Saturday, 15 June 2013

J. S. Walker's Letter (25 Dec.1861)

Camp Deas, Christmas Day,

My very dear Wife:

            I duly received your letter written on the house top at the prospect of immediate peace. It may be so and may not. To us it would be a great aid to have England, but we would not be worthy of our liberty if we depended upon foreign aid to obtain it. That the hand of the Lord is in it, none can doubt. That He will work it out as we would have it, may not be, having so long favored us by his protection, unless we implore it more than we have done, by honouring him in all our ways as a nation. He may chasten us in love, and turn his face from us and his frown upon us, just as we think we are free of our enemies. I pray Him to hasten the day of honourable peace, when a national thanksgiving will proceed from the hearts of the people
            Well, it is a season of family reunion and festivity, and our camp is frolicking, and whiskey is making brutes of men. I have no head for the enjoyment of it as a gala day, for it is as out of place as a jester at a funeral, while I do feel thankful for the strong arm of the Lord and the love of that dear Saviour, which enables me to withstand the temptations of the occasion. Our Colonel, I am happy to say, has for the past three or four months abstained entirely from drink and I believe truly repentant, is trying to live trusting in God above Temptation. As a shield to him I have invited him to dine with me today, also Dr. Scott, Lt. Col. Crenshaw, Capts. Tucker, Atkinson and Warren, all of our Regiment. They will have nothing to drink but coffee at my table. I reckon you would like to know what I am going to have for dinner. Well, I will give you my bill of fare: a roast turkey, boiled ham, beefsteak and oysters if they can be had, sweet and Irish potatoes, and for desert, sweet potato pie made by Parson Hardie, and cake. Won’t that do, considering I received no box from home?
            I should like to look in upon the little ones today, and how thankful I am that Providence does not cast a cloud upon their young spirits by reason of the war. I hope their little hearts were made glad by finding their socks full of knick-knacks, and that the old will give the day to their enjoyment, for I think the children are peculiarly entitled to the day and its enjoyment, and that it may be my blessed privilege to be with my family happily reunited at its next anniversary.
            Today is as mild and balmy as spring and not like Christmas weather, and it does not seem strange to me that in midwinter sleeping as I still am in a tent, that I enjoy such remarkably good health. It is the Lord’s protection. I sleep as sound as a top and wake next morning to break the ice to wash my face. I will be in my house in a few days, as it is now ready and I only await to let it dry a little, being made of green pine logs and green timber throughout and mud in the cracks. With the first unfavorable change in the weather I shall go in. I have to go on picket duty with my company next Saturday, and as I have twenty-four hours of out doors duty, I think it best not to go into the house before then, as I might take cold. My boys are all preparing their Christmas dinner, cooking turkies, making pies, puddings, etc. It would amuse you to see them. It is quite a frolic for them.
            Two or three of our Regiments went down yesterday within two miles of Newport News and saw the enemy, and they saw us but they would not come out and give us a fight, so our men had to return.
            I have no news, and must close with a happy Christmas to all friends and an earnest prayer to my Father for his protection over them.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                            Jno. S. Walker

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