Friday, October 21, 2011

By Odd Circumstances

This entry us from Elisha Frank Paxton, Brigadier-General, C.S.A, Composed of His Letters from Camp and Field While an Officer in the Confederate Army, with an Introductory and Connecting Narrative collected and Arranged b his Son, John Gallatin Paxton, and can be found on the the Documenting the South website.  Paxton eventually become a general, but at the time he wrote this letter he had just been promoted to a major. Paxton died in combat leading the famed Stonewall Brigade during the Battle of Chancellorsville.  Here is an excerpt from a touching letter he wrote to his wife.

Centreville, Va., October 20, 1861.

. . . Our separation must continue until this sad war runs its course and terminates, as it must some day, in peace. Then I trust we may pass what remains of life together, loving each other all the better from a recollection of the sadness we have felt from the separation. I am sometimes reminded of you, and the strong tie which binds me to you, by odd circumstances. The other day I saw an officer, who, like myself, has left wife and children at home, riding by the camp, with another woman on horse-back, from a pleasure excursion up the road; and I could not help feeling that in seeking pleasure in such a source he was proving himself false to the holiest feeling and the highest obligation which is known on earth. I thought if I had acted thus faithless to you and our marriage vow, I should feel through life a sense of baseness and degradation from which no repentance or reparation could bring relief. If I know myself, I would not exchange the sweet communion with my absent wife, enjoyed through the recollections of the past and the hopes of the future, for any temporary pleasure which another might offer. I would rather live over again in memory the scenes of seven long years, when we talked of our love and our future, our ride to Staunton on our wedding-day, and our association since then, chequered here and there with events of sadness and sorrow, than accept any enjoyment which ill-timed passion might prompt me to seek from another. I trust, Love, this feeling may grow with every day which passes, and that I may always have the satisfaction of knowing my devotion and fidelity merit the affection which your warm heart lavishes upon me.

Elisha Franklin Paxton, from Wikimedia Commons

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