Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day John Morgan Civil War Letter

Sunday Evening
Maysville, Ala Dec 21st 1863
Mrs. E. Morgan

Dear Ma: it has been so long since I had a friendly chit chat with you that I feel as though at any price no difference how costly I would purchase that pleasure.

A mother's love is not purchased by either gold or diamonds; in camp, on the march, the bloody field of strife or the chill bivouac the soldiers veneration for his mother remains the same. Falling on the Blood drenched Battlefield or stricken down by sickness, his last words are invariably: My Mother My Country! often have I seen an unbidden tear spring to the eye of the rough soldier that had braved death in a thousand different shapes. Whose cheek was unblanched & nerve steady amid the roar of Battle Whose voice was as clear and ringing on a charge as the bravest of the brave. I have seen such men moved to tears on receiving a simple short letter from a mother.

Did I ever tell you about the first letter I received from home? I guess I didn't. I don't know of anything I can write that would interest better. We had been two days on the march from Louisville, I had a woolen blanket, weight 4 lbs., gun, 16 lbs., canteen full of water, 3 quarts; haversack with 2 days rations, about 8 pounds, making in all about 35 lbs. We marched 25 miles during the night and day; pouring rain all the while—not a dry thread on me; camped about 11 o'clock; laid down on a bunch of wet fodder to keep me off the ground—my wet blanket over me. About that time of night, I began to feel a sort of squeemishness about the region of the shirt bosom, thinking about home and friends. Just then I got a letter from home. I read it and what do you think I did? Would you believe it, I crawled into a mule wagon and took a long hearty cry. There, laugh if you will, it is even so. The next morning we were again on the march and amid the varied scenes of a soldier's life, I soon took to my new employment with pleasure.

There is a pleasant little village close to camp and I have formed some pleasant acquaintances there. There is one particular friend, a Mrs. Hall. It appears more like home than anywhere else that I have been in the South. I have passed several pleasant evenings there and the little Yankee soldier boy always receives a kind and polite invitation to call again. Well, besides that, Miss Jennie Hall and her piano are not the least of the attractions of this kind family.

Don't let this foolish talk of mine give you the least uneasiness in regard to its interfering with my duty—not a bit of it. I haven't lived long, but I think long enough to not make myself ridiculous in the eyes of my brother soldiers.

As regards my habits, I neither smoke, drink liquor or play cards. I have plenty of reading matter and duty to keep me busy.

I get letters frequently from Will. Reced one from Lu last evning also one from Morg. Kiss Jap for me. I would give a thousand dollars to see. Is Lon studying any now. Tell him to improve his time above everything else. Let novels and such trash alone. Let him have something solid and something that will give him information to read. Knowledge is more than gold and silver. Poor Jimmie. I am sorry his jaw troubles him yet. He is a good boy and has the go aheaditiveness about him to make a man of himself one that will make his mark.

Tell Pa that I wish I was home to help him but as long as there is an armed foe to my country at large, I will be found in the ranks of the Patriot army. It is getting late and I must close.

Goodby John

Reproduced in Richardson, Arthur M., and Nicholas G. Morgan. The Life and Ministry of John Morgan: For a Wise and Glorious Purpose. [S.l.]: N.G. Morgan, 1965, pp 14-17. The letter was transcribed in its entirety and also heavily edited. Part of the introduction and closing of the actual letter is reproduced in the book, and since I prefer the original to the edited version, I have revised the letter to match the original as much as possible.

The photo of the soldiers is a picture I took at a Civil War reenactment at Pennypacker Mills in Pennsylvania.

1 comment:

  1. I’ve seen this before, and even read it. Until this weekend I’ve never relished it for the heartwarming treasure it is. Thank you for the Mother’s day gift. And a much closer look at the young John Morgan. His devotion to his ma, pa, country, and family is touching. Among other things, I hope Jimmie used his go aheaditiveness to make his mark. I appreciate the original version you gave us.