you think you would not be happy, perfectly as my wife.  I believe I can and do love you with a stronger and purer devotion than another could feel, for the simple reason that I know you perfectly, and can see and appreciate the traits of your character, as well as the many virtues of your pure young heart.  This, however, is for you to decide; and I hope e?re now, you have written me a letter, which will fire my destiny and secure my happiness as well as your own.How ofter, in my utter loneliness, have I wished you were here; And how sincerely have I tried to make myself worthy of your love;  Alice! Some on earth will even know what it cost me to write that unfortunate letter, which made you free, and destroyed my last hope of enjoyment in this world;  I do not know what has been your decision in regard to matter, after receiving my explanations, but from what I may infer from your subsiquent letters I am inclined to believer that all will yet be well.  I wrote you about ten days ago, saying that I would come home upon certain specified conditions, but if you did not see proper ti comply with those conditions, I thought my presence in Mississippi, would only be uhnpleasant and embarrassing to both.  Have you decided that I shall come or am I to stay away forever.  This is a simple decision, and easily made, but upon it depends the fate of one who loves you Alice, and you must act deliberately.  I know you are tired of such boyish-love-letters, as I write you but untill we understand each other perfectly I can write in no other syple.  I do hope I shall get a long, good letter from you in a few days, by some one who is coming to this Army, for the suspense I have suffered for many months is intolerable.  There is no news of interest here.  Constant skirmishing still going on, but no general engagement.  I have heard nothing from Add since the 15th of July.  He was not well at that time, and I fear his health will suffer if he is confined in prison all the winter.  There will be an exchange of prisoners in Richmond to day and tomorrow, and Add may possibly be amongst the fortunate number.  I received a letter from Volney dated Montgomery, Ala? Sept 11th.  He was in hospital, with a slight wound of the head, but was getting well, he said, and would soon be again on duty.  I am looking for Hunter Peel to arrive here about the 25th.  I understood he would leave home on the 15th, and I have made arrangements to send him to school.  I believe your acquaintances here are all well.  Write me by every opportunity, and believe me dear Alice,

       Ever yours devotedly
        R. P.

Field-Hospital, Harris Brigd
Petersburg, Novm" 16th 1864

My own Sweet Alice,

Your dear, kind, loving letter per Mr. Watson, reached me a few hours ago, and really I feel like a new man.  For a long, long, weary weak I have been confined to my quarters in consequence of an accident which befell me very unexpectedly. I was riding into the City to witness a Marriage-Ceremony at the St" Pauls Church, and just before dark I met some drunken Officers and Couriers, riding at full speed; I attempted to turn across the Street to avoid the party, as I saw from their boisterous manner, they were intoxicated, but I was too late and came in collision with them.  My horse was knocked down and I was badly crushed in the fall; indeed I felt as if I was broken all to pieces, and could not lift myself up without assistance.  The drunken fellows were trying to assist  me, but could scarcely stand themselves, when fortunately for me a Citizen who lived close by came up and had me carried into his house.  Mr. White & his good lady treated me with all the kindness I could have expected from parents, and insisted on keeping me with them until I was entirely well, but I had an Ambulance the next morning and came out to my quarters.  I am now able to walk with my crutches & believe there and no bones broken, though I cannot move my right knee joint without pain.  Before this reaches you I shall be "all right" again, I hope, for confinement is intolerable to me.  I still attend to my patients and my wounded men as they come in, though I cannot operate in any important cases, such as amputations and Resections.  My Asst" Surgeon (Dr. Sharp) was wounded on the first of the month and will start home in a day or two.  He will bring this to you, but when he will return, I cannot say, as his wound may not be well in two or three months.  I wrote you in my last letter, per Mr. Shaw, that I would be at home in February, and I shall endeavor still to comply with my promise, but since It will be impossible for me to get-off until Sharp's return, I am dependent upon his recovery entirely, as to time.  I mention this particularly dear Alice, because I fear you would feel annoyed and disappointed if I failed to be in H. S. at the appointed time.  Do not believe for one moment Sweet-One, that I can be left from your presence a moment longer that duty demands my presence in the field.  Your image is ever before me, and the days will now "pass slowly by Lorena" until I start for home.  Do not say you will not come to Virginia with me?  I could not live away from you then, tis bad enough now, since you have promised to be my own sweet wife.  & to think of leaving you in the enemies lines while I am a thousand miles away!  I could not bear it.  No! no! Dear Alice, I shall live but for you the remainder of my life, and to make you "the happiest little wife in the world" will be my only object.  I feel that I can do this Allice, for I love you and have loved you long, with my whole heart and soul.  There is but one thought that casts a shadow on the sunshine of our future, and that is the fact you allude to in your last letter, namely; that some of your fathers family are opposed to our union.  I do not know who it is, since the Doctor gave me his full consent, Mother said she was perfectly willing if you and myself could agree, and Sister Martha, dear Sister Martha expressed herself as highly gratified to know that I had entertained such a feeling for you.  Sister Julia & Bob, I did not have an opportunity of consulting on the subject , as I thought I was bound to communicate the fact to our parents first, and then to Sister. M. who has ever been all that a dear, loving sister could be to me.  I hope the objections you allude to can be easily removed, when I return, as nothing would be more deeply painful to me than the thought that any act of mine should brihng trouble or sorrow to a single member of your fathers family.  I love them all, as my own parents brothers and sisters, and hope I shall never disturb the happiness of one single member, but rather add to the pleasure of all.  I shall do as you bid me, however, and say nothing to any one, on the subject until I see you.  I shall write to Sister. M. and J. and also to Bob, tomorrow, and send the letters all together, so that you may not be quizzed about yours, but have it all to yourself.  I am very glad to hear from Mrs. Mott, and would have written to her long ago if I had known her address.  I promised her I would let her hear from her gallant husbands old Regt" sometimes and besides I am very much attached to her ever since I knew her well and learned to appreciate her really noble character.  I hope you have made a friend of her my little darling, for I shall be proud of you, oh! Very proud of my little dark eved wife, and want all my friends to love you.  Capt." Govan was the dearest friend I ever had on earth, and I never loved my own brothers more than I loved him.  This friendship perhaps gave me a peculiar regard for all who were near and dear to him, and I love them still for his sake, though he, alas! "Has for his country fallen".  McKie and Leiut. Nelson are both well and in fine spirits.  Mc" says Miss. Mit" has thrown him off entirely, but I don't believe a word of it.  Nelson is the gayest ladies man in our Brigade, and about the ugliest.  Don't tell his handsome mama what I've said; But then Old-Huge (as we call him) is as good as he can be, and one of my truest personal friends.  Genl." Harris (our genl") has invited me to wait on him this winter, and has promised to perform the same favor for me, should I be married first.  If all things cooperate as we desire I shall stop in Ala" and see him through, as I go or as we come.  How do you like the programme?  I have not received a letter from Add in an age, but sometimes hear from him through paroled prisoners.  I sent him money for the third time, a few days ago, as I had heard that he had not received what was sent from home and I feared he might suffer this winter.  Several thousand prisoners are to be exchanged in a few days, and I do hope the brave boy may be amongst them.  Have you received the picture I sent you: I must insist on having yours at once for fear of accidents, which might keep me from claiming the original as soon as I expect to do so.  Write to me by every opportunity.  My dear, dear, Alice, and believe me, as ever,

      Your devoted & loving

Field Hospital, Harris's Brgd
Petersburg , Dec" 20th, 1864

My dear Alice,

Hoping to find an opportunity to send this letter by private conveyance,  I write at a venture, not knowing whether all communication is cut-off between us or not.  I hope you received my letter and picture by Mr. Shaw, and also a letter of more recent date by Dr. Sharpe, who should bave arrived at home about the first of this month.  In the letter, I stated the reasons shy my intended visit ti Miss" was delayed, and also that my procuseing a leave of absence at all this winter, would necessarily depend opon his teturn before hostilities are resumed.  I have some fears tha Shermans operations in Georgia may prevent his return in time, and delay my coming indeffinitely.  This is really too provoking, and almost gives me  the Blues.  How I wish now that I had pursuaded you to come with me to Virginia last winter; but then there was "no use talking", for you had not made up your mind to anything, and you frightened me with the thought that you never would come.  But "it matters little now Lorena"; that time has past, and we must accept life as it is and make the best of it.  Since we cannot anticipate events, let us look at the brightest side of the picture and hope for a "better day coming".  Oh! This miserable paper!  I don't believe I shall ever be able to make myself understood:  Christmas is almost here & with four invitations to dinners and parties, at Charlottesville, Orange C.H, [Morrostown?], and in the Country.  I am literally tied to my post, in consequence of the absence of my Asst. Surgeon and the illness of some other Medical Officers of the Brigade.  I almost shed tears a few moments ago as wrote a polite note declining a very kiine invitation from an old lady friend in the country, to come and spend the hollidays at, Brook-Hill, her splendid residence near Charlottsville.  I don't know what Surgeons get wounded and sick for no-how.  I'm sure they have enough to do , to attend to the afflictions of others apropo!  I was on crutches myself when last I wrote you, but I am "all right" now and have abandoned those poor substitutes for legs.  We are getting up some fun here, on our own hook, to relieve the monotony of life in camp; a Grand Tournament and Coronation party by the Knights of the 3rd Corps.  I'll send you and Sis Julia a ticket, though I fear yo'll not find it convenient to attend.  However I'll be delighted to see you both.  Lieut. Nelson  Adjt" McKie, myself and others of the Brigd" have formed a Thespian Corps, and are now rehearsing the play entitled "The Wife", How do you think you could personate that character?  I am persuaded you would make the sweetest wife in the world.  I will let you know how we Mississippians succeed after we make our debut, in public.  I do believe I should die in a month if I allowed myself to sit in my tent and brood over the sorrows of the past and the difficulties and dangers of the present.  My mind as well as my hands must be employed in order to be content, and I seek work for both.  We have enough of real trouble in this world without suffering in anticipation of comeing evil.  I have heard nothing from Add since the middle of October.  He was then well and had just received some money which I sent him in July.  No other remittences had been received up to that date.  He writes in a cheerful mood and makes no complaint.  My fears have been much relieved about him since our government has provided our prisoners with suitable clothing.

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