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59th Virginia Infantry & Virginia's Charlottesville Light Artillery - University of Virginia

Item CON-9335
December 19, 1863 James L. Dinwiddie
Price: $450.00


Original Civil War Confederate soldier's letter. 6 pages, written in period ink.

Richmond, VA (box 1013)

December 19, 1863

My Dear Mrs. Terrell,

Your very kind and acceptable letter reached me in due time. I have indeed been prepped with business engagements. So much so, that during the summer I had to discontinue them several weeks and seek in the county that rest and recreation, which my constitution seems, every year, more and more to require. Though apparently as robust as ever, I am far from being really so. And the severe cold and exposures of the service have done away with that hardy constitution, which I thought capable of enduring almost any privations and of withstanding the effects of any reasonable amount of constant labor. And now so differently from my former habits, I have to watch and guard myself ever fully against slight exposures, which give me violent colds and pains in the side and chest. I am however, in tolerable health and spirits. I long, yes long, time and again, for those happy hours I enjoyed in days gone by. Your most kind and pleasant letter brought back the remembrance of those happy days which I never can forget. For I must say, my dear friend, that many of the happiest moments of my life are appreciated with those scenes which first brought us into an acquaintance, which has ripened into a sincere friendship. Which I hope my endure during the remainder of our sojourneying here.

I can hardly disconnect you with Jay Creek and can scarcely imagine how they can do without you. Thought they still have there one whom I regard as one of the “salt of the earth”. Our mutual friend, Miss Cornelius. I do not know why I held her in such high esteem, when I had seen and known so little of her before. Except that I saw in her that earnestness, that sincerity and that Christian purity and quietness, which I admire above all things. And consider the brightest ornament of a woman’s character.

I had a great notion to say that had not my affections been already turned round and object so dear to me from my youth up, it might have been hard to say where they would have settled. Regardless of the danger that they might not have been held there.

But jesting aside, I have the warmest friendship for Miss Cornelia and you must not fail to remember me to her and that family.

I am glad to hear that Mr. Ross is still able to work at those good works, which has been the aim and joy of his life to do. May the Lord still bless him and continue his labors.

I hope you and Mrs. T. are more comfortably situated by a removal, which has certainly taken you away from many who held you in great esteem and who, I am sure, did not see you leave without many feelings of regret.

I am delighted to hear of Willies’ recovery and continued safety. It is hard to give up there the dear ones of the heart. But you know the Lord can preserve him through thousands fall by his side. This was an unspeakable comfort to me when I was encountering those same dangers. That he will protect me if I put my trust in Him.

Your need never fear that your letters intrude upon me. They give me great pleasure which I will be glad to have renewed often. Nor shall pressing business engagements prevent me from paying such a pleasant tribute to one of my good old friends as a letter does.

My dear Bettie is not well. Nor is she with me, else she would not fail to acknowledge you have entrusted in us. She will hardly be with me again before the spring. My kindest regards to Mr. T. and to Willie. When you write and believe me ever your sincerely attached friend.

J. D.

P.S. Since I left the army, I have only been away from duty long enough to go to Greenwood and back or to Halifax and back, except when sick and unable to do duty. I have not been to Greenwood since last May. So, you see I am tolerably steady at my post.

In regard to the plot of the Yankees, it is time they had a plan to overpower the guard and escape of course doing all the damage they could. The troops at Fortress Monroe were also aware of it and were to meet them on their way out of Dixie. The plot was discovered by one of the guards disguising himself and going among the prisoners at night and overhearing their conversations. I hardly suppose they could have accomplished their design, if not discovered.

Willie Watkins, poor fellow! Called to see me about three weeks ago. He was also in Halifax when Bettie returned home. Though he intends to go south this winter. He has been discharged from the army and is a hopeless consumption. He speaks very calmly of death and seems to look forward to it with no feelings of alarm or regret. He looks very badly and it gives you pain to see him.

Hoping to hear from you again soon. I remain, as ever,

Your sincere friend,

James Dinwiddie