Camp Wilkes near Fort Macon
Oct 17 1861
Your long letter was recd yesterday and I was deeply grieved at its contents in more respects than one – My poor child it seems gets no better but rather worse. Dear little fellow how my heart bleeds for him – I will try to get permission to visit you by the 1st November at least, but it is very uncertain as to my getting permission – We are in constant doubt here, immense naval preparations have certainly been made by the Yankees for attacking the Southern Coast, but where they will strike no one can say – We may be here till Spring without being molested, and then a days carelessness might see us surprised and ruined—We have to watch & be patient. I regret exceedingly Mothers conduct towards you about Herndon, she is certainly very inconsistent – Whilst in my company I paid every attention to Herndon and tried to wear off every thing unpleasant between us. But he would not reciprocate any of my advances – the truth is he is a low bred fellow and cant appreciate what is genteel & becoming & I soon gave up all attempts to put us on a brotherly footing. I should regret bitterly to see that Mother was determined to trample on the feelings of the whole family for the sake of a fellow who clearly proves his unworthiness – But it is often so – Hannah has more complete control of Mother than all the balance of the family; she, that has been most undutiful and brought most distress upon her Mothers grey hairs, is not only forgiven, which was right enough, but is made to control all the rest! It is very hard for any shadow to come between & my Mothers love but I never can & never will sacrifice my self respect for a dirty puppy as I believe Herndon to be, nor do I want you to do it. This is all private darling, you must not let any of them see this letter, it would do no good; I write my sentiment to you that you may Know how I wish you to do in the matter. Of course I desire you to treat my Mother with all Kindess, but let Herndon & his wife be a forbidden subject between you – In fact don’t talk about them to anybody, not your best friends –
Kiss my darling Children & receive my blessing upon you all
In haste most truly your husband
Can you spare me a pair of good bed blankets? I begin to need them now.
Source: Frontis W. Johnston, ed., Letters of Zebulon Baird Vance, Volume 1 http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/paofzebabvo1.html