Item description: Letter, 7 January 1862, from Jeremy Francis Gilmer, an engineer with the Confederate Army, to his wife, Louisa Fredericka Alexander Gilmer. Gilmer wrote of how he missed “Loulie” and their children, of New Years day and its dissimilarity to years past, the unlikelihood of foreign intervention or peace during Lincoln’s presidency, the arrival of Colonel John Bowen’s wife in camp, the inadvisability of meeting in Nashville, the appearance and manners of General John B. Floyd, and the value of India rubber leggings in rainy weather.
Item citation: from folder 41 in Jeremy Francis Gilmer Papers #276, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bowling Green Ky
January 7th 1862
Your letter written on New Year, My dear wife, came to me yesterday. –being six long days on the way. I thank you much for it, and in return I must assure you that I wished and wished again that your New Year would be a happy one — for your own sake and for the sake of our children, — bless their dear innocent hearts __ Your letter, however, was not as cheerful as usual and gave me the impression that you were not happy. These are sad times indeed, and involving as they do our long separation, tend much to make me unhappy __ Remember me, my dear Loulie, in your prayers, and beseech Him who directs all things for the best to be merciful to me and grant us a happy future together, when these days of sadness are over. Oh that the days of peace may soon come and with them our reunion, never to part again.
We had a very dull New Year __ to me it was like the other days of the past three months, except in this, — the thought would come up before me_ how different from all other New Year days of my life __ how different from the last one, and how widely we are separated from those who were our neighbors and friends twelve months ago __ Woe to those who are the guilty parties in the sight of God and responsible to Him for the amount of human misery caused by this unnatural war!
Many thinking men here are of the opinion that we will have no peace during Mr. Lincoln’s administration __ as there is no hope now that England or other European Power will interfere in our behalf. The world is inclined to be against us on the negro question, and this is operating most unfavorably for our struggle for independence. — God grant the result may yet prove to be better than the present promise __ John Bowen told me to day that his wife had come two days ago; – I must go to see her tomorrow if possible: in my next, I will tell you about her. Her position here is such as I hope you will never occupy. I am told he has a very comfortable house, however, and so long as he is permitted to remain stationary, I presume all will be well enough __ But wives ought not to be with their officer husbands when the army is in the presence of the enemy. _ Oh, my dear Loulie, I would be so delighted to meet you in Nashville — nothing could give me so much pleasure __ but much as I long to see you and great as would be my happiness in meeting you there, my movements are too uncertain for you to come so far __ and especially to a place so mean as the city of Nashville would be to you if my duties called me off and left you alone. I have not been to Nashville since your request was recd to subscribe to the “Louisville Courier” for Lizzie Robertson, but I gave Lieut Watts, my assistant, the $2. And requested him to have the paper sent to Dr Robertson at Washington. It has been attended to I have no doubt.
I have seen a great deal of Genl: Jno: B. Floyd since his arrival here and notwithstanding my conviction that he is a rascal, his manners are so attractive that one is almost forced to like him. He looks old, hair quite gray and his face marked with deep lines. Still he is not old — about 53 to 54 years. Old in sin I have no doubt, and this has left the marks which a greater age would have produced.
It has been raining on us ever since the date of my last letter, making the red clay roads and streets around us execrable. The India rubber leggings are invaluable to me these days of mud and slop, and I thank you for them every time I ride out to visit our forts.
Good bye __ Much love to our dear friends __ and to our sweet children and much more to yourself now and ever my much loved wife
Write as often as you can–