1863 June 1
June 1, 1863
Mrs. Nancy J. Harden
My dear wife,
I embrace the present opportunity of writing you a few lines in answer to yours of the 25th instant, which I received last night while I was on guard at Greenwich, and it gave me great satisfaction to hear from you, as it was the first letter since the 7th.
At this writing I am well and hearty. I eat so much dinner that I can hardly get up. I paid 25 cents for milk, enough for supper and breakfast last night. We can get it here for 80 cents to one dollar per gallon and it is very nourishing. It is the first of milk I have had since we left Camp Gordon.
Our Company is nearly all gone to Whitmarsh Island to do picket duty this week. I, with the Orderly Sergeant and a few men, are left at the camp to take care of it.
Ben Brooking will come home in a day or two and I will send this by him if he comes. I will also send you some envelopes by him if I do not forget it.
We hear no news for the big fighting at all.
We cannot tell how long it will be before some of us can get to come home. Those who have been here the longest has the preferences and that, of course, is right. I have no idea of getting the chance to come home to cut wheat. I would be glad to be there and eat something good. I want to eat the hopping leg of that pig.
I want you to write how your hogs are and if you think we will have some pigs soon, and how much corn you have got to feed them with, and how the cows are, and chickens.
My dear Jane, you know I used to love to feed my pigs, cows, mule, and chickens, and take Mollie with me and make them gentle and kind, but alas! those days of pleasure are gone and I - separated from the object of my love - without the privilege of returning.
I got the curl of hair from my baby. You must pay strict attention to her instruction and cultivate in her the power of reason, which is the very essence of a good education and female beauty. And above all, good reason is the best of philosophy. However good we may talk or read, without reason we are rattling fools. The time now is when you ought to begin to nourish those principles which lead to a noble and virtuous life and which makes its possessor free and independent. I do not mean those flimsical parts of education, but such as will do in the corn field, wash tub, or anywhere else. I could write all day and then not describe what I mean, but you can guess at it.
So, I will stop for a while and rest.
I went to sleep last night and I dreamed that I got a furlough and went home and that I saw you and Mollie and the old man Seab and no one else. I wish I could happen to get it and realize my dream. I though we had a heap to talk about. But I am doubtful, still hoping for the better.
I cannot write in my lap good.
You did not write whether Pa’s folks has got Joe yet and what made him run away. I would be glad to hear.
I heard from John Pat yesterday. He is well and at the Isle of Hope. He will get a furlough in a short time, so I heard. I am going to see him the first chance.
I have got the bellyache now, I eat so much dinner.
Tell Betty she must not eat so much. She will be lazy.
Well, I will finish my letter. I am going to send you some envelopes by Mr. Brooking and some papers to read which will give you the news. I will try to think of some.
So, I will quit until morning.
The drum is beating now and I must answer to roll call, etc.
W. H. Harden
I have swapped watches. I have got a double case watch now. It is a great place to trade here. The watch that I have got now is worth forty-five dollars and it cost me twenty-five. If I can make one more trade, I will turn it into money and send.
I will write on this side in the morning.
This morning I am well. I have just eat my breakfast.
Mr. Brooking will start soon this evening and I must fix up my things. I have got some rice and sugar I intend to send home, but I can’t get it ready this time.
When you write give me all the news. I do not want any more money at this time. I have enough now to bring me home. Write soon and be cheerful.
Fare you well for this time.
I remain your devoted husband until death.
W. H. Harden
P. S. I will send these things to Mrs. Benson.