5 miles fromRichmond,Va., May 29th, 1862
My dear Wife
I yesterday received two letters from you, one of April 30th and the other of May 20th, and honey I must say the last left me more sad than I have been for many a day. It was very evident that you had been very sick and would not only let me know nothing of it at the time, but would not have the confidence in me to write me when you could about it. You ask me to write or let you know if I should get sick or wounded. Why do you not set me the example. Darling here I was making myself believe that my dear wife was well and that it was only the mail, when probably she was dangerously ill. Darling do you never forgive or retract? Do you really intend to carry out what you said last summer and not let me know when you get sick. Honey be more confiding next time under similar circumstances.
My dear how can you have any respect for a man who acts and talks as Joe Williams? Would you like for me to do as he does. Refuse to fight but want to make money by the worst calling but one—negro trading—making that curse of man more than curse of wife, whisky. Fanny, write me no more about such a miserable degraded creature. Let his name never be mentioned by us to each other only to condemn. I am sorry that his family pretentions so blind you as to allow you to respect such a man. I do not write how I like the idea of his being Pamela’s husband. That is her business, but Pamela will have to come down very much from my opinion of her before she gets low enough to marry such a creature.
We came out last night fully expecting to move on and attack the enemy this morning, but something prevented. I hope the attack will not be delayed many more hours. We can whip them without their artillery, but with them the things become more difficult. My dear, never allow yourself to doubt our ultimate success. We can never be conquered unless the Laslens and Williamses do it. The Yankees cannot. I slept not a wink last night and but very little for the previous 48 hours. I have felt anything but bright today. We occasionally have pretty rough times, but generally it is not bad. We lived very well at Richmond. I got a bin of nice sweet potatoes from home two days ago. We are here with only what we brought on our horses and boys.
Your description of the progress of the children is very gratifying. I am very sorry I did not get your letter asking for powders for Turner until a few minutes before we left yesterday, but I will send them as soon as possible…
… Do not let your father make you despond. My dear wife one more word about Unionists. You love me and think I act from a sincere conviction of the justice of my cause and you did approve it. Here I am not only risking my life in battle but by any of the various camp diseases in a cause which really primarily affects me but little, while they [the Unionists in North Carolina] are giving aid and comfort to the enemy by creating trouble at home, etc. etc. etc. Now my dear how can you not only treat these people with anything but frigid politeness, but appear to consider a lingering liking for you as desirable. Erase the apparent harshness of my letter, but I say no more than I am justified in.
May our Father have mercy upon us. Write me often. Love to 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