5 March 1862: :”…I cannot go scouring the country to run from Yankees. I should despise myself…”

Item description: Letter, 5 March 1862, from Louisa Fredericka Alexander Gilmer in Savannah, Ga., to her husband, Jeremy Francis Gilmer, an engineer with the Confederate Army. Louisa wrote to encourage her husband to keep his faith in the justness of the cause and to express her own commitment to staying in Savannah rather than hiding from the enemy. She also passed along a rumor that General Lee had been called to Richmond by President Jefferson Davis, possibly to be made Secretary of War.


 

Item citation: From folder 41 in the Jeremy Francis Gilmer Papers #276 in the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Savannah March 5th

I wrote you yesterday, my dearest husband and directed to Shelbyville, care of Gen’l Johnston, but having heard of young Mr Richardsone’s going to Tenn. I am too glad to send you a line wh. will certainly reach you_ How many of our letters have been lost_ This morning I rec’d two from you, dated in Murfreesboro, 26 & 27 Feb _ the first I have rec’d since a short one dated Jan. 31st _ I almost cried for Joy. Just to see your handwriting again _ I never rec’d the letters you mention from Fort Donelson but did receive your telegraph from Nashville _ Maj. Bains also telegraphed me of your safe arrival there _ How kind he has been _ I feel as if I could never forget him for it. Last evening Uncle received your telegram from Shelbyville simply announcing you were there, and well _ and I was feeling very thankful & happy _ when after came came another from George Hall to me, wh. quite upset my equanimity again _ He says “Despacth received from W. W. Mackall _ Are Ms Porter Mrs Gilmer & Mrs. Mackall still in Sav __ if so advise them to leave” What does he mean by such a dispatch _ Do you & he know of any dreadful engine of war & destruction that is to be brought against us, that we haven’t heard of, & is sure to defeat and destroy us _ or are you both, as I fear you are _ infected by the defeat we have sustained in Nashville, and so disheartened that you feel sure every attack of our enemies must result in victory to them _ Oh my dear husband, it has been one of my constant prayers for you. Since the disasters in wh. you have been involved, that your heart might be sustained in all the trying and depressing scenes that were to follow, & that you might be saved from the baleful influences of doubt & despondency _ that you might be enabled to look up notwithstanding the partial success of our enemies _ & feel that our cause was Just & must prevail_ I cannot bear to think of you as low spirited & depressed _ and indeed I hope from you letters, wh. I have had & read again, to get into their spirit _ that you are not _ but Maj. Mackall must have felt very blue, when he sent such a telegram & advised an unconditional flight _ And where would you have us fly _ for some people seem shivering with fear every where _ They say the people in Augusta are a great deal more alarmed than they are here _ They have sent away a great many valuables from the place, & are actually preparing to sink obstructions in the river at Shell Bluff _ as soon as they hear Sav. is attacked _ I suppose they won’t dream to wait till it is taken _ I presume before long the people in Washington will be tearing up the railroad and sinking obstructions in Little River and Fishing Creek _ & would you have us flying Like sheep all over the country _ Indeed if Gen’l Johnston falls back much for this the upper part of the state will be much nearer the enemy than I think we are _ and that is the trouble _ I cannot go to Washington, because there is no telegraph there & I cannot hear from you _ & I cannot go scouring the country to run from Yankees. I should despise myself, if I went & hid in some dark corner of the land for fear of them _ No _ I pray my Heavenly Father to take care of me _ & he is mightier than many Yankees _ and I pray daily that he will direct me what to do, & where to go _ and choose my lot for me _ and so far no light has been given me, but to stay where I am & trust in him _ Even your urgency,  wh. in ordinary times I would look upon us the indication of my duty, does not impress me so now _ But do not allow yourself to be distressed for us _ I am not going to be cut off from you, or the chance to get to you _ & if I have to loose my clothes _ that will be the worst can happen to me _ for I shall certainly leave before the Union Flag is hoisted here _ I never never, will stand alive and well again, under its folds, unless to follow you as a prisoner_ Do not think me either over confident or boastful _ I trust I am neither, for my trust is not “in men, nor in primers” but in God _ And have I not reason to trust Him _ & as he not heard and answered all my prayers and supplications in those dreadful days from Henry to Donelson and delivered you from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, & the destruction which wasteth at noon day_ “and have I not his precious promises still, for all the time to come _ I hope you will commit us dearest J.F. as I do you, every hour in the day, into that same keeping, and find abundently that they which trust in Him are like Mount Zion, wh. cannot be moved “___ If anything happens or threatens, & we make any move I will assuredly telegraph you _ In the mean time I shall send George Hall’s telegram to [?] and perhaps as she is a better wife than I am, she may go, but I don’t think she will __ I am glad you will see Mr Richardson and hear directly from him _ He is a very clever young man _ I hear, & desires to know you _ a son of Dr Ron of this place. I hope you will have rec’d some of my letters [?] this _ The only news here is & this is private, that Gen’l Lee is gone to Richmond, on a despatch from President Davis _ we suppose to be made Sec. of War _ but with his characteristic modesty, he supposes to be consulted about the defences of Norfolk _ but a few days will show_ any body, I say. but Bob. Tombs _ Loulie is still very lame. but I hope will be relieved in a few more days _ Love to the Major _ and all my love, my hopes, my fears, my desires, my thoughts & my dreams_ all I have and am for yourself my dear husband_

Yours ever

L

If the Yankees captured any of my letters to you in Nashville, I am glad I never made a poor mouth in any of them _ Did Maj. Mackall get one I wrote him there _ If he didn’t I hope Hallick did _ for if I remember I gave him quite an extract of my mind in it _ Old Satan _ Every body here says I ought to change Henry’s name _ but I can’t quite do that _ Do you know Henry cried yesterday because I put Henry H. Gilmer in his book, & said he wouldn’t have that Hallick in his name, & he sat right down with a pencil behind the bed & scratched it out _ but I _ I keep loving his meaning _ and his wife

What dastardly wretches they must be in Nashville _ I wish we had 50000 troops to go back there & lay the city in ashes _ Actually begging the Yankees to take ?!

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