30 June 1861: “I write to you as I talk to you, although you may be ashamed of such tame love letters.”

Item description: Letter, 30 June 1861, from William Gaston Lewis to Martha (“Mittie” or “Mitt”) Lucinda Pender of Tarboro, N.C.

Item citation: From the W. G. Lewis Papers #2314-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Yorktown June 30th 1861

My Dear Mitt

Why do you act so ceremoniously in your correspondence with me? I think you ought to write every week. I would do as much, if I had a nice room & table, & a quiet time. You have no idea how much noise & confusion we have in camp all the time. You must really excuse the plainness of my letters, for you know I am not given to high flights of imagination, nor do I pride myself on the roundness of my periods. I write to you as I talk to you, although you may be ashamed of such tame love letters.

I received two nice jackets a day or two ago from Tarboro. Wonder if I didn’t trace the prints of fairy fingers which have worked for me, & traced lines which brought joy, happiness & faith in womankind to my heart. I would say that all these little tokens of affection increase my love towards you, but that is impossible for it is now to the “ne plus ultra.”

You said in your last that the ladies presented a flag to the Confederate Guards, did it, on that occasion occur to you that the “E.G.” [Edgecombe Guards] had so far carried out to the letter the promises made to you all by Fred, that the flag of our company should never be lowered to an enemy. On one hard fought battle field we have not only fulfilled promises but have lowered a flag which previous to that time had no history nor reminiscences of glorious deeds. When it is returned to Tarboro I hope it may be covered still more with glory & especially with complete victory.

I hope the “Confederate Guards” will come here. I would be extremely glad to see them for if I have true & faithful friends they are in that company. There are Fred, Guy, Coff., [?], Sol & a host of others I know are true & tried friends.

I sympathize with you in your troubles about Sol’s leaving. I know what parting is, but there is a pleasant hope that we may meet again, & then what a joyous & happy & I hope lasting meeting even “as long as we both shall live.”

But cheer up, don’t be despondent. I am well, enjoying life comparitively[?], am well content as long as I am doing service for my country. Then why should you be so sad over my trials.

I have been through a thousand times harder life than this, though at times this is rather severe.

Bro. Richard has moved to Tarboro, go to see his wife & be good friends. I know you will like her. Kiss my little nephews for me when you see them. You must excuse me for writing Sunday for it is the quietest day in the week, & this is a lovely morning, more pleasant than any time since we have been here.

I can in imagination see you now on your way to Sunday school. Don’t I wish I could have the pleasure of walking home from church with my dear Mitt. Won’t you allow me that exquisite pleasure. I think I hear you whisper yes. I won’t take you at your word this time, but will postpone until some more convenient time, perhaps next fall.

Hasn’t cousin Lizzie cried her eyes out since cousin Coff. left? Ask her if she kissed him when she said good-bye. If she says yes, kiss her for me. Oh, how I wish I could spend this morning with you, dear Mitt. I have so much to talk to you of. How pleasant it is to know that one is loved by such a true & faithful heart as yours. My love to all your family, a kiss to Laura. Respects to Mattie[?], the Delias, & all the other young ladies, especially cousin Lou. And to you I send all the love of a faithful heart, & a wish that you will not be unhappy or desponding over the absence of


More about William Gaston Lewis:

William Gaston Lewis was born in 1835 in Rocky Mount, N.C., the son of Dr. John Wesley Lewis and Catherine Ann Battle. He studied civil engineering at the University of North Carolina and graduated in 1855. In 1861 Lewis enlisted in the Confederate Army as third lieutenant of Company A, First North Carolina Regiment (“Bethel”). He saw action in the Battle of Bethel, Battle of New Bern, the Seven Days’ Campaign, the Battle of Malvern Hill, Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of Cold Harbor, and in numerous other battles and skirmishes. Lewis also supervised the entrenchment of Drewry’s Bluff, Va. He was wounded twice, both times after he rose to the rank of brigadier general in June 1864. Lewis was paroled at Farmville, Va., in April 1865.

In 1864, Lewis married Martha Lucinda Pender (“Mittie”) of Tarboro, N.C. Following the war, Lewis lived in Edgecombe County, N.C., and worked as an engineer for various railroads, as a surveyor, and as a farmer. He died in 1901.

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