55. James Harvey Campbell enlisted into the Crenshaw Light Artillery on March 14, 1862.

56. Brother William Campbell applied for a transfer into John Singleton Mosby’s Rangers on March 4, 1865.

The Civil War Letters of James Harvey Campbell

a collection of thirty-one civil war letters

Here we find James longing for a time of peace, and a life with his family as it was prior to the war. However, with new found peace and confidence he renews his strength and readies himself for a hard fought independence. James Harvey Campbell was later captured at the Battle of Five Forks, Virginia on April 1, 1865.

Camp Near Petersburg-March 14, 1865

Dear Wife,
I received yours on the 28th on Friday last, and was very much surprised to learn from it that you had not received my letter, which I wrote and mailed very soon after arriving here. I hope though that you have received that letter before now, in which I have closed a receipt for those things which Mr. Crenshaw desired me to have expressed for his woman. I informed you that I had procured the paper, etc., which you desired me to send you, and had them left at Chandler’s Store to be called for when Mr. G sent over to R. You did not say whether he had sent over or not, nor whether he had gone on his anticipated trip to N.C. I am very glad indeed to hear, my dearest, that you have gotten rid of that pain in your side, for I had been very uneasy ever since I left on account of it. I hope your health will continue to advance, now that the spring advances, the season for birds and flowers, and outdoor exercise. O how I should delight to spend more of my time with you, but that pleasure is denied me. There is some talk of our moving nearer Richmond. I hope that may be the case, as every mile nearer I get toward your dear self, I think the probabilities that much greater that I may be able to see you sometimes. We have been under marching orders once or twice lately, and we may expect a move or a fight any day. The report is now that the Yankees are moving towards their right. If that be the case, I would not be surprised any time to receive orders to go towards Richmond. When, oh when will the time come when we will be able to see each other often, and be with our families and friends as we once were, with no one to come between us. I pray God continually that time may soon come, but oh that he will give us a spirit of resignation, to enable us to bear up under our trials. Today, my dearest, is the third anniversary of our enlistment,55 and the expiration, according to our understanding of it, of our term of service. So after today, I suppose we will all be conscripts except a few who have re-enlisted. Under these circumstances though I am just as well satisfied to be a conscript as anything else. The word has no terrors for me. I saw Willie, who was here about a week or so ago, who told me he expected to get a transfer to Mosby’s command when his term of service expired, which would be on the 19th inst., and that he was pretty certain he would have no difficulty in getting it.56 He is well and gay as usual. About our going to Richmond, you had better wait awhile anyhow, until the result of the great Cavalry raid is known. Then the weather will be more settled and the spring campaign will probably have developed itself. I very much dread your going to Richmond, though by so doing there would be some probability of our seeing each other oftener. I fear that you would not be provided for as I would wish, and that, my dear, would make me all the time miserable, to know or to feel that you or our dear children were suffering for even the necessaries for life. And if you were taken sick, or if your health was feeble, it would be worse still. I could wish it otherwise than it is, but at the same time I feel that as long as you feel and know that your condition is not altogether a dependent one, and that you are satisfied and the children are comfortable, and all perfectly respectful and kind to you, that you had better stay. In my next letter, as times may change, I shall probably have some more to say on the subject, and in the meantime hope and pray that all will be well. I believe, my dearest, that the skies are brightening for us, and that they have reached their darkest point. Already we are beginning to hear of victories in the South and West. I hope they will begin to spread and our soldiers to gain confidence, until we shall gain that independence and peace we all so much desire. That this may be the case, is my earnest prayer. Do write to me soon my darling, my precious wife. O that I could press you in these arms of mine. Remember me to sister Lum. Have you heard from Charles yet. Has he come home? Love to all. Kiss Nan and Flor for me and tell them to be good children.

Your devoted husband
Harvey Campbell

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