29 April 1863: “Today Genl Lee came over to my position and we had a long con-versation with each other…”

Item Description: Letter, dated 29 April 1863, from General Lafayette McLaws, a Confederate officer from Savannah, Georgia. It it he writes to his wife, Emily Allison Taylor McLaws, discussing the Chancellorsville campaign, relating a story of a North Carolina regiment being captured while a Georgia regiment heroically defends the line, a conversation with General Lee, and his love for her and their children.

Item citation: From folder 7 in the Lafayette McLaws Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Head Quarters Division,

April 29th/ 63

My dear Sweetheart,

The enemy suddenly crossed below my position about one & half miles, last night; sur-prising a North Carolina regiment, capturing near a hundred men and succeeded in establishing themselves on our side, building two or three bridges and crossing a large body of river, before Genl. Lee was apprised of the fact.  Of course I was ignorant of it for the North Carolinians not only allowed themselves to be surprised and captured, but failed to notify any one either on their right or left of the circumstances. In consequence the whole line was jeopardized.  Fortunately a a Georgia regiment was on their right, which gave such stubborn resistance the enemy were driven back & kept at bay until two oclock  this morning, when our troops got into position.

Today Genl Lee came over to my position and we had a long con-versation with each other, he was very confident of his ability to beat back the enemy should our troops behave as well as they have usually done, and “General M Laws” he said “Let them know that it is a stern reality now, it must be, victory in death, for defeat would be ruinous.

The enemy have crossed above us & below us, and the calculations of our movements are very intricate. Who is to blame it is unclear to inquire now, all we have to do is to keep firm and and confident and rely upon the God of battles as our shield and we will pluck safety [so born?] from the very jaws of danger.

Upon the eve of great and stirring events, very dear wife, the mind turns from war and its du-rations, and seeks consolation in the thought of home, of wife and children, and no one in this world I do not think, has a sweeter wife to think of and to love nor dearer children then I have.  But the thought of them, [?] me to be more worthy of them.

Your last letter I keep in my pocket, and read it over and over, and at every reading I can find but think how good and how estimable I should be, to be worthy of you.

I have been riding all day and must be in the saddle before day in the morning, so I must try and get some sleep. Give a thousand kisses to our dear children and very dear wife you know how my heart beats for you.

My love to Bet and to Sister Laura, remember me to Sallie & family when you write.

I believe that I forgot to tell you that my trunk has been obtained for me from Mrs [B?] by Genl Wise, and is now in Richmond at the depot of the Georgia relief associations.

Good night and many kisses and blessings upon you all.  In the prayer of your devoted hus-band,

L M Laws

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