Castle Hill, March 12, 1862
I should have answered your
nice long letter sooner, my little darling, but when
it came I was just recovering from a migraine
of longer duration than usual--sixty hours instead
of twenty four. I suppose it was lengthened by the
anxiety and fatigue I had borne during our dear
Papa's illness. I made as good a case of that
in writing to you as truth would allow, for I
wished to avoid adding to the burthren of our
dear son, who I knew was full of work and
anxious reflection--but Papa was very sick, and
for the first time yesterday took a short drive in
the close carriage. Now, we trust he is steadily
mending, and I trust will soon be well again.
We try to be as cheerful as the state of
the country permits, and the last two bright
beautiful days have been very sweet. The dear
little bird seems to enjoy the sunshine heartily,
and I often think what a bright idea it was
to make such a pretty christmas gift to Ella.
He has been a great solace to Papa during
We have something of a cross in the
irregularity of the mails, and occasionally we
have none atall. yesterday there was a failure,
so that we are in darkness as to passing events.
of course you hear all sorts of rumours, as
we do, but nobody seems to know any thing
certainly. Now and then it comes home
to us in a way we cannot misunderstand.
For instance, the universal draft for service
will probably take away the most important
of our overseers, and we are rather too
near Gordonsville, which seems to be fixed
on for the army dépot .
I saw Sally at church last sunday. The
dear little soul looked very anxious--her
health is delicate, her husband in an
exposed position, (at Wincheser) and her
home entirely too convenient to every body
and every thing. Her sister in law, and
ci devant Miss Georgy Bryant were with her.
They have seven babies among them, the
oldest of the whole tea party not having
yet attained the respectable age of five years.
Thomas Pages pretty wife is at yet in
status quo, but expecting a change daily.
She is staying at her mother's.
Leila is in great tribulation, fearing
lest Carter should be drafted, which I trust
he will not be, as he cannot stand military
service. She is ever thinking about trying
to go to Baltimore; but as that would
be a sort of temporary divorce from her
husband, and under the painful circumstances,
I think her good heart and religious faith
will prevent such an arrangement.
Gordonsville seems to be getting important.
We are told that a mile of stables is building
there, with provision houses in like quantity--
that all the churches are converted into depots of
ammunition.--that manassas is destroyed, and
the army at culpeper court house &c.--though
you probably hear all about these things.
Minnie writes to Ella that Bella was going
back to Halifax under the impression that it
was contemplated to abandon all the state except
the south side. I trust he has only got hold
of a union idea by the wrong end, as we should
be included in this elegant and liberal programme.
so far from giving up are we, that we
are for disputing every inch of ground n
our noble old state. I would not consent even
to give up the pan handle, unless it could be
exchanged for "that most miserable district of
Coclumbia," as John Randolph always called it.--
We rejoiced in the splendid experiment
of the Merrimack. what a merry time uncle
sam's vessels had while she was dancing among
them! Now if they can only starve out the great
fortress, we shall be fixed, and they too in that
You see I have raked up all our news
for you, send me some of yours--three weeks
today since we left Richmond, and --one-
though a very nice letter from my darling.
please dont wait for interesting things to accumulate.
such a little pencil note as you can strike off
in three minutes will be always most welcome.
Adieu my beloved child. Papa and Ella join me
in our love to you & our dear son, as well as to each
member of your family--your loving Y faithful mama
I return Amélie letter, with many tanks
Judith Page Walker Rives, 1802-1881, wife of William Cabell Rives,1793–1868, former Congressman and Senator and U.S. minister to France.