The Civil War, Day by Day

Letter from Home

Letter From Home

So read a letter from home received by a soldier in Robert E. Lee’s army in 1863. It was a typical sentiment expressed in letters sent to soldiers of both the North and the South. Among the hardest burdens borne by troops in this bloodiest of all American wars was the separation from loved ones. Receiving a letter from home was a heart-stirring event for war-weary troops yearning for the simple pleasures of peace. News from the family, bits of gossip, words of encouragement from parents and siblings, endearing sentiments from wives or sweethearts - all provided welcome diversion from dull duties and battlefield dangers. "Mother give me her little sheep, and I will have the wool to make you some stockings," wrote a young son to a soldier father in the Army of Northern Virginia. "Mother says I am a good boy and smart too...." Such poignant reminders of home could refresh tender memories in a soldier, but could also rekindle the pain of separation. "There ain’t a day, no hardly an hour, but what I am thinking of you and the children," a dutiful Johnny Reb replied to the wife he left behind. "I look at your photograph and fear it is the last I shall see of you." For most soldiers, however, the pleasures afforded by mail far outweighed the pain. Letters were read and read again - repeatedly. "Please rite me agin soon," one Southern soldier asked the folks back home, "for I am mity sad and lonesom." In the lull between battles, even amid the ruckus of a bustling nighttime camp, a letter from home was a priceless treasure of hope.

March's Archived Features:

Sunday March 1, 2020
Monday March 2, 2020
Tuesday March 3, 2020
Wednesday March 4, 2020
Thursday March 5, 2020
Friday March 6, 2020
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.