Sunday, 24 February 2013

J. S. Walker's Letter (23 Nov 1861)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mills,
23d Nov., 1861.

My very dear Wife:

            I am in receipt of yours of the 20th covering Kirk’s affair. Let him have the furniture in your third story room and invite him to make my house his home. Tell him why you do not take the furniture from Lynchburg, that your mother will not understand it, and that her age, affliction and peculiar disposition and prejudices, should make her children cover with the mantel of charity and forgiveness any and everything which detracts from their happiness. You ought to advise her that since Kirk and Lucy have to determined to marry that since she cannot prevent it, and tho opposed to the union probably on the ground of consanguinity, that she should sink all these prejudices and in the hour of trial as it is to them to act without her approval, yet to remember that they have souls to save, and that if she would exert a good influence over them it must be not by estrangement but by conciliation, and that what she may regard as an evil may by the kind interference of our Heavenly Father be to them not only a seal of maternal love but of eternal happiness. God grant it may. Let your position be not that of a partisan, nor a judge of others’ motives, but the more heavenly one of a peacemaker, go to your closet and let God direct you that you may be able to lead to a happy result these family feuds. In this distracted world, convulsed by wars and rumors of wars, we can alone find peace in the discharge of the higher duties of our Christian faith and in the living to do good to others, we get good to ourselves, our own souls is refreshed by the comfort we world afford others.
            As Dr. Parker says, I am now very comfortable and will be more so when I get my hut built. I thought last night at 12 o’clock when awakened by a terrific bombardment that we were today to battle for our rights, but beyond a Federal vessel or two in the river nearby shelling our picket, when nobody was hurt, all is quiet. They may come at any moment.
            I went day before yesterday to see Mr. Wheelwright and found him the same warmhearted Christian friend, comfortably fixed, and having the entire confidence of his officers and men. I regretted that I could not have him alone to myself to talk over our trails and temptations, but it was a pleasant and profitable visit. I then went to Williamsburg to see my sick and found them all improving. The sickest man I had was kindly taken by Mrs. Dr. Williamson to her house. Mrs. W. is a sister of Mrs. _________, and I am very grateful to her for her kindness to young Briggs.
            I shall be glad to see Willie Hays, but he is too young for the temptations of camp and his constitution not sufficiently matured, I fear. It makes my heart bleed to see how the youth of the land are losing their souls eternally while they would patriotically save their country. The price of a soul, the death of Jesus, is too great to thus be squandered. May the Lord throw around the youth of our land his strong arm of protection and save them from the temptations of the evil one. You have no idea how homesick the old nursery carpet, the likenesses of my family, etc. make me. But thank the Lord I am content and will hope and pray to be speedily returned to them to be in the future a better husband, father, master and friend than in the past. But should the Lord see best to take me hence either by disease or violence of the enemy, I hope his mercy may cover my sins and my Saviour’s blood cleanse my foul spirit, and that in his hands as their protector my wife, children and servants may be so kept and directed as to insure that eternal, peaceful union which is beyond the grave. We are too apt to become so familiar with danger and death as not to fear the one or live prepared for the other, and it is well to bring ourselves face to face with both frequently, that we may see ourselves as we are. We know not what a day may bring forth and why should I believe all others mortal but myself, and see death without realizing that I have to grapple with, and submit to it, even if in its grasp, by grace divine, I come off conqueror.
            Kiss the dear children, and feel the solemn responsibility which rest on you to train them now in their youth as they should live hereafter, and your reward will be in a peaceful happy life with them.
            Love to all friends who I am vain enough to believe are too many to mention. Pray for our army and our cause.

                                    Yours most affectionately,
                                                Jno. S. Walker.

            I fear you cannot make out my scribble. I have to write on my knee. I find I am getting too careless and must do better.

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