Civil War Love Letters: August 20–23, 1862
During the month of August 1862, events in the western theater of the Civil War were centered on Tennessee and Kentucky. James mentions that Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard and Union major general Ulysses S. Grant were “playing a game of chess,” but the real leaders of the opposing sides in the area were Union major general Don Carlos Buell and Confederate general Braxton Bragg. James and his regiment were part of Buell’s army that marched through northern Alabama to Tennessee. In this letter, which he wrote at the beginning of a long march to Nashville, James mentions that he read in the newspaper about recent events in other parts of Tennessee, and heard news of small successes by Union general John Pope, who continued to fight the Confederate forces of Robert E. Lee in Virginia.
Camp near Waterloo, Alabama
August 20th 1862
My Dear Molly
I have been rather delayed in writing this time from lack of opportunity. I have been busied in such a way & in such places as to prevent it, neither have I received anything from the North either paper or letter later than yours of the 30th so I reckon there is a stoppage in the mail somewhere, & if so besides my deprivation, you will likely have lost my flowery epistles somewhere, also. I hope not, cause I cant replace them in any way. The Newspaper folks manage to get them through occasionally somehow, so I read a Democrat to day of the 16th and have thus got pretty well posted with regard to matters & things North of us, in all of which especially as regards St. Louis Missouri & Tennessee, I am much interested. I say Tennessee because of the frequent & important Military movements taking place there all the time now both within & without the reach of newspaper reporters.
As to what is without their ken, all the movements down here are so at present. The Rebels are moving men back & forth looking for an opening to recapture Tennessee, while 70,000 men on our side are marching more or less daily to prevent their entrance. They dont wish to fight us in Alabama or Mississip, but to steal in and plunder & burn Tennessee & so compel us to go back.
We (our Regiment, Brigade, & Division) are marching now so as to be able to go to the relief of either Nashville, Huntsville, or Chattanooga, whichever is threatened by them, as their movements indicate an attack on some or all of those places, each about 100 miles from us in different directions. We are not alone either as many thousands besides are marching in the same direction from various points.
All this means strategy & it dont get into the papers now. I should like to get to Nashville. I would feel in a much more friendly country & also so much nearer to you, in space & time. I hope you are still improving in health & enjoying yourself abroad as when last heard from.
I am pretty well I thank you - as I said in my last we are living well now and it seems to agree with me wonderfully. Weather here is for the present cool and rainy, and in that respect pleasant while we have our Tents to take refuge in, but the other night it caught us out in the cold. I didnt catch any cold however, and can feel no bad effects whatsoever. We had also much wading in water consequent on our ferry boat going aground in a creek, & it took us several days to get it off but the water & the sun were both hot & we didn't mind! Wet feet dont hurt on the march if you dry them when you come to a halt or to camp, such is my experience. We have much strange experience in camp which could not by any possibility be got within the bounds of a letter, & though it might serve for Newspaper gossip, much of it is probably only interesting to us the participators only - & so I spare you the infliction generally - but I wish heartily now that I was out of a Kansas Regt. & why because this Battalion of Kansans is persecuted for reasons political, & they are not guilty, still less do we as Missourians relish being persecuted because we are in a Kansas Regt, this doubles the injury to us. The last case is an order from H'd Q'ts stopping $1053.50 from our pay because somebody has charged some of our men with stealing at Trenton two months ago some sugar &c. We know our men are innocent.
We never heard of the matter until the paymaster got an order to stop it from our pay. No trial, no notification of an accusation. We have just been penning an indignant protest, a copy of which we or I may send to the St. Louis papers. Such is the last instance. But this is all professional & camp news - as to general news we hear but little that dont get into the papers. In other words most of the news of movements come to us through the papers. Our movements as you know are frequent, but there are no correspondents or reporters allowed in our camp, and now all movements are contraband news. Beauregard & Grant are playing a game of chess & cheating all they can, & outsiders are not allowed to pass any remarks, or state the intentions of the combatants. What news we do hear is rather discouraging, barring Pope's small success we are under a cloud, but "We are coming Father Abram 600 thousand more." This encourages me. It is the "silver "lining" and then too Newspapers live on exaggerations.
I think this winter after all will settle the war. Jeff has got every man in the South in the field, he can get no more save niggers, & we can get as many of them as he can so if we are true to ourselves these 600,000 fresh men will soon settle it. But this is only news so I'll no more of it. We have a stirring winter before us all in the sunny South I hope, & until that is past safe, I grieve to say I cannot hope to see you. Stern fate is upon us now! Do I repine at that! No! No! No! though I would sell my dearest hopes to bask in your presence to live in the light of your eyes the beattitude of your love & presence. Repine No! I rejoice that I was among the first Volunteers on principle of patriotism to the Country of my early love and adoption. My country needs me more than ever & if at home now, I would fly to the rescue, nor wait for a draft, but here I am in the advance, with the new volunteers & the militia behind the enemy in front and now if we march again & our communications are cut off, dont think for a moment that I dont write. I shall write as before or oftener & if the mails are insecure wait until we get to Nashville or elsewhere with a base line open. We are tortured occasionally with audacious Secesh rumors, but now I give no credence to any of them. It is the only safe rule.
And now my dear girl My Guardian Angel (as per wood-cut) I feel strong in your presence in your prayers & in your Love. I fear not for myself. Fear not for me, if letters come not believe it not as a sign of evil.
Give my Love & remembrance to Sallie, mother Aunt & all the folks.
I am my dear Molly
James E. Love
My Dear Molly
Mail haint gone yet & so I add a P.S. and first I wish to mention I had a letter from a friend who gives me all the gossip of the city and including most my friends. You are mentioned, as "looking like patience on a monument," "as sighing inwardly my Jamies far awa frae me", and again I'm told not to let-the secesh get hold of me for my numerous friends sakes & especially "for the sake of her who prefers" "Love to Roses"! What does it all mean? I dont know! Folks will talk somehow! I wont tell you who it is just now, for fear you might pull "her" wool out at sight.
We are now camped in an apple orchard, a very nice clean shady place & living on Fruit & milk and vegetable diet.
4 oclock A.M.
I have not been to bed & the drum beats for the march, where I dont know, & the result is in the hand of the power who rules all things, to him I confide it.
The mail goes soon. I am with Love & a thousand kisses
Yours as ever
My dear dear girl
James E. Love
Co. K. 8th Kan. Vol.
Corinth or Elsewhere
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