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My Dearest Susan


Harry Buschman

As I write this, I stand on a small hill overlooking the burning city of Nashville, Tennessee. Before me are the shattered ruins of what was once the Town Hall. It has been my duty and that of several other of my comrades to search for living souls here and, in addition, to see if there is anything edible in the immediate area. We haven’t eaten for days it seems, Dear Susan.

We spend much of our time, even our time under fire trading sentiments of home. We show each other pictures of our wives and children and each of us quietly assures himself that he has been more fortunate than the others. You must bear in mind that the pictures we have to show are creased and soiled after so many months in our pockets and they do not show our loved ones to their best advantage.

The opening of hostilities began in Nashville three days ago and my regiment, the 32nd of New Hampshire was in position at the center of the besieging line. The first day was cannon, cannon from both sides. It woke us in the morning and kept us awake through the following night. When we finally advanced, the small arms fire took a heavy toll of us, but you know as I write this, you can be assured I was one of the fortunate ones – one of the few fortunate ones I am sorry to say.

The devastation was complete. Among the confederates there were few wounded but many dead – they were buried en masse not far from the Town Hall where I now stand. General Slocum has chosen a hillside on the northern edge of town as a grave site for our own men.

It will be Christmas day tomorrow, dear Susan, and I cannot begin to tell you of the sadness that floods in on me when I think back to Christmas of last year. It was our first together, and I pray it will not be our last. When I see the enemy dead piled before me, I wonder where they spent their last Christmases and who will mourn for them tomorrow.

I must seal this letter and send it. It is all I can give you this year. Pray with me that this war will be ended soon and we may be together again.

Your loving husband,


Nashville, Tennessee
Dec. 24, 1863

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