The following was transcribed from the May, 1907, issue of the Gilmer Mirror, Gilmer, TX. It is dated Gladewater, TX., Mar. 10, 1907, Route 2.
I am an old Confederate soldier nearly 72 years old. I came to Texas from North Alabama in the year 1858. Was sworn in the Confederate service at Coffeeville, Upshur county, Texas; started for the front to measure arms with those that was trying to rob the South and dispose of our homes. I was in several hard fought battles. The bloodiest battle I was in was at Milligan’s Bend when we locked bayonets with negro troops. They stood the charge as gallant as any troops we ever fought. General McCulloch’s report next morning was that we had killed 1500 of the enemy in less than 15 minutes. Our loss was 135 from the brigade.
I belonged to Walker’s division, McCulloch’s Brigade, 19th Texas Infantry, Company C. All letters had to be backed that was sent to the soldiers in the army with the division, brigade, number of regiment and letter of company. Our mail facilities was bad. Frequently a letter would be three months traveling 150 miles before it reached it’s owner. On dress parade one evening we were ordered to listen to mail call. As a man’s name was called he stepped from the ranks and received from the adjutant his letter. My name was called one evening and I sprang forward, and as my eyes flashed on the address, I knew the handwrite. No other hand could write my name as it was written but my dear wife that I had left in Texas. I did not open the letter there, but as soon as we were dismissed from dress parade, I sought a lonely place in the Mississippi bottom to read its contents. We were then close to Vicksburg. The booming of the cannons was about as fast as you breathe, and had been for forty days and nights. Vicksburg was making a death struggle to hold her fortress. My letter was all tear-stained and had but one object and that was to to claim my exemption as a school teacher and come home. My wife was an educated lady and read a great deal. She had gotten hold of a Richmond paper and saw where the Confederate congress had passed a law exempting all persons from military duty that had been a school teacher three years previous to the breaking out of the war. She cut this out and enclosed it together with the credentials I had as a teacher in Alabama, dating eight years back. I commenced teaching when I was 17 years old. She used every means that a loving wife could to persuade me to claim my exemption as a teacher and come home. She stated that Charlie was in wretched health and my little girl, Sallie, was crying every day to see her papa. I had but two children when I started to the war. After reading the letter I knelt down and prayed God to advise me what to do. I would have given my life or taken any risk to have spent one day with that devoted wife, the mother of my children. But here was the hardest thing I told her the condition of the army. Vicksburg was expected every day to fall, and she was the key to the Confederacy ranks. They was at the mouth of Red River with 100,000 troops to lay waste Eastern Texas. The Confederacy was tottering and every true man was needed at the front to hold back the blood- thirsty enemies, and I wrote: “I would tough it out, though I would give my life to see you and the children. I cannot sacrifice honor and patriotism. I would rather leave you as a brave man’s widow than to live with you as a coward’s wife.”
Years after the war was over we were fixing to go to preaching. I had the team harnessed up to the wagon, waiting on her to get ready when she came to me and said: “Mr. Davis; here is something I prize higher than anything we have on earth.” She handed me that letter that I had such a struggle to write. As soon as I glanced at the letter I remarked: “Bettie will you do me a favor?” She said “Yes, if it is reasonable.” “Then burn this letter up, for that was the hardest fight I had during the war, to write this letter. I can say with truthfulness that no man ever had a more devoted wife than I had. Her whole soul was wrapped up in her husband and children. For twenty-two years she has been basking in the sunshine of God’s eternal love. In a few more days or years, I will meet her to part no more. The battle of life is nearly over with me.
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