Special Collections. train going over bridge on hucklebery trail from Imagebase image number NWALIFF0005

William Latham Candler

Papers, 1861-63, Ms1997-007


July 18, 1862; letter written from a camp near James River, VA

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Camp near James River Va
July 18 1862

My dear Brother
I received two letters from you this morning of the 13th + 14th insts. I can't say I am surprised to hear that you are inclined to become a soldier, but I shall be very sorry to hear that you have done so. I am heartily sick, disgusted and worn out with the Army and shall look upon the day I receive my discharge as one of the happiest in my life, but I am willing to remain till the war is over and do what little I can to aid in putting down the rebellion. With you, however, it is different you have ties at home which should have a stronger claim on you than any present exigencies of the country. Do you stay at home and look after Mother and the children, they can't look after themselves, and Uncle Charles and I will do the fighting. I know that it will be an act of strong self-denial on your part to remain at home, but Mother is old and your three children are entirely dependant on you, so for Heaven's sake give up all idea of coming to the war, at present at least. That both of us should be in it at a time is out of the question; I acknowledge frankly that I've had enough of it and would gladly leave; but you are better able to look after those at home than I; I am used to war and can stand if for months to come; in fact if I make up my mind to remain I can stand it so long as it may last for I believe I'm made of iron. And if you come into it

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and I go home to look after them, I not only can't do that but the excitement being gone I shall be nothing but an invalid my self for two or three months. Most assuredly with Mother and the children to look after, you duty at present is to look after them rather than to push yourself forward and take the position which belongs to young men with no family and no duty to keep them at home. Some one must remain to take care of the family, if nothing should happen to you and you should return in six months or a year, it would be all well enough, but a man who is in the army can't count his life as his own from one minute to another, and were you to lose your life, your children would have to grow up uncared for and unlooked after, except by persons to whom they would be a burden rather than a pleasure. I feel strongly about this and with good reason, for every day I hear of some poor fellow who came into the war not really thinnking how small a chance he ran of returning home again sound, and who received his final statements and left behind him a wife and family to mourn his loss and suffer a lifetime for his patriotism. Call patriotism noble if you will, but I say it is damnable to enlist men who have families dependant on them and allow young able bodied men, with no families and no ties to remain at home and loaf around the streets. When they are gone and it becomes necessary for married men to take their turn at the wheel, then it will be time for

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you to come into it. Now is a time when we all must make sacrifices, as you say, but it does not follow that all must make the same sacrifice. The sacrifice to you in remaining at home will be far greater for you than coming out here but it must be done. There is no question about it. Your duty is there, I am into it, let me stay and fight it out, for if either of us must lose our life in battle it had for better be me than you. I am good for nothing at home, have no one actually dependant on me, and if I went home I should only be an additional source of trouble; and I can do my duty whatever it may be, far better, feeling that if I'm taken away you can look after Mother and if need be Fan and keep them from suffering. Charlie has given out entirely, I write today to his Father to get him home in some way or other, I much fear that his military life has ended. Ned and Major are both gone and I am the last of the four Cadets who came out in the 1st; my turn may come next, I am ready for it; but I want to feel that there is some one at home who will see that no one suffer. Let drafting be commenced, it is the only way. So far as the Staff appointment on Davis's staff is concerned, I think if you are bound to come anyway you had better take it. Recollect under no consideration accept a position of the "line". Next to a Staff appoint-

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ment a Major of Infantry is a good position. Every man on the staff is presumed to be a gentleman and where ever he goes he is received as such, he is looked upon as a confidante of his Genl and consequently commands respect and attention from his association. I am treated by General almost as an associate, they converse with me with perfect freedom and receive me in their quarters with almost the same cordiality they would an equal in rank. Everyone respects Hooker and his Staff receive the benefit of his standing. However I sincerely hope you will think better of it and decide with me that you are more needed at home than here. Putnam was here yesterday, he has a Brother on Mc's Staff and has drawn his opinions from him and Genl Porter's staff, he is crazy on McC. + Porter. What in the deuce we are to do here no one can tell, Lincoln, Stanton and Mc are fighitng against each other, poor soldier has to take the brunt. Pope, I hear is going to advance on Richmond from the North, he'll catch a thrashing there, see if he don't. We must lay here for six or eight weeks, no reinforcements of any account have come in, I am very anxious to get a leave of absence for three weeks but it can't be done except thro' Senators from Sec. Stanton. I hope you will let me hear from you frequently if only a line. Love to all at home. Your aff Brother
Wm L Candler


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