Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1862 December 29 Camp near Guinea Station

Camp near Guinea Station,
Monday morning, Dec. 29, 1862
I anticipated your request, my dear wife, by
writing my last letter somewhat int he style of a jour-
nal.  I fear that the sameness of my life and its bar-
renness of incidents will not suit this diary corre-
spondence; yet events the most trivial in them-
selves will possess an interest for you on account
of their connection with your loving husband.  It may
be thought by civilians that the soldier in the field
never lacks stirring news; but to the storm of battle
there generally succeeds a long calm, and the
present season increases the probability of months of
dull monotony to our army.  Yet we are not without
rumors of change now.  Last evening I heard that
Gen. Kemper advised a soldier not to build a chim-
ney, as we would move n a day or two; and it
was supposed that we were destined for the South-
side.  That gave me food for charming fancies of
seeing my beloved, and enjoying some precious days
of her sweet society.   But this morning brings another
tale, viz. that the Gen is seeking bricks for a chimney
of his own, and this sounds like a hint of winter-quar-

[page 2]
ters here.  This is a favourable place for answering the
enquiry you make in behalf of Jno. Crew and other friends
about the time of my next visit to the Capital.  I am
sorry not to be able to give a definite answer.  Major
Otey of his own accord mentioned to me that I might
very properly spend a large part of the winter with you,
especially as the weather will often be unpropitious for
religious services in the camp.  If I had unlimited
discretion in the matter, I would go now and then
without neglect of duty; but I dislike to make a
formal application for leave of absence, and send it
through all the usual channels, unless I have a special
and very satisfactory plea -- one which can be stated
in an official document.  I will pay Gen. K. a visit
soon, and converse on this subject, getting all the [light?]
and all the aid possible from him.  But I can not
yet encourage hope in you or myself.  You can not
exceed me in intensity of hoping for the early com-
ing of the day of our meeting.  You can not think
of it more frequently, or anticipate it with greater
delight.  I hold with you many and long conversations
in imagination, to be made real when bodily presence
admits. -- But I must quit the enticing theme, and be-

[page 3]
gin my record of each day's experience.
Christmas passed without disorder or drunkenness,
a subject of congratulation, though due more to the lack
of the wherewithal than to sobriety of spirit.  Friday
morning, after breakfast and reading the regular
lessons in the Word of God, I finished my tract which
to anticipate, I sent off by private hand to-day.
I then took a long walk by myself, but not a lonesome
walk.  As mention of these solitary walks will often oc-
cur, and as they are remarkable not for any scenes
or persons I meet, but only, if at all, for my own medi
tations, I may as well tell you now how my mind
is occupied during them.  You walk in the city to visit
or to shop, and your eye and ear are kept busy: I
in these lonely woods for exercise, the stirring of the blood,
escape from company, and quiet thought.   I do not
often study or constrain my mind to consecutive think-
ing; but give it the reins.  Now it rises in prayer to
God; again it directs on some scriptural passage, per-
haps taking the direction of a sermon, but not always;
and oft it turns to my darling, and long it lingers on
the the pleasant subject, with fondness,m delight, and yearn-
ing.  If you were ever so exacting, you would be satisfied

[page 4]
with the constancy and affection of my thoughts of you,
my most precious wife. -- I returned in time for
dinner (2 or 3P.M.) and afterwards read a few
chapters in French.  At even-tide, like Isaac, I went
out in the field to meditate; but no Rebecca lighted
off her camel or horse to salute me.  One of the most nota-
ble features of our life is the length of the evening.  Soon
almost as sunset, the dusk gathers about us, squatters
in the woods.  We sit around the fire, talk or are si-
lent, without candle, lamp or gas.  Astonishment is
expressed when I tell my comrades the hour, and
they accuse my watch of being too slow.  But the next
evening they cry out against it as too fast.  How often
twilight and dark are spent by me in imaginary visits
to my sweetheart, you can tell exactly by numbering the
days of our actual separation.  Somewhere between 9 and 10
P.M. I go to my couch, sleeping warmly and refesh-
ingly, but not through the whole night, for on my bed too
you are in my mind and heart.                   Saturday
I was up early, bundling my baggage and eating break-
fast for a move.  Our division marched about eight
miles; and we are no encamped four miles from Guinea
station which is twelve miles above Fredericksburg.  I was

[page 5]
but slightly fatigued by the march.  Hereafter direct
to "11th. Va. Reg.., Kemper's Brigade, Picketts Division,"
without mention of Corps or locality.  We are well situa-
ted as to woods and warmth, not very near water.  I
was arranging my bed before dark, when Mike Clark
called out, "Ah, Mr. Granberry, you will stop pining
now." And I did stop, for a letter was brought me
from my Ella, and a full week had passed since the
last.  this was written the Tuesday before.  I hope for
another to-day. -- The Sabbath was a lovely day,
cooler than the weather had been for several days, but
only enough to h[?] the system.  I enjoyed a short
walk immediately after breakfast, and read my bible.
About 11 A.M., the drum was beat for worship, and
a considerable company gathered on a convenient hill-
side.  The sun kept them pleasantly warm, and they
listened with attention, but did the profit them being
mixed with faith?  I preached on the first sentence
of the text of my sermon at Trinity: "Behold, now are
we the sons of God/" developing the same thoughts more
fully.  I thought much of the happy season with which
you were blessed the Sunday before, and thanked God for
it.  French furnished me again hospitable reading

[page 6]
I will finish the book this week.  After noon I took a
walk, and called at the camp of the 18th, to see Capt
Irby, Ned Morse and other friends.  That brigade, now
Garnett's is not a quarter of a mile from us.  The sky at
sundown was beautiful, and the moon shown on us
with mellow radiance.  Not in vain, I trust, did
the heavens declare to my heart the glory of God.
Now Monday has come, and so soon as I read the
morning lessons, I set down to this writing.
  I have omitted one sad event.  Friday, late in the day,
I heard that one of our privates was delirious: he had been
seized with pneumonia the night before.  I determined
to visit him the next day, hoping that he would then be in
his right mind.  Early next morning he was dead.  He was
from Campbell, a youth of nineteen years, the only support of
his widowed mother. -- Stuart is on another big scout.
Hope we will hear good news from him soon. --
Blanche and Bettie must watch your words, and not forget
to tell me all the treason you speak.  I am afraid that I will
become fond of the treasonable remarks, because they are the oc-
cassions of such sweet, living words when you write to me.
To little Blanche, and larger Blanche, and Bettie, and Annie
and all, I send my love (don't tell it, but kiss it to the first
and to the rest you may give it both ways.)  And continue [to]
yearn (but not pine) and hope fore me,
                                                                Your husband,
                                                                         J.C. Granbery

[page 7]
Sunset of Monday.  After dining, I walked about two
miles; and as I rested on a log, read your last letter,
looked at your likeness, and mused.  I was refreshed
all the way back by the hope of a letter; but they
tell me that none came.  The mail has hitherto
proved sure, though slow; and it is a comfort to
know that your letter is on the road.  I will
fill another half-sheet with a notice of certain
points in your last.   I have not thought that
you were reserved about your past life; but
you must never hereafter indulge the fear of
wearying me by talking about yourself.  It can
not be egotistic to dwell on this theme to your
husband. -- The extract from Adam Bede is
not less true than beautiful.  When a youth feels the first
stirrings of the susceptibility of his nature to the passion
of love, he exercises it towards some girl, acci-
dent or beauty or sprightliness determining who,
with little judgment of fitness and substantial
merit.  It is like the first flutter of the fledgling,
feebly going forth because instinct impels, very dif
ferent from the sustained and easy flight of the
full-grown bird.  I remember speaking to you at

[page 8]
Spring Grove about the heart of Mid-Lothian
and the points of resemblance between it and
Adam Bede: though then I could not converse
very freely about them. The latter is not an
imitation; yet I think it was in important
respects suggested by the other.  Did you men
tion specially Jeanie's speech to the Queen
which she rightly termed true elegance ?  It can
not be surpassed in pathos, beauty, truth.
  If you agree, I will begin next Thursday
to read two chapters daily in Isaiah and one
in Matthew.  The New Testament and the
poetical parts of the Old will correspond nearly
in time with the rest of the Old on this plan,
I think.                        Tell Mr. Crew that our army
is larger, and in better health and condition
than ever before  God be praised!  I see
in the Examiner of to-day a gloomy picture
of the sickness, real and probable in the future
of Richmond.
              Again with love I sign myself your
devoted husband. J.C.G.

John Cowper Granbery, 1829-1907, former chaplain at the University of Virginia, chaplain of the 11th Virginia Regiment, and later a Bishop, Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

MSS 4942

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