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 

4 comments:

  1. Do we know the (apparently, to me) incompetent Southern officer he refers to at the end of the letter? Dad

    ReplyDelete
  2. No for sure, but he has often mentioned his Colonel as being a drunkard...

    ReplyDelete
  3. incompetent Southern officer he refers to at the end of the letter?


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