Camp Deas, near Springs Mill
3d Feby., 1862
My very dear Wife:
In the absence of anything of interest, I have not written you for several days. Your last advising that Kirk was in Richmond and on a frolic gave me pain on his account, and I do earnestly hope that he will find after his said experience that even an iron will cannot sustain him and that throwing aside a dependence upon his own strength and placing it alone upon God and His help can only give him the victory over the accursed appetite.
The only incident in my camp life worthy of record is that being Field Officer of the day on Friday last I had to ride during the day about twenty miles visiting the several outpost pickets, and after ten o’clock at night, with the rain pouring and as dark as darkness, I had to visit the lowest post alone to instruct the picket.
By telegraph it was announced that another fleet had made its appearance in Hampton Roads, and our Generals concluded it was to attack us that night by land and water. My duty was to advise the outposts and instruct them what to do in the event of an attack. It was so dark I could not see the horse’s head, and as I had to go by circuitous routes and bridle paths through dense forests, I, of course, lost my way a little, but by the aid of a lantern which I had taken with me to light in such an emergency, I soon got on the right track, performed my duty and got back to camp at 2½ o’clock. Being well protected by water-proof wrappings, I experienced no ill effects from the ride, and tho there was apparent danger of being fired upon by our own picket mistaking me for the enemy, and some little probability of scouts of the enemy being in my way. I have never felt more secure by the fire in my library than I did, for I had the assurance that the Lord was my shield; and that His providence protected me.
I expect Allen Lyon today and that much coveted box, which I shall enjoy, thinking of dear ones at home. You must not be disappointed if I don’t get up by the 22nd, for the enemy hovering around our coast makes it the duty of every man to be at his post. My boys looking forward to the probability of re-enlisting from necessity, are sounding me as to my intentions as to the future. They feel dependent upon me and would willingly re-enlist under me. I read them your sensible views on the subject, as I have also done to several of our Officers, and tell them that that shall be my guide and that what Providence directs I will do. I feel my responsibility to them will cease with the year for which I enlisted them, and that then I shall be guided by such light as I have and my own convictions of the necessity of the case as to what I shall do.
If Norman, David, Amandus should all go into the service, it will be almost absolutely necessary for one of us to be at home to look after and provide for the families of the others. If they do not go, then I must, unless a price can be raised to defend my country against ruthless invasion. I still cling to the hope that the Lord will yet deliver us in so manifest a way that we all will have to own and give Him along the glory. As a nation owned by Him in a thousand ways since these hostilities began he will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity to endure, but will in his own good time most likely when the cloud is darkest and the fury of the tempest is at its height, speak peace and there will be a great calm.
Kiss the dear little ones and remember me affectionately to all relations and friends.
Yours ever affectionately,
Jno. S. Walker
5th Feby. 1862.
Have not had an opportunity of sending this till now, and only open it to say I am very well. Nothing new. Kiss the dear children.
Jno. S. Walker