The HEART of a
As revealed in the
Intimate Letters of
Genl. GEORGE E. PICKETT
by Seth Moyle (Inc.)
the Pictorial Review Company
by The S.S. McClure Company
by SETH MOYLE (Incorporated)
FOR half a century these letters have lain
locked away from the world, the lines
fading upon the yellowed pages, their every
word enshrined in the heart of the noble
woman to whom they were written. To her
they came filled with the thunder of guns,
the lightning of unsheathed swords, the
tumultuous rage in the heart of the storm; but
through them all the radiance of a pure
devotion outshone the battle flash and the lyric
of a great love rose above the cannon's roar.
To their possessor, naturally, these letters
are sacred and they are given to the world
with great reluctance. It is only the thought
of the inspiration that they can bring to
lives less glorious than that of him who
penned them, of the courage they can instill
into hearts less brave, that has led their
owner to share them with the world.
Through the medium of this volume,
which is hereby dedicated to the Great
Soldier and True Man who supplied its
contents, these letters are given, out of the
hands of one who has cherished them
tenderly for many years, into the keeping of all
those who honor courage, loyalty and the
love of man for woman.
- I. In
which the General Tells Why He
Sided with the South . . . . .
- II. Written After a Light Skirmish with
the Enemy . . . . . 38
- III. Concerning Legitimate Warfare,
Secession and the Mishaps of an Old
Major of Artillery . . . . . 41
- IV. In Which Are Given Certain Details
of the Battle of Seven Pines . . . . .
- V. Containing a Presentiment of Danger,
the Night Before He Was Wounded
at Gaines' Mill . . . . .
- VI. At His Old Home Recovering from
His Wound . . . . .
- VII. Mostly Concerning Bob, His
Body-Servant . . . . .
- VIII. Written Upon His Return to His Old
Command . . . . .
- IX. On the Occasion of His Promotion to
the Rank of Major-General —Telling
of Jackson and Garnett . . . . .
- X. From the Field of Fredericksburg . . . . .
From His Old Home on the Suffolk
Expedition . . . . .
- XII. In Which He Urges His Betrothed
to Marry Him at Once . . . . .
- XIII. Warning Her to Leave the Danger
Zone . . . . . 77
- XIV. When Lee Crossed the Potomac . . . . .
- XV. On the Way Through Pennsylvania . . . . .
- XVI. Lines Penned on the Road to
Gettysburg . . . . . 84
- XVII. During a Halt in the Long March . . . . .
- XVIII. While He Awaited the Order to
Charge at Gettysburg . . . . .
- XIX. Relating Certain Incidents of the
Great Battle . . . . .
- XX. Written in Sorrow and Defeat, after
the Struggle . . . . .
- XXI. Containing Further Details of the
Battle . . . . .
- XXII. On the Way to Richmond, Guarding
Prisoners . . . . .
In Which the General Issues an Order . . . . .
- XXIV. Written After Their Marriage, on an
Expedition Into North Carolina . . . . .
- XXV. From the Lines Near Petersburg, Va. .
. . . . 123
- XXVI. In the Wilderness Before Cold Harbor
. . . . . 127
- XXVII. Recalling a Visit from
"Old Jack" . . . . .
- XXVIII. After General Lee Had Congratulated
His Division for Gallantry . . . . .
- XXIX. When Butler Burned the General's
Old Home . . . . .
- XXX. Upon
Hearing of the Birth of the
"Little General" . . . . .
- XXXI. A Second Letter Written on His Son's
Birthday . . . . .
- XXXII. On the Occasion of His First Visit to
His Boy . . . . .
- XXXIII. Upon Returning from a Ride with
"Marse Robert" . . . . .
- XXXIV. Concerning the Gossip of His Servant,
George . . . . .
- XXXV. After an Evening Spent at the "White
House" of the Confederacy . . . . .
- XXXVI. In the Dark Days Before the End .
. . . . 167
- XXXVII. Written in Defeat, after the Battle
of Five Forks . . . . .
- XXXVIII. A Few Hours Before Lee's Surrender
at Appomattox . . . . .
In which the General Tells of a
Trip to Washington and a Visit
with his old Friend, Grant . . . . .
- XL. From New York, after refusing the
Command of the Egyptian Army . . . . .
- XLI. A Letter from Turkey Island, during
a brief absence of his Wife . . . . .
- XLII. Concerning a Slight Illness and the
Business Troubles of a Soldier . . . . .
- XLIII. On the Occasion of the Memorial
Services in Honor of those who died
at Gettysburg . . . . .
- XLIV. Written while away from Home, after
the death of his Youngest Boy . . . . .
the Introduction to this book,
credit is due to McClure's Magazine,
in which the article first appeared.
By FRANKLIN BOOTH
Do you remember, my Sally, how many times
we said Goodbye
enemy is there, General, and I am going to strike him,"
said Marse Robert in his firm, quiet voice.
- Two lines
of their infantry were driven back; two lines of
guns were taken—and no support came.
must have been up all night, my prettice, to have made
up and sent out such a basket of goodies. My, I tell you, it
all tasted good.
The HEART of a
An Introductory Chapter
from the One to Whom these Letters
EARLY in life's morning I knew and
loved him, and from my first meeting
with him to the end, I always called him
"Soldier"—"My Soldier." I was a wee bit
of a girl at that first meeting. I had been
visiting my grandmother, when whooping-cough
broke out in the neighborhood, and she
took me off to Old Point Comfort to visit her
friend, Mrs. Boykin, the sister of John Y.
Mason. I could dance and sing and play
games and was made much of by the other
children and their parents there, till I suddenly
developed the cough, then I was shunned
I could not understand the change. I
would press my face against the ball-room
window-panes and watch the merry-making
inside and my little heart would almost break.
One morning, while playing alone on the
beach, I saw an officer lying on the sand
reading, under the shelter of an umbrella. I had
noticed him several times, always apart from
the others, and very sad. I could imagine but
one reason for his desolation and in pity for
him, I crept under his umbrella to ask him
if he, too, had the whooping-cough. He
smiled and answered no; but as I still persisted
he drew me to him, telling me that he
had lost someone who was dear to him and
he was very lonely.
And straightway, without so much as a by-your-leave,
I promised to take the place of his
dear one and to comfort him in his loss.
Child as I was, I believe I lost my heart to
him on the spot. At all events, I crept from
under the umbrella pledged to Lieutenant
George E. Pickett, U. S. A., for life and death,
and I still hold most sacred a little ring and
locket that he gave me on that day.
It is small wonder that this first picture of
him is among the most vivid still; the memory
of him as he lay stretched in the shade of
the umbrella, not tall, and rather slender, but
very graceful, and perfect in manly beauty.
With childish appreciation, I particularly noticed his
very small hands and feet. He had
beautiful gray eyes that looked at me through
sunny lights—eyes that smiled with his lips.
His mustache was gallantly curled. His hair
was exactly the color of mine, dark brown,
and long and wavy, in the fashion of the time.
The neatness of his dress attracted even a
child's admiration. His shirt-front of the
finest white linen, was in soft puffs and ruffles, and
the sleeves were edged with hem-stitched
thread cambric ruffles. He would
never, to the end of his life, wear the stiff linen
collars and cuffs and stocks which came into
fashion among men. While he was at West
Point he paid heavily in demerits for
obstinacy in refusing to wear the regulation
stock. Only when the demerits reached the
danger-point would he temporarily give up
his soft necktie.
It was under that umbrella, in the days that
followed, that I learned, while he guided my
hand, to make my first letters and spell my
first words. They were "Sally" and "Soldier."
I remember, too, the songs he used to
sing me in the clear, rich voice of which his
soldiers were so fond, frequently accompanying
himself on the guitar. He kept a diary
of those days and after the war it was returned
to him from San Juan by the British officer
who occupied the island conjointly with him
before the opening of the war. I have it now
in my possession.
Three years after our first meeting I saw
my Soldier again. He had just received his
commission as captain, and was recruiting his
company at Fortress Monroe, before sailing
for San Juan. The first real sorrow of my
life was when I watched the St. Louis go out
to sea with my Soldier on board, bound
around the Horn to Puget Sound, where he
was stationed at Fort Bellingham, which I
thought must be farther than the end of the
world. Forty thousand Indians had risen
against the settlers. For two years he was in
the thick of it, and greatly distinguished himself,
but he did even better after the Indians
were suppressed, for he made them his friends,
learned their languages, built school-houses
for them and taught them, and they called
him Nesika Tyee—Our Chief. One old Indian
chief insisted upon making him a present of one
of his children. He translated the
Lord's Prayer and some of our hymns and patriotic
songs into their jargon and taught the
Indians to sing them. He taught me some of
them afterward. Years later, one night after
the Civil War, while we were exiles in Montreal,
General Pickett and I were singing a
hymn in Chinook to put our baby to sleep,
when a voice in the next room joined us. At
the close of the hymn a stranger came and
spoke to my Soldier in Chinook. When he
left, he invited us to the theater where he was
playing. He was William Florence, and he
gave me my first taste of the pleasures of the
Following the Indian war, the quarrel with
the British over the ownership of San Juan
Island reached a white heat, and on the night
of July 26, 1859, my Soldier, with sixty-eight
men, was sent from the mainland to take possession.
They were none too soon, for when
morning dawned there were five British warships
off the coast, with nineteen hundred and
forty men ready to land. They proposed
joint occupation, but Captain Pickett replied:
"I cannot allow joint occupation until so
ordered by my commanding general."
The English captain said: "I have a
thousand men ready to land to-night."
Captain Pickett replied: "Captain, if you
undertake it, I will fight you as long as I have
"I shall land at once," said the British officer.
"If you will give me forty-eight hours, till
I hear from my commanding officer, my orders
may be countermanded. If you don't
you must be responsible for the bloodshed that
"Not one minute," was the English captain's reply.
My Soldier gave orders for the drawing up
of his men in lines on the hill facing the beach
where the English must land.
"We will make a Bunker Hill of it, and
don't be afraid of their big guns," he said.
In his official report General Harney said:
"So satisfied were the British officers that Captain
Pickett would carry out this course, that
The United States retained the Island and
my Soldier remained in command until the
outbreak of the Civil War. But when Virginia
passed the Ordinance of Secession he resigned
his commission and recognizing the
claims of his native state, joined his fortunes
with those of the Southland, although, like
many others who fought as bravely against the
national government as in happier times they
had fought for it, he loved the Union and
every star in that flag which he had so often
borne to victory.
My Soldier reached Richmond September
13, 1861, and at once enlisted as a private.
The next day he was given a commission as
captain, a short time later promoted to a colonelcy,
and early in 1862 received his commission
as brigadier-general. In June, while
leading his brigade in a charge at Gaines's
Mill, he was severely wounded in the shoulder,
but refused to leave the field, ordering
Dr. Chancellor to extract the bullet on the
field. The surgeon remonstrated, but he said:
"My men need me here, Doctor. Fix me
He was finally carried off, but was back
with his brigade two months before he was
able to draw a sleeve over the wounded arm.
Time has not lessened the fame of Pickett's
Charge at Gettysburg, and it never will; for
the changes that have taken place in the science
of war leave no possibility that future
history will produce its counterpart. Truly,
"the first day of the terrible three at Gettysburg
was an accident, the second a blunder"
and the third the greatest tragedy that has
ever been played upon the stage of war.
With its imperishable glory—overshadowing
all other events in martial history, notwithstanding
its appalling disaster—is linked forever
the name of my Soldier.
Down the slope into the smoke-filled valley
the devoted men followed him as he rode in
advance upon his black war-horse. Their
ranks were thinned and torn and shattered by
the tempest of lead which from every side
was turned on them. Smoke and flame
surrounded them. But from the rear the men
sprang to fill the gaps in front as they pressed
after their leader through the tempest of iron.
Five thousand Virginians followed him at
the start; but when the Southern flag floated
on the ridge, in less than half an hour, not two
thousand were left to rally beneath it, and
those for only one glorious, victory-intoxicated
moment. They were not strong enough
to hold the position they had so dearly won;
and, broken-hearted, even at the very moment
of his immortal triumph, my Soldier led his
remaining men down the slope again. He
dismounted and walked beside the stretcher
upon which General Kemper, one of his officers,
was being carried, fanning him and
speaking cheerfully to comfort him in his suffering.
When he reached Seminary Ridge
again and reported to General Lee, his face
was wet with tears as he pointed to the crimson
valley and said:
"My noble division lies there!"
"General Pickett," said the commander,
"you and your men have covered yourselves
"Not all the glory in the world, General
Lee," my Soldier replied, "could atone for the
widows and orphans this day has made."
Soon after the great battle my Soldier confided
to his corps commander his intention of
marrying, and asked for a furlough. General
Longstreet replied that they were not
granting furloughs then, but added, with the
twinkle in his eye which those who knew him
so well will remember: "I might detail you
for special duty and you could, of course, stop
off and get married if you wanted to."
In old St. Paul's Church in Petersburg,
September 15, 1863, we were married, while
the bells rang out the chimes that still make
music from that old belfry and are yet known
as "Pickett's Chimes." In the throng which
crowded the church and extended to the sidewalk
were hundreds whose mourning garb attested
to the costly sacrifice which Petersburg
had given to the South. Many hands were
reached out to greet my Soldier, and from the
lips of many a black-robed mother came the
words: "My son was with you at Gettysburg
- God bless you!" A salute of a hundred
guns announced the marriage; cheers followed
us, and chimes and bands and bugles played
as we left for our wedding reception in Richmond.
The food supply of the South was reduced
to narrow limits then. Salt was reclaimed
from the earth under smoke-houses. Guests
at distinguished functions were regaled with
ice-cream made of frozen buttermilk sweetened
with sorghum. But friends of the general
had almost worked miracles to prepare
a wedding supper. It was sora season, and
those little birds had been killed at night with
paddles—the South being not much richer in
ammunition than in edibles—and contributed
so lavishly to our banquet that it was always
afterward known as "the wedding sora supper."
Our wedding present from Mrs. Lee
was a fruit-cake, and Bishop Dudley's mother
sent a black cake she had been saving for her
golden wedding. Little bags of salt and
sugar were sent as presents. The army was
in camp near by, and all the men at the reception,
except President Davis, his cabinet,
and a few clergymen, came in full uniform,
officers and privates as well. We returned
without delay to Petersburg, that being my
In early May, General Butler, with thirty
thousand men, came down upon Petersburg,
defended by only six hundred. They held
the place till half-starved and ragged
reinforcements were hurried in from every
direction. We women carried the despatches,
and cooked the food and took it to the men at
the guns. The roar of the cannon and the
shriek of shot and shell filled our ears day and
night. At train-time we would go to the station
and send up cheer after cheer to welcome
the train from its short trip out into the country,
hoping to blind the Yankees to the fact
that it brought in only the half-starved railroad
men. During the entire week, until he had
Butler safely "bottled up at Petersburg," my
Soldier did not sleep, and the only times I saw
him were when I carried his bread and soup
and coffee out to him. It was just as it had
been when he started for Cemetery Hill at
Gettysburg. He would never stop till he had
accomplished his work. After Pickett's Division
had retaken Bermuda Hundred the following
summer, General Anderson, commanding
Longstreet's Corps, wrote to General Lee:
"We tried very hard to stop Pickett and his
men from capturing the breastworks of the
enemy, but we could not do it."
The devotion of General Pickett's men to
him has often been recounted as something
phenomenal. It was equaled only by his devotion
to them. Very near the end of the war,
when the army had subsisted on nothing but
corn for many days, as my Soldier was riding
toward Sailor's Creek, a woman ran out of
a house and handed him something to eat.
He carried it in his hand as he rode on. Presently
he came upon a soldier lying behind a
log, and spoke to him. The man looked up,
revealing a boyish face, scarcely more than a
child's—thin and pale.
"What's the matter?" asked my Soldier.
"I'm starving, General," the boy replied.
"I couldn't help it. I couldn't keep up, so I
just lay down here to die."
"Take this," handing the boy his luncheon;
"and when you have eaten and rested, go on
back home. It would only waste another life
for you to go on."
The boy took the food eagerly, but replied:
"No, Marse George. If I get strength
enough to go at all, I'll follow you to the last."
He did, for he was killed a few days later
at Sailor's Creek.
I was in Richmond when my Soldier fought
the awful battle of Five Forks, Richmond
surrendered, and the surging sea of fire swept
the city. News of the fate of Five Forks had
reached us, and the city was full of rumors
that General Pickett was killed. I did not
believe them. I knew he would come back,
he had told me so. But they were very anxious
hours. The day after the fire, there was
a sharp rap at the door. The servants had
all run away. The city was full of northern
troops, and my environment had not taught
me to love them. The fate of other cities had
awakened my fears for Richmond. With my
baby on my arm, I answered the knock, opened
the door and looked up at a tall, gaunt, sad-faced
man in ill-fitting clothes. who, with the
accent of the North, asked:
"Is this George Pickett's place?"
"Yes, sir," I answered, "but he is not here."
"I know that, ma'am," he replied, "but I
just wanted to see the place. I am Abraham
"The President!" I gasped.
The stranger shook his head and said:
"No, ma'am; no, ma'am; just Abraham Lincoln;
George's old friend."
"I am George Pickett's wife and this is his
baby," was all I could say. I had never seen
Mr. Lincoln but remembered the intense love
and reverence with which my Soldier always
spoke of him.
My baby pushed away from me and reached
out his hands to Mr. Lincoln, who took him
in his arms. As he did so an expression
of rapt, almost divine, tenderness and love
lighted up the sad face. It was a look that
I have never seen on any other face. My
baby opened his mouth wide and insisted upon
giving his father's friend a dewy infantile kiss.
As Mr. Lincoln gave the little one back to me,
shaking his finger at him playfully, he said:
"Tell your father, the rascal, that I forgive
him for the sake of that kiss and those bright
He turned and went down the steps, talking
to himself, and passed out of my sight forever,
but in my memory those intensely human
eyes, that strong, sad face, have a perpetual
abiding place—that face which puzzled
all artists but revealed itself to the intuitions
of a little child, causing it to hold out
its hands to be taken and its lips to be kissed.
It was through Mr. Lincoln that my Soldier,
as a lad of seventeen, received his appointment
to West Point. Mr. Lincoln was
at that time associated in law practice with
George Pickett's uncle, Mr. Andrew Johnston,
a distinguished lawyer and scholar, who
was very anxious that his nephew should follow
in his footsteps and study for the law—
an ambition which, it is needless to say, my
Soldier did not share. He confided his perplexities
to Mr. Lincoln, who was very fond
of the boy; and the great statesman went at
once to work to secure his appointment.
After Richmond's fall I anxiously awaited
my Soldier's return, and at last one morning
I caught the familiar clatter of the hoofs of
his little thoroughbred chestnut which he always
rode when he came home, and the sound
of his voice saying: "Whoa, Lucy, whoa, little
He gave his staff a farewell breakfast at our
home. They did not once refer to the past,
but each wore a blue strip tied like a sash
around his waist. It was the old headquarter's
flag, which they had saved from the surrender
and torn into strips, that each might
keep one in sad memory. After breakfast he
went to the door, and from a white rose-bush
which his mother had planted cut a bud for
each. He put one in my hair and pinned
one to the coat of each of his officers. Then
for the first time the tears came, and the men
who had been closer than brothers for four
fearful years, clasped hands in silence and
Ever since the Mexican War General Grant
had been a dear friend of my Soldier. At
the time our first baby was born the two
armies were encamped facing each other and
they often swapped coffee and tobacco under
flags of truce. On the occasion of my son's
birth bonfires were lighted in celebration all
along Pickett's line. Grant saw them and
sent scouts to learn the cause. When they reported,
he said to General Ingalls:
"Haven't we some kindling on this side of
the line? Why don't we strike a light for the
In a little while bonfires were flaming from
the Federal line. A few days later there was
taken through the lines a baby's silver service,
engraved: "To George E. Pickett, Jr., from
his father's friends, U. S. Grant, Rufus Ingalls,
It was through their courtesy, at the close
of the war, that we were taken from Richmond
down the James to my father's old
home at Chuckatuck. But we were not allowed
to remain long at peace. General Ingalls
warned my Soldier that General Butler
was making speeches against him in Congress,
and urged that he would be safer on foreign
ground. Though he did not believe it, he
reluctantly consented to go. He mounted
Lucy and rode to the station. It was a pathetic
incident that, just as the train moved
out, the chestnut thoroughbred lay down and
We had been in Canada almost a year when
General Grant, learning of our exile, wrote
to us to return, saying that his cartel with
General Lee should be kept, if it required another
war to make it good. We went back
to our dear old place, Turkey Island, on the
James River, and built a little cottage in the
place of the magnificent mansion which had
been sacked and burned by order of General
Butler. I once asked my Soldier why it was
called Turkey Island. He replied that there
were two good reasons; one was that it was
not an island, the other that there were never
any turkeys there. Everything, even the
monument in the family cemetery, had been
destroyed, but it was home. We loved it.
My Soldier was always passionately fond of
flowers, and our garden was an unfailing delight
to us both.
He tried to turn his sword into a plow-share,
but he was not expert with plowshares;
and, worse, he constantly received applications
for employment from old comrades no
more skilled than he. All were made welcome,
though they might not be able to distinguish
a rake from a rail fence or tell
whether potatoes grew on trees or on trellised
vines. They would rise at any hour that
pleased them, linger over breakfast, and then
go out to the fields. If the sun were too hot
or the wind too cold, they would come back,
to sit on the veranda or around the fire till
dinner was ready. There were generals, colonels,
majors, captains, lieutenants, privates—all
of one rank now; and he who desired a
graphic history of the four years' war needed
only to listen to the conversation of the agricultural
army at Turkey Island. But the inevitable came;
resources were in time exhausted, and proprietor and
assistants were forced to seek other fields.
The Khedive of Egypt offered my Soldier
the position of general in his army, but he declined.
When General Grant became President,
he entertained us as his guests at the
White House, and one of my keenest memories
is of President Grant and my Soldier as
they stood facing each other in the White
House office the last day of our visit. Grant's
hand was on the shoulder of my Soldier, and
they were looking earnestly into each other's
eyes. Grant, ever faithful to his friends, had
been urging my Soldier to accept the marshal-ship
of the State of Virginia. Pickett, sorely
as he needed the appointment, knew the demands
upon Grant, and that his acceptance
would create criticism and enemies for the
President. He shook his head, saying:
"You can't afford to do this for me, Sam,
and I can't afford to take it."
"I can afford to do anything I please," said
Grant. My Soldier still shook his head, but
the deep emotion of his heart shone in his tear-dimmed
eyes, and in Grant's, as they silently
grasped each other's hands and then walked
away in opposite directions and looked out of
separate windows, while I stole away.
My Soldier was urged to accept the position
with Generals Beauregard and Early
in connection with the Louisiana Lottery.
There was a large salary attached to it, but
he said there was not money enough in the
world to induce him to lend his name to it.
When he was offered the governorship of
Virginia, he said that he never again wanted
to hold any office, and would be glad to see
Kemper, his old brigadier, made governor.
Kemper was the only one of Pickett's brigadiers
who came out of the battle of Gettysburg,
and he was wounded and maimed for
life. He was elected governor, and as he was
a bachelor, my Soldier and I often assisted
him at his receptions.
For himself, my Soldier finally accepted
the general agency for the South of the Washington
Life Insurance Company, and held the
office till his death. The headquarters were
at Richmond. I always went with him on
his trips, and we spent our summers in the
External conditions as well as natural instincts
made my Soldier's life one of deep and
tragic earnestness. He was always grave and
dignified, but he was fond of jokes, especially
if they were on me. Once, when he was leaving
home for an absence of some length, he
asked how much money I would need. I
made a laborious calculation, and named a
sum which he promptly doubled. He had
not been gone long when I remembered an
obligation, and telegraphed him that I had
underestimated the amount. By the next
mail came a check carefully made payable to
"Mrs. Oliver Twist." I had to indorse it in
that way, and he always carried the cheque in
his pocket afterward for my benefit. I have
At the wedding breakfast given for General
Magruder's niece at the mansion of the
governor-general of Canada, the governor
asked my Soldier to what he attributed the
failure of the Confederates at Gettysburg.
With a twinkle in his eyes, he replied, "Well,
I think the Yankees had a little something to
do with it."
In the summer of 87, when we were
prepared to start for White Sulphur Springs, my
Soldier was suddenly called to Norfolk.
Very much against his advice, I insisted on
accompanying him. It was fortunate, for
after two days of anxious work he fell ill, and
died there. The evening he was dying, the
doctor wanted to give him an anodyne, but he
"Doctor, you say that I must die. I want
to go in my right mind. I would rather suffer
pain and know. Please leave me now. I
do not want anybody but my wife."
The longest procession of mourners ever
known in Virginia followed him to his grave
on Gettysburg Hill, in beautiful Hollywood.
General Longstreet has written of my Soldier:
"I first met him as a cadet at West Point, in the heyday
of his bright young manhood, in 1842. Upon graduating,
he was assigned to the regiment to which I had been promoted,
the Eighth United States Infantry, and Lieutenant
Pickett served gallantly with us continuously until, for
meritorious service, he was promoted captain in 1856. He
served with distinguished valor in all the battles of General
Scott in Mexico, including the siege of Vera Cruz, and
was always conspicuous for gallantry. He was the first
to scale the parapets of Chapultepec on the 13th of September,
1847, and was the brave American who unfurled
our flag over the castle as the enemy's troops retreated,
firing at the splendid Pickett as he floated our victorious
"In memory I can see him, of medium height, of graceful
build, dark, glossy hair, worn almost to his shoulders
in curly waves, of wondrous pulchritude and magnetic
presence, as he gallantly rode from me on that memorable
third day of July, 1863, saying, in obedience to the imperative
order to which I could only bow assent, 'I will lead
my division forward, General Longstreet.' He was devoted
to his martial profession . . .
"His greatest battle was really at Five Forks, April 1,
1865, where his plans and operations were masterful and
skillful. If they had been executed as he designed them
there might have been no Appomattox, and despite the
disparity of overwhelming numbers, a brilliant victory
would have been his if reinforcements which he had every
reason to expect had opportunely reached him; but they
were not ordered in season and did not join the hard-pressed
Pickett until night, when his position had long
since been attacked by vastly superior numbers with repeating
"He was of an open, frank, and genial temperament, but
he felt very keenly the distressing calamities entailed upon
the beloved sunny South by the results of the war; yet,
with the characteristic fortitude of a soldier, he bowed with
resignation to the inevitable, gracefully accepted the situation,
recognized the duty of the unfortunate to accept the
results in no querulous spirit, and felt his obligation to
share its effects.
"No word of blame, or censure even, of his superior
officers ever escaped Pickett's lips, but he nevertheless felt
profoundly the sacrifice of his gallant soldiers whom he so
loved. At Five Forks he had a desperate but a fighting
chance, and if any soldier could have snatched victory
from defeat, it was the intrepid Pickett, and it was cruel
to leave that brilliant and heroic leader and his Spartan
band to the same hard straits they so nobly met at Gettysburg.
At Five Forks Pickett lost more men in thirty
minutes than we lost, all told, in the recent Spanish-American
war from bullets, wounds, sickness, or any other
casualty, showing the unsurpassed bravery with which
Pickett fought, and the tremendous odds and insuperable
disadvantages under and against which this incomparable
soldier so bravely contended; but with George E. Pickett,
whether fighting under the stars and stripes at Chapultepec,
or under the stars and bars at Gettysburg, duty was his
polar star, and with him duty was above consequences, and
at a crisis, he would throw them overboard."
General McClellan has said:
"Perhaps there is no doubt that he was the best infantry
soldier developed on either side during the Civil War.
His friends and admirers are by no means confined to the
Southern people or soldiers to whom he gave his heart and
best affections and of whom he was so noble a type, but
throughout the North and on the Pacific coast, where he
long served, his friends and lovers are legion.
"He was of the purest type of the perfect soldier, possessing
manly beauty in the highest degree; a mind large
and capable of taking in the bearings of events under all
circumstances; of that firm and dauntless texture of soul
that no danger or shock of conflict could appall or confuse;
full of that rare magnetism which could infuse itself into
masses of men and cause any mass under his control to act
as one; his perception clear; his courage of that rare proof
which rose to the occasion; his genius for war so marked
that his companions all knew that his mind worked clearer
under fire and in the 'deadly and imminent breach,' than
even at mess-table or in the merry bivouac, where his genial
and kindly comradeship and his perfect breeding as a gentleman
made him beloved of his friends.
"He will live in history as nearer to Light Horse Harry,
of the Revolution, than any other of the many heroes produced
by Old Virginia—his whole history, when told, as
it will be by some of the survivors of Pickett's men, will
reveal a modern type of the Chevalier Bayard,
sans peur et
sans reproche. . . .
"Could he have had his wish, he had died amid the roar
of battle. No man of our age has better illustrated the
aptitude for war of his class of our country, and with these
talents for war was united the truest and sweetest nature.
No man of his time was more beloved of women, of men
and of soldiers. He was to the latter a rigid disciplinarian
and at the same time the soldier's friend. Virginia will
rank him in her roll of fame with Lee, with Johnston,
with Jackson they love as Stonewall; and mourners for the
noble and gallant gentleman, the able and accomplished
soldier, are legion."
These were the tributes of friend and enemy
- if any man, though he fought him on
the field of battle, could be called his enemy.
Rivers of blood did not quench the flames of
the campfires of Mexico and the West. My
Soldier's comrades under the old flag were
still his comrades through the crucial test of
that most deadly warfare, a conflict between
the opposing sections of the same country.
To me the legacy of love that he left in his
letters and in the memories of his daily life
is greater than any riches earth could give.
The nobility of soul with which he met the
problems that come to men in the arena of
the world is a treasured possession in my
heart even greater than his magnificent heroism
on the field of battle. The radiance of
the stars in the blue sky of peace eclipse the
crimson glow of the fiery comet of war. The
heart of "My Soldier" is mine to-day as it was
in that long-gone yesterday when I awaited
the messages that link the battlefield with tomorrow's
LA SALLE CORBELL PICKETT.
In the early days
of the Long Struggle
AT the time when
these letters begin,
the General (then Captain Pickett,
U.S.A.) was stationed at Fort Bellingham
in the northwest. Before leaving
Virginia, he had become engaged to
"Little Miss Sally" Corbell, who during
his absence was fitting herself at school
to be a soldier's wife. The summons to
arms in the cause of the seceding states
was late in reaching the Captain at his
far-away post, and he, being in the dark
as to the course of events, was even more
tardy to respond; but when the news came
telling of the withdrawal of his native
state from the Union he resigned his commission
immediately and cast his lot with
that of the Confederacy.
The letters in this part give many vivid
glimpses of the armies in action as they
do of the lighter side of a soldier's life,
during the first year and a half of the
War. There are lapses of weeks—even
months—between them, due to the fact
that some are missing; others, whose
pages time has stained, are undecipherable,
and in still other instances the fortunes
of war kept the General so near his
sweetheart that letters were not needed
to carry to her the tale of his love.
THE HEART OF A SOLDIER
In Which the General Tells Why He Sided
With the South
SEVERAL weeks ago I wrote quite a long
letter from far-away San Francisco to
a very dear little girl, and told her that a certain
soldier who wears one of her long, silken
ringlets next his heart was homeward bound
and that he hoped a line of welcome would
meet him on his arrival in his native state.
He told her of the difficulties he had experienced
in being relieved from his post, of how
sorry he was to sheathe the sword which had
helped to bring victory to the country for
which he had fought, and how sorry he was
to say good-by to his little command and to
part from his faithful and closest companion,
his dog, and his many dear friends; but sorrier
still for the existing circumstances which
made this severance necessary. He told her
many things for which, with him, she will be
sorry, and some of which he hopes will make
her glad. He is troubled by finding no answer
to this long letter which, having at that
time no notion of the real conditions here, he
is afraid was written too freely by far.
No, my child, I had no conception of the
intensity of feeling, the bitterness and hatred
toward those who were so lately our friends
and are now our enemies. I, of course, have
always strenuously opposed disunion, not as
doubting the right of secession, which was
taught in our text-book at West Point, but as
gravely questioning its expediency. I believed
that the revolutionary spirit which infected
both North and South was but a passing
phase of fanaticism which would perish under
the rebuke of all good citizens, who would
surely unite in upholding the Constitution;
but when that great assembly, composed of
ministers, lawyers, judges, chancellors, statesmen,
mostly white haired men of thought, met
in South Carolina and when their districts
were called crept noiselessly to the table in
the center of the room and affixed their signatures
to the parchment on which the ordinance
of secession was inscribed, and when in deathly
silence, spite of the gathered multitude,
General Jamison arose and without preamble
read: "The ordinance of secession has
been signed and ratified; I proclaim the State
of South Carolina an independent sovereignty,"
and lastly, when my old boyhood's
friend called for an invasion, it was evident
that both the advocates and opponents of secession
had read the portents aright.
You know, my little lady, some of those
cross-stitched mottoes on the cardboard samplers
which used to hang on my nursery wall,
such as, "He who provides not for his own
household is worse than an infidel" and
"Charity begins at home," made a lasting impression
upon me; and while I love my neighbor,
i.e., my country, I love my household,
i. e., my state, more, and I could not be an infidel
and lift my sword against my own kith
and kin, even though I do believe, my most
wise little counselor and confidante, that
the measure of American greatness can be
achieved only under one flag, and I fear, alas,
there can never again reign for either of us the
true spirit of national unity whether divided
under two flags or united under one.
We did not tarry even for a day in 'Frisco,
but under assumed names my friend, Sam
Barron, and I sailed for New York, where we
arrived on the very day that Sam's father,
Commodore Barron, was brought there a prisoner,
which fact was proclaimed aloud by the
pilot amid cheers of the passengers and upon
our landing heralded by the newsboys with
more cheers. Poor Sam had a hard fight to
hide his feelings and to avoid arrest. We
separated as mere ship acquaintances, and
went by different routes to meet again, as arranged,
at the house of Doctor Paxton, a
Southern sympathizer and our friend.
On the next day we left for Canada by the
earliest train. Thence we made our perilous
way back south again, barely escaping arrest
several times, and finally arrived in dear old
Richmond, September 13th, just four days
ago. I at once enlisted in the army and the
following day was commissioned Captain.
But so bitter is the feeling here that my being
unavoidably delayed so long in avowing my
allegiance to my state has been most cruelly
and severely criticized by friends—yes, and
even relatives, too.
Now, little one, if you had the very faintest
idea how happy a certain captain in the C.S.A.
(My, but that "C" looks queer!) would be
to look into your beautiful, soul-speaking eyes
and hear your wonderfully musical voice, I
think you would let him know by wire where
he could find you. I shall almost listen for
the electricity which says, "I am at—.
Come." I know that you will have mercy on
Richmond, September 17, 1861.
Written After a Light Skirmish With the
YOUR welcome note gladdened my drooping
spirits last evening. How can I
thank you for the token?
1 I shall always
cherish it, my darling. I sent a short note to
you via Petersburg to Wakefield. I sincerely
trust you received it, as in it I advised you not
to come down into this part of the country.
The Yankees are burning everything they can
reach, and God only knows what excesses they
may commit on the defenseless, should they
have the power. So much troubled am I
about you, that I send this by a courier of my
own, that he may deliver it to you in person
(how I wish I were the courier). I'm afraid
you will only expose yourself needlessly to
1. A wreath and stars, which she had embroidered for his
harm. I don't know when I shall see you,
but I should be nearly as far from you as at
present. At any rate, I should be worse than
miserable did I know you were so near these
now apparently infuriated beings.
Alas, my darling, as the Indian says when
despondent, "My heart is on the ground."
The enemy has been strongly reënforced, and
the town is one network of batteries and
entrenchments. I have had two little brushes with
them, running them into their works both
times—the first one yesterday week. I was
ordered to make a reconnaissance in force,
which was done by a part of Armistead's Brigade,
and in so doing we got under a concentrated
fire of about sixteen guns and had
as jolly a little time of it for about fifteen
minutes as I ever saw. Parrot and round
shot were about as thick as the ticks are, and
their name is legion. However, the object
was effected, and we have lost altogether
only about seventy-five men from my
Haven't you some relatives living this side
of the Blackwater—a Captain Phillips of the
3rd? Write me, my dearest. Two long,
weary weeks since I drank comfort from those
bright eyes—to me a year of anxiety.
Your devoted and miserable
New Somerton Road, April 21, 1862.
Concerning Legitimate Warfare, Secession
and the Mishaps of an Old Major of
MY heart beat with joy this morning when
Captain Peacock returned to camp,
bringing me your beautiful letter—beautiful
because it was the echo of a pure spirit and a
radiant soul. I am humbly grateful, my
little girl, for this loyal devotion which you
give me—your Soldier. Let us pray to our
dear Heavenly Father to spare us to each
other and give us strength to bear cheerfully
this enforced separation. I know that it cannot
be long, and that sooner or later our flag
will float over the seas of the world, for our
cause is right and just.
Why, my Sally, all that we ask is a separation
from people of contending interests, who
love us as a nation as little as we love them,
the dissolution of a union which has lost its
holiness, to be let alone and permitted to sit
under our own vine and fig tree and eat our
figs peeled and dried or fresh or pickled, just
as we choose. The enemy is our enemy because
he neither knows nor understands us,
and yet will not let us part in peace and be
neighbors, but insists on fighting us to make
us one with him, forgetting that both slavery
and secession were his own institutions. The
North is fighting for the Union, and we—for
home and fireside. All the men I know and
love in the world—comrades and friends, both
North and South—are exposed to hardships
and dangers, and are fighting on one side or
the other, and each for that which he knows
to be right.
Speaking of fighting, Captain Peacock this
morning brings us the news that the daring,
fearless—has again won—shall I say, a victory?
No, not victory. Victory is such a
glorious, triumphant word. I cannot use it
in speaking of warfare that is illegal to many
of us. Marse Robert's 1
approval and commendation
of this illegitimate mode is a source
of surprise, for, like many of us, the dear old
1. General Lee.
"Tyee" was reared and schooled in honorable
Well, as Trenholm said, only those who
have enlisted for this whole war, with muskets
on their shoulders and knapsacks on their
backs, have a right to criticize; but I reserve
even from these the right, and acknowledge
myself wrong in criticizing. An old army
story, though hardly illustrative enough to be
justifiable in telling, occurs to me:
An old major of artillery, who was always
deploring the fact that he couldn't use his own
favorite arm against the Indians, determined
one day to try the moral effect of it upon a
tribe of friendly ones nearby. So he took one
of the small howitzers which defended the
fort and securely strapped it to the back of an
army mule, with the muzzle projecting over
the mule's tail, and then proceeded with the
captain, sergeant and orderly to the bluff on
the bank of the Missouri where the Indians
were encamped. The gun was loaded and
primed, the fuse inserted and the mule backed
to the very edge of the bluff.
The mule with his wonted curiosity, hearing
the fizzing, turned his head to see what
unusual thing was happening to him. The
next second his feet were bunched up together,
making forty revolutions a minute, the gun
threatening with instant destruction everything
within a radius of five miles. The captain
climbed a tree, the sergeant and orderly
following suit. The fat major, too heavy to
climb, rolled over on the ground, alternately
praying to God and cursing the mule. When
the explosion came, the recoil of the gun and
the wild leap of the terrified mule carried
both over the bluff and to the bottom of
the river. The captain, the sergeant and the
poor, crestfallen, discomfited major, with the
mule and the gun to account for, returned to
the fort, soon to be waited on by the Indian
chiefs, who had held a hurried council. The
high chief, bowing his head up and down,
"Injun go home. Injun ver' brave. Injun
love white man. Injun help white man. Injun
heap use gun, use knife, heap use bow-arrow;
but when white man shoot off whole
jackass, Injun no think right—no can understand.
Injun no help white man fight that
way. Injun go home."
So, my Sally, if you will forgive your
Soldier for telling this old-time story and let
him say that he does not approve of fighting
in the way in which- fights, he will bid
you good-by and eat his breakfast, which the
cook says is getting cold. Will you come, my
darling, and have some coffee with your
Soldier? It is some we captured, and is real
Come! The tin cup is clean and shining;
but the corn-bread is greasy and smoked.
And the bacon—that is greasy, too, but it is
good and tastes all right, if it will only hold
out till our Stars and Bars wave over the land
of the free and the home of the brave, and
we have our own home. Nevermore we'll
hear of wars, but only love and life with its
YOUR OWN SOLDIER.
Headquarters, May—, 1862.
In Which Are Given Certain Important Details
of the Battle of Seven Pines
A VIOLENT storm was raging, flooding
the level ground, as I wrote you last,
followed the next day by one of fire and blood
- the Battle of Seven Pines.
I pray that you accepted the invitation of
your mountain chum, and that your beautiful
eyes and tender heart have been spared the
horrors of war which this battle must have
poured into sad Richmond. Three hundred
and fifty of your Soldier's brigade, 1,700
strong, were killed or wounded, and all fought
as Virginians should, fighting as they did for
the right, for love, honor, home and state—
principles which they had been taught from
the mothers' knees, the schoolroom and the
Under orders from Old
Peter, 1 we marched
1. General Longstreet.
at daylight and reported to D. H. Hill, near
Seven Pines. Hill directed me to ride over
and communicate with Hood. I started at
once with Charlie and Archer, of my staff, to
obey this order, but had gone only a short distance
when we met a part of the Louisiana
Zouaves in panic. I managed to seize and detain
one fellow, mounted on a mule that
seemed to have imbibed his rider's fear and
haste. The man dropped his plunder and
seizing his carbine threatened to kill me unless
I released him at once, saying that the
Yankees were upon his heels. We galloped
back to Hill's headquarters—Archer bringing
up the rear with the Zouave, who explained
that the enemy were advancing in force and
were within a few hundred yards of us. Hill
ordered me to attack at once, which I did,
driving them through an abatis over a crossroad
leading to the railroad.
As we were nearing the second abatis, I, on
foot at the time, noticed that Armistead's Brigade
had broken, and sent a courier back post-haste
to Hill for troops. A second and third
message were sent and then a fourth, telling
him that if he would send me more troops and
ammunition we could drive the enemy across
the Chickahominy. But alas, Hill, as brave,
as great, as heroic a soldier as he is, has, since
the fall of Johnston, been so bothered and annoyed
with countermanding orders that he
was, if I may say so, confused and failed to
respond. After this delay nothing was left for
us but to withdraw. Hill sent two regiments
of Colston's Brigade and ordered Mahone's
Brigade on my right, and at one o'clock at
night, under his orders, we withdrew in perfect
order and the enemy retreated to their
Thus, my darling, was ended the Battle of
Seven Pines. No shot was fired afterward.
How I wish I could say it ended all battles
and that the last shot that will ever be heard
was fired on June first, 1862. What a change
love does make! How tender all things become
to a heart touched by love—how beautiful
the beautiful is and how abhorrent is evil!
See, my darling, see what power you have—
guard it well.
I have heard that my dear old friend, McClellan,
is lying ill about ten miles from here.
May some loving, soothing hand minister to
him. He was, he is and he will always be,
even were his pistol pointed at my heart, my
dear, loved friend. May God bless him and
spare his life. You, my darling, may not be
in sympathy with this feeling, for I know you
see "no good in Nazareth." Forgive me for
feeling differently from you, little one, and
please don't love me any the less. You cannot
understand the entente cordiale between us
Mechanicsville Turnpike, June 1, 1862.
Containing a Presentiment of Danger—the
Night Before He was Wounded at
ALL last night, my darling Sally, the spirit
of my dead mother seemed to hover over
me. When she was living and I used to feel
in that way, I always, as sure as fate, received
from her a letter written at the very time that
I had the sensation of her presence. I wonder
if up there she is watching over me, trying to
send me some message—some warning. I
wish I knew.
This morning my brigade moved from its
cantonments on the Williamsburg road and
by daybreak was marching along the Mechanicsville
turnpike, leading north of Richmond.
The destination and character of the expedition,
my darling, is unknown; but the position
of other troops indicates a general movement.
This evening we crossed the Chickahominy
and are bivouacked on our guns in the road
in front of Mechanicsville, from which point
I am blessing my spirit and refreshing my soul
by sending a message to my promised wife.
I am tired and sleepy, several times to-day
going to sleep on my horse.
This war was really never contemplated in
earnest. I believe if either the North or the
South had expected that their differences
would result in this obstinate struggle, the
cold-blooded Puritan and the cock hatted
Huguenot and Cavalier would have made a
compromise. Poor old Virginia came oftener
than Noah's dove with her olive branch.
Though she desired to be loyal to the Union
of States, she did not believe in the right of
coercion, and when called upon to furnish
troops to restrain her sister states she refused,
and would not even permit the passage of an
armed force through her domain for that purpose.
With no thought of cost, she rolled up
her sleeves, ready to risk all in defense of a
principle consecrated by the blood of her
fathers. And now, alas, it is too late. We
must carry through this bitter task unto the
end. May the end be soon!
Camp, June 27, 1862.
At His Old Home Recovering From His
IT is only when you are here with me, my
darling, that I am not chafing, fretting,
under my enforced absence from my command.
As poor a marksman as the Yankee
was who shot me, I wish he had been poorer
still, aiming, as he must have been, either at
my head or my heart and breaking my wing.
He was frightened, too, I suspect, and had,
besides, too much powder in his load. What
did you want with that shot-smoked, burnt
coat sleeve? The arm it held is yours to work
for and shield you, my love, for always.
Impatient and restive as I am to get back
to the field, letters and reports just received
show me that I am not missed and that my
gallant old brigade is proving its valor as
loyally under its new leader as when it so fearlessly
followed your Soldier. It held Waterloo
Bridge against Pope while Jackson crossed
the Rappahannock, and on the afternoon
of the 30th received and repelled the onset
of Fitz John Porter, magnificently clearing
the field and winning a victory for our
The news came, too, this morning of the
death of Kearny, one of the most brilliant generals
of the Federal Army, a man whose fame
as a soldier is world-wide. I knew him first
in Mexico, where, as you know, he lost an arm
at the siege of Mexico City. In Algeria he
won the Cross of the Legion of Honor. He
fought with the French in the battles of
Magenta and Solferino and received also from
Napoleon Third the decoration of the Legion
of Honor. I wish we had taken him prisoner
instead of shooting him. I hate to have such
a man as Kearny killed. Marse Robert, who
was his old friend, sent his body to Pope under
a flag of truce. I am glad he did that—poor
The same courier, brought the sad news
that our Ewell had lost a leg and our Talliaferro
had been wounded. And these are the
horrors to which, when away from you, my
beautiful darling, your soldier is impatient to
Never, never did men, since the world began,
fight like ours. The Duke of Somerset,
who sneeringly laughed when he saw our
ragged, dirty, barefooted soldiers—"Mostly
beardless boys," as he said—took off his hat in
reverence when he saw them fight.
Mostly Concerning Bob, His Body-Servant
HOW I shall miss your visit to-day, my
darling! I wish you had not gone.
Don't stay. Doctor Minnegerode asked me
this morning when he called, "Who sent the
beautiful flowers?" Bob, to save me from
answering, said, "De same young lady sont de
flowers, Marse Doctor, dat 'broidered dat cape
fer Marse George, en 'broidered dem dar
slippers he's got on, en sont him de 'broidered
stars dat he w'ars on his coat when he w'ars
it; but dat young lady ain't de onlyest young
lady dat sends Marse George flowers en
things. No, Suh."
The dear old doctor understood; he winked
at me and changed the subject. He is as loyal
to the South, dear old fellow, as if his ancestors
had landed at Jamestown. When he
asked after my wound he said he would like
to pray with me, though the dear old man
pronounced it, with his German accent,
"bray," and that reminded me of a story, and
instead of having my thoughts and my heart
set upon his beautiful prayer as I should have
- miserable sinner that I was—I began thinking
of Tom August, who said that one Sunday
someone meeting him coming out of Old St.
Paul's asked him what was the matter. He
replied, "Oh, nothing. I'm not a jackass and
I'm not going to bray, and old Doctor Minnegerode
not only insists that I, but that his
whole congregation, shall 'bray.' I, for one,
will not do it and I don't want to make a row
about it; so I came out. I wonder what the
effect would be if we took him literally and
did all 'bray'?"
Now, my darling, forgive this foolish story.
I learned to like story-telling, listening as a
boy to the best story-teller in the world, Mr.
Even the bird knows you are not coming
to-day, for he doesn't sing. I shall hold you
to the last line of your sweet note, which says,
"I'll come to you, my Soldier, before the
flowers die." When Bob asked me, "Is Miss
Sallie comin' dis ebenin' er in de mornin'?"
I answered, "She does not mention any set
time, Bob. She only says she'll come before
the flowers die." "De flowers ain't waxinated
flowers, is dey, Marse George?" he asked.
"Den if dey ain't waxinated 'twon't be long fo'
she is here."
When I asked him to hold the paper while
I wrote, he humbly, beseechingly asked,
"Please, Suh, Marse George, ef hit ain't axin'
too much, when you comes ter writin' er dem
dar words lak love en honey en darlin', er any
er dem poetry rhymes 'bout roses red en
violets blue, won't you please, Suh, show 'em
ter me?" I didn't promise him, my sweetheart.
I only said, "Hold that paper steady,
Sir, and don't let it slip." But when I did
call you "darling" or tell you I loved you, I
felt so guilty that the rascal knew it and
Written Upon His Return to His Old Command
DARLING, my heart turns to you with a
love so great that pain follows in its
wake. You cannot understand this, my beautiful,
bright-eyed, sunny-hearted princess.
Your face, is the sweetest face in all the world,
mirroring, as it does, all that is pure and unselfish,
and I must not cast a shadow over it by
the fears that come to me, in spite of myself.
No, a soldier should not know fear of any
kind. I must fight and plan and hope, and
you must pray. Pray for a realization of all
our beautiful dreams, sitting beside our own
hearthstone in our own home—you and I, you
my goddess of devotion, and I your devoted
slave. May God in his mercy spare my life
and make it worthy of you!
My shoulder and arm are still quite stiff,
and I cannot yet put my sleeve on the wounded
arm. I have on one sleeve, and my coat is
thrown over my other shoulder and other arm.
I can reach my mouth with my hand by bending
my neck way over; so I am not helpless.
Bob still buttons my collar and does some
other little services. Until I have more control
of my arm, however, I shall confine myself
to riding old Black and not venture on
Lucy. Enough of so small a matter.
My boys are delighted to welcome me back,
showing their affection for me in many, many
ways. Garnett is still in command of my dear
old brigade, which was temporarily turned
over to him when I was wounded and which,
under his gallant leadership, has sustained its
old reputation for fearlessness and endurance.
I miss dear, familiar faces, for many of the
brave fellows have been killed and wounded.
You have heard me speak of Colonel Strange
- a gallant soldier. He was wounded and
left behind. After he was shot the plucky old
chap called out in a loud, clear voice, "Stand
firm, boys; stand firm."
Well, the Yankees won the battle, but McClellan's
delay in winning enabled Old Jack 1
to seize Harper's Ferry, so it was not so great
a victory for them after all. Old Jack's note
1. General Stonewall Jackson.
to Marse Robert, telling him of his success,
was characteristic in both brevity and diction.
He said, "Through God's mercy Harper's
Ferry and its garrison are to be surrendered."
The seventeenth following is recorded in letters
of blood for both armies, and in its wake
came Lincoln's great political victory, proving
the might of the pen, in his Emancipation
Proclamation—winning with it the greatest
victory yet for the North. It will behoove us
now to heed well the old story of "The Lark
and the Husbandman," for it will be farewell
to all foreign intervention unless Greek meets
Greek and we fight fire with fire and we, too,
issue an Emancipation Proclamation. I pray
God that the powers that reign will have the
wisdom and foresight to see this in its true
and all-pervading light. It would end the
war, and I should assume as soon as practicable
the rôle of schoolmaster and husband to
the brightest little pupil and the sweetest little
wife in all the world.
P.S. Have been placed temporarily in
command of a division.
Sept. 25, 1862.
On the Occasion of His Promotion to the Rank
of Major-General—Telling of Jackson and
TO-DAY I was officially promoted to the
rank of Major-General and permanently
placed in command of a division. My dear
old brigade, which I love and which was with
me in the battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines
and Gaines's Mill, was assigned to General
Garnett and there comes somehow, in spite of
everything, a little "kind of curious" feeling
within when I hear it called "Garnett's Brigade,"
even though he has been in command
of it almost ever since I was wounded and has
won for it distinction and from it love and
Old Dick is a fine fellow, a brave, splendid
soldier. He was in the Mexican war and was
wounded in the battle of Mexico. He commanded
a brigade under Old Jack and was
for a time in command of the famous old
"Stonewall Brigade." You have not met him,
my sweetheart; but I want you to know him.
He is as sensitive and proud as he is fearless
and sweet-spirited, and has felt more keenly
than most men would Old Jack's censure of
him at the battle of Kernstown, when all his
ammunition gave out and he withdrew his
brigade from the field, for which Old Jack
had him arrested and relieved from duty.
Old Jack told Lawton that in arresting Garnett
he had no reference to his want of daring,
which was surprising for Old Jack to say, who
never explains anything.
Lawton, who is one of his generals, says Old
Jack holds himself as the god of war, giving
short, sharp commands, distinctly, rapidly and
decisively, without consultation or explanation
and disregarding suggestions and remonstrances.
Being himself absolutely fearless,
and having unusual mental and moral, as
well as physical, courage, he goes ahead on his
own hook, asking no advice and resenting interference.
He places no value on human life,
caring for nothing so much as fighting,
unless it be praying. Illness, wounds and all
disabilities he defines as inefficiency and
indications of a lack of patriotism. Suffering
from insomnia, he often uses his men as a sedative,
and when he can't sleep calls them out,
marches them out a few miles; then marches
them back. He never praises his men for gallantry,
because it is their duty to be gallant
and they do not deserve credit for doing their
duty. Well, my own darling, I only pray that
God may spare him to us to see us through.
If General Lee had Grant's resources he would
soon end the war; but Old Jack can do it without
Bless your heart, here I am talking of these
old war-horses to my flower queen. Well, she
knows how entirely I love her and how I have
left in her keeping my soul's all.
Lovingly and faithfully,
Oct. 11, 1862.
From the Field of Fredericksburg
HERE we are, my darling, at Fredericksburg,
on the south side of the Rappahannock,
half-way between Richmond and Washington,
fortified for us by the hand of the
I penciled you a note by
old Jackerie 1 on the
12th from the foot of the Hills between Hazel
Run and the Telegraph Road. In it I sent
a hyacinth—given me by a pretty lady who
came out with beaten biscuit—and some unwritten
and written messages from Old Peter
and Old Jack, Hood, Ewell, Stuart, and your
"brothers," to the "someone" to whom I was
My division, nine thousand strong, is in fine
shape. It was on the field of battle, as a division,
for the first time yesterday, though only
one brigade, Kemper's, was actively engaged.
1. Headquarters Postmaster.
What a day it was, my darling—this ever to be
remembered by many of us thirteenth of
December—dawning auspiciously upon us clad
in deepest, darkest mourning! A fog such as
would shame London lay over the valley, and
through the dense mist distinctly came the uncanny
commands of the unseen opposing officers.
My men were eager to be in the midst of
the fight, and if Hood had not been so cautious
they would probably have immortalized themselves.
Old Peter's orders were that Hood and
myself were to hold our ground of defense unless
we should see an opportunity to attack the
enemy while engaged with A. P. Hill on the
right. A little after ten, when the fog had
lifted and Stuart's cannon from the plain of
Massaponax were turned upon Meade and
when Franklin's advance left the enemy's flank
open, I went up to Hood and urged him to
seize the opportunity; but he was afraid to assume
so great a responsibility and sent for permission
to Old Peter, who was with Marse
Robert in a different part of the field. Before
his assent and approval were received, the opportunity,
alas, was lost!
If war, my darling, is a necessity—and I
suppose it is—it is a very cruel one. Your
Soldier's heart almost stood still as he watched
those sons of Erin fearlessly rush to their
death. The brilliant assault on Marye's
Heights of their Irish Brigade was beyond
description. Why, my darling, we forgot
they were fighting us, and cheer after cheer
at their fearlessness went up all along our
lines. About fifty of my division sleep their
last sleep at the foot of Marye's Heights.
I can't help feeling sorry for Old Burnside
- proud, plucky, hard-headed old dog. I always
liked him, but I loved little Mac, 1 and it
was a godsend to the Confederacy that he was
Oh, my darling, war and its results did not
seem so awful till the love for you came.
Now—now I want to love and bless and help
everything, and there are no foes—no enemies
just love for you and longing for you.
Fredericksburg, Dec. 14, 1862.
During the Six Months
DURING the period
covered by the
letters in this part the burdens of
the war fell heavily upon the soul of
the General's little sweetheart, as they
did upon the whole South. Lee's campaign
into Pennsylvania carried his army
for many months into the country of the
enemy. It was a land that was strange
to the men and stranger still to the imagination
of the sorrowing ones who
stayed behind. And at the end of it came
Gettysburg, where more than five thousand
sons and husbands and lovers laid
down their lives for the cause they thought
to be just.
Pickett's charge at Gettysburg is one
of those deeds of arms that are immortal.
When it was over—ending in defeat as
it did, on account of the lack of promised
supports—two-thirds of his beloved division
lay sleeping on the slope of Cemetary
Ridge and the heart of their fearless
commander was crushed by the thought of
their sacrifice and the suffering that it
meant to the Southland.
From the General's Old Home On the Suffolk
TO-DAY I rode on ahead of my division,
stopped for a moment at our old home,
ran into the garden and gathered for my darling
some lilies of the valley, planted by my
sweet mother, which I knew were now in the
full glory of their blossoming. As I plucked
them one by one, I thought of the dear mother
who had planted them and the sweet bride-to-be
who would receive them, and my heart
went up in gratitude for the great love given
me by both.
While I am writing to you, Braxton and
the cook and the whole household, in fact,
are busy getting a lunch for me and preparing
to load up my courier and my boy, Bob, with
as many more lunches as they can carry, to be
distributed as far as they will go. My little
sister is making a paper box to hold my lilies
for you, and I am writing a love-letter to stand
sentinel over them and guard the sweet, sacred
messages entrusted to them. Old Jackerie
will take them to you and will also bring you,
with my sister's love, a box of her own home-made
Perhaps, sweetheart, perhaps I say, you will
see your Soldier sooner than you think. You
know that since the capture of Roanoke Island
and our abandonment of Norfolk and Suffolk,
all that section of the country has been in the
hands of the enemy. Now in the extreme
northeast corner of North Carolina are stored
away large quantities of corn and bacon. Old
Peter, our far-seeing, slow but sure, indefatigable,
plodding old war-horse, has planned to
secure some of these sorely needed supplies for
our poor, half fed army—and there never was
such an army, such an uncomplaining, plucky
body of men—never.
Why, my darling, during these continuous
ten days' march, the ground snowy and sleety,
the feet of many of these soldiers covered only
with improvised moccasins of raw beef hide,
and hundreds of them without shoes or blankets
or overcoats, they have not uttered one
word of complaint, nor one murmuring tone;
but cheerily, singing or telling stories, they
have tramped—tramped—tramped. To
crown it all, after having marched sixty miles
over half frozen, slushy roads they passed today
through Richmond, the home of many of
them, without a halt, with not a straggler—
greeted and cheered by sweethearts, wives,
mothers and friends. "God bless you, my
darling," "God bless you, my son," "Hello,
old man," "Howdy, Charley," rang all along
the line. Lunches, slices of bread and meat,
bottles of milk or hot coffee were thrust into
grateful hands by the dear people of Richmond,
who thus brought comfort and cheer
to many a hungry one besides their very own,
as the men hurriedly returned the greetings
and marched on. You would hardly recognize
these ragged, barefoot soldiers as the
trim, tidy boys of two years ago in their handsome
gray uniforms, with shining equipment
and full haversacks and knapsacks.
Be brave and help me to be brave, my darling,
and to trust in God. I won't say, "Keep
your powder dry," for one who doesn't know
enough to do that is not much of a soldier.
Faithfully and forever your
In Which He Urges his Betrothed to Marry
Him at Once
THIS morning I awakened from a beautiful
dream, and while its glory still over-shadows
the waking and fills my soul with
radiance I write to make an earnest request—
entreating, praying, that you will grant it.
You know, my darling, we have no prophets
in these days to tell us how near or how far is
the end of this awful struggle. If "the battle
is not to the strong" then we may win; but
when all our ports are closed and the world
is against us, when for us a man killed is a
man lost, while Grant may have twenty-five
of every nation to replace one of his, it seems
that the battle is to the strong. So often already
has hope been dashed to the winds.
Why, dear, only a little while since, the
Army of the Potomac recrossed the Rappahannock,
defeated, broken in spirit, the men
deserting, the subordinate officers so severe in
their criticism of their superiors that the great
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Mr. Lincoln,
felt it incumbent upon him to write a
severe letter of censure and rebuke. Note the
change and hear their bugle-call of hope.
Hooker, who is alleged to have "the finest
army on the planet," is reported to be on the
eve of moving against Richmond. My division
and that of Hood, together with the
artillery of Dearing and Henry, have been
ordered to a point near Petersburg to meet this
Now, my darling, may angels guide my pen
and help me to write—help me to voice this
longing desire of my heart and intercede for
me with you for a speedy fulfillment of your
promise to be my wife. As you know, it is
imperative that I should remain at my post
and absolutely impossible for me to come for
you. So you will have to come to me. Will
you, dear? Will you come? Can't your
beautiful eyes see beyond the mist of my
eagerness and anxiety that in the bewilderment
of my worship—worshiping, as I do, one so
divinely right, and feeling that my love is returned
- how hard it is for me to ask you to
overlook old-time customs, remembering only
that you are to be a soldier's wife? A week, a
day, an hour as your husband would engulf in
its great joy all my past woes and ameliorate
all future fears.
So, my Sally, don't let's wait; send me a line
back by Jackerie saying you will come. Come
at once, my darling, into this valley of the
shadow of uncertainty, and make certain the
comfort that if I should fall I shall fall as your
You know that I love you with a devotion
that absorbs all else—a devotion so divine that
when in dreams I see you it is as something
too pure and sacred for mortal touch. And if
you only knew the heavenly life which thrills
me through when I make it real to myself that
you love me, you would understand. Think,
my dear little one, of the uncertainty and dangers
of even a day of separation, and don't let
the time come when either of us will look back
and say, "It might have been."
If I am spared, my dear, all my life shall be
devoted to making you happy, to keeping all
that would hurt you far from you, to making
all that is good come near to you. Heaven
will help me to be ever helpful to you and
will bless me to bless you. If you knew how
every hour I kneel at your altar, if you could
hear the prayers I offer to you and to our
Heavenly Father for you, if you knew the incessant
thought and longing and desire to
make you blessed, you would know how much
your answer will mean to me and how, while
I plead, I am held back by a reverence and a
sensitive adoration for you. For, my Sally,
you are my goddess and I am only
In Camp, April 15, 1863.
To those who recall the rigid system of social
training in which a girl of that period was reared, it will
not seem strange that a maiden, even in war times, could
not seriously contemplate the possibility of leaving home
and being married by the wayside in that desultory and
unstudied fashion. So, though my heart responded to
the call, what could I do but adhere to the social laws,
more formidable than were ever the majestic canons of
the ecclesiasts? My Soldier admitted that I was right,
and we agreed to await a more favorable time.
- LA SALLE CORBELL PICKETT.
Warning Her to Leave the Danger Zone
HOPING, my darling, that you heeded
your Soldier's admonition, and are now
safe across the "Black Water," I am taking
the risk of sending to you at Ivor, by my boy
servant, Bob, a little box of dulces and a note
filled with adoration.
My orders to follow Hood's Division have
been countermanded. Hood was hurried on
from the "Black Water" by rail to rejoin
Marse Robert, who has just gained a great
victory at Chancellorsville. I am ordered instead
to proceed at once with three of my brigades
to Petersburg, via the "Jerusalem-Plank-Road,"
to intercept a cavalry raid.
Perhaps, my darling, I shall have met these
raiders ere this reaches you. Who knows
how many of us may then hear the roll-call
from the other side and be sorry? But sorry
for whom? For the comrades who answer to
their names and are reported present, or for
those spirit voices, just born, have not
yet gained the power to reach the ear of the
orderly and who are reported dead, even
though they, too, answer, "Here"? For, my
darling, there is no death, and you must feel
- must know—now and always, that whether
here or there, at the roll-call your Soldier
Now, adieu, my beloved. Close your
brown eyes and feel my arms around you, for
I am holding you close—oh, so close!
May 5, 1863.
Written When Lee Crossed the Potomac
EACH day, my darling, takes me farther
and farther away from you, from all I
love and hold dear. We have been guarding
the passes of the Blue Ridge. To-day, under
orders from Marse Robert, we cross the Potomac.
McLaws' and Hood's Divisions and
the three brigades of my division follow on
after Hill. May our Heavenly Father bless
us with an early and a victorious return. But
even then, the price of it—the price of it, my
little one—the blood of our countrymen!
God in His mercy temper the wind to us!
As I returned the salute of my men, many
of them beardless boys, the terrible responsibility
as their Commander almost overwhelmed
me, and my heart was rent in prayer
for guidance and help. Oh, the desolate
homes—the widows and orphans and heartbroken
mothers that this campaign will make!
How many of them, so full of hope and cheer
now, will cross that other river which lands
them at the Eternal Home.
Have faith, my little one; keep up a
Your soldier feels that
he will return to claim his bride—his beautiful,
glorious bride. And then we shall be so
happy, my darling, that all our days to come,
we will show our loving gratitude to our
Father for His mercy in sparing us to each
Now, my Sally, how I hate to say it—
adieu. Do you remember how many times
we said good-by that last evening? And then
as I heard the latch of the gate click and shut
me out, I was obliged to go back. I could not
stand the cruelty of the sound of that latch—
it seemed to knife my soul. I turned back and
said, "Good night!" The door was open; I
came in. You thought I had gone. I can't
just remember how many times I said good
night. I know I did not close the gate as I
went out again. Keep another gate open for
the good morning, my precious bride-to-be.
Oh, the bliss to be—the bliss to be then for
In Camp, June 18, 1863.
Chinook for strong heart.
On the Way Through Pennsylvania
I NEVER could quite enjoy being a "Conquering
Hero." No, my dear, there is something radically
wrong about my Hurrahism.
I can fight for a cause I know to be just,
can risk my own life and the lives of those in
my keeping without a thought of the consequences;
but when we've conquered, when
we've downed the enemy and won the victory,
I don't want to hurrah. I want to go off all
by myself and be sorry for them—want to lie
down in the grass, away off in the woods somewhere
or in some lone valley on the hillside
far from all human sound, and rest my soul
and put my heart to sleep and get back something—I
don't know what—but something I
had that is gone from me—something subtle
and unexplainable—something I never knew
I had till I had lost it—till it was gone—gone
Yesterday my men were marching victoriously
through the little town of Greencastle,
the bands all playing our glorious, soul inspiring,
southern airs: "The Bonny Blue Flag,"
"My Maryland," "Her Bright Smile Haunts
Me Still," and the soldiers all happy, hopeful,
joyously keeping time to the music, many following
it with their voices and making up for
the want of the welcome they were not receiving
in the enemy's country by cheering themselves
and giving themselves a welcome. As
Floweree's band, playing "Dixie," was passing
a vine-bowered home, a young girl rushed out
on the porch and waved a United States flag.
Then, either fearing that it might be taken
from her or finding it too large and unwieldy,
she fastened it around her as an apron, and
taking hold of it on each side and waving it in
defiance, called out with all the strength of her
girlish voice and all the courage of her brave
"Traitors—traitors—traitors, come and take
this flag, the man of you who dares!"
Knowing that many of my men were from a
section of the country which had been within
the enemy's lines, and fearing lest some might
forget their manhood, I took off my hat and
bowed to her, saluted her flag and then turned,
facing the men who felt and saw my unspoken
order. And don't you know that they were
all Virginians and didn't forget it, and that
almost every man lifted his cap and cheered
the little maiden who, though she kept on waving
her flag, ceased calling us traitors, till
letting it drop in front of her she cried out:
"Oh, I wish I wish I had a rebel flag; I'd
wave that, too."
The picture of that little girl in the vine-covered
porch, beneath the purple morning
glories with their closed lips and bowed heads
waiting and saving their prettiness and bloom
for the coming morn—of course, I thought of
you, my darling. For the time, that little
Greencastle Yankee girl with her beloved flag
was my own little promised-to-be-wife, receiving
from her Soldier and her Soldier's soldiers
the reverence and homage due her.
We left the little girl standing there with the
flag gathered up in her arms, as if too sacred
to be waved now that even the enemy had done
Pa., June 24, 1863.
Lines Penned on the Road to Gettysburg
WE crossed the Potomac on the 24th at
Williamsport and went into bivouac on
the Maryland side, from which place I sent my
Lady-Love a long letter and some flowers
gathered on the way. We then went on to
Hagerstown, where we met A. P. Hill's Corps,
which had crossed the river farther down.
From Hagerstown I sent to the same and only
Lady-Love another letter, which was not only
freighted with all the adoration and devotion
of her Soldier's heart, but contained messages
from the staff and promises to take care of him
and bring him safely back to her.
We made no delay at Hagerstown, but passing
through in the rear of Hill's Corps moved
on up Cumberland Valley and bivouacked at
Greencastle, where the most homesick letter of
all yet written was sent to—well, guess whom
this time. Why, to the same Lady-Love, the
sweetest, loveliest flower that ever blossomed to
bless and make fairer a beautiful world—for it
is beautiful, betokening in its loveliness nothing
of this deadly strife between men who
should be brethren of a great and common
cause, as they are the heritage of a great and
The officers and men are all in excellent
condition, bright and cheerful, singing songs
and telling stories, full of hope and courage,
inspired with absolute faith and confidence in
our success. There is no straggling, no disorder,
no dissatisfaction, no plundering, and
there are no desertions. Think of it, my darling—an
army of sixty thousand men marching
through the enemy's country without the
least opposition! The object of this great
movement is, of course, unknown to us. Its
purpose and our destination are known at
present only to the Commanding General and
his Chief Lieutenants. The men generally
believe that the intention is to entirely surround
the Army of the Potomac and place
Washington and Baltimore within our grasp.
They think that Marse Robert is merely
threatening the northern cities, with the view
of suddenly turning down the Susquehanna,
cutting off all railroad connections, destroying
all bridges, throwing his army north of Baltimore
and cutting off Washington, and that
Beauregard is to follow on directly from Richmond
via Manassas to Washington, in rear
of Hooker, who of course will be in pursuit
of Marse Robert.
We reached here this morning, June 27th,
the anniversary of the battle of Gaines's Mill,
where your Soldier was wounded. We
marched straight through the town of Chambersburg,
which was more deserted than Goldsmith's
village. The stores and houses were
all closed, with here and there groups of uncheerful
Boers of Deutschland descent, earnestly
talking, more sylvan shadows than smiles
wreathing their faces. I had given orders that
the bands were not to play; but as we were
marching through the northeastern part of
the city, some young ladies came out onto the
veranda of one of the prettiest homes in the
town and asked:
"Would you mind shooting off the bands a
So the command was given and the band
played "Home Sweet Home," "Annie Laurie,"
"Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still," "Nellie
Gray" and "Hazel Dell." The young ladies
asked the next band that passed if they
wouldn't play "Dixie"; but the band instead
struck up "The Old Oaken Bucket," "The
Swanee River," "The Old Arm Chair," "The
Lone Rock by the Sea" and "Auld Lang
"Thought you was rebels. Where'd you
come from anyhow? Can't play 'Dixie,' none
of you," they called out. We marched
straight on through the city and are camped
four miles beyond the town on the York River
To-morrow, if you'll promise not to divulge
it to a human soul, I'll tell you a great secret.
No, my darling, I can't wait till to-morrow.
I'll tell you right now. So listen and cross
your heart that you won't tell. I love you—love
you—love you, and oh, little one, I want
to see you so! That is the secret.
Lovingly and forever,
June 27, 1863.
During a Halt in the Long March
I WISH, my darling, you could see this
wonderfully rich and prosperous country,
abounding in plenty, with its great, strong,
vigorous horses and oxen, its cows and crops
and verdantly thriving vegetation—none of
the ravages of war, no signs of devastation—
all in woeful contrast to the land where we lay
dreaming. All the time I break the law
"Thou shalt not covet," for every fine horse
or cow I see I want for my darling, and all
the pretty things I see besides. Never mind,
she shall have everything some day, and I
shall have the universe and heaven's choicest
gift when she is my wife—all my very own.
At Chambersburg, Marse Robert preached
us a sermon, first instructing us in the meaning
of "meum" and "teum," and then taking as his
text, "Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord." I
observed that the mourners' bench was not
overcrowded with seekers for conversion.
The poor fellows were thinking of their own
despoiled homes, looted of everything, and
were not wildly enthusiastic as they acquiesced
obediently to our beloved Commander's order.
The Yanks have taken into the mountains
and across the Susquehanna all the supplies
they could, and we pay liberally for
those which we are compelled to take, paying
for them in money which is paid to us,
our own Confederate script. Some of us
have a few pieces of gold with which to purchase
some keepsake or token for the dear
ones at home. Alas, my little one, how many
of us will be blessed with the giving of them?
God in His mercy be our Commander-in-Chief!
We have not a wide field for selection here,
as we once had at Price's dry goods store or
John Tyler's jewelry establishment in Richmond;
but it seems quite magnificent to us
now, since the Richmond counters are so bare
as to offer not even a wedding ring or a yard
of calico. We are guying General who,
after long and grave deliberation, bought
three hoop skirts as a present for his betrothed.
All that makes life dear is the thought of
seeing you and being with you. And oh, what
an eternity it seems since I said good night!
Oh, my darling, love me, pray for me, hold
me in your thoughts, keep me in your heart!
Our whole army is now in Pennsylvania,
north of the river. There were rumors that
Richmond was threatened from all sides—Dix
from Old Point, Getty from Hanover,
Keyes from Bottom's Bridge, and so on—and
that we might be recalled. It turned out to
be Munchausen, and we are still to march forward.
Every tramp—tramp—tramp is a
thought—thought—thought of my darling,
every halt a blessing invoked, every command
a loving caress; and the thought of you and
prayer for you make me strong, make me better,
give me courage, give me faith. Now,
my dearest, let my soul speak to yours.
Listen—listen—listen! You hear—I am answered.
Forever and ever,
Camp, June 29, 1863.
Written While He Awaited the Order to
Charge at Gettysburg
CAN my prettice do patchwork? If she
can, she must piece together these penciled
scraps of soiled paper and make out of
them, not a log-cabin quilt, but a wren's nest,
cement it with love and fill it with blue and
golden and speckled eggs of faith and hope,
to hatch out greater love yet for us.
Well, the long, wearying march from
Chambersburg, through dust and heat beyond
compare, brought us here yesterday (a few
miles from Gettysburg). Though my poor
men were almost exhausted by the march in
the intense heat, I felt that the exigencies demanded
my assuring Marse Robert that we
had arrived and that, with a few hours' rest,
my men would be equal to anything he might
require of them. I sent Walter with my message
and rode on myself to Little Round Top
to see Old Peter, who, I tell you, dearest, was
mighty glad to see me. And now, just think
of it, though the old war-horse was watching
A. P. Hill's attack upon the center and Hood
and McLaws of his own corps, who had
struck Sickles, he turned and before referring
to the fighting or asking about the march inquired
after you, my darling! While we
were watching the fight Walter came back
with Marse Robert's reply to my message,
which was in part: "Tell Pickett I'm glad
that he has come, that I can always depend
upon him and his men, but that I shall not
want him this evening."
We have been on the qui vive, sweetheart,
since midnight and as early as three o'clock
were on the march. About half past three,
Gary's pistol signaled the Yankees' attack
upon Culp's Hill, and with its echo a wail of
regret went up from my very soul that the
other two brigades of my old division had
been left behind. Oh, God, if only I had
them—a surety for the honor of Virginia, for
I can depend upon them, little one. They
know your Soldier and would follow him into
the very jaws of death—and he will need
them, right here, too, before he's through.
At early dawn, darkened by the threatening
rain, Armistead, Garnett, Kemper and
your Soldier held a heart-to-heart powwow.
All three sent regards to you, and Old
Lewis pulled a ring from his little finger and
making me take it, said, "Give this little token,
George, please, to her of the sunset eyes, with
my love, and tell her the 'old man' says since
he could not be the lucky dog he's mighty
glad that you are."
Dear old Lewis—dear old "Lo," as Magruder
always called him, being short for
Lothario. Well, my Sally, I'll keep the ring
for you, and some day I'll take it to John
Tyler and have it made into a breastpin and
set around with rubies and diamonds and
emeralds. You will be the pearl, the other
jewel. Dear old Lewis!
Just as we three separated to go our different
ways after silently clasping hands, our
fears and prayers voiced in the "Good luck,
old man," a summons came from Old Peter,
and I immediately rode to the top of the ridge
where he and Marse Robert were making a
reconnaissance of Meade's position. "Great
God!" said Old Peter as I came up. "Look,
General Lee, at the insurmountable difficulties
between our line and that of the Yankees—the
steep hills, the tiers of artillery, the
fences, the heavy skirmish line—and then
we'll have to fight our infantry against their
batteries. Look at the ground we'll have to
charge over, nearly a mile of that open ground
there under the rain of their canister and
"The enemy is there, General Longstreet,
and I am going to strike him," said Marse
Robert in his firm, quiet, determined voice.
About 8 o'clock I rode with them along
our line of prostrate infantry. They had
been told to lie down to prevent attracting
attention, and though they had been forbidden
to cheer they voluntarily arose and lifted
in reverential adoration their caps to our beloved
commander as we rode slowly along.
Oh, the responsibility for the lives of such
men as these! Well, my darling, their fate
and that of our beloved Southland will be
settled ere your glorious brown eyes rest on
these scraps of penciled paper—your Soldier's
last letter, perhaps.
Our line of battle faces Cemetery Ridge.
Our detachments have been thrown forward
to support our artillery which stretches over
a mile along the crests of Oak Ridge and
Seminary Ridge. The men are lying in the
rear, my darling, and the hot July sun pours
its scorching rays almost vertically down upon
them. The suffering and waiting are almost
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Well, my sweetheart, at one o'clock the awful
silence was broken by a cannon-shot and
then another, and then more than a hundred
guns shook the hills from crest to base, answered
by more than another hundred—the
whole world a blazing volcano, the whole of
heaven a thunderbolt—then darkness and absolute
silence—then the grim and gruesome,
low-spoken commands—then the forming of
the attacking columns. My brave Virginians
are to attack in front. Oh, may God in mercy
help me as He never helped before!
I have ridden up to report to Old Peter.
I shall give him this letter to mail to you and
a package to give you if—Oh, my darling,
do you feel the love of my heart, the prayer,
as I write that fatal word?
Now, I go; but remember always that I
love you with all my heart and soul, with every
fiber of my being; that now and forever I am
yours—yours, my beloved. It is almost three
o'clock. My soul reaches out to yours—my
prayers. I'll keep up a skookum tumtum for
Virginia and for you, my darling.
July 3, 1863.
Relating Certain Incidents of the Great
MY letter of yesterday, my darling, written
before the battle, was full of hope
and cheer; even though it told you of the long
hours of waiting from four in the morning,
when Gary's pistol rang out from the Federal
lines signaling the attack upon Culp's Hill,
to the solemn eight-o'clock review of my men,
who rose and stood silently lifting their hats
in loving reverence as Marse Robert, Old
Peter and your own Soldier reviewed them—on
then to the deadly stillness of the five hours
following, when the men lay in the tall grass
in the rear of the artillery line, the July sun
pouring its scorching rays almost vertically
down upon them, till one o'clock when the
awful silence of the vast battlefield was
broken by a cannon-shot which opened the
greatest artillery duel of the world. The
firing lasted two hours. When it ceased we
took advantage of the blackened field and in
the glowering darkness formed our attacking
column just before the brow of Seminary
I closed my letter to you a little before
three o'clock and rode up to Old Peter for
orders. I found him like a great lion at bay.
I have never seen him so grave and troubled.
For several minutes after I had saluted him
he looked at me without speaking. Then in
an agonized voice, the reserve all gone, he
"Pickett, I am being crucified at the
thought of the sacrifice of life which this attack
will make. I have instructed Alexander
to watch the effect of our fire upon the enemy,
and when it begins to tell he must take the responsibility
and give you your orders, for I can't."
While he was yet speaking a note was
brought to me from Alexander. After reading
it I handed it to him, asking if I should
obey and go forward. He looked at me for a
moment, then held out his hand. Presently,
clasping his other hand over mine without
speaking he bowed his head upon his breast.
I shall never forget the look in his face nor
the clasp of his hand when I said:—"Then,
General, I shall lead my Division on." I had
ridden only a few paces when I remembered
your letter and (forgive me) thoughtlessly
scribbled in a corner of the envelope, "If Old
Peter's nod means death then good-by and
God bless you, little one," turned back and
asked the dear old chief if he would be good
enough to mail it for me. As he took your letter
from me, my darling, I saw tears glistening
on his cheeks and beard. The stern old
war-horse, God bless him, was weeping for his
men and, I know, praying too that this cup
might pass from them. I obeyed the silent assent
of his bowed head, an assent given against
his own convictions,—given in anguish and
My brave boys were full of hope and confident
of victory as I led them forth, forming
them in column of attack, and though officers
and men alike knew what was before them,—knew
the odds against them,—they eagerly offered
up their lives on the altar of duty, having
absolute faith in their ultimate success.
Over on Cemetery Ridge the Federals beheld
a scene never before witnessed on this continent,—a
scene which has never previously been
enacted and can never take place again—an
army forming in line of battle in full view,
under their very eyes—charging across a
space nearly a mile in length over fields of
waving grain and anon of stubble and then a
smooth expanse—moving with the steadiness
of a dress parade, the pride and glory soon to
be crushed by an overwhelming heartbreak. 1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Well, it is all over now. The battle is lost,
and many of us are prisoners, many are dead,
many wounded, bleeding and dying. Your
Soldier lives and mourns and but for you, my
darling, he would rather, a million times
rather, be back there with his dead, to sleep
for all time in an unknown grave.
In Camp, July 4, 1863.
Here follows a detailed account of the battle, which is omitted
from this volume for the reasons given in the note on page 211.
Written in Sorrow and Defeat, Three Days
After the Struggle
ON the Fourth—far from a glorious
Fourth to us or to any with love for his
fellow-men—I wrote you just a line of heartbreak.
The sacrifice of life on that blood-soaked
field on the fatal third was too awful
for the heralding of victory, even for our victorious
foe, who I think, believe as we do, that
it decided the fate of our cause. No words
can picture the anguish of that roll-call—the
breathless waits between the responses. The
"Here" of those who, by God's mercy, had
miraculously escaped the awful rain of shot
and shell was a sob—a gasp—a knell—for the
unanswered name of his comrade. There was
no tone of thankfulness for having been
spared to answer to their names, but rather a
toll, and an unvoiced wish that they, too, had
been among the missing.
Even now I can hear them cheering as I
gave the order, "Forward!" I can feel the
thrill of their joyous voices as they called out
all along the line, "We'll follow you, Marse
George. We'll follow you—we'll follow
you." Oh, how faithfully they kept their
word—following me on—on—to their death,
and I, believing in the promised support, led
them on—on—on—Oh, God!
I can't write you a love-letter to-day, my
Sally, for with my great love for you and my
gratitude to God for sparing my life to devote
to you, comes the overpowering thought of
those whose lives were sacrificed—of the
broken-hearted widows and mothers and
orphans. The moans of my wounded boys,
the sight of the dead, upturned faces, flood my
soul with grief—and here am I whom they
trusted, whom they followed, leaving them on
that field of carnage—and guarding four
thousand prisoners across the river back to
Winchester. Such a duty for men who a few
hours ago covered themselves with glory
Well, my darling, I put the prisoners all on
their honor and gave them equal liberties with
my own soldier boys. My first command to
them was to go and enjoy themselves the best
they could, and they have obeyed my order.
To-day a Dutchman and two of his comrades
came up and told me that they were lost and
besought me to help them find their comrades.
They had been with my men and were separated
from their own comrades. So I sent old
Floyd off on St. Paul to find out where they
belonged and deliver them.
This is too gloomy and too poor a letter for
so beautiful a sweetheart, but it seems sacrilegious,
almost, to say I love you, with the
hearts that are stilled to love on the field of
July 6, 1863.
Containing Further Details of the Battle
I AM enclosing you a copy of General Lee's
official letter of July 9th, in answer to
mine of the 8th, the same day on which I
wrote you (who deserved something brighter)
that ghostly, woeful letter.
General Lee's letter has been published to
the division in general orders and received
with appreciative satisfaction. The soldiers,
one and all, love and honor Lee, and his sympathy
and praise are always very dear to them.
Just after the order was published I heard one
of the men, rather rough and uncouth and not,
as are most of the men, to the manner born,
say, as he wiped away the tears with the back
of his hand, "Dag-gone him, dag-gone him,
dag-gone his old soul, I'm blamed ef I
wouldn't be dag-gone willin' to go right
through it all and be killed again with them
others to hear Marse Robert, dag-gone him,
say over again as how he grieved bout'n we-all's
losses and honored us for we-all's bravery!
Darned ef I wouldn't." Isn't that reverential
adoration, my darling, to be willing to be
"killed again" for a word of praise?
It seems selfish and inhuman to speak of
Love—haunted as I am with the unnecessary
sacrifice of the lives of so many of my brave
boys. I can't think of anything but the desolate
homes in Virginia and the unknown dead
in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the
fight I was so sanguine, so sure of success!
Early in the morning I had been assured by
Alexander that General Lee had ordered that
every brigade in his command was to charge
Cemetery Hill; so I had no fear of not being
supported. Alexander also assured me of the
support of his artillery which would move
ahead of my division in the advance. He told
me that he had borrowed seven twelve-pound
howitzers from Pendleton, Lee's Chief of Artillery,
which he had put in reserve to accompany me.
In the morning I rode with him while he,
by Longstreet's orders, selected the salient
angle of the wood in which my line was
formed, which line was just on the left of his
seventy-five guns. At about a quarter to
three o'clock, when his written order to make
the charge was handed to me, and dear Old
Peter after reading it in sorrow and fear reluctantly
bowed his head in assent, I obeyed,
leading my three brigades straight on the
enemy's front. You never saw anything like
it. They moved across that field of death as
a battalion marches forward in line of battle
upon drill, each commander in front of his
command leading and cheering on his men.
Two lines of the enemy's infantry were driven
back; two lines of guns were taken—and no
support came. Pendleton, without Alexander's
knowledge, had sent four of the guns
which he had loaned him to some other part
of the field, and the other three guns could
not be found. The two brigades which were
to have followed me had, poor fellows, been
seriously engaged in the fights of the two
previous days. Both of their commanding officers
had been killed, and while they had
been replaced by gallant, competent officers,
these new leaders were unknown to the men.
Ah, if I had only had my other two brigades
a different story would have been flashed to
the world. It was too late to retreat, and to
go on was death or capture. Poor old Dick
Garnett did not dismount, as did the others
of us, and he was killed instantly, falling from
his horse. Kemper, desperately wounded,
was brought from the field and subsequently,
taken prisoner. Dear old Lewis Armistead,
God bless him, was mortally wounded at the
head of his command after planting the flag
of Virginia within the enemy's lines. Seven
of my colonels were killed, and one was mortally
wounded. Nine of my lieutenant
colonels were wounded, and three lieutenant
colonels were killed. Only one field officer
of my whole command, Colonel Cabell, was
unhurt, and the loss of my company officers
was in proportion.
I wonder, my dear, if in the light of the
Great Eternity we shall any of us feel this was
for the best and shall have learned to say,
"Thy will be done."
No castles to-day, sweetheart. No, the
bricks of happiness and the mortar of love
must lie untouched in this lowering gloom.
Pray, dear, for the sorrowing ones.
July 12, 1863.
HEADQUARTERS, A. N. Va.,
July 9th, 1863.
Your letter of the 8th has been received. It was with
reluctance that I imposed upon your gallant division the
duty of carrying prisoners to Staunton. I regretted to
assign them to such a service, as well as to separate them
from the Army, though temporarily, with which they
have been so long and efficiently associated. Though
small in numbers, their worth is not diminished, and I
had supposed that the division itself would be loth to
part from its comrades, at a time when the presence of
every man is so essential.
No one grieves more than I do at the loss suffered by
your noble division in the recent conflict, or honors it
more for its bravery and gallantry. It will afford me
hereafter satisfaction, when an opportunity occurs, to do
all in my power to recruit its diminished ranks, and to
recognize it in the most efficient manner.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
Major Gen. G. E. Pickett, commanding,
Forwarded through Lieut. Gen. Longstreet.
C. MARSHALL, Major and A. D. C.
On the Way to Richmond—Guarding
IT would be impossible, my darling, to
describe to you even the half of the horrors
and hardships of these last days, from the first
night's long march to the present hour; not
only for ourselves but for the prisoners whom,
with shattered hopes and heartbreak we, the
little remnant of my division, have been assigned
to guard. "One prisoner is too many
for us, who haven't a crust to go around
among ourselves," as Old Jack said.
Oh, the pity of it, guarding these prisoners
through their own country, depleted and suffering
mentally and physically as we are, and
being forced to march forward with a speed
beyond their own and our endurance. It may
be some consolation to both that we suffer
alike from fatigue, hunger, exhaustion and
wet, for the excessive rains which set in on the
fourth have continued unabated.
The long wagon-trains, the artillery, the assortment
of vehicles of all kinds impressed
from the farmers and loaded to their utmost
capacity with our wounded and, anon, room
made for the crowding in of yet another, falling
from illness or exhaustion all along our
way, have added their quota to the discomforts
of the march. Our commissariat, too,
has been as wretched here in this land of
plenty as it was in the barren, war-ridden land
we left behind. Our banquets, we, the guard
of honor, and our guests, the prisoners, have
shared like-and-like, and none was ever more
enjoyed by either than the flour made into
paste and baked on the stones in front of the
fire and the good Pennsylvania beef roasted
on the end of a stick. By the way, my Sally,
when you are my little housekeeper you must
remember that this stick-end roasting is a
mighty toothsome recipe for cooking beef.
The prisoners have been far more cheerful
than we have been, for they have not only had
strong hope of being retaken by their own
arms within a few days but their army has
gained a great victory, and though dearly
bought, it has, I fear, decided the fate of our
new-born nation. The cannonading on the
second morning, the shells from which we
could clearly see bursting somewhere in the
vicinity of the Monterey House and which we
learned were from Kilpatrick's artillery, endeavoring
to cut off our trains and prevent
our retreat, gave the prisoners double assurance
of release. Their hope of rescue being
deferred at Monterey Springs, I instructed my
Inspector-General to parole the officers and
give them safeguard to return, binding them
to render themselves prisoners of war at Richmond
if they were not duly recognized by their
government. Unfortunately, I was not permitted
to release them at this point and they
were required to march with the rest of the
A Colonel of a Maine regiment, Colonel
Tilden, a splendid, gallant fellow, so appreciative,
too, of the very few small courtesies
which it has been possible to show him, asked
that I cancel their paroles, the main object of
which had been to avoid the terrors of the
march, which I, in honor, did of course.
Late in the evening after another trying
day's march we passed Waynesboro and, with
a rest of only an hour or so, marched all
night. At nine o'clock the following morning
we reached Hagerstown but hurried on
through to Williamsport. All along the road
from Hagerstown to Williamsport were gruesome
evidences of Kilpatrick's dash into
Hagerstown—here a dead cavalryman, there
a broken caisson, a dead horse. I ought not
to let your beautiful eyes see through mine all
these horrors, but some day, my darling, some
day we'll strew roses and violets and lilies
over them all, even over the memories of
them. We'll listen to the resurrection that
hope and faith and love voice in all the songs
of nature. It will not be long, darling, for
to-day the official news of the surrender of
Vicksburg reached us. The tidings brought
cheers from the prisoners and increased the
sullen gloom of their guard.
I am directed to turn the prisoners over to
General Imboden's command, who is to escort
them to Staunton. Their final destination
will, I suppose, be the old nine-room
brick warehouse on Carey Street in Richmond,
"Libby & Sons—Ship Chandlers and
Grocers"—a sign which I remember as a boy
and associate with "Cat" and "Truant" and
other boyish games. Always I shall like to
remember it as a place to play, and not think
of it as a living tomb. There will not, I fear,
be many of my fellow-sufferers of the last few
days who enter these awesome walls who will
ever come forth alive.
The Potomac was so swollen by the rains
which began on the fourth and still continue,
that it was impossible to cross it at any of the
neighboring fords. A rope ferry, the only
means of crossing, made it slow and tedious,
and every minute's delay, my darling, seems
centuries when I am on my way to you—to
Jackerie has waited so long for my postscript
that he has gone to sleep and I have
now not time to write it, but you will know
that the most important thing is in the P. S.
and this is love,—the love of
July 12, 1863.
Wedding Bells that
Rang in the Wilderness
WITH the return of the army to
Virginia, after the tragic defeat at
Gettysburg, began the slow ebb of the
tide that had carried the hopes of the
Confederacy so high. It was in this crisis
when he was back in his war-wasted
state, fighting despondency and needing,
as never before, the love and devotion of
a wife that General Pickett determined to
wait no longer but to marry his sweetheart
at once. As he could not go to her
she crossed the enemy's lines and joined
him at Petersburg, where they were made
Soon after their marriage came the
inevitable orders to march and the General
and his bride were separated for weeks
at a time. But his letters brought to her
constant cheer and the promise, oft repeated,
to come back to her in spite of
the dangers besetting him. That he did
so, was due certainly to some kind fortune
that guarded him, since the deeds of
daring which he performed at the head
of his division became a tradition in the
In Which the General Issues An Order
OLD Peter is to go to Tennessee to
reënforce Bragg. He has placed his plans
before the Secretary of War.
Now, my darling, I have just had a long
powwow with him (Old Peter) who, "old
war-horse" as he is, has been in love himself,
is still in love, will always be in love, and
knows of our love—of our plighted troth—
and knowing it, tells me it is his purpose to
take me with him on this proposed expedition.
Now, my Sally, your Soldier is a soldier,
and never, even to himself, questions an order.
"His not to reason why." Darling, do you
know what this means? Why, my little one,
it means that you haven't one moment's respite.
It means that you are to be Mrs. General
George Pickett, my precious wife, right
away. It means that you are to fulfill your
promise to "come to me at a moment's notice."
Yours, too, now, "not to reason why," but to
obey and come at once. We cannot brook
any delay, my darling; so pack up your
knapsack—never mind the rations and the
ammunition, but come. My Aunt Olivia, with
Uncle Andrew, one of my staff and one of my
couriers will meet you and your dear parents
on this side of the Black Water and will escort
you to Petersburg, where I shall be waiting
at the train to meet you. I shall see you all
to the hotel, where you will wait while your
father, Bright and I get the license and make
other necessary arrangements for our immediate
marriage, which I have planned to take
place sine die at St. Paul's Church. Our
old friend, Doctor Platt, will pronounce
the words that make us one in the sight of the
world. From the church, we will go to the
depot, where a special train, having been arranged
for us by our friend, Mr. Reuben
Raglan, God bless him, will take us over to
Richmond, where my little sister is waiting
longingly to love and welcome my wife—her
My darling will realize how impossible it
is for her Soldier to consult with her and
will forgive his bungling and awkwardness.
Never mind, after this she shall do all the
planning. Oh, what a heaven on earth is before
us—if only this cruel war were over! A
Dios. Forgive this business letter. Courier
awaits. You will come; I have no fear.
Sept. 13, 1863.
Written After Their Marriage, on an Expedition
Into North Carolina
IT seems an age, my darling, since we rode
away, leaving you and Mrs. Ransom
standing in that wonderful grove of maiden
trees. I veil the annoying, disappointing
scenes since then and see again the beautiful
picture of my own bride, clothed in white, in
the greenery with the "grandfather squirrels"
playing all around her, climbing over her and
eating from her dainty, graceful hands.
"Mine—mine—all my own!" I said, invoking
our Father's care of you. Oh, my love, all
my happiness is in your hands, and as you love
me, guard your precious self from all harm.
I have you on my heart all the day.
Ransom sent on our letters from Kingston,
via the Ugr.
I hope they reached you safely.
Wife of General Ransom.
Old Floyd 3 sent a
most mysterious looking
package to you and Mrs. Ransom, which he
said you must both thank St. Paul for. In
Floyd's opinion, St. Paul has as much to answer
for as the great Apostle for whom he is
named. Certainly in appearance he is as insignificant
looking as a horse as St. Paul has
been described as a man, and while he has not
had one, much less five, shipwrecks, he has
had all manner of hairbreadth escapes, hardships,
indignities and a million times more
stripes, all of which he has borne with Christian
resignation and endurance.
Well, dearest, my name is George and my
patience and temper accord with the name.
Our well-formed plans for the capture of
Newbern miscarried. Hoke's, Clingman's and
Corse's Brigades and Reid's Artillery under
my command were to make a feint—to
threaten on the south side of the Neuse River.
Dearing's Cavalry and three regiments of infantry
under Dearing were to make a demonstration
on the north side of the Neuse. Ransom,
Barton, and Terry under Barton were to
make the real attack, while we created a
diversion and drew off the enemy. Simultaneously
with our movements Colonel R. Taylor Wood
was to take a naval force in small boats, make
a night excursion down the Neuse and attack
the gunboats. The soldiers were all jubilant,
buoyant and hopeful. Everything was propitious;
victory seemed sure. General Dearing's
feint was successful. Hoke and Corse and
Clingman crossed over, taking all the defenses
and outworks in front. Wood's attack was a
complete surprise, capturing a gunboat right
under the guns of the fort; but, alas, the real
attack by Barton was not made. We waited
in deathlike suspense. Hour after hour of
restless anxiety and impatience went by and
yet no sound of a gun—and no message came
to tell me why. The torture and suspense
were unbearable. Newbern was ours—ours
if—Well—hope died out and the dejection
and despair of the men with their hopes
dashed cannot be told.
From the Lines Near Petersburg, Va.
YOUR Soldier breathes easier this morning,
my darling. A great load is lifted.
Haygood's brave South Carolina Brigade
came in yesterday, thank God, and I stationed
them at Port Walthall Junction. This will
keep the connection between Petersburg and
Richmond open. Wise's Brigade got in today
and was sent out toward City Point.
For nights I have not closed my eyes.
How could I, with a whole city full of helpless,
defenseless women and children at the
mercy of an oncoming army? Butler's whole
force, in transports protected by his gunboats,
landed at City Point and Bermuda Hundred,
and no army here to meet them! Not enough
soldiers, boys and old men all put together,
even for picket duty!
Come to think of it, my prettice, you must
have been up all night to have made up and
sent out such a basket of goodies, and baked
and buttered such a lot of biscuits, and made
so many jugs of coffee as came this morning.
My, I tell you it all tasted good, and the
coffee—well, no Mocha or Java ever tasted
half so good as this rye-sweet-potato blend!
And think of your thoughtfulness in wrapping
blankets around the jugs to keep the coffee
hot. Bless your thoughtful heart! You are,
without doubt, the dearest, most indefatigable
little piece of perfection that ever rode a
horse or buttered a biscuit or plucked a flower
or ever did anything else, as to that. Then
those hyacinths and geranium leaves! Who
else in all this nerve-racking, starving, perilous
time would have thought of gathering flowers?
My nigger, Bob, the loyal but unappreciative
scamp, apologetically took out the baskets,
which were apparently filled with the yet
dew-kissed fragrant flowers, and said:
"Miss Sallie, Marse George, de Mistis,
done en sont you all dese yer endoubled
hyacinfs. En I axed her huccome she sont
'em; but she didn't say. So ef you all don't
lak 'em you-all mus' 'scuse her fer it en put
all de blame 'pon me. En anyhow, Marse
George, ef you cyan't eat dese hyacinfses ner
w'ar 'em ner shoot de Yankees wid' em, dey
suttinly does smell good and dey sho' is
Mrs. Stratton and Mrs. Johnson sent out
large hampers, too, to us. They came just
after we had finished with your baskets, and
we passed them on to others.
And now, my darling, what on earth did you
mean by saying, "Never mind," as you said
good-by and rode away yesterday. It troubled
me all night. I wanted to follow after you and
ask you what you meant, but couldn't. I
would have jumped on Lucy and ridden in to
Petersburg and found out if it had been possible
for me to leave. I was so troubled about
it that I was almost tempted to come in anyhow.
For the life of me, little one, I couldn't
think of any reason why you should say,
"Never mind," to me. Were you aggrieved
because your blundering old Soldier told you
there was no necessity for your coming out to
bring the dispatches, any longer; that, thank
heaven, the recruits and reënforcements were
coming in now, and that we could manage
all right? I did not mean to hurt you, dear.
I hoped you'd send a line by Bob telling me
what you meant and why you had said it, but
when I asked him if you had written, he said:
"Yes, Suh, Marse George, 'course de mistis
is done en writ a letter er a answer er sumpin';
but ef she did done it, den I mus' er forgot
ter fotch it, bein' ez I wuz in sich a hurry ter
git yere in time dis mornin' wid de baskets, en
startin' befo' daybre'k. En den dis ebenin' a
gettin' de basket en papers en milk en things
ready in sich a hurry agin, I mus' er forgot de
Now, please, my darling, send Bob back
right away with a nice letter and tell your
Soldier that you did not mean anything by saying,
"Never mind," to him, for he loves you
with all his heart and would not wound or disappoint
or offend you for anything in the
the Lines, May 7, 1864.
In the Wilderness Before Cold Harbor
BAIRD has just come in from the lines,
my darling wife, and reports that all is
well. I came in about eleven and was lying
in my tent all alone, thinking of you, and
while I builded wonderful castles I was serenading
you with the songs I love.
I think I had finished all the songs I had
ever sung to you, and when Baird came in my
thoughts had wandered to the Salmon-Illahie
and I was singing Anne Boleyn's song, "Oh
Death, Rock Me Asleep," which was taught
me by my friend, Captain G. P. Hornby, of
Her Majesty's ship Tribune, away out in San
Juan Island on the Pacific Coast in 1859. I
do not know why I was singing this song, except
that it is beautiful and one of the finest
and sweetest of melodies. Both the air and
words were written by poor, unfortunate
Anne Boleyn. I know but one verse—if
Hornby ever knew other verses he had forgotten
them—but the one I know is appealing.
I will write it for you, if I may:
"Oh, Death, rock me asleep! Bring me to quiet and rest;
Let pass my weary, guiltless life out of my careful breast;
Toll on the passing bell, ring out my doleful knell;
Let thy sound my death tell. Death doth draw me,
Death doth draw me. There is no remedy."
Baird stopped outside
and listened and then
came in, asking permission to order Bob to
light the dips, and saying, "Please, Sir, Marse
George, when you sing that song I haven't got
a friend in the world. I'm lonesome and feel
creeps and see spooks and, what's worse, I
don't know whether I am Anne Boleyn herself,
or am myself responsible for all poor
Anne's sorrows and death."
So I stopped singing and am writing to tell
you a great secret, which is—I love you.
Some day when we are happy—so happy that
nothing could make us any happier—I'll sing
this song to you.
Last night there was a night attack. Several
of the men were wounded slightly; but
the face of one—perhaps seriously wounded—
haunts me. He is a boy with golden brown
curls—somebody's darling. To-night, we
made a capture of the Federal pickets, sweeping
their rifle-pits for more than a hundred
yards and taking a hundred and thirty-six
prisoners. You know our lines are so close
together in many places that we, the Yankees
and my men, can with voices raised carry on
War and its horrors, and yet I sing and
whistle. Oh, my sweetheart, if only this
wicked war were over so that we could in
peace and quiet tranquilly finish the book of
Love which we have but just begun.
Adios now. I see old Jackerie in the flap
with his pack and bag, his wonted grace and
patience, his dolce-far-niente eyes and soft,
southern Italian voice, saying, "No hulla-non-enty."
But I must hurry, for he starts at daybreak
and it is now past midnight.
Lovingly now and forever,
Camp, June, 1864.
Recalling a Visit from "Old Jack"
HERE we are still, my darling. My
division is stationed with the rest of the
First Corps between new and old Cold Harbor.
Old Peter, having been wounded in the
Wilderness, Anderson has been put in command
of the First Corps. Grant has been appointed
Lieutenant General and has arrived
at nearly the same point in his march down
the river that McClellan reached in his upward
progress in '62. Over a crimson road
both armies have returned to Cold Harbor.
The Wilderness, alas, is one vast graveyard
where sleep thousands of Grant's soldiers; but
Grant, like our Stonewall, is "fighting not to
save lives, but country."
For the second time now Cold Harbor has
become a battle-ground. Two years ago it
furnished the field for the battle of Gaines's
Mill (which the Yankees called Cold Harbor)
where your Soldier was wounded. Does
it seem to you as long ago as two years, my
darling? To me, it seems but yesterday that
I lay in Richmond at my little sister's and you
came to see me, blessing and cheering me. I
can feel now the soft touch of your little white
hands, as you gently stroked and soothed my
wounded shoulder and swollen arm and hand.
Do you remember one afternoon while you
were reading from Moore's melodies (not that
I heard or took in the meaning of a single word
of them, for I only heard the music of your
wonderful voice and saw the long, dark lashes
caressing the words which those cupid-shaped
cherry lips were uttering) that our dear old
Stonewall was announced? Of course I knew
his calling was out of the usual, and I was
honored and gratified by his coming; but any
guest was unwelcome if I had to share with
him my darling. I remember that you
marked the place you were reading with your
dainty, scented handkerchief, which I stole
and still have. You and my sister were about
to withdraw; but both the General and I
urged you to remain. I shall always hold
sacred "Old Jack's" visit and remember its
Do you recall how indignant our maid-servant
was at what she supposed a reflection
upon the mint-juleps she was serving? You
remember the uncompromising, stern old
Puritan declined, saying, "Take that liquor
away. I never touch strong drink. I like it
too well to fool with it, and no man's strength
is strong enough to touch that stuff with impunity."
You remember how, though she
politely curtsied, poor Julie, humbly but
vigorously defending her juleps, replied,
" 'Scuse me, Marse Gen'ul Jackson, but dese
yer drams ain't got no impunities in 'em, Suh.
Nor, Suh. Braxton done en mek 'em out'n
we-all's ve'y bes' old London Dock brandy
out'n one of we-all's cobweb bottles."
Old Jackerie brought me your letter on the
first, just after the Yankees' attack on Hoke
and Kershaw, breaking their outer lines.
That night Grant transferred his right to a
point beyond Cold Harbor. On the afternoon
of the second Marse Robert ordered an assault
on Grant's right; but old Jubal found it invincible
and went to work erecting defenses.
I believe it was old Jube who gave Marse
Robert the title of "Old-Spades-Lee," or "Old
Ace of Spades," because of his incessant activity
in throwing up defenses, trenches, breastworks,
etc. This morning Grant made an assault
along the entire six miles of our line, and
our guns opened a counter attack, followed by
advance skirmishes of my division. The
whole Confederate line poured a stream of
fire, and thousands of Grant's soldiers have
gone to reënforce the army of the dead.
Oh, this is all a weary, long mistake. May
the merciful and true God wield power to end
it ere another day passes!
Harbor, June 3, 1864.
After General Lee Had Congratulated His
Division for Gallantry
OUTSIDE, my darling, the band has been
playing the songs that we love, and inside
I have been softly singing them all to
you, to your spirit far away. Now they have
wound up with "Alice, Where Art Thou?"
which might have set me wondering if it had
not been the hour we each seek to be alone that
we may bring our souls in touch. So I knew
that thou wert with me.
This morning Tom Friend brought me a
weesome package of tea, which he wishes sent
to you. "One of the men," he said, "swapped
his tobacco for it." If the whole universe
were mine, I'd lay it at your feet, for love has
builded in my heart three altars for thy worship—one
to Faith, one to Hope, one to Service—and
you, my Goddess whom I worship,
must feed my faith, illumine my hope and
command my service.
This morning, for reasons which you will
presently note, I was thinking of our ever
memorable ride from Petersburg. Its anxieties
and pleasures, your indomitable pluck and
merry laughter on that day pass before me,
making me shudder with fear or thrill with
happiness. It was on your birthday, you remember,
and Beauregard had been forced to
leave his intrenchments at early daylight, and
Butler had walked into them and had succeeded
in reaching the Richmond and Petersburg
Railroad and was destroying the track
when the advance guard of my division ran
him off. I had left you in the rear and had
gone on about a quarter of a mile in advance
of my division and was riding quietly along
with the members of my staff and General R.
H. Anderson, who was then commanding the
corps. We were some ten miles or so from
Petersburg when we were ambushed and fired
into by a portion of Butler's troops. Hunton's
Brigade was followed up by my other
brigades, and we drove the enemy back toward
Bermuda Hundred, where they were
stopped by my men who retook the whole line.
This gallant and unexpected action so
pleased Marse Robert that he yesterday had
published the inclosed notice, which I send
you that you may be reminded of my glorious,
fearless men who yet survived that awful third
of July where so many of their comrades were
left to sleep. The line of breastworks which
they took and to which Marse Robert refers in
the notice inclosed is most important, as the
main line of defense between Richmond and
Petersburg and opposing any advance of the
enemy upon the peninsula of Bermuda Hundred.
Now my darling sees why I am thinking of
that 16th of May. It was because she, though
Marse Robert doesn't know it, comes in for
a share of his praise. I am thinking of you
every minute and wish that I could ride in, if
only for an hour between sundown and midnight,
to see you; but, to use Mr. Lincoln's
expressive words, Grant is so "infernally
interruptious" that I am afraid to take the
Now, my strayed angel of the skies, don't
be disappointed. I love you. Good night.
May all blessings bless you, all sunshine shine
for you, all angels guard you, all that is good
take care of you and all heaven help me to be
worthy of you.
Forever and ever
June 18, 1864.
House, 5:30 P. M., June 17, 1864.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL R. H. ANDERSON,
Commanding Longstreet's Corps.
I take great pleasure
in presenting to you my congratulations
upon the conduct of the men of your corps. I believe
they will carry anything they are put against. We
tried very hard to stop Pickett's men from capturing the
breastworks of the enemy, but could not do it. I hope
his loss has been small.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
When Butler Burned the General's Old Home
WAS my letter of yesterday strenuous?
Well, it was a strenuous day, full of
rumors and contradictions. And yet in spite
of it I managed to sandwich in between the
shelling and the movement of the fleet and
the distinguished visitors the ever new and
true story of my love. But I had only time
to make the bare announcement at the close of
that letter that Butler had burned our home
the day before. If it had been burned in line
of battle, it would have been all right; but it
was not. It was burned by Butler at a great
expense to the Government and in revenge
for having been outgeneraled by a little handful
of my men at Petersburg and for Grant's
telegram to Mr. Lincoln, saying, "Pickett has
bottled up Butler at Petersburg."
Mr. Sims, who has been our overseer ever
since I can remember, came up from Turkey
Island this morning to tell me all about it.
The poor old fellow loved the old place and is
heartbroken over its destruction. He says
they first looted the house and then shelled and
burned it, together with the barn and stables.
He is very bitter and vindictive and vows all
manner of eternal vengeance. The poor old
chap is sensitive because I did not rave and
rage with him, and resents what he considers
my indifference. He gave me the benefit of
all the swear words in his vocabulary when I
tried to make him understand that there are
weightier things and subjects of greater moment
than the mere loss of personal property.
" 'Personal property!' " he quoted indignantly.
"Why, Turkey Island was your ma's
and pa's and their ma's and pa's before 'em.
Think of them big oaks, them maiden trees,
the river and everything! Think of all the
big men that's set 'round that old mahogany
table and jingled their glasses at that big old
sideboard! 'Personal property!' Why, when
you was just a turning six your pa and me
showed you the very halting place whar in
January, 1781, that traitor, Benedict Arnold,
stopped on his march to Richmond after he
had come up with the fleet at Jamestown and
then went on to Westover. 'Personal property!'
Why, I remember the very day we sot
you up in the crotch of that great old oak
tree under which Governor Jefferson and Mr.
Edmund Randolph 'lighted from their fillies
and tied them to one of the limbs till they
could walk a piece and see for themselves that
old monument put up in 1711, eleven years before
that time, to show how much devilment
a river could do if it had the elements to help
it. 'Personal property!' Why, Sir, there
wan't a picture or a piece of furniture or a
statuary in that old home that wan't only seasoned
with age, but had a store of valuableness
to it besides, and you passive and peaceable,
taking the news all quiet as if it had been nothing
but a fence rail burnt up, and telling me
to my face, and me a-bustin' out with damnation
from every pore, that you had heard of
the fire, that Mr. Enroughty had reported the
burning of Turkey Island yesterday! 'Reported!'
'Personal property!' I wonder if a
man's soul is personal property. Well, if it is
and Mr. Satan should ever report to me that
he wanted any help to keep up his fire to burn
Mr. Butler's, or any of his kind of personal
property, he would know where to get it!"
Poor Mr. Sims! I've sent him with one of
my couriers to find some of his friends in the
trenches, where I hope he will work off some
of his wrath over Butler and his kind and my
unfortunate phrase "personal property." Of
course you know, my darling, that I am not unmindful
of the sacredness of the old home and
that I grieve that it has been destroyed, but we
will build us another home, won't we? The
river is there, and some of the old trees are left.
And if God should bless us with a son I shall
when he is as old as I was then, take him under
this same old historic tree that Mr. Sims speaks
of and tell him in the very language of my
father some of the old stories he used to tell
me, and introduce him to the great men of
those days as my father made me acquainted
with them. I can hear him now say:
"My son, there was Madison, a very, very
small man with introverted eyes and ample
forehead. He dressed always in a surtout of
brown, which was generally dusty and oftener
than otherwise faded and shabby. Judge
Marshall was very tall and commanding and
revolutionary and patriarchal in appearance.
He had fine expressive eyes and dressed always
in a well-fitting surtout of blue. Mr.
John Randolph was puny and frail and most
uncommon looking. He was swarthy and
wrinkled, with eyes as brilliant as stars of the
first magnitude. Watkins Leigh was unusually
distinguished in appearance. Tazewell
was tall and fine looking; but Mr. Monroe
was very wrinkled and weather-beaten and
so exceedingly awkward that he stumbled
over his own feet and walked on everyone
else's. Governor Giles used a crutch always
and talked like molasses in July."
My father never used made-up words or a
children's vocabulary in describing to me men
and events. He would say, "Words are
things, my son. I want you to know them and
not be like the British officer who, when he
and some off his command were taken prisoners
and were told by their captors that they
were to be paroled, demanded in great terror
and consternation, "Pray, what kind of death
is that?' "
Oh, my Sally, I dream of the happy days
when you will be the fair mistress of Turkey
Island, under those old trees, with the James
River always before us and love always with
us. As the sun in the firmament, so is love
in the world—love, the life of the spirit, the
root of every virtuous action. It enhanceth
prosperity, easeth adversity and maketh of
the slightest twist a Gordian knot. It gives
vigor to the atmosphere, fragrance to the
flower, color to the rainbow, zest to life, music
to laughter, and oh, such laughter as yours,
my own, my beautiful. I love you with all
my heart and soul and mind and being.
A Dios. Keep this love close.
In the Shadow of
THE long struggle between the
states was now drawing to a close. The
South, depleted in men and resources,
awaited in grim despair the failure of its
hopes. Gloom and disappointment settled
down upon all, men and officers alike, but
to General Pickett there came a gleam of
happiness in the birth of his son. The
event was one that was hailed with rejoicing
on both sides of the battle lines—
for the contending armies were but paces
apart. Grant and his staff sent a birthday
greeting to the "Little General," as
the boy was dubbed immediately, and
though the armies met again in conflict
the incident served to lessen the feeling
that had existed between them. A brief
nine months later, Pickett wrote: "Peace
Upon Hearing of the Birth of the "Little
GOD bless you, little Mother of our boy—
bless and keep you. Heaven in all its
glory shine upon you; Eden's flowers bloom
eternal for you. Almost with every breath
since the message came, relieving my anxiety
and telling me that my darling lived and that
a little baby had been born to us, I have been
a baby myself. Though I have known all
these months that from across Love's enchanted
land this little child was on its way
to our twin souls, now that God's promise is
fulfilled and it has come, I can't believe it.
As I think of it I feel the stir of Paradise in
my senses, and my spirit goes up in thankfulness
to God for this, His highest and best—the
one perfect flower in the garden of life—Love.
Blinding tears rolled down my cheeks, my
sweetheart, as I read the glad tidings. And
a feeling so new, so strange, came over me
that I asked of the angels what it could be
and whence came the strains of celestial music
which filled my soul, and what were the great,
grand, stirring hosannas and the soft, tender,
sweet adagios that circled round and round,
warmed my every vein, beat in my every pulse.
And—oh, little Mother of my boy—the echoing
answer came—"A little baby has been
born to you, and he and the new-born Mother
I wanted to fly to you both, kneel by your
bedside, take your hand and his little hand
in mine and lift our hearts in thankfulness to
the Heavenly Throne. But when I applied
to the great Tyee for a pass to Richmond, saying,
"My son was born this morning," he
replied, "Your country was born almost a hundred
years ago." It was the first word of
reproach Marse Robert ever spoke to me; but
he was right and I was reckless to ask.
Things may be quieter to-morrow, sweetheart,
perhaps even to-night, and I may be
able to come in for an hour. I must not write
another word, though I want to write on and
on and send messages and kisses to the little
baby and to caution its Mother to be careful
and to tell her she is ten thousand times more
precious than ever, but I must not.
Lovingly and forever and ever
17, 1864—Our boy's birthday.
A Second Letter on His Son's Birthday.
GOD has heard our prayers, my beloved
wife. Oh, the ecstatic pleasure I felt
when Charles brought the Doctor's letter.
Precious one, you must obey every injunction
of our dear Aunt. Do not think of writing or
exerting yourself in any way. She knows all
about what should be done. I am coming to
you this evening, should General Lee say so,
and he will, for I have sent Bright post haste
to him, telling him of the glory of the Star in
Oh, my pretty wife! I long to see you and
your little son—Our son! Little new-born
mother, I have humbly thanked God for His
great and bounteous goodness; every breath I
breathe is one of gratitude to Him for sparing
you to me and giving us a son—thou Life
of my soul. Ever and forever
YOUR DEVOTED SOLDIER.
On the Occasion of His First Visit to His Boy
MY men had all heard of the arrival of the
"Little General," as they call him, and
when I was riding out of camp last night to
surrender to him, I noticed the bonfires which
were being kindled all along my lines and
knew that my loyal, loving men were lighting
them in honor of my baby. But I did not
know till this morning that dear old Ingalls,
at Grant's suggestion, had kindled a light on
the other side of the lines, too, and I was overcome
with emotion when I learned of it. Today
their note of congratulation, marked unofficial,
which I inclose, came to me through
the lines. You must keep it for the baby, with
the pass and note of Marse Robert which I
put into its little clenched hand.
"Baby!" Can it be true, my darling?
Heaven knows no deeper devotion, no deeper
gratitude, than that which filled my heart
when I realized that the golden dream of life
had come to pass—was true; when I looked
upon the sweet, shy face of my girl bride
and saw it transformed into the sacred tenderness
of motherhood, saw the grace and charm,
the soul-born protecting look in the mother
eyes, the lilied sweetness of her face, the smile
of unlanguaged mystery, with a gentleness and
patience as sweet and meek as Mother Mary
wore. I knew it was the Alpha and Omega
I see still the moss rose bud left by the
Blumen-Engel as a bescheidenen Schmuck of
his love nestling in our snow-white arms and
the long, dark lashes kissing your cheeks as
you look down upon it. I still feel the mystic
power of the grasp of its tiny rose leaf fingers
clutched around my own.
But I must not write another word—not
Camp, July 19, 1864.
TO GEORGE PICKETT:
We are sending
congratulations to you, to the young
mother and the young recruit.
GRANT, INGALLS, SUCKLEY.
Upon Returning from a Ride With Marse
I HAVE but a few moments since, my
pretty one, returned from a ride with the
Tyee up one hill and down the other. The
enemy occupied Dutch Gap last evening.
This is higher up the river than I am and I
had expected the Navy to take care of our rear
but they have allowed them to come in, and
now I have to stretch out my India rubber
Well, my pet, I have to do it. The General
did not seem in a remarkably good humor—
with the news from Mobile and Bradley,
Johnson in the valley, and this impudence of
the Yankees in crawling up behind us.
I am so glad, my own, that you are better—
thank the good God for it. Blair says you
must not keep the baby in your arms so much,
that you are acting mother and nurse both.
Please listen to the doctor this time, and to
your husband's pleading. Blair says that his
indisposition is nothing but the colic, and that
you must not make yourself uneasy about the
little fellow. You must make Lucinda nurse
I send you a chicken, a cup of salt, likewise
an apple—one single one. Your friend, Miss
Gamble, radiant with a white frock and smiles,
sent it to me (didn't give it) with her
compliments last night.
Bye-bye, Sweet One.
Ever your own
Concerning the Gossip of His Servant, George
I LEFT you yesterday, my darling, "with
many a pause and longing glance behind";
but out in the midst of this terrible
conflict to which I have come, your love is
with me, shielding and blessing me.
I reached camp just before daybreak.
George hustled around and made me a pot
of "sho'nough coffee wid no debultrement in
it." And while I drank my coffee he kept off
the flies—which, early as it was, had begun
to be very sociable—entertaining me the while
with news of the camp and his own views on
"You know, Marse George," he began, "po'
Robert, Marse Jefferson Davis' mos' betrusted
servant, is done en bruck out thick all ober wid
de smallpox, en dar ain' no tellin' how many
er de President's friends en 'quaintances po'
Robert is done en kernockulated wid it, kaze
po' Robert wuz moughty sociable and
familious wid all de President's friends. I
suttinly hopes dat you en Gen'l Lee en Gen'l
Heth is gwine ter 'scape. I wuz so upsot,
Marse George, by dis news 'bout po' Robert
dat I couldn't sleep, en I got out behime de
tent en listened ter de officers a talkin' wid
dar moufs en gesticulatin' 'bout de way t'ings
"Some er 'em said how ef Marse Albert
Sydney Johnston hadn't been kilt at Shiloh,
en ef Marse Joe Johnston hadn't been
wounded at Seben Pines, en ef you had been
s'ported at Gettysburg, dat t'ings wouldn't be
lak dey wuz now. Den one er de officers say,
'Yes—yes, en ef all er dem folks down dar
in New 'Leans dat commit suicide wid darse'fs,
'count er ole Butler's pusecution en hangin's
en yuther devilments, had er kilt him fust fo'
dey kilt deyse'fs dey'd er had sumpin ter die
fer, en de ole rascal wouldn't be down here
now adiggin' dis Dutch-Gap-Canal en givin
ev'body ague en fever turnin' up de earf!'
Den one er de preacher officers say, 'Well, my
frien's, de trouble is, we all don' pray enough!'
Marse Charley spuck up en say, 'Didn't Gen'l
Jackson pray enough fer us all, Colonel?'
Nur one say, 'Yes, Charley, but he didn't dust
his knees off when he wuz through. He forgot
dat bein' clean wuz nex' ter being Godlisome.'
Den a nur one say, 'Well, but dar's
ole Gen'l Pemberton en Gen'l Kershaw.
Dey wuz particular wid dar clothes en dey
prayed all right.' Den Gen'l Corse he spuck
up en say, 'Yes, but dey bofe think too much
'bout dar 'pearance. Dey'd begin to dus' en
dus' dar knees fo' dey said, "Amen." En dat
showed dar hearts wan't in dar prayers.'
"En gwine back, Marse George, ter dat
Dutch-Gap-Canal, you know Colonel Mayo's
nigger, Big Joe, en sebenteen mo' er de camp
niggers is done en gone 'cross de river ter
jine de Yankee Army en he'p de res' er dem
Yankee-nigger soldiers ter dig dat canal ditch
dey's diggin' er 'count er all dat extra
money en extra drams en coffee en yuther
extras Gen'l Butler promise ter give 'em.
Now, Marse George, you know dat dat's
projickin' wid de Lord's handy works, en
sumpin mousterious en terrible is gwine ter
happen ter dem niggers. Diggin' dat canal
sho'ly is gwine ag'inst de judgment er de
Lord, fer ef de Lord had er wanted de Jeemes
River ter a jined on ter itse'f He'd a jined it.
He wouldn't a put a little slice er land in betwixt.
En sho's you're bawn projickin' wid
de Lord's work en unj'inin' whut He's j'ined
tergedder ain' a gwine ter bring dem niggers
Having finished my breakfast George went
out to get breakfast for the mess, and before
they had assembled I had cleared off my desk
and written several letters. All made affectionate
inquiries for you and our little son,
though some of them did not know that I had
ridden in last night until I told them.
I must go now, my darling, and ride around
the lines and make my report, but will add a
few more words later on. So adios till then.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Well, my darling, we have had a most exciting
day. Marse Robert came out. He
was restive and very, very silent. We had
just paid our respects to Butler's diggers when
he arrived. The device we used in so doing
was a new one or rather a very old one newly
revived. It was a mortar battery hidden in
the bushes. It is invisible to the enemy and
easily shifted from one hiding place to the
other. It used to be the only way in which
shells could be thrown. It throws these shells
high in the air, and they fall by their own
weight without the least warning of their
coming. There is no screaming or squealing
sound like that made by our modern shells.
They fall almost as silently as a snowflake
falls, and it seems to me almost barbarous to
drop these silent, ghostly missiles down upon
those light-hearted, happy-go-lucky negroes,
for I learn that it is they that are doing the
digging. Butler, with promise of extra pay
for extra work and extra danger, has induced
four hundred of the colored soldiers to volunteer
to sheathe their swords and take up
the shovel and go to digging.
The bank to be cut through is only about
five feet at the highest point. The canal is
to be where the James makes a great bend just
above Dutch Gap, inclosing a point of land
perhaps half a mile wide and about three
miles in length and which at the neck is only
five hundred yards across from river to river.
Their canal would thus save them six miles
and would allow their gunboats to go up the
James without running the gauntlet of our
Howlett guns, our sunken torpedoes et cetera.
And as our left is all at the turn of the bend,
they would not have to traverse the open river
in search of an exposed water channel. It is
strange that some of our brilliant engineers
haven't made this near cut years ago. As for
me, I should encourage Butler and his River
Improvement Company, and cease throwing
these stealthy shells whose silent fall heralds a
sudden roar of explosion that strikes terror
to my soul. The canal will be an advantage
to us, and Butler, in digging it for us, may in
part atone for the many homes he has destroyed,
mine among them.
Well, my darling, if you were not the best
of all good women, as well as the most beautiful
of all beautiful women and the most patient
of all patient ones, you would weary of
so tiresome a soldier, who takes away the
fragrance of flowers and the glory of love
and sends back the echo of war and its sorrows
and the babble of a loyal old cook who
wouldn't be sold and wouldn't run away and
whom I was obliged to permit to be credited
to me in order to save him—the only negro I
own—but, come to think of it, he owns me.
Forever and ever
Camp, August—, 1864.
After an Evening Spent at the "White House"
of the Confederacy
YOU will be glad, my darling wife, that
the "powwow" with "the Powers that
be" was most satisfactory.
After the evening consultation I called on
the ladies at the "White House" and at the
most earnest entreaty and solicitation of Mrs.
Davis and her sister, Miss Howell, dined with
them. Poor Mr. Davis looks tired and anxious,
but he spoke so hopefully of our success
that, knowing, as he must know, our status,
the condition of our army, etc., I should have
thought that he was aware of something hopeful
of which we are ignorant if he had not
said later, when foreign intervention was
being discussed, that he believed that England
and, in fact, all the foreign powers were like
the woman who saw her husband fighting a bear—she
didn't care a continental which was
whipped, but she'd be the best pleased if both
were. "And my only hope of recognition,"
he said, "is that, being separated, we shall not
be so formidable a power."
The dinner, my dearest, was beautiful, and
so abundant were its luxuries that I marveled
greatly, knowing, as I do, how difficult it is
with most of us to get even a little tea or coffee
or salt. As usual, Mrs. Davis was vivacious
and entertaining. She amusingly described
her rescue of a little orphan negro from a
"great black brute" who had constituted himself
the boy's guardian. She told how she
had him washed and combed and dressed in a
suit of little Joe's clothes, and how, while he
was proud of the clothes, he was a thousand
times prouder of, and more grateful for, the
cuts and bruises which his self-appointed
guardian had given him and which, upon all
occasions, he triumphantly exhibited as
medals of honor. She said that the little
rascal was greatly troubled when the cuts were
finally healed and tried to reopen them with a
dog knife which was taken away. He was
then reproved and forbidden to make over his
"Oh, Lordy," he howled, "ef you-all teks
my sores 'way fum me I won't hab nuttin' 'tall
ter show ter all de comp'ny, en I won't hab a
single thing ter mek 'em all sorry 'bout, en
nuttin' ter mek 'em gib me no mo' things.
Oh, Lordy, I'd ruther you'd all whop me dan
notter let me hab my sores no mo.'"
With her keen sense of humor Mrs. Davis
told us how, when learning that one after another
of her maids was being bribed by the
Yankees with money and promises to betray the
family and come over to the other side, she
would pretend ignorance of the intention, give
them food for imagination, reciting for their
repetition the most impossible, outlandish
stories, some of which she told us and which I
will tell my darling when I come. Bless her!
Mrs. Davis said that Betty, the last one of her
maids to go, was such an excellent maid and
so hard to replace that as soon as she began
to show her prosperity, appearing with silks
and jewels and then with gold and notes, she
had tried, without letting Betty suspect her intention,
to offer her inducements to remain,
but had failed. Betty, she said, was superior
to her class, however, and showed her
consideration by offering Miss Howell part of
the as yet unearned bribe, and assuring her
that "Ef eber I did git a chance ter tell dem
dar Yankees 'bout dey-all I suttinly aren't
gwine tell 'em none er de awful scand'lus
things I en Mrs. Davis was all de time a doin'
en dat dey all does. No, I am gwine ter mek
de best er hit en leave outn de worse."
Mrs. Davis said she was so depressed after
Betty's departure and in such dire need of
mental soothing syrup that she went into retirement
with "Adam Bede," "A Country
Gentleman in Town" and "Elective Affinities."
Did you ever, my darling!
Mr. Judah P. Benjamin and Dr. Minnegerode
were the only other guests. Mr. Benjamin's
usually wonderful, judicial mind and
depressing dignity were not in evidence. He
did rather reproachfully express his astonishment
that Mr. Davis should be bowed down
with grief at the adverse criticisms of those he
was trying to serve, and that he should care a
bauble for their accusations of nepotism and
the more absurd charge of leaving his cotton
to be bought by the Yankees. He ended by
saying that he continually had to remind Mr.
Davis of that exceedingly good man, Mr.
Christ. You know Benjamin was born at St.
Croix in the West Indies, of Jewish parents.
What a gossip your husband is, my Sally,
but I promised to write my beautiful tyrant
every day, everything I said or did or that
anyone else said or did, and I have, haven't I?
Forever and ever and ever
Jan. 25, 1865.
In the Dark Days Before the End
THIS morning at breakfast, my darling
Sally, when you suggested having an
oyster roast for my officers after our conference
to-night, I said that I feared we should
not have enough oysters. Our old hunter,
Gossett, has just brought in a fine large wild
turkey, and with that and the three bushels of
oysters which your uncle sent I think we can
get up a fine supper. Don't you, my marvel
of a housekeeper? I hope you can, and hope,
too, that the good cheer it will provide will
help us to new and encouraging suggestions,
for, as hopeful as I always am, even my heart
is in my boots.
On every side gloom, dissatisfaction and
disappointment seem to have settled over all,
men and officers alike, because of the unsuccessful
termination of the Peace Conference
on board the River Queen on the fatal third.
The anxious, despairing faces I see everywhere
bespeak heavy hearts. Our commissioners
knew that we were gasping our last
gasp and that the Peace Conference was a forlorn
hope. Because of the informality of the
conference and my knowledge of Mr. Lincoln,
his humanity, his broad nature, his warm
heart, I did believe he would take advantage
of this very informality and spring some wise,
superhuman surprise which would, somehow,
restore peace and in time insure unity. Now,
heaven help us, it will be war to the knife,
with a knife no longer keen, the thrust of an
arm no longer strong, the certainty that when
peace comes it will follow the tread of the
I fear that you may need more help; so am
sending over Bob. The mess-cook will come
Meantime, a Dios, and love,
January 28, 1865.
Written in Defeat, After the Battle of Five
IT is long past the midnight hour and, like
a boy, I have been reading over your dear,
cheery letter, caressing the written page because
it has been touched by your hand.
All is quiet now, but soon all will be bustle,
for we march at daylight. Oh, my darling,
were there ever such men as those of my division?
This morning after the review I thanked
them for their valiant services yesterday on the
first of April, never to be forgotten by any of
us, when, to my mind, they fought one of the
most desperate battles of the whole war.
Their answer to me was cheer after cheer, one
after another calling out, "That's all right,
Marse George, we only followed you." Then
in the midst of these calls and silencing them,
rose loud and clear dear old Gentry's voice,
singing the old hymn which they all knew I
"Guide me, oh, thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land."
Voice after voice
joined in till from all
along the line the plea rang forth:
my sword and shield and banner,
the Lord my righteousness."
I don't think, my
Sally, the tears sounded
in my voice as it mingled with theirs; but they
were in my eyes and there was something new
in my heart.
When the last line had been sung, I gave
the order to march, proceeding to this point
where I had expected to cross the Appomattox
and rejoin the main army. While we were
at a halt here orders came from General R. H.
Anderson to report to him at Sutherland's
Just after mailing my letter to you at Five
Forks, telling you of our long, continuous
march of eighteen hours and of the strenuous
hours following those, where I had, because of
exigent circumstances, been induced to fall
back at daylight, I received a dispatch from
the great Tyee telling me to "hold Five
Forks at all hazards to prevent the enemy
from striking the south side railroad." This
dispatch was in reply to one I had sent to him
reporting the state of affairs and that the
enemy were trying to get in between the army
and my command, and asking that diversion
be made at once or I should be isolated.
I had had all trains parked in the rear of
Hatcher's Run and much preferred that position,
but, from the General's dispatch, supposed
that he intended sending reënforcements.
I immediately formed line of battle upon the
White Oak Road and set my men to throwing
up temporary breastworks. Pine trees
were felled, a ditch dug and the earth thrown
up behind the logs. The men, God bless
them, though weary and hungry, sang as they
felled and dug. Three times in the three
hours their labors were suspended because of
attack from the front; but they as cheerily returned
to their digging and to their "Annie
Laurie" and "Dixie" as if they were banking
roses for a festival.
Five Forks is situated in a flat, thickly
wooded country and is simply a crossing at
right angles of two country roads and a deflection
of a third bisecting one of these
angles. Our line of battle, short as four small
brigades front must be, could readily be
turned on either flank by a larger attacking
force. Do you understand, my dear? If not,
you will some day, and you can keep this letter
and show it to someone who will understand.
Well, I made the best arrangements of
which the nature of the ground admitted,
placing W. H. F. Lee's Cavalry on the right,
Ransom's and Wallace's Brigades, acting as
one and numbering about nine hundred, on
the left; then Corse, Terry and Stuart, numbering
about three thousand. Six rifled pieces
of artillery were placed at wide intervals.
Fitz Lee's Cavalry was ordered to take position
on the left flank. About two o'clock in
the afternoon Sheridan made a heavy demonstration
with his cavalry, threatening also the
right flank. Meantime Warren's Corps
swept around the left flank and rear of the
infantry line, attacking Ransom and Stuart behind
their breastworks. Ransom sent word
that the cavalry was not in position, and Fitz
Lee was again ordered to cover the ground
at once. I supposed it had been done, when
suddenly the enemy in heavy infantry column
appeared on our left and the attack became
general. Ransom's horse was killed, falling
with his rider under him. His Assistant Adjutant,
General Gee, was killed. My dear,
brave old friend, Willie Pegram was mortally
wounded, falling within a few yards of
me just after we had exchanged "Kla-how-ya,
Tik-egh," (how are you, love to you) "and
good luck." The captain of his—Pegram's
- battery was killed.
I succeeded in getting a sergeant and
enough men to man one piece; but after firing
eight rounds the axle broke. Floweree's regiment
fought hand to hand after all their cartridges
had been used. The small cavalry
force which had gotten into place gave way,
and the enemy poured in on Wallace's left.
Charge after charge was made and repulsed,
and division after division of the enemy advanced
upon us. Our left was turned; we
were completely entrapped. Their cavalry,
charging at a signal of musketry from the infantry,
enveloped us front and right and,
sweeping down upon our rear, held us as in
"Take this, Marse George," said one of my
boys earlier in the action, hastily thrusting a
battle-flag into my hand. I took the flag,
stained with his blood, sacred to the cause for
which he fell, and, cheering as I waved it,
called on my men to get into line to meet the
next charge. Seeing this, a part of the famous
old Glee Club, our dear old Gentry leading,
began singing, "Rally round the flag, boys;
rally once again." I rode straight up to
where they were and joined in singing, "Rally
Once Again," as I waved the blood-stained
flag. And, my darling, overpowered, defeated,
cut to pieces, starving, captured, as we
were, those that were left of us formed front
and north and south and met with sullen desperation
their double onset. With the members
of my own staff and the general officers
and their staff officers we compelled a rally
and stand of Corse's Brigade and W. H. F.
Lee's Cavalry, who made one of the most brilliant
cavalry fights of the war, enabling many
of us to escape capture. Our loss in killed and
wounded was heavy, and yet, my darling, with
all the odds against us we might possibly have
held out till night, which was fast approaching,
but that our ammunition was exhausted.
We yielded to an overwhelming force, Sheridan's
Cavalry alone numbering more than
double my whole command, with Warren's
Infantry Corps to back them.
Ah, my Sally, the triumphs of might are
transient; but the sufferings and crucifixions
for the right can never be forgotten. The
sorrow and song of my glory-crowned division
nears its doxology. May God pity those who
wait at home for the soldier who has reported
to the Great Commander! God pity them as
the days go by and the sad nights follow.
The birds were hushed in the woods when
I started to write, and now one calls to its
mate "Cheer up—cheer up." Let's listen and
obey the birds, my darling. Let's try to cheer
up—cheer up. I remember that Milton said:
"Those who best bear His mild yoke, they
serve Him best." Let's bear and serve Him
best, my darling wife.
Mills, April 2, 1865.
Three Hours Before Lee's Surrender at
TO-MORROW, my darling, may see our
flag furled forever. Jackerie, our
faithful old mail-carrier, sobs behind me as
I write. He bears to-night this—his last—
message from me as "Our Cupid." First he
is commissioned with three orders, which I
know you will obey as fearlessly as the bravest
of your brother soldiers. Keep up a stout
heart. Believe that I shall come back to you
and know that God reigns. After to-night
you will be my whole command—staff, field
officers, men—all. The second commission is
only given as a precaution—lest I should not
return or lest for some time I should not be
Lee's surrender is imminent. It is finished.
Through the suggestion of their commanding
officers as many of the men as desire are
permitted to cut through and join Johnston's
army. The cloud of despair settled over all
on the third, when the tidings came to us of
the evacuation of Richmond and its partial
loss by fire. The homes and families of many
of my men were there, and all knew too well
that with the fall of our Capital the last hope
of success was over. And yet, my beloved,
these men as resolutely obeyed the orders of
their commanding officers as if we had captured
and burned the Federal Capital.
The horrors of the march from Five Forks
to Amelia Court House and thence to Sailor's
Creek beggars all description. For forty-eight
hours the man or officer who had a handful
of parched corn in his pocket was most
fortunate. We reached Sailor's Creek on the
morning of the sixth, weary, starving, despairing.
Sheridan was in our front, delaying us with
his cavalry (as was his custom) until the infantry
should come up. Mahone was on our
right, Ewell on our left. Mahone was ordered
to move on, and we were ordered to
stand still. The movement of Mahone left a
gap which increased as he went on. Huger's
battalion of artillery, in attempting to cross
the gap, was being swept away when I pushed
on with two of my brigades across Sailor's
We formed line of battle across an open
field, holding it against repeated charges of
Sheridan's dismounted cavalry. At about
three o'clock the infantry which Sheridan had
been looking for came up, completely hemming
us in. Anderson ordered me to draw off
my brigades to the rear and to cut our way
out in any possible manner that we could.
Wise's Brigade was deployed in the rear to
assist us, but was charged upon on all sides
by the enemy and, though fighting manfully
to the last, was forced to yield. Two of my
brigadiers, Corse and Hunton, were taken
prisoners. The other two barely escaped, and
my life, by some miracle, was spared. And
by another miracle, greater still, I escaped
capture. A squadron of the enemy's cavalry
was riding down upon us, two of my staff and
myself, when a small squad of my men recognized
me and, risking their own lives, rallied
to our assistance and suddenly delivered a last
volley into the faces of the pursuing horsemen,
checking them but for a moment. But
in that one moment we, by the speed of our
horses, made our escape. Ah, my darling, the
sacrifice of this little band of men is like unto
that which was made at Calvary.
It is finished! Ah, my beloved division!
Thousands of them have gone to their eternal
home, having given up their lives for the cause
they knew to be just. The others, alas, heartbroken,
crushed in spirit, are left to mourn its
loss. Well, it is practically all over now.
We have poured out our blood and suffered
untold hardships and privations all in vain.
And now, well, I must not forget, either, that
God reigns. Life is given us for the performance
of duty, and duty performed is happiness.
It is finished—the suffering, the horrors, the
anguish of these last hours of struggle. The
glorious gift of your love will help me to bear
the memory of them. In this midnight hour
I feel the caressing blessing of your pure
spirit as it mingles with mine. Peace is born.
From now forever only
AFTER the war had passed, and with
it the necessity for separation from
his dear one, the General's letters grew
less frequent. He was seldom far from
her side. A year they spent together in
Canada during the exile which was enforced
upon many of the leaders of the Lost
Cause. Then, when the ban was
finally lifted, the General returned with
his pretty wife to face the problem that
pressed heavily upon all Southerners—
the disheartening task of rearing a new
home on the ruins of the old. Their attempt
was not altogether successful, but
amid the surroundings of peace they found
time to work out in practical form the
dream of happiness which had come to
them in darker days.
The letters in this part are written on
occasional absences. They cover a period
of ten years or more, extending almost to
the time of the General's death, and to
the end they breathe in every line his
loyalty and devotion to the noble woman
whose love had crowned his life.
In Which the General Tells of a Trip to
Washington and a Visit With His
Old Friend, Grant
and I arrived safely after an
interesting but, to me, sad trip, because
of the many sorrowful memories that it
brought back. Ingalls,
bless his old loyal
heart, met us at the train and took us up in the
Quartermaster's carriage. It is the first time
that I have ridden in one of Uncle Sam's
vehicles since I changed colors and donned
the gray, and now I ride, not as an owner but
as a guest! Again, my darling, there came to
me memories of the "has been" and "might
"Well, George," said Rufus, "this looks
kind of natural, doesn't it, old man?" but before
I could reply, intuitively sensing what I
was feeling, he continued hurriedly "and this
rig is at your service all the time you are
The three of us had dinner together.
whom you've heard me speak of as
"Old Jug," came over from his table and
joined us at dessert. After dinner all four of
us went to the theater to hear Billy Florence.
We sent a line in to him from our box and
when he came out he strode across the stage
and, looking directly at us, said in his most
tragic tone and manner: "The Lamb and the
Lion shall lie down together," and then went
on with his part. He knew and we knew,
but the audience didn't. He played to us, too,
all evening and never played better. After
the play we went behind the scenes and had a
charming visit with Mrs. Florence, who graciously
gave her consent to Billy's going out
to supper with us.
"And, by the way, General Pickett," said
Mrs. Florence, "how is that beautiful Mrs.
with whom I saw you in Montreal
and with whom you were so much in love and
General T. Pitcher, U. S. A.
Edwards was the assumed name of General Pickett and his
wife during their exile in Canada.
who, come to think of it, won all our hearts?
Poor Ellen Tree was talking about her the
last time I saw her,—And how is that laughing,
bright-eyed baby who made a drum of
himself and a prancing steed of everybody
else's cane? I can see him now, with his mass
of ringlets and his sparkling, laughing eyes.
He had just learned to walk and yet was
charging the enemy on his fiery steed, beating
an imaginary drum and blowing an imaginary
fife. It was the funniest thing I ever saw."
I told Mrs. Florence that we had returned
to the States, that little George could ride a
real horse now and beat a real drum, and that
I was just as much as ever in love with Mrs.
Edwards, who had become so attached to her
assumed name that she hated to give it up and
insisted that we should now and then call each
other "Mr. and Mrs. Edwards," to keep in
memory the sweet, all-belonging life we spent
with each other in Canada.
We had a fine steamed-oyster supper at
Harvey's and told stories and talked of old
times till after two o'clock.
I got up this morning just in time to go to
twelve o'clock breakfast at the Club with
Rufus. After breakfast we went, as arranged,
to see Grant. I just can't tell you, my darling,
about that visit. You'll have to wait till I
see you to tell you how the warm-hearted modest
old warrior and loyal old friend met me—how
he took in his the hand of your heart-sore
soldier—poor, broken, defeated—profession
gone—and looking at him for a moment
without speaking, said slowly: "Pickett, if
there is anything on the top of God's green
earth that I can do for you, say so." Just then
his orderly apologetically brought in a card to
him. "Tell Sheridan to go to—!" "Yis,
surh, I'll till him, surh." "And go there yourself!"
"Yis, surh, I'll go, surh." Rufus,
who was whistling over at the window, reiterated
Grant's order, receiving from the orderly the
same assurance, "Yis, surh, I'll till him, surh."
While Sheridan was obeying Grant's order
and going to his new station we three sat down
and had a heart-to-heart conference. One listening
would never have known that we had
been on opposite sides of any question.
When I started to go Grant pulled down a
cheque-book and said, "Pickett, it seems funny,
doesn't it, that I should have any money to
offer, but how much do you need?" "Not
any, old fellow, not a cent, thank you," I said
"I have plenty." "But Rufus tells me that
you have begun to build a house to take the
place of the one old Butler burned and how
can you build it without money; you do need
some." "I have sold some timber to pay for
it," I told him, and to show my appreciation
and gratitude unobserved I affectionately
squeezed his leg, when he called out, "Rufus,
it's the same old George Pickett; instead of
pulling my leg he's squeezing it."
Grant is going to take Rufus, Suckley and
myself to ride this afternoon to show me the
changes since I was last here, years ago.
To-morrow, if all goes well, I'll start back
to what is worth more to me than all I've lost—my
precious wife, who was as queenly and
gracious and glorious as Mrs. Edwards in one
room in a boarding house in exile as she was
in Petersburg in a palatial home when her
husband was the Department Commander and
she had not only "vassals and slaves at her
side," but the General Commanding and all
his soldiers and our world at her feet.
YOUR DEVOTED SOLDIER.
From New York After Refusing the
Command of the Egyptian Army
SO, you would "leave it all to my better
judgment," most wise Little One, and
would not advise me, but after I had decided
fully I was to read the mysterious sealed
note—"not to be opened till after you have
At the banquet last night I opened and read
the letter and then passed it over to General
E. P. Alexander, General Ingalls and Doctor
Suckley. They all shook their heads disapprovingly.
I pointed to the instructions,
"Not to be opened till after you have decided,"
and said that I had already decided
and the note only showed that we are "two
souls with but a single thought."
Now, don't you know, my darling, that I
knew your opinion before just as well as after
I had read your sealed letter? Of course I
knew that you did not want me to go and that,
as you prettily put it, "We've had glory
enough, and war enough, with its hardships
and separations and dangers, and now we just
want each other forever and forevermore."
Yes, my darling, we want each other and a
home, with a spiked fence around it and a key
to the road gate, for us alone,—just us,
forever and forevermore.
My friends all think that I am making a
great mistake in refusing this magnanimous
offer of the Khedive. They hold that I am
sacrificing my future and signing the death-warrant
to ambition and success. General
Alexander has accepted and will take command
of the Egyptian armies; Egypt could not
have a finer officer. Last night at the farewell
dinner the Khedive's last telegram was handed
to the Commissioner—"Forward Pickett at
any cost." It was a most flattering compliment
and I have asked permission to keep it
for our boy. "The boy might think you were
a brand of powder or a keg of nails," said
Ingalls, who, by the way, is disgusted at my
refusal. But, my beautiful wife, he has not
you; and love such as yours is worth all the
gold and glory of the universe.
To-morrow I shall take the steamer for
home without one regret for having decided
as I have,—just you and I—just ourselves
"forever and forever"—
A Letter From Turkey Island,
1 During a
Short Absence of His Wife
IT is Thursday and the cottage is so empty—
so desolate without my darling. Even
Rufus feels the absence of its beautiful mistress
and a few minutes ago, to show his sympathy
for his lonesome master, brought and
laid on my knee a little slipper which, if I
did not know it belonged to my own fairy
princess, would make me think that another
Cinderella with a tinier foot had also forgotten
the midnight hour. I gave no evidence
of my appreciation of his effort to comfort me
and Rufus trotted off and brought me the
other slipper. "Good dog," I said, "good
dog," patting him on the head. Then fondling
the little slippers and putting them beside
The old ancestral home called by the Federal soldiers Turkey
Bend, is in Henrico Co., which is one of the original shires
into which Virginia was divided in 1634.
me I took up my pencil and pad to tell
you all about it.
Presently, looking around, I saw Rufus
planning to bring me everything in the room
belonging to you. He has a lot of dog sense
and I tried to make him understand that the
slippers had been sufficiently effective in consoling
me, but he would not be convinced until
I whistled our song, "Believe me, if all those
endearing young charms." Then trying to
howl an accompaniment and failing, he
wagged his tail, lay down at my feet and went
Every day when I come in to dinner he
trots up in front of your picture and barks
till I take it down, then looking down at it
barks again, while I encourage him, saying,
"Tell her all about it, old man; tell her all
about it." When he has told you about it he
lies down beside it, his paw on the frame,
wagging his tail and looking up at me till he
thinks I have shown sufficient appreciation of
his admiration and devotion to you, and then
he jumps up and points and barks at the place
on the rack from which it was taken until it is
duly kissed and replaced. Oh, he's a great
dog, little one, and great company for me,
but both he and I and everything else are lonesome
for you and we have promised our souls
that when you come back we will vie with
each other in our efforts to make you happy.
Already the hens have commenced laying
again, the butter is piling up to be made into
cakes and good things. Your new little calf
is a beauty, but I shall send him off and sell
him before you get back, for you would never
allow him to be separated from his mother and
would let him go on extracting her milk till he
was a man—you great tender-hearted darling!
The corn and wheat are beautiful, the vegetables
fine and the flowers we planted all
breathe of your purity and sweetness. The
cutting from the Poe rosebush which Mrs.
Allen gave us is full of buds; so you see everything
above the ground and in the ground at
our Turkey Island home is waiting for your
This morning I took my gun and Rufus and
killed five partridges and two rabbits. I gave
one rabbit to Mr. Sims and one to Uncle Tom.
The birds I sent to Lizzie. As I was coming
on home I stopped and rested in the cool and
calm of the forest beside the old gray broken
monument where we have so often made love
and told each other fairy tales and wandered
about and made thought pictures of our William
and Mary Randolph, who erected it away
back in 1771. I wonder, little one, if from
their celestial home they can see the picturesque
beauty which I see and which I wish I
could put into words. Do you remember the
inscription on one of the sides of the
monument?—"The foundation of this pillar was
laid in 1771, when all the great rivers of this
country were swept by inundations never before
experienced, which changed the face of
nature and left traces of their violence that
will remain for ages!" As I read over this
inscription I feel sorry that the thought to erect
a monument to commemorate any kind of disaster
should ever have been born. Time's
soothing wings bless always, and not only have
the ravages of the flood which this monument
was erected to commemorate been long ago
forgotten, but the memories of ravages and
horrors of a yesterday far, far more terrible
are, thank God, being effaced.
The birds are nesting and songs are being
born just where Butler's vandals mutilated and
broke off the top of this monument, hunting
for hidden treasure. Some of the seeds which
the mother birds carried to their young have
fallen by the wayside and taken root and now
out of the jagged, broken top grow a greenery
of unknown vines and plants and flowers.
The old colonial home of my forefathers, with
its rare old mahoganies and paintings, which
Butler sacked and desecrated and then
burned, has been replaced by a sweet little
cottage home built by ourselves, all our very
own, and consecrated to love and contentment,
with furnishings so simple and plain that we
are not afraid of using them.
No, my sweetheart, we don't want any
monuments to mark any of the woes and horrors
of the past. We must build one of hope
and faith and peace and mercy and joy, the
foundation of which is already laid in our
Listen—I hear old Sims' step on the porch.
I hear him knocking his pipe against the
pillars—so, á Dios. He will tell me the same
old stories over again and I shall listen and
laugh as though I heard them for the first
time—dear old Sims.
Good night—sweet dreams. Angels guard
you while I hear of Lafayette and Nelson and
Marshall, through the clouds of old Sims'
tobacco smoke for the hundredth, yes, thousandth
Concerning a Slight Illness and the Business
Troubles of a Soldier
YOU are always right, my darling Sally,
and your husband is only right when he
is guided by you. Pretty generally he listens
to his oracle and when he doesn't he wishes to
the Lord he had. The morning I left, when
you urged that I wear the suit I had been
wearing and I claimed that I hadn't time to
change—"Then please take it with you and
change on the boat," you plead. Well, dearest,
I was mean. I wouldn't and I didn't and
your obstinate soldier was not out of sight of
the sweet lone figure standing on the wharf
waving to him the love signals and the Godspeed
of our code before he was abusing himself
as an ingrate in refusing anything that
the sweetest, most beautiful woman and the
best wife in the world could ask of him—"Well,
dem dat dances is 'bleeged ter pay de
fiddler," and your husband is paying—he is
being punished, for he caught cold on the
boat, had a chill, followed by sore throat and
pain in limbs and back.
I stopped only a day in Petersburg to see
our agent there, then came over here, went
to the Exchange and went directly to bed and
sent for Dr. Beal. He has been very attentive,
coming twice a day. Julia and Wash
took me in charge at once and, as usual, are
as good as gold, and so is everyone, as to that,
but each and all in turn prescribe a sure
remedy and urge my taking it. Wash insists
upon rubbing me with "turkentime en den
puttin' on a hot ingun poultice, en 'pon top er
dat drinkin' a good hot scotch," declaring
"dey'll sho' en mingulate up wid one-annudder
en do de business en bre'k up dis
'fluenza dat's got 'session er you, Marse
George. Don't you go projickin' wid doctor's
medicines; pills is dang'us en dey ain't
gwine ter oust no 'fluenzas, dey jes' gwine ter
upset en sturbulate de balance er yo' body dat
ain' got de 'fluenza in it en mek dat part sick,
too. Ef Miss Sally wuz here she'd say,
'Wash, you suttinly is right—g'long fetch up
a nice hot scotch en git one fer yo'se'f while
youse down dar gittin' yo Marse George's.'
Lord, I knows Miss Sally."
That settled it and I compromised on the
hot scotch—but I was firm and would not
yield to Julia's entreaties to be permitted to
bring me Mrs. Marshall's flannel petticoat to
wrap around my throat. "What would the
judge say?" I asked. "De Jedge, Marse
George?—De Jedge ain' 'bleeged ter know
nuttin' 't all bout it. Needer him ner needer
Miss Sally, nuther. Dem whar's robbed, en
don' know dey's robbed, ain' robbed, Marse
George, en ain' no wusser off ef dey had dan ef
dey hadn't," she argued—but I was adamant;
her arguments were of no avail. She
"curchied" her thanks for the silver piece I
gave her and left me with the compliment that
I "sho' was one bridegroom-husband—allus
honeymoonin' wid my own queen bee, wedder
wid her er widout her, en dat Miss Sally ought
ter be one proud white lady"—Is she?—bless
Yesterday when I wrote I did not tell you
how sick I had been or was, nor how lonesome,
nor how I longed for your soothing, gentle
touch, your ministering care. I should only
have made you anxious. You could not have
come to me. Oh, my sweetheart, I think of
you all the time, and I swear every time I
leave you, that I'll never leave you again, that
if business calls I must take my darling with
me. If I could only lay the treasures of the
universe at your tiny little feet.
But this business, I'm afraid, will not earn
my cough drops or your violets and, oh darling,
it is such a crucifixion. You don't know
how abhorrent it is to me. I spur myself on
all the time with this thought, that it is for
my darling. The day I came up on the boat,
I took out two policies, one for $7,000 and one
for $10,000. The men were both old soldiers
belonging to my dear old division and one
of them said they had to run me down and
almost tie me to make me insure their lives.
You know, dear, I can't do it. I'd sooner
face a cannon than ask a man to take out a
policy with me. Your soldier is nothing but
a soldier; the war is over and he is no more
account. The company tells me that my
agents must do the soliciting, but I'll feel
like a thief to take a commission on what they
have worked for and earned.
Yesterday when I came through Petersburg
I went, as I told you, to our office. J. B. B.,
our company's agent, was sitting with his
chair tilted back—foot on the table, smoking
a bad smelling pipe and reading "Macaria."
"Hello, General, hello," he said, not rising.
"Sent in six policies this week, old man."
"On your familiarity or courtly manners—
which?" "Neither, old man, on gall, gall,
old man, gall and grub. Come, have a drink
- ever read 'Macaria'?" With the most
studied politeness and coldness I declined his
offer and in my most dignified manner asked
permission to look over the company's books.
"Come, what's eating you, old man?" he
asked, bringing his chair down with a bang
and slapping me on the back. Then he profanely
informed me that I'd have to unbuckle
a few holes and thaw out if I wanted to paint
the monkey's tail sky-blue.
Alas, little one, I am afraid your Soldier
isn't much of an artist. He longs to give his
precious wife all the luxuries and comforts
and everything that is beautiful—but he can't
thaw out, my darling, and he can't paint that
monkey's tail sky-blue, and, sweetheart, it
makes me crawl and creep to be associated
with artists who can. I was wondering as I
came over whether it would be better to send
our boy to West Point or get him a paintbrush.
We have time to decide that, however,
for he is just a little over eleven.
Here comes the Colonel and "old Mistiss,"
and by the way, everybody sends love and
messages to you and our boy.
Now, my own beautiful wife, don't be anxious
about me, and forgive this long, rambling
It's snowing hard—I mean, easy. The
snow is "beautiful" but I'm so homesick for
Your loving, good-for-nothing
On the Occasion of the Memorial Services in
Honor of Those who died at Gettysburg
ALL the way to the station, my darling, I
was asking myself whether I was right
in yielding to your solicitations and leaving
our sick child, with all the resulting care
and responsibility resting on your ever-brave
shoulders. And once, sweetheart, after thinking
very seriously over it I was almost tempted
to turn and go back, when the appealing words
of your voice echoed through my soul. "Even
if I knew our child would die while you were
gone, I would not have you neglect this call
to honor your boys whom you led to their
death." And, instead of turning back I said:
"Drive faster, please, John David; I wouldn't
miss my train for anything."—You blessed
I made the train in plenty of time and your
mother, to whom I had telegraphed at Ivor,
came to the station, bringing the good tidings
that your brother was out of danger. I did
not tell her that our little George was ill,
lest it might make her anxious, and I knew
that her duty was beside her sick boy, your
I would have been so thankful if you, my
sweet, beautiful bride, and our precious little
"war-baby" could have come with me.
Everybody asks about you and the boy and
sends love and expresses sorrow that you could
not come. A delegation of my old soldiers
met me at the station and, though some of our
relatives had prepared to have us with them,
I agreed to the arrangement of the Committee
and the demand of the Governor and was
taken to the Executive Mansion as the guest
of the State.
All the evening and the next morning until
it was time to form, old comrades came in, in
groups and single file. They told of their experiences,
officers and privates alike, discussed
the Pennsylvania campaign and the three days'
fight, their voices falling to a whisper as they
spoke of those whose memory we had come to
honor—our gallant dead at Gettysburg—our
brave boys who gave "their last full measure
of devotion" to duty.
I had been made Chief Marshal—a sad,
solemn, sacred office for me—of all the Army.
Such love, such reverence was Christ-born.
You cannot conceive of it. From the old
Market to the Cemetery of Hollywood the
streets, sidewalks, windows and housetops were
crowded. There must have been twelve thousand
people at Hollywood. Such a demonstration
of devotion and sympathy was, I
think, never before witnessed on earth.
Think of it, my darling, so penetrating, so universal
a oneness of love and respect and reverence
existed that there was a stillness, an awesomeness,
save for those necessary sounds—the
clanking of swords, the tramp of horses and
the martial tread of men keeping time with
funeral marches—the solemn requiem. No
cheers, no applause, only loving greetings from
tear-stained faces, heads bent in reverence,
clasped hands held out to us as we passed
along. As I saw once more the courage-lit
faces of my brave Virginians, again I heard
their cry—"We'll follow you, Marse George!"
From their eternal silence those who marched
heroically to death looked down upon us yesterday
and were sad. My darling, you cannot
know—no, you cannot know!
As I clasped the hand of one after another
of those who crowded around me I was
greeted with the words—"My husband was
killed at Gettysburg." "My son is lying
there among the dead"—"My brother was
with you there and he has just come back to
me"—so many crushed hearts filling my heart
with grief. Oh, my Sally, if the cry of my
soul had been voiced it would have been the
echo of that at Gethsemane.
After the services General Joseph R. Anderson
had a number of us old fellows come
to his house and as we stood around his
sumptuous board the solemnity of the scene
was almost like that of the Lord's Supper.
Though we were old soldiers, neither the
march nor the battle was mentioned. The
only war-time reference was that some of my
men called me by the old war-time title,
"Marse George." Among the guests were
some of our West Point comrades whose only
vocation, like mine, was war. Our tents are
folded now and we parted, going off, each to
his work; one to the farm, another to the trade;
one to seek some position; one to one place,
one to another; and I to return to my beautiful
wife and my sick baby, my only joy and my
life, knowing that what is best will come.
YOUR LOVING SOLDIER.
Written while Away from Home after the
Death of his Youngest Boy
POOR broken lily, I hated so to leave you.
The haunted look on your sweet, tired
face haunts my heart and I was almost tempted
to disobey the company's orders and not go.
The doctor said you were not strong enough
to come with your Soldier, that you were all
run down by your long watch, sleepless nights
and nursing, and then the transplanting of the
precious flower into the Father's garden at
last—having to give the boy back—was more
than you could bear. Ah, sweetheart, try to
be generous, too, and give him to the Heavenly
Father, being thankful for His having lent
him to you for so long. Dear, beautiful
mother of an angel, come, say "Thy will be
done" and try to recognize the wisdom of our
Lord. See, my lily, how well your Soldier
has learned his lesson. It was you who taught
him to believe—to look up and trust. Come,
now—take your spelling book and let him
teach you the Word.
How tenderly, loyally, reverently I do love
you, my wife, and how I want to spare you
every hurt. I'll be starting back when you get
this. Love to our boy and tell him to look
after his "dear mother" for his "dear father,"
that he is our little man and has got double
duty to do from now on. Ask him to think
about what he wants for his birthday. Anything
but a gun he can have.
Think, my darling, nearly eleven years of
perfect bliss—such happiness as man never
had. God show me how to be worthy of such
The horses are at the door, my little one—
I must say á Dios.
Lovingly and forever and ever,
PICKETT'S CHARGE AT GETTYSBURG
PICKETT'S charge was the culminating point in the
three days' struggle at Gettysburg. Directed
against a force strongly entrenched and superior in
numbers it failed; but in failing it made immortal the fame
of all those who took part in it.
For two days and a half the battle had raged between
the armies of Lee and Meade, the advantage being with
neither side, when at one o'clock in the afternoon of the
third day Lee massed his forces on Seminary Ridge and
prepared for a final assault upon the Union position.
The attack was begun with a tremendous artillery duel
which shook the surrounding hills. It lasted two hours.
The Federal guns then ceased their fire, and Lee ordered
the advance of the attacking columns.
This force consisted of Pickett's and Pettigrew's divisions,
the brunt of the assault falling upon Pickett. At
the order, the columns moved forward as on dress parade,
their ranks unbroken, their arms glistening in the July
sun. As they advanced, however, the Union artillery
which had appeared to be silenced opened upon them with
shot and shell, tearing great holes in the lines, and as
they came nearer the men were met with a rain of canister
and shrapnel. In the face of this terrific fire they did
not falter. It was not until they came within striking
distance of the Union line, when a flame of musketry burst
forth before which nothing could live, that their ranks
broke and, although a handful of men led by Armistead
crossed the Union works, the remainder of the glory-crowned
division were forced to retire.
Some idea of the decimating character of this assault
may be gained from the fact that out of more than 5000
men in Pickett's division who started on the mile long
march across the field of death but 1500 returned. In
the two divisions that made up the attacking column over
5000 men were lost. Two of Pickett's brigadiers were
killed, the other wounded; and but one field officer in
his command came out of the battle unhurt. In one of
his letters in this volume the general gives a more detailed
account of the losses among his officers.
The charge of Pickett and his men has been made the
basis of much unfavorable criticism, directed chiefly
against the commanding general of the Southern forces
and his chief lieutenants at Gettysburg. In this criticism
Pickett has taken no part, although he states repeatedly
in the letters to his wife that if promised supports
had materialized the attack would have been successful.
It is generally admitted that the brigades of
Wilcox and Perry which should have supported Pickett
were slow in starting and became separated from the main
attacking body, rendering it no assistance.
In his first official report to General Lee after the
battle, Pickett pointed out without reserve the circumstances
that were responsible for the disastrous result.
Lee, however, requested him to withdraw this report.
His letter so doing is to be found in War Records
(Volume 27, Part 3, Page 1075). It reads as follows:
General George E. Pickett, Commanding, &c. You
and your men have crowned themselves with glory; but
we have the enemy to fight, and must carefully, at this
critical moment, guard against dissensions which the
reflections in your report would create. I will, therefore,
suggest that you destroy both copy and original,
substituting one confined to casualties merely. I hope all will
yet be well.
I am, with respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee, General.
In accordance with Lee's wish, General Pickett withdrew
and destroyed his report of the engagement. Furthermore,
he looked upon Lee's suggestion as a command
that was binding upon him for all time and he has never
divulged the contents of this report, except in the letter
to his wife (written before Lee's request was made)
which appears in this volume on page 97. In view, however,
of the General's sense of obligation in this matter,
Mrs. Pickett feels that the details of the battle as reported
therein should be withheld from publication and
accordingly this section of the letter is omitted, as stated
in footnote on page 100.
General Lee has been criticized for ordering the attack
on Cemetery Ridge with an inadequate force and under
conditions that made its failure probable. In explanation
of his action, Lee said in his report (War Records,
Volume 27, Part 2, page 321) that his batteries "having
nearly exhausted their ammunition in the protracted
cannonade that preceded the advance of the infantry, were
unable to reply, or render the necessary support to the
attacking party. Owing to this fact, which was unknown
to me when the assault took place, the enemy were
enabled to throw a strong force of infantry against our
left, already wavering under a concentrated fire of artillery
from the ridge in front, and from Cemetery Hill on
Elsewhere he describes the formation which took place
in Pickett's charge, as follows:
"General Longstreet ordered forward the column of
attack, consisting of Pickett's and Heth's divisions, in
two lines, Pickett on the right. Wilcox's brigade marched
in rear of Pickett's right, to guard that flank, and Heth's
was supported by Lane's and Scales' brigades, under
General Longstreet has described the charge as seen
under his own eyes in these words:
"I dismounted to relieve my horse and was sitting on
a rail fence watching very closely the movements of the
troops. . . . Pickett had reached a point near the Federal
lines. A pause was made to close ranks and mass for the
final plunge. The troops on Pickett's left, although advancing,
were evidently a little shaky. I was watching
the troops supporting Pickett and saw plainly they could
not hold together ten minutes longer. I called his (Colonel
Freemantle's) attention to the wavering condition of
the two divisions of the Third Corps and said they would
not hold, that Pickett would strike and be crushed, and
the attack would be a failure. As the division threw itself
against the Federal line Garnett fell and expired.
The Confederate flag was planted in the Federal line,
and immediately Armistead fell mortally wounded at the
feet of the Federal soldiers. The wavering division then
seemed appalled, broke their ranks and retired.
"The only thing Pickett said of his charge was that he
was distressed at the loss of his command. He thought
he should have had two of his brigades that had been left
in Virginia; with them he felt that he would have broken