Tuesday, 1 March 2011

J. S. Walker's Eleventh Letter

Kings Mill Wharf
17th June, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I have another opportunity of writing you, of which I avail myself. We are now stationed on James River 4 miles from Williamsburg, put here they say to keep the enemy from landing at this point and marching on Williamsburg. I do not think there is at present much likelihood of our having any fighting to do here, and I hope we may not have as I have no confidence in the staff that commands us. There are four companies here, four at Grove Warf and two others of our Regiment in the immediate neighbourhood. I would rather be in the presence of immediate hostilities with a reliable commander than anywhere under those whom I cannot regard competent. Col. Stuart is the only one that I would choose to fight under and they have detached me from his command. If I didn't believe with my whole heart that the Lord reigneth, I should feel very much discouraged, but as it is I am content to leave it all in His hands.
                I received the package containing the book for my diary which Luly sent down, and if I can find the time will try and write in it. I also received the package with bread, brandy, etc., which was very acceptable, and we enjoyed it amazingly, and with the aid of Jim Crow and Charles, who is an excellent servant, I get along first rate in the eating line, and two or three hard boiled eggs and two cups of coffee, brandie proportion and a large allowance of bread for supper don’t “sile” me, but I sleep like a top, now in a corn field under my tent, so you see while I am deprived of a great many earthly blessings, the Lord vouchsaves others which I did not before enjoy.
                Speaking of Jim and Charles, the day of the battle they could not stand the firing, though they were half a mile in the rear of us, but ran like quota horses about two miles up the road entirely out of range of cannon balls and everything else, but came into camp when they found the firing was all over.
                I find that the hard usage to which my valise has been subjected has broken off hinges and lock and that it is no longer safe to rely upon it, and I want you to get me a good strong trunk, larger than the valise but smaller than my trunk, have it marked ‘Capt. J. S. Walker, Va. Life Guard” and send it by the James River Steamer to Grove Warf, care of Col. Stuart, and I will get it. You may put in it three pair more sock and three silk handerchiefs, with a towel, and anything else you may like not in the clothes line, as I have enough. Put a bottle or two of sweet oil in.
                Yesterday was Sabbath, but not so to us. We marched down to this point and had to pitch tents and work generally. In my humble judgement no necessity for it and could have been as well done the day before or today, but inefficient officers do all things wrong and badly.
                Two of my men who had professed religion since we came into camp were baptized yesterday early, before we left Williamsburg.
                Let Cambers attend to sending the trunk down. Where is Bro. Moorman? I hope you keep Bro. David and Amandus posted as to my whereabouts and what I am doing. I have so little time and opportunity for writing that I have to devote it to you, tho I must try and write Luly about the battle.
                Give my best love to all friends and Centenary generally.
                Let prayer and intercession be continually made in my behalf that while I am striving to preserve my country from ruin the Lord may be his Grace keep me in the straight and narrow way which leads to Heaven and that when my race is run I may at last gain the haven.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker


  1. Last line of first paragraph I believe he meant to write "If I didn't..."

    Silk handkerchiefs and plenty of coffee--it is early!

  2. He did write - I just mistyped! Thanks. It's early and there is obviously no shortage of money. The story behind the money coming soon!