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Read Family Correspondence

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: Martha White Read
Date: February 16-17, 1862
Place: Augusta County, Virginia
To: Thomas Griffin Read

Physical Description: Ink on gray paper; 4 pages (20 x 16 cm.) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN/CW 5015-10

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Feb 16. 1862.
My dear husband

     Yours of the 12th came to hand last evening, and I need not attempt to describe the pleasure with which I read it, & learned that you were "well and hearty." God grant you a continuance of good health. It is bad to be sick and suffering any where, with the comforts and friends of home around you, but it must be dreadful to be sick in camp, for even if your comrades do all they can they have so few conveniences and comforts for their sick. Our neighborhood has again been called to mourn the life of a young soldier Wm. Finley [i.e., Private William W. Finley, Company E, 1st Virginia Cavalry] is no more! He died last Thursday at Manassas, after a short, but severe illness. His father went down last Sat. to see him, but he was too ill to be brought home. He died in a hut, in camp. His remains were brought home Friday evening, and interred at Tinkling Spring yesterday. I did not go to the funeral as it snowed very fast, and my throat is not entirely well, I cannot realize that Wm. is dead. O there is sorrow, sorrow all over our land. The Northern demons have said that "weeping and wailing shall go up from every house in the South," & truly it has already gone up from many bereaved homes. Our independence will be bought at a fearful price; the blood of fathers, brothers and husbands; yet better thus, than fall a prey to the fiendish wretches who are sent to plunder & destroy our homes, & take from us all that is worth living for. Recent accounts state that the villains have burned 85 houses in Hampshire Co, & that five respectable women have been the victims of brutal outrage from Federal soldiers. Is it any wonder that in view of such a state of things, we are willing that those who are dearer to us than our own lives should encounter the dangers of a soldiers life to meet such murdering vandals. I am only sorry that such men as compose the largest portion of our army have to meet as foes in fight, such degraded specimens of humanity. I think the greatest number of volunteers now in the field will re-enlist;

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I don't know what they will be thinking of, if they don't. We will lose all for which we have taken up arms if we lose our volunteer army; Governer Lee has issued a stirring address to the militia calling on them to volunteer, before the 10th of March, after which, if the requisite number be not made up, there will be a draft. Volunteers now in service who fail to reenlist, will be subject to a draft, but will be allowed a respite of 40 days. Andrew Brooks is at home now, he came up last Saturday with the remains of Cousin John Leightner, of Greenville, who was a member of the "Liberty Hall" company. Andrew was here one day this week. Said he had not seen you since you left Romney. His company is in Winchester. He does not intend to reenlist, just now; says he has four months to serve, & will not committ himself for a while; that is what I hope you will do. No dear, I don't want to see you coming home if you have to "run off." I would rather wait until next July; but I hope that you will get leave to come before that time. Yes, I will try to be patient and wait, with you, the result. Wouldnt I like to see that house; I think it must be a great deal more comfortable than a tent. I hope your father will go to see you; wish I could go too. Dear, I have dried fruit to send you, but have no opportunity now. Don't you think it would come in better towards spring when the appetite is not so good, & you will not care about eating so much meat. And while I think of it, don't you want some new colored shirts, & send your white ones home. If I had them, I would color them with cedar, & they would do better. Has Lem [i.e., Lemuel Vawter, Company I, 33rd Virginia Infantry] renlisted? I have knit a pair of gloves for John [i.e., John Henry Read], like yours; he sent me word to knit them, when he was too ill to sit up. I did not knit them until I heard that he was better, but do not think he will need them this winter, but I will send them to him the first opportunity

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We have met with reverses in our cause recently. I suppose you have heard of the capture of Roanoke Island by the Federals. Our force was not more than 2,300 men, under Wise [i.e., Brigadier General Henry Wise], but he was sick at the time. His son, O, Jennings Wise was killed, also Capt Cole of Albemarle Co. There were three companies from Albemarle, Old Mr. John M'Cue has a son, & son-in-law there, and their friends don't know whether they are killed or taken prisoner. The heroic conduct of the little force against an overwhelming odds, hardly admits of their surrender being called a defeat. (I've mended & mended my pen, and it only gets worse, please mend it for me, wont you, dear?) We had quite a snow yesterday, but it is thawing rapidly today. All have gone to church but myself, and here at 1 o'clock, on the quiet Sabbath I sit, and write to you. I imagine you sitting in your tent, reading, or perhaps you and Lem engaged in singing Well, sing, "Devotion" once, for my sake. It is now time for me to get some dinner for the others when they come from church. I would not write to day, but want to send this by A. Brooks who talks of going back tomorrow
Monday afternoon Dear T. When the girls came home from church yesterday they told me that A. Brooks was not going till tomorrow so I thought to finish my letter and take it down there today, but it has been raining and sleeting all day, and I have had to be housed up. If it does not rain, I will go down early in the

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morning but if I am disappointed in that will send my letter & some papers to the post office by the first opportunity. This has been a real gloomy day to me, I've had nothing to do but knit & think of you, the latter I do constantly any how. Nan & Mary [i.e., Nancy and Mary White] are making drawers for soldiers; & papa is sitting at the back window shoe mending; I am right before the fire with my writing book on my knee, scribbling away at "double quick" but I know I will not write all I wish, for I always forget something and however nimble the pen of a "ready writer" may be, it cannot utter half the overflowing of the tongue. O, if we could meet "face to face"! but let us be thankful that we can write to each other. And let us trust in God, & commit our all into His hands knowing that he can do better for us than we can ask or even think. Write to me soon dear, & pray for

Your loving,

N & M send much love and say you must come up here when you get off.

I would say come on here too, if you could come straight on, but the stage never connects with the cars now at Staunton and some times does not get there till 2 or 3 o'clock P.M.

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Transcription last modified: 01 Mar 2007 at 01:36 PM EST

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