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.