1863 Aug 8
 

August 8, 1863
General Hospital
Macon, Georgia

My dear companion,

I write to let you know that I am not as well as I was when you left here.  I have been having chills and fevers now for three days.  I hope these lines may reach and find you all well.  I hope that you won’t have the measles.

Today is the day for the Board to meet, but I do not know whether they will meet or not.

The news is this morning that furloughs have stopped.  If so, I cannot get home soon.  Our nurse says they will send me home after a while.  If this letter comes, you may know that I cannot come.  I will not send it to the office until I see what is done.  I hope it is a false report about furloughs being stopped.

If any of the family comes to see me, I want them to bring me a big jug of buttermilk.  Herein fail not under penalty of the law, for I want it mighty bad.

I will send you a letter from a dying soldier. [enclosed]

I saw Mr. Benson and Orear yesterday.  They told me that you was all getting along very well.

We have lost two more men out of our company, Mr. Harris and Doyal.

I will close.

Your devoted husband,

W. H. Harden

P.S.  It is certain that the Board will not meet today, so I cannot come home.

You must excuse my bad writing.

W. H. H.

[enclosed newspaper clipping]

Letter From a Dying Soldier to His Wife.
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., APRIL 6, 1863.

My Dear Wife:
    I will endeavor, this morn-ing to write you a short letter, although I am quite feeble and do not think my strength sufficient for the task; but with the help of God I will make the effort for I have a presentiment that it will be the last that you will ever receive from me.  I feel that my earthly career is drawing to a close, and can say, cheerfully, that I am prepared and willing to go any moment my Savior calls me.
    Dearest wife – my physician tells me that I am nea[r] critical state and that I must soon pay the debt we all owe.  It has been my daily prayer for God to spare my life; I did crave so much to be with you, my darling wife, and dearest children once more; but God has decided otherwise and I submit to my fate without a murmur.
    Dear wife – don’t grieve for us, our trust is in God; I know his will not mine be done;  I feel that there is no heaven on earth; all of our help must come from God.  He has promised, if we put out trust in him, to lead us safely through this life of sin, sorrow, pain and death  – and I believe His Word.  Oh! my dear wife! what a happy thought to know upon the eve of departure from mortal to immortal life, that our peace is made with God and can say “all is well.”
    Dear wife – tell my dear little children that their dying father’s request is for them to live a righteous life; walk in the path of rectitude, and ever live as they would die devoted christians.  Oh, what a happy re-union that will be to meet to part no more on that bright, celestial shore.
    Dear wife – kiss my dear little children for me, and raise them up for God; and press upon their minds living truths, and train them in the way you know I so much desire them to go.  I do pray that God will bless my little children and save them in the last hour.  They are near and dear to my heart, and I crave to meet them once more, if not in this life, in the life to come.  Tell them to be kind and obedient to their mother, and be dutiful in all respects, and meet their father in heaven.  Farewell, dear little children! may heaven’s blessings attend you.  And now, dear wife, a few words more, and I am done.
    Your lot in this life will, doubtless, be an unhappy one, but trust in God, and I feel, and know, that you will be taken care of.
    Do not grieve for me, my dear wife, for God is with me this moment.  I am happy, oh, so happy!  It would be wrong to wish to live any longer on this troubled earth; we do not see anything but trouble here below.  Then why cling to life? 
    Dear wife – when you hear that I am dead, all that I ask of you is to bring my body home and have it buried where you and my little children can be buried by my side.  Do this, I beg of you.  My dear wife, I know that you will pass many gloomy hours when I am gone; but is it better to live and serve through this cruel war, than to die and go to rest and be happy forever more?
    On, my dear wife, it is best to die; so grieve not for me.  I am not afraid to die.  Oh, my dear wife, if you could only be with me in my last hours, to sit by my bedside, to speak one word of comfort to your dying husband – oh, to know that I must die in a strange land, far from loved ones and my own loved home – oh, that my last sad rites must be performed by cold and unloving hands, when you, my dear wife, will be far away in ignorance of such an event.  But, doubtless, it is all for the best.  Therefore we must submit without murmur, to the will of our Heavenly Father.
    I can speak of death very calmly, for I fear it not; God is with me; I shall soon leave this land of sin and sorrow, to dwell in brighter realms above.  Farewell! dear wife and children!  Farewell! we shall never meet again on earth. – Farewell!!
    Your devoted husband,
    THOMAS J. STEVERSON.


[from the reverse side of this clipping is part of the newspaper masthead
“Liter
Arts and Scienc
WEDNESD

and an article “The Scoffer Rebuked” reprinted from the Natchez Courier]