Sunday, 20 March 2016

J. S. Walker Letter (3rd April 1862)

Camp August, near Lees Mill,
Postoffice Yorktown,
3d April, 1862.

My dear Wife:

                I have written to you twice since I returned to camp, but have not received a letter from you. I hope to hear soon, and that the Lord keeps you all in good health. I understand there are all sorts of startling rumors in Richmond about fighting on the Peninsular, all of which have not a bit of foundation in truth, and I doubt very much whether there will be any for some time if we wait for the enemy to attack us. I think it probable that Magruder will go down and attack the enemy as soon as he gets a force sufficient. In the meantime, I am more concerned about the reorganization of our Virginia forces.
                It requires a great deal of grace for me to see my men, who respect and are attached to me, leaving me for the artillery and Cavalry service only because it promises them some little relief from the arduous duties to which they have been subjected, and they may have the opportunity to get by home in order to report to the Company they propose to join. I have held myself above all influence with them and sympathize with them in their desire to get home and into easier service. I am determined to leave the whole matter in the hands of the Lord, only asking him to keep out of my heart any ambition, of which I see a great deal around me, and to direct my steps so that I may be useful to my country. I am willing to stay in the army for the war and am satisfied I would be most useful in the Infantry service. I could have easily raises several companies of Artillery, but do not and did not believe I would be promoting the cause by doing so, and consequently would not do it. I shall await Providential guidance and will try and submit patiently and humbly to whatever He may direct.   In the meantime, you had better get your furniture put in good order and let Coz Crenshaw have an idea that we propose selling out, that you may have a good customer.
                Kiss the dear children for father, and remember me kindly to all friends.

Friday, 4 March 2016

J.S. Walker Letter (23 March 1862)

[The date on my type-written copy of this letter is 3d March, 1862, which would put it before the previous one posted. However, the content implies not only that it comes after, but that it comes after John Stewart Walker had made a trip back home to Richmond. In the letter he says it is the Sabbath. For that reason, I suspect the actual date is the 23 March 1862 which was a Sunday.]

Camp Near Lees Mill,
3rd [Sic] March, 1862.

My dear Wife:

                I reached our camp after a walk of five miles on Friday evening and found my company out on picket. The next morning I was up by day and had orders to march by eight o’clock, as the enemy were said to be advancing. We marched over the point we had to defend and have been here ever since in the mud, and no enemy have yet made their appearance. I thought when I left, from the news I heard, that they would be fighting when I got here, but so far there is none. Every day’s delay but enables us to strengthen the points of our defence and renders more improbable that they will be allowed a quiet march to Richmond. The enemy have been very much emboldened and have come up higher than usual, but I think their movements are more strategic and for the purpose of reconnoitring than with any intent of coming up at present.
                It is a most excellent state for developing Christian grace, and tho this is the Sabbath, the necessary routine of camp activity would not indicate it. Yet amid it all there are moments and hours for self-examination and pious reflection, which I hope I may improve to my good both here and hereafter.
                It was most refreshing upon my return from that Sodom in which you reside to find my boys  and in fact all the soldiers amid the privations and trials to which they have been and still are subjected, in fine spirits and health and very glad to see me back. The atmosphere of such association is much more agreeable than that of the “Change” of Richmond, where the almighty dollar not only eclipses the spirit of patriotism, but I fear in too many instances the Almighty Himself.
                I was more than usual depressed on leaving home this time, owning to the fact that David will be absent and the doubt which hangs over you and my future as to my position and your disposition. I will trust it to the Lord and ask Him to direct, and He does all things well. I want to keep myself unspotted from the world and not be found in the reorganization of the army among the time servers, and even should it result in my being left out of Commission, tho it will be humiliating to me, I will regard it as by the Lord’s direction.
                Again I say give no credit to idle rumors, for they will be legion. Kiss the dear children and give love to all friends. Say to Mrs. Marston that her husband is well and will make a good soldier.

                                Yours very affectly.,

                                                Jno. S. Walker.

4 o’clock Sunday evening. Heavy firing toward Newport News.

Friday, 26 February 2016

J. S. Walker Letter (6 March 1862)

Camp near Leeds Mill,
Postoffice Yourktown,
6th March, 1862.

My dear Wife:

                I wrote that we would go Newport News. Instead of that we have broken up our winter quarters and moved back seven miles to this place and are now living in tents or marched in the rain up to our knees in mud, sometimes over the top of my boots, laid out all night in the rain and now on the damp ground. I am very, very well and hope I may so continue. I have not received your box of goodies and fear I will never see it.
                I do not know whether my Company will re-enlist or not and whether I will be Captain of it. I wait on Providential direction. I do not think, after the duty I have performed in the cause, that I should be bound to go into the ranks provided I do not get up a Company, and shall not do it unless it becomes a case of greater necessity than now is. The recent hard march of our Regiment has dispirited the men for the Infantry service.
                I am writing on my knee, so you must overlook the bad writing, and I hasten to send it to the Post, as I have opportunity and wish to relieve you of any anxiety on the subject of my movements. I do not now know when I shall be able to get home, but try and be contented.
                Kiss the dear children, and give love to all friends.

                                                                Yours ever affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Sunday, 14 February 2016

J. S. Walker Letter (2 March 1862)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mill, 2d March, 1862

My very dear Wife:

            I wrote you a few days ago in anticipation of a march and an attack upon Newport News. We are still here, and I think that expedition given out for the present. We have been ordered and have sent all our heavy baggage to the rear, with an order to have our tents pitched about ten miles from here towards Williamsburg, so we may be marched back instead of forward in a few days. It seems to be the general policy to draw our lines in, and not undertake to defend so much country with our small forces compared with the enemies.
I expect it will be right rough going into tents this season of the year, after being two months in comfortable log huts, but that good Heavenly Father which has kept me in health so far still reigns and will temper the weather (wind) to the shorn lamb. I will trust Him to the last. I do not know when I shall be able to get home and will have to be content.
I wanted to go up to recruit my Company for the war, but Providence seems to be against it, and I submit willingly, knowing that He knows what is best and the end will prove it. Say to Bro. David if he can get any recruits for my Company to do so.
I think if you will direct your letters to Capt. Jno. S. Walker, 15th Regt., Virga. Vols., Yorktown, I think  I will get them. I cannot now say where I will be a few days hence.
I do earnestly hope that the uprising of a nation to prayer on fast day is to tell for our present and eternal good as a people, and that Christians everywhere will continue constant prayer for our speedy deliverance from our enemies. Prayer with its attendant blessings of Heavenly recognition and Divine interposition alone can save us, and not our strong arm alone in which we have boasted and trusted.
Give my love to all and kiss the dear little ones for father, and may the Lord continues His comfort and protection to you all.

                                    Your affectionate husband,

                                                Jno. S. Walker

P. S. Sunday evening. We have orders to have two days’ rations cooked and I think it more than probable that we will march tomorrow for Newport News to attack it. I shall go trusting in God and entrusting you and the children to His care. Remember us in your prayers, and come what may, life or death, prison or liberty, let your faith in the promise that all things work together for good sustain you. Say nothing about the movement and give no credit to idle rumors you may hear.

                        Ever yours affectionately,

                                    Jno. S. Walker

Saturday, 6 February 2016

J.S. Walker Letter (26 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mill, 26th Feby., 1862

My very dear Wife:

            Your very welcome letter of the 24th inst. covering the last Advocate was received last evening by Mr. Williams, the more welcomed because it breathed the true spirit of patriotism, with a constant dependence upon our God. Your heroic consecration of your husband to the service of our Country, even at the cost of widowhood to yourself, orphanage to our little ones, and poverty to all, demanded even my admiration of your sacrifice, though I thought I had been able before to appreciate the blessing of so noble a wife as I have. It was indeed oil to my wounded spirit, not that I despaired of God’s protection to my country by that my faith in the spirit of our people was shaken. For the past ten days I have been able to do nothing but pray for my country and our cause, to bear to the altar my bleeding country and ask the God of battles to defend and keep us. I have found comfort in the exercise and have been able to lay all on the altar, and willing to sacrifice life, property, and all. The last and hardest struggle was to give up my dear family to the mercies of a ruthless foe, if it need be. That I now do, with the assurance in yours, of your willingness to be left to the care of our good Heavenly Father.
            The question of re-enlisting is one that no longer occupies my mind, the development of the recent reverses decide that for me. My place is now in the army till the end of the war, or death takes me hence. It is my place as a Christian, husband, father, master, and patriot, and tho I may be called upon to pass through deep waters and great afflictions, I will fear no evil for my trust is firmly fixed on God. Now that I have gotten the victory over Satan and all worldly considerations, I find the evil one tempting me with military ambition, and by appealing to my pride, to determine to hand down to my family a name for some daring heroic deed. Oh that the Lord will keep me humble and direct me by his Spirit. Oh, that I may always realize my own unworthiness and lean alone upon his strong arm for protection. I know that our recent disasters have already proven a great blessing to me individually, and I heard in conversation last night among some of our officers, unconsecrated men, the expression of great confidence in the power of prayer for a nation’s welfare. In reading the inaugural of our President, it seemed true his closing prayer for our country was accompanied by the Spirit, and answered in Heaven. In the conversation above alluded to, in defence of the Christian’s confidence in Heaven’s protection to our cause, I read to them apportion of your letter to show that even a dependent woman in the hour of sore trial can by God’s spirit be nerved as the most courageous on the battlefield, and can even laugh at damage and trial, tho they stare them in the face. I know that the Lord will protect and keep you and yours, and when you see your neighbours running about panic struck, and seeking a place of refuge from their fears, then go to your closet and alone with God, ask His council and protection, and amid the storm without you will enjoy the perfect calm. In your denunciation of the lukewarm and indifferent, be charitable, and let prayer for them take the place of contempt, above all keep yourself humble and pride under your feet. I wish I could have a short time of sweet Christian communion with you in our little room at home, I long for Christian sympathy and encouragement, and still hope that I will be privileged soon to enjoy it.
            I wrote you a hurried letter on Sunday, announcing that we should soon be ordered to march to Newport News to attack it, and asking your prayers for our success. We still await marching orders, and they may come at any moment, or they may not come at all. If not, I shall try and get up for a day or two soon, tho in this life everything is particularly uncertain, and continually reminds me more of the necessity of securing that only certainty, eternal life.
            At our prayer meeting last night, I felt more than usual freedom in prayer, and while I prayed with confidence for our cause, I found myself with strong faith realizing in this revolution, not only the restoration of civil liberty, but the rekindling of pure religion in the land, which in its moral effect will bring greater consequences to the world than the reformation, aye, even the dawning of millennial glory. God grant it may be so, that as we suffer in the flesh, we may gain in the spirit.
            I doubt very much the propriety or necessity of Amandus going into the army. His deafness is a very serious obstacle, and might prove a very dangerous one. He would be disqualified for guard and picket duty, and to me it seems providential, for without Grace he would be ruined by the temptations of camp. I think it my duty to write to him upon the subject and suggest to him the propriety of not going in. I believe it will be a great trial of his pride to stay at home while others are going.
            What will you say when I tell you that for the past few days I have found my recreation in reading the History of Scandinavia, and found it very interesting. The good books you sent me have been my soul’s comfort, the little library a great comfort and privilege to my men during the long season of rain and wet.
            The daguerotype of my family keeps their faces before my eye, while they ever live in my heart. God bless them and keep them. Kiss the dear children for father and teach their little lips and hearts to pray for our country. Remember me kindly to all friends, and continue constant in prayers for our deliverance from our enemy and sin.

                        Every your affectionate husband,

                                    Jno. S. Walker.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

J. S. Walker Letter (23 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 23d Febry, 1862

My dear Wife:

            I have not written because I have not had opportunity or anything to write about. I thank God that I continue in good health and try to be thankful for all my blessings, [missing word] while I humble myself before God on account of my country and cause. I feel like praying God at all times for his intercession in our behalf, and that He will bring us deliverance from our enemies and war. You may expect to hear of our going down to Newport News this week. If so, we will be very apt to encounter the enemy. Then let us pray with stronger faith than ever, not only for protection against sudden death and danger but for the Lord to manifest himself in our behalf and give us victory over our enemies.
            Oh, pray God to give me a spirit to meet any issue and to keep me in his holy keeping. I believe He will give me grace for every hour of need. Covenant with your praying friends for God’s blessing, and let the National feast day be kept in the spirit as well as the letter. God will bless us. I shall go taking my life in my hands with my trust in God. Do not speak of this except to David, to who I have written the same. Give no heed to idle rumors, for they will be legion, but await the official returns if we move down to meet the enemy. May the Lord have you all in his holy keeping and be your rock and defence. Then you need fear no enemy, for He is with you. Kiss the dear children for me. I write in great haste to send by Mr. Mayo. This is Sunday, the Lord’s day.

                        Yours affectionately,

                                    Jno. S. Walker

Saturday, 9 January 2016

J.S. Walker's Letter (20 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 20th Febry, 1862

My dear Wife:

            I received yours enclosing Luly’s. My duties will required me to be disappointed, and my friends, by the proposed trip home. I hope the weight of bad news we are receiving from different directions will have the effect of putting our people more fully upon the defensive, and our praying people to trusting more in God. You are right, even if the enemy be at Rocketts, put your trust in God and he will keep you and yours. I am willing to trust my God to the end and I hope I am now nearer the goal, my Father in Heaven, than ever in my life.
            Love to all. I write in haste to send by an opportunity that occurs.

                                    Yours very affectly ever,

                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

J.S. Walker's Letter (16 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mills,
Sunday, 16th Feby., 1862.

My dear Wife:

            I have not written you for a day or two past, having no means of getting a letter to the Post Office, and nothing to write about. Your last advised me that Kirk would be married soon and be with you on 22nd Feby. That would add to the pleasure of a visit for me, and I have set my heart too much upon it, I fear, and may be disappointed, as at present no leaves of absence or furloughs are being granted. I will certainly be up the latter part of the week, if I can.
            I have opened quite a pleasant and profitable correspondence with Bro. Wheelwright relative to getting up a Battalion so as to be thrown together next year, looking to the probability of my being in service. I am very much troubled as to what I should do. My company wait on me and are ready to re-enlist if I will let them. I await a reply to a letter to David to know what he and the other boys propose to do. It may be with an overwhelming foe it will be the duty of all of us to be in the field. If not, we ought to be at home to look after the families and interests of the others. As I have become accustomed to the roughness of camp life and its duties, I would be more useful to my country and less liable to disease. Time is flying and the army should be reorganized at once, and increased to the full amount of arms we have.
            I think by the 1st of May by the blessings of Heaven we will have given such a check to our enemy as will bring a peace by the fall, or it may be that having His frown still upon us our enemy may press us sorely and cripple our strength greatly. I feel and believe that all depends upon the will of God, and the energy of our people. I feel thankful for the reverses of Roanoke Island, whenever my mind reverts to it. I am sure Christians have been humble and have prayed with more earnestness during the past week than at any time since the war began and I believe the fruit of this disaster will be a more general recognition of God by our people.
I sometimes fear that our people at home are lulled by their ease and luxury, with their feasting and riches, into the deceitful security of Belshazzer and will not awake till too late to the recognition of their danger, then panic will seize them. God avert it from them and be their strength.
            Had I not have taken part in this revolution, aye, to the end if need be, I never could have enjoyed the liberty it will bring. I should have felt like one who had stolen another’s rights, the blood of these slain to secure it would have been on my skirts, my manhood would have departed from me. I pray God to let me live to see it firmly established for my country and children and to direct me as to my duty to it and them, to keep all ambition out of my heart, and to plant and cultivate only there Godliness and true patriotism, to so order my steps as to reflect to his glory, to make me quick to perceive my duty and them give me grace to perform it.
             I stopped just here to attend our company prayer meeting, which we keep up and are very well attended and very interesting. It is very gratifying to me to see so many young men who amid all the temptations and trails of camp life preserve their profession unspotted from the world, and whose lives would put to shame many of the aged in their church. They are built on a rock, and if their lives are spared to return to the peaceful vocations of life, they will be useful members and active disciples of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is comparatively easy to preserve the outward form of Godliness in the Church, where there is no temptation to try, and with the soothing flatteries of Satan to blunt the conscience and believe we are loving to God, but the refining fire of affliction, temptation, trails, etc., separates the dross, and too often, alas, proves to us that the whole is counterfeit. The man who through the affliction of war comes forth a brighter Christian than he went in, who ever bears aloft the standard of his Saviour, who has it in his heart to praise his God while all without is as dark as midnight, has an anchor both sure and steadfast, and can then fully appreciate the blessings of peace, and the prospect of the final victory over death. I believe these alone are privileged to realize the depth of these similes of the Word of God which compare the Christian cause to a continual warfare, who have been in the midst of war. History and the accounts of battle fail to impress us with the extent of its meaning.
            It may be that as I suggested I may not be able to get up by the 22nd. If so and Kirk and Lucy should be with you, bear them my congratulations, and may they in their new life raise in their hearts an altar to God, may they realize that their present happiness may be marred by the trails and troubles by which we are surrounded unless their trust is in God, may the influence of a Christian wife be Lucy’s to bring her husband to God, and may Kirk’s love of his wife be second and subordinate alone to his love of God, then true happiness is theirs, then as whispering brooks in a united inseparable entrance flow gently, placidly on to the mighty ocean, may their united hearts in happiness flow on to the eternal bliss of Heaven. I pray God’s blessing upon them.
            Kiss the dear children and keep them in remembrance of father above all things. As your first duty to the world, train them in the way they should go. Always remember me to Sister Hays, who I congratulate has not to bemoan Thomas as killed, wounded, or a prisoner. Now to me plainly does God’s providence appear in that disaster, rebuking a wily politician and open blasphemer. Oh, Lord, forbid that a holy, just cause should suffer at the hands of the ambitious sinful, but direct in the appointment of all our superior officers and cause Thyself to be owned and recognized by all.

                        Love to all friends.

                                    Yours ever affectionately,

                                                Jno. S. Walker