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My Dearest Susan
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
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,
Dec. 24, 1863
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