Civil War Love Letters: March 15–16, 1862

15, March 2012

While Company K, including James, remained in Leavenworth, Kansas, awaiting orders, Company E marched from Olathe to Aubrey, Kansas, on March 13, 1862. Several days earlier, on March 7, Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill had come into Kansas from Missouri for the first time. Quantrill led an independent band of guerrillas, or bushwhackers, who raided pro-Union towns in Kansas and attacked Union soldiers and civilians. On March 13, 1862, 42 men from Company E skirmished with some of Quantrill’s men near Aubrey, Kansas, killing two.   

Leavenworth Kansas
March 15th 1862

My Dear Molly

We are yet as you see in the "Land of the Leal." My Tent as yet stands & almost alone, as all its companions have scattered & gone East, West, North & South and one of our companies that started last Tuesday - being better prepared with Wagons &c than us has had its fight already & two of its men wounded. They went in pursuit of the noted "Secesh" Jayhawker "Quantrel," who was in Kansas stealing horses &c, found him, pitched in - and killed two & wounded two of his men - took some prisoners, & chased the balance into Missouri. Bravo! for the 8th Kansas!!

I commence to write just now as I have come across such a sweet scrap from Tom Hood the "inimitable" much loving & much loved Poet & Wit. It breathes the very essence of simplicity & love & I cant help copying it so that you enjoy it with me. We start about Monday and I thus fill up a leizure hour of almost the last night. Perhaps this scrap too comes home to me more as we had two deaths last Tuesday in our company. One our old cook Tom Southworth - one of the best old souls could live, & the other our Teamsters Wife - both died after 3 or 4 days illness from colds & exposure. Poor Tom had all due Military honors at the Fort Graveyard - & the other had quite an aristocratic fu­neral to the city cemetery. I must now copy, or you will say too much preface

The Death Bed

We watched her breathing through the night,
Her breathing soft & low,
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.

So silently we seemed to speak,
So slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our power,
To eke her living out

Our very hopes belied our fears
Our fears our hopes belied -
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.

For when the morn came dim & sad,
And chill with early showers,
Her quiet eyelids closed - she had
Another morn than ours.

but perhaps you have it by you so its only "Loves Labor Lost" but N'importe Goodnight

Love

 

March 16th 1862

Did you see a story in Harper of the 15th entitled the "Majors" Mittens. Quite a spicy little tale, aint it. Hope Bayne is another young Lady with great "force of character."

A Soldier's Letter from Harper's WeeklyJames tells Molly that he relished the March issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, including “A Soldier’s Letter,” March 1862. Missouri History Museum.

I have just recd this moment the L.N. of 15th Feby - but that of the 8th has not yet appeared - I hope it may yet

Your letter of 12th March came to hand with it. I did not expect to be so fortunate as get it here. But while in a liter­ary way - I want to know how it is I relish Harper for March so much. Is it the circumstances surrounding, or the Stories - Instance - Niagara - Cured - A Drawn Game - and a Soldiers letter - as good in their way especially the last. And then "Embarras des Riches". I feel I must read "Mistress & Maid by our old friend, the Authoress of "John Halifax &c & also in the Weekly, "No Name" by the Author of "The Woman in White" - See what a rich feast I spread for myself even under the shadow of a Great War. Will you accom­pany me in Spirit through the Tales - as you w'd if I was by your side - & as I know you will in my little "role" in the great tragedy of war now enacting

But I must leave literature for the present, & return to real life. Your letter Dear acts occasionally like a sniff from a flask of laughing gas or a Chinaman's pipe of opium. Molly Dear Molly Dear - you'll be the Death of me. I'm so glad I thought of sending you two Billet Doux last week - ere I read all your present Badinage. I'm repaid for all your teasing

But I dont think you ever realized how much I enjoyed your teas­ing. I took such a pleasure, in excusing & arguing the point, that I believe you mostly thought me in earnest & sometimes feared you would offend - when it suited me all better than the subtlest flattery.

But was it not flattery?

I recollect a long time since drawing good auguries as to the success of my suit! After you once inter­ested yourself so much as to tease & lecture me - so again I say - was it not flattery?

Well I guess I wont publish anything about our affairs; I never believed there was much love lost when I heard a young man bragging about his Lady Love (not the future Lady Love) and at least common sense was scarce - so not to condemn myself. I guess I’ll keep quiet - but they do say that I've been calling "Molly" in my sleep.

I don’t believe it, but it mought be so?

I hope you think I’ve got over the blues. I'm sorry I sent that stupid note last Wednesday - it was so dull but I had written so much that I was drained of news & yet I didn't wish to start without good­bye - especially when I could find time to write so many pages on business

Glad to hear of the fine weather. It has just reached us here today after 3 days cold rain - quite April weather or warmer today. I suppose plants & flowers will soon make their appearance here too - but as yet no sign.

Glad to hear of Sallie & Miss Burchard enjoying themselves hope they'll have much of it & that I may be there to see

I guess what Ellen said about his (Johnnys) going to stay at St. Charles will prove true yet notwithstanding the Old Man curses - and his disclaimers - at present I will bid you good­night again with Love & remembrance to all but I wont post until I am "en route" through the city

I am my dear girl

Yours Sincerely

James E. Love

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