Monday, June 3, 2013

Voices of the Civil War: Camp Followers (Northern General's Wife)

(This is part of a series of historical fiction letters relating what life was like during the Civil War. For an explanation of this series, please click here.)

From a Northern General's Wife:

My dearest Hannah,

I was so filled with pleasure at your last letter I’m afraid I startled poor Ulys with my sudden exclamation of delight. To hear of all the exploits of his father in the tanner’s shop made him smile, as nothing previously has done so. It made me want to dance with joy, for I’ve sorely missed seeing his handsome smile.

He has been through such a trial these past years of war, having been sent back into the fray by Lincoln. He comes back to me after battle with more cares on his shoulders than I've ever seen on anyone before this wearying war started. He puts on a brave face for me and the children, but I see through it since we have been in each other’s company as often as possible since our happy marriage day. I try to do everything that I can to ease his burden, but the weariness in the set of his shoulders gets heavier every day and my heart aches for him.

The children love being here, however awful it may seem sometimes, for they claim that they love seeing their dear father and mother rather than staying away from us for so long a time. It gives Ulys great joy in seeing their carefree, happy faces when he walks into the room.

As for me, I cannot bear to be parted with him, as you have suggested in begging me to come home to you. Poor Ulys admits he gets so lonely without me, and the children are such a comfort to him. The men have confessed to his drinking something awful when I am parted from him and I dare say he has become so dependent on my company that I cannot leave him, in all honesty, for fear of more losses on the front.

Do not fret yourself, dear Hannah, for your son is perfectly all right. We are simply surviving these bleak years; though I fear things may never be the same when we return.

With all my love and regards,
Julia Grant

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