My Darling Wife –
We have reached what I suppose to be our destination after eleven
days march, stopping but one on
in good spirits, and with moderate marching reached here but little exhaust-
ted. I really don’t know what we came for, as everything here is in a
most profound state of quiet. The enemy is on the other side of the Rappahannock,
showing but little if any signs of an intention to cross.
I heard my trunk was in Gordonsville and sent for it but found that McCoron
had gone up to Charlottesville and had the key with him. So I have gotten the trunk
but have not yet been able to get in it. If you have anything to eat
in it I expect it will be in bad condition by the time I get it open.
I am getting use to my new position, and whilst I prefer that
which I left, I can be contented here. I have no reason to com-
plain now of a want of employment, but feel that I have
more than I can do. I have found much that I would like
but have not the means to remedy it. Our soldiers [Paxton comments on the troops no longer being
are not now clothed or fed as they used to be. We are furnished with adequate food and clothing.]
short of everything, I hope this winter that much may be supplied
and next spring we may be able to begin the campaign in fair
I passed through New Market and heard that Martha was
at home but I could ^ ‘not’ leave my brigade to stop and see
her. Mr. Wilkinson had been thrown from his horse
and hurt, but I hope not very seriously.
We have right clear weather right now but it is the season when
we may expect it will not last. Soon we shall have snow, bad
roads, cold weather & the ususal attendants of the season. I wish now we had
the order to prepare for it, and build such cheap huts as would shelter
Now very few of them have tents and many are thinly clad: some
are barefooted, and a few without blankets. I wish I had the power
to supply their wants, but I can do but little.
Have you made up your mind, Love, when the war will be over?
I am heartily sick and tired of it. If any one had told me when it began
that I should pass through two years of it and reach the rank of brigadier
with pay of $300 per month, it would have been a flattering prospect. But
I feel now as if no rank or pay could induce me to be a soldier.
Nothing but necessity – a feeling that I am no true man if I leave
our cause for the comforts of home. I sometimes have been
severely tempted to follow the example of many whom I thought
good men have set in staying at home. But other and better im-
pulses have controlled my conduct. When we were separated in
times past, I could feel with some certainty, that we should
soon be together again. Not so now. When will it be if ever? This
is the question shrouded in impenetrable gloom. I would like to
see through it. I would like to know when I should be home
again to spend my life with loved wife and children. God in his
mercy grant that the hope so fondly cherished may someday be realized.
It may never be, still it is a sweet hope which I cherish while life
Write to me often Love and let me know what you are thinking and
what you are doing. Nothing gives me so much happiness as to receive and
read your letters. Let me know what you are doing on the farm. What
do you want to do next year. I should like to have a good
crop planted next spring and think you had better hire
another good hand. Do as much plowing as you can this
winter, but do not use the subsoil plow. If plowed with
one plow it will be as much as you can have done. Draw
some money from Wm White and give John Fitzgerald as a present
from me $30 to buy some winter clothes. His wages are hardly sufficient
to support him _ Now Darling goodbye. Give my love to Mathew
and Gala and a kiss to little Frank _ Ever Yours,
E. F. Paxton
[The above letter is included in Civil War Letters of General Frank “Bull” Paxton,
except the last paragraph beginning with “Write to me often Love….” It was signed
as above and not, “Love, Frank” as appeared in the book.
[transcript by Mary Roy Dawson Edwards]