More on Civil War Era Letters
Kathrynn's post of the achingly loving letter from Major Ballou to his wife, Sarah, inspired me to hunt up
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
What impresses me most about this letter is its heartfelt sympathy. My favorite line: I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. I would consider my life a success if I could write one line as fine as that.
I have always wondered how deeply commanders feel the loss of their men, especially when the commanders are far from the front. When you read the closing of this letter, is there any doubt that this was written from the heart, by a man who grieved every death in a war he oversaw as Commander in Chief?
Honesty compels me to tell you the rest of the story. It was later discovered that two of Mrs. Bixby’s sons survived. One was a deserter and the other honorably discharged. According to one web site I checked, Mrs. Bixby destroyed the original letter as she was a Confederate sympathizer and did not like