To those who have paid the price and for those left behind to carry on...
A SOLDIER'S LETTER TO HIS MOTHER:
21 July 1863
They told us to get some shut-eye while we can but I just had to take the time to write you this quick note to say I'm alive and well, all things considered.
You know that saying, "between a rock and a hard place?" Well, that's where I'm at right now, writing this by candlelight and wishing I was back home eating another slice of your delicious apple pie. The stuff they call food around here barely keeps body and soul together but I guess I can't complain. At least I'm around to eat it.
How young and naive I was to run away and enlist. I should have listened to Papa when he said it made no sense to pick up a rifle in haste. I didn't understand what he meant back then but I do now. I thought I was fighting for a just cause but all I did was join a war against my own brother.
Can you tell Elizabeth I love her? God willing, I'll return home from this bloody war in time to see our child take its first steps. The Captain stays, "Stay strong, boys. Remember what we're fighting for!" But, Momma, sometimes it's so hard to remember why any of us is here when all I can hear is the sound of the cannons and all I see are men falling wounded beside me. What about their families? Do they look out the window, praying for a soldier's safe return like I know you do?
Well, I guess I'd better stop for now and try to rest. Your little boy will return home a man, Momma. And if for some reason I don't make it back, remember I always tried to do what was right even if to some it made no sense.
Your loving Son.
A MOTHER'S LETTER TO HER SON:
12 August 1863
I was so grateful to receive your letter today. I can see by the date it has been some time since you wrote that letter but at least for now I know you are still alive. Your Papa has long since forgiven you for running away to enlist. "Foolishness of a youthful mind," he calls it and now all we can do is hope this fighting stops and pray you come home soon.
Your darling Elizabeth is well. The baby is due any day now and she fusses about the house like a mother hen. How can a person be happy and sad at the same time? I find myself crying tears of joy when I think of being able to hold my first grandchild soon. But then I find myself thinking back to the days I held YOU in my arms and I cry for what used to be.
Papa says I am made of pioneer stock. You know how I hate to disappoint your father so for now I will put on a brave face and think of your safe return. I shall even bake a dozen pies in your honor if only the good Lord sees fit to bring my baby back to me, alive and well.
Stay safe, my son, and know that you are held in the highest regard by your family. A man can only live his life as he sees fit and you now serve your country with honor. What more could anyone ask of you?
Your loving Mother.
To all the sons who served their country with honor and to all those who never returned home...we will always remember you...