- Jul 23, 2017
- Southwest Missouri
War Stories for my Grandchildren by John W Foster, Major 25th Indiana Infantry
"I felt proud of you as my wife and loved you the more for the manner in which you acted on the departure of our regiment from Evansville. While I know that no wife loves her husband more than you do me, yet you could let me go off, for how long you know not, to brave the dangers of the battlefield, because I thought it my duty, without a murmur or reproach or entreaty. And now that I am away, I hope you will be the true woman still. You know that our separation is not harder for you to bear, surrounded by home and all its comforts, your darling child and dear mother, than it is for me deprived of all these. You must be hopeful and cheerful. I am here because duty prompts me, and you would be ashamed of me if I were not here. I will try to do all I can to preserve my health and so far protect myself from dangers as my duty and honor will permit. You must remember that there are tens of thousands of wives who bear the same lot as you do. It would make me very unhappy to know that you were disheartened and lamenting my absence and exposure to danger; and, on the contrary, it would lighten my trials to know that you were bearing it like a brave, true-hearted woman. I know you are my devoted wife, and I know you will act your part nobly."
I give a letter from my wife dated February 20: (after Battle of Fort Donelson)
"After four days of painful suspense and anxious waiting, when the news came last night that you were safe, you may be sure there was one thankful, grateful heart. Such dreary days and sleepless nights I hope I may never pass again. The first news of the battle reached here Saturday noon, and not one word did we hear of you till last night. Such a relief I never before experienced in my life, to know that you were safe and well. All the accounts say you acted bravely and nobly, and we are all as proud of you as we can be. Oh, if I could only see you once more, my own dear husband! No one knows how thankful I am that you were spared, while exposed to terrible dangers…. The news of the surrender reached here Monday, causing intense excitement and wild joy; but I could not rejoice till I heard from my dear one. And, oh, the dead and wounded, how much suffering and grief has been brought to many, many hearts! When we think of the suffering it takes away most of the rejoicing."
Another letter home
"I could say with emphasis that I wished the war was over and that I was going home to return no more. This going home to stay a week or two and then come back, tear away from home and all its dear attachments, is worse than the first departure. I can't say that when the campaign is pretty well over I may not apply for a leave of absence; but when I think of the parting from home again and the long muddy winter ride across the mountains, I begin to balance the matter. When I come home I want it to be my last 'leave.' When shall that be? I am too great a lover of my little wife, my darling children, and my happy home to make a good soldier, at least a professional soldier. How sweetly you wrote in your last letter of our little Alice praying her evening prayer for her absent papa. I believe He who noticeth the fall of a sparrow will hear and answer the prayer of innocence and childhood, and bring me home in safety that I may be the guardian of our dear family….."
Numerous letters in this book which is in public domain free to download and read from Google Books.