24 August 1863: “You are my best earthly gift.”

Item description: Letter, dated 24 August 1863, from Benjamin Franklin Little to his wife, Mary Jane Reid Little.  He describes his recovery from an amputation in a Union hospital in Gettysburg.

[transcription available below image]


Item citation: From folder 6 of the Benjamin F. Little Papers #3954, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

General Hospital, Gettysburg, Pa. Aug. 24/63.

My Dear Wife: I write the 6th letter. I shall soon begin to look for one from you now you know how to direct it. June 15th is the date of my last news from home.  It is indeed a trial, but I hope for the best & am able to be cheerful.  May you be so also.  Sometimes for a day or two my stump arm pains me a good deal.  I think it arises form the nerves chiefly.  For the past few days I have been very comfortable, & if the ligatures were out of my arm, I think it would soon be well.  My general health is good, & I pass the time much better than I would have supposed possible.  Thoughts of the dear ones at home give me the most pain, but even here I am comforted by committing all to our Heavenly Father. Tell Rufus I saw him very plainly last night, asleep in mama’s arms.Would it were “not all a dream.” But I feel no disposition to [murmurs].  I have been favored. I am treated kindly – have made some good personal friends – can now enjoy reading to a considerable extent, etc. etc.  Be hopeful at home. Did Wiley get home.  Howdy to him & Henry & all the rest of the darkies.  May the “Lord watch between thee & me while we are absent one another.” Give my love to Ma & tell her not to take a dark view of my case.  Love to John & family.  All write to me.  I can not write but one letter a week (as I have not many Confederate stamps) & that one must be for you. Kiss the little darlings, & remem-ber me kindly to my friends.  Direct to “Capt. B. F. Little, care of Dr. L. M. Oakley, Surgeon at General Hospital, near Gettysburg, Pa. ” Write only one page, enclose in open envelope with Federal stamp (I send one) on one corner & Confederate stamp on the other.  If you know of no better way (but make full inquiry) enclose this in sealed envelope to Commissioner Robert Ould, Richmond, Va., with a request to forward by “Flag of Truce.”

Goodbye my dear one.  You are my best earthly gift.

Your own true and devoted husband, B. F. Little

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