The Civil War Letters of James Harvey Campbell

a collection of thirty-one civil war letters

Mary Frances Campbell has attended a party and has taken James’ place at the head of the table.

Monday January 11th, 1864

My Dear Wife,
Your last letter, postmarked the 6th was received Friday night, and I hasten to reply. It gave me the greatest pleasure to hear that you were living in the midst of so much luxury and that you had not forgotten me in the midst of it. I certainly should have liked very much to have been at the party you spoke of, especially as it has been so long since I had the pleasure of attending one. I suppose Billy Dew was there in all the glory of his youthful bars. It would have given me great gratification to have seen you officiating at the head of the table, which post I am sure you must have filled with your accustomed dignity. How I should like to have been present on that occasion. It would have reminded me of a similar one which occurred soon after we were married, when you said I embraced you harder than I ever had done before. But I don’t suppose that the same causes existed to the extent that they did on that occasion-in other words, I don’t suppose liquor was quite so plentiful. I suppose though that Mr. G was as gay as usual on such occasions, and that he enjoyed himself as much as the younger ones. I should like to hear his gay laugh once more. By the way, I have not heard anything of the Dr. for some time. Has he been home, and how is Columbia getting on in his absence? Do they talk of selling Mantua now. My dearest, I want to give you a hint which I ought to have given you sooner, and perhaps if I had I might have been to see you before this time. I mean this. You say our dear little Florence was quite sick at Christmas. I am sorry indeed to hear it, and sincerely hope she has recovered long before this time. But if anything of that kind should occur again, (but I hope and pray that it will not) do write me word immediately, as there is a chance of getting a leave of absence in a case of sickness. So don’t forget to let me know if any misfortune of that kind happens in the family. I had a long talk with Lieut. Johnston last night on the subject of furloughs, to whom I went for the purpose of applying for a special furlough to see about Fanny and her children. He is now in command of the company, as Capt. Ellett has gone to Richmond. He thinks it quite probable that all of the old members of the company will be able to get home this winter, as they are giving furloughs now in the company. For my part, I shall not believe it until I get my furlough in my pocket. I do not expect to get one before March or April anyhow, if then. There are a great many ahead of me yet, according to the opinion of the commanding officer, who has to discriminate between the claims of the different men. I look forward with the greatest pleasure to the time when I shall fold you once more in my arms, and embrace our darling little ones again. I could almost imagine, when I read your description of how our Nan looked when she found her stocking full of good things, that I could see her delighted face and hear her shouts of pleasure as she counted them out one by one, and showed them to you. How happy they must have been, and how thankful they ought to be to the person who was the giver of those little presents.

You are mistaken if you think I do not like the compliment paid you by Mr. Walter Jones, or in other words, that I am not proud of any compliment paid you by gentlemen; for I know that you would not receive them from any others but gentlemen in every sense of the word. But it struck me that it was a different kind of one from what it was that is, before I knew who paid it. You may laugh, but I imagined that some one complimented you by saying that you were too good for-you know who. But it would have made very little difference with me what the opinions of others were on that score, provided you were rectus in curia.

I have not written to Bagby to hire out Henry, but I expect he will do so until further orders. Neither have I heard from him. I am getting rather uneasy about Fanny, but hope she will be able to take care of herself for the present, as I am unable to attend to her. I wrote to Willie in answer to his letter, but have not heard from him since. I am very glad to hear he has gotten well, though he has missed some pretty hard campaigning by being sick. I am not in need of those blankets now, as my bedfellow, Jones, has recently had an addition to his stock of blankets, which makes us sleep quite comfortable. As for our bed, we find it quite warm, and not so hard as you imagine. The poles are laid lengthwise, with boards about a foot wide nailed up to the sides and foot, the space is filled with straw, which makes a good bed enough for any soldier. Lieut. Johnston is still with us, but his conduct recently has lot him the respect of all the men, especially since he has allowed himself to be superseded in command of the company by Capt. Ellett, and has accepted the post 1st Lieut. without an effort to get righted. No man with self-respect would submit tamely to such an indignity. The men now despise him. I do not know how you could send me anything to eat, as anything would spoil before it would reach me if you sent it through Richmond. If you send me shirts, and direct them as you did the other package through your brother, I will be very apt to get them, as there is someone coming up to the battalion almost every week. If you have the material and time to knit another pair of gloves, I think one of the Joneses would be glad to get a pair, as they have no one to furnish them with such things. Neither of the Youngs have come up yet, and Capt. Ellett is down there so that I don’t think there would need be much fear about my not getting what you send up. Oh what I would have given, my darling, to have been with you on that Christmas day. I cannot estimate the happiness which it would have given me. But let’s forget the past and look to the future. Gen. Lee has issued an order that any soldier who will get a man to enlist, who is not a deserter or conscript will be entitled to a thirty days furlough as soon as the man is mustered in. I think if I could get away from camp I would try very hard to get someone. Do you know of anyone whom I could get? Or can you not get Mr. G to try and find someone in my name. It is not necessary that he should join this battery, but so he is mustered into the service in this army, it will be sufficient. I must try and get to see you some way or other. I send you twenty dollars, which is all I can spare, and I hope it may be of some service to you. Remember me to Mr. G. and Ellen and Columbia in particularly, and all my friends and relations. I cannot write more now, as it is very difficult to get paper and stamps here, and I am compelled to economize. I received a letter from Mr. Woolfolk this morning in reply to one I wrote for my overcoat, and he can’t send it on the cars, so that I shall have to go without it. I expected to have gotten one before now. I have to do the duties of a corporal a greater portion of the time, but only get the pay of a private.

P.S. I hope you will be able to read this letter, it being written, as usual, with pencil, and very imperfect. Write very soon to

Your devoted husband,
J. Harvey C.

The Civil War Letters of James Harvey Campbell   |   Researched and presented by Mark Lamb