Item description: Letter, 26 September 1861, from Given Campbell to his wife “Bettie” describing the situation in Kentucky.
Given Campbell was born in Salem, Ky., on 31 December 1835. He studied law at the University of Virginia and, upon graduation, took up practice in Saint Louis, Mo. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he returned to Kentucky and joined the Confederate Army. He was commissioned a captain and eventually served with Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. By the close of the war, he had been given charge of Jefferson Davis’s personal escort. He published Memorandum of a Journal, Kept Daily During the Last March of Jefferson Davisin 1865.
In 1865, he married Susan Elizabeth Wood, the daughter of a prominent Saint Louis Unionist. After the war, he returned to Saint Louis, but was not able to resume his legal practice until 1873 because of restrictions on the activities of former Confederate soldiers. He remained a member of the Missouri Bar until his death in 1885.
[Item transcription available below images.]
Sept. 26. 1861
My dearest Bettie,
I have had no letter from you since the first you wrote to me, and do not know that my last three have reached you at all, but I intend to continue to write you, in the hope that you may hear from me. I am satisfied that you alone can make me happy & without you I should be disparate. These desperate times have strange influences on men’s souls, and I look to you & your love as the steel anchor of my soul. I have been a sad man about late, and on yesterday saw your Aunt Mrs. Hamilton & Miss Ida who were very kind to me indeed. I love them not only for your sake but for their own intrinsic worth. Your Aunt had had the Rheumatism & was a little lame, but had nearly recovered. Miss Ida seemed to me to have grown taller, at times she reminded me of you & I could have faced all dangers to have obliged her on that account. She gave me the little gold lame’ broach, and said I must give it to you as I would see you long before she would. I promised to do so & if you get it from my hands before very long, you must not be at all surprised. Mrs. H. told me that you still remained at Glencoe & would remain there all the winter, all of which I was glad to hear for obvious reasons. I called to see your Aunt Mrs. K. & Miss Sue & the young ladies but they were not at home. I did not see any of the male members of the family, but understood that all were well. Your Uncle James Hamilton was very well indeed & all seemed in excellent spirits. Mr. K. & your Aunt Lizzie & Miss Sue were on a visit to Mrs. K’s Father & had been absent for some time. There was no further news in the place of interest; generally all things were going on well when you see me I suppose you will hardly know me. I have tanned so much that I might well be called very swarthy, but the change is only in complexion. I am the same in feeling as ever & if I thought any change to my disadvantage hat taken place in you I would not care to live longer. Kentucky is in a worse condition than poor Missouri. Many of her best citizens have been incarcerated & her fair fields will soon run red with her children’s blood. Each side is rapidly concentrating for a battle which will decide the wasting of the “dark & bloody ground.” Communication between the northern & southern parts of the state is almost impossible as the utmost vigilance is observed to prevent it. The Confederate troops have occupied Bowling Green & as far up as Green River. North of that the Federal troops have possession & their forces are gradually drawing nearer to the Confederate forces. So you may ask for important results in a short time. I have only time to write this little note to you as the bearer of it goes away in a few minutes. I am well with the exception of a very pertinacious cold and in very low spirits. If I could only hear from you now an that I should be better satisfied, and although I am of a sanguine hopeful disposition and hope deferred has almost made me heart sick. When you write to me again write to me at Paducah, Ky. care of Charles T. Bronson the postmaster there, that is if the place is not taken by the Confederates, for if it is, the mails will be stopped. I would give two years of my life to see you if only for a short time.
Write to me soon my dearest & believe me,