Camp Barton, Va., March 18, 1862
My dear Wife,
I will commence by saying that I am in a precious humor. I got back at 11 A.M. and have done nothing but pitch into everybody and everything that has come near up to this time, 3 P.M. I can assign no reason, but my own dear wife shall get none of it. I was sorry, Honey, to have to write such a hurried letter last evening. I wanted to see Mr. John Norfleet to take $75 home for me. I have had no dinner—and had to see the Sec. of War and ordnance officer. I went after muskets, accoutrements, but only succeeded in getting the promise of half I wanted.
My letter cost 80 cents. They had no writing material at the hotel so I had to buy one package envelopes 50 cents. Ten sheets of this paper 25 cents, postage 5 cents. You see it was a very heavy outlay.
Col. Lightfoot has been assigned to duty outside of the Regt. and I hope he will stay altho we have gotten along very well lately. Gen. [Robert] Ransom asked me to whom he might write at Salem about quarters for his family and I told him I know none better than Jake, and he said he should write him. Mrs. Col. Chilton may possibly go up there also. I held out the advantages of Salem in the strongest light. I know you would enjoy the society of older army ladies so much. Mrs. Ransom has the reputation of being a very nice person….
Oh, Honey. I hope my Regt. will do well when we may get into a fight. N.C. troops stand so low in that way, but I believe it is because they have been so badly handled. I can manage my men in camp, on the march, and at drill, but it remains to be seen how I can manage them on the field. They all seem to have the utmost confidence in me and I hope I shall not disappoint them. If I live twelve months I feel that I am bound to be promoted. I believe I could get it now if I would get political influence.
The enemy seem to be making preparations to come this way. The big men in these parts think this is the point. These war times you must be prepared for anything. When one goes to war he must expect to stand his chance of being numbered in the list of casualties. Honey, never let us forget one thing, education is far more precious and highly appreciated even in these days of money loving, than money. I want to educate my children if nothing else. Either of us is capable of carrying them pretty well along in the English branches, so if necessary we could educate them on small means. And above all I want to see them fully imbued with reverence for things Holy. I had rather see them Christians than princes.
I have never suffered more from cold than for the last few days. I cannot drill at all. My throat has been very sore, cough, etc., but it is getting better slowly and in time… I hope to be well. Do you know honey I have not heard from you since your letter of the 10th, but I do not blame you. I always find that you do your part. Honey, I hope this will find you all ready to start home. My next will be directed to Salem. I wrote your father a few days ago, but it was a short and poor note. I hope you will find Mary all comfortably domiciled at Good Spring. You would do a good business to open a house of retreat for refugees. The Yankees will never get up your way.
We have it reported here that they have unaccountably recrossed the river. The papers of today state that it is rumored that the people of Md. Have risen up in their rear. As to their recrossing, Col. Hampton told me and he keeps well posted with their moves. We are certainly in a blue way, but I never have any apprehensions as to the result. If we can hold them in check one month more, we will be all right. And if they have retreated to the other side it would look as if something was going wrong with them.
Honey, how are you and the children? Well I hope.
I saw John Pegram last night at Richmond.
God bless you all.
Your devoted Husband
Sources: William Hassler, ed., One of Lee’s Best Men: The Civil War Letters of General William Dorsey Pender (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). William Dorsey Pender papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/p/Pender,William_Dorsey.html