Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Letter From Home. Hattie [Reese?] to
Found by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
on the battlefield probably
in the vicinity of the Sunken Road.
Harvard Law School Library,
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.,
Civil War Letters and Telegrams
Write to the Soldier [1] 

"Nothing will do the men in the army so much good, that can be sent from home, as letters; and next after letters, newspapers, anything that will tell them of home and give them all the news that may be floating around the towns that very day become dearer to them in the distance."

"We have recently learned of a letter written by a soldier, wounded at Antietam, who laid two days and two nights on the field nor could have his wounds dressed till actually maggots were living in them; and who since has died, in which he says, “You do not know how good it is out here, to hear from home, and from those we love; if you did, I think you would write oftener. Write and let me know all about matters and things at home.”

"This is the demand of all the soldiers. They would be glad to have presents, luxuries or needed articles, but you may believe this, that most of them would give everything in the shape of luxuries, aye, they would be willing to go bareheaded and barefooted if they could hear from home. Think a minute how they must feel in the smoke and dust of battle, when the strong fall down and die, or in camp, where men sicken to be confined to the hospital, and hope fades away and the heart sinks, and many a doubt comes over them whether they should ever return to the homes and friends they have left: what are their reflections? What then would they give to see one from home? What for a brief line?"

"They will not tell you half their desires on this point; but an officer in the army after the first Bull Run fight informed a friend that he had seen strong men fail and die, simply from homesickness. All their talk was of home, all their thoughts of home, and it was home that last they spoke when they ceased to breath. Let the friends of the soldier never forget to improve every opportunity, then, to write to them. They will be braver men, and healthier and better, the oftener they hear from their friends. Better than food to a famishing man is a letter from the hand of one he loves, for that is bread to the spirit, it is what will keep a man up when bread is worthless and medicines fail to give hope. Write then to the soldiers; write often; you can do nothing better for them."


From The Webster Times (Massachusetts), Saturday Morning, Nov. 1, 1862 (Volume IV # 34), retrieved  from

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