August 6th, 1862
My dear Wife
We are now ready loaded up to move, but where to is not for those of my low rank to know…. I do not anticipate anything in the way of fighting just yet. I was much disappointed yesterday at not finding a letter, but that I lay to the change of the Postal arrangements, the mail failing. My dear wife I am, if possible, more anxious than ever to hear from you often.
Honey, give as much as you can afford to charitable purposes. I am beginning to feel that I have been sadly deficient in that respect, for once I gave cheerfully, but now I allow myself to believe that I ought to give. Oh how I do wish I could be a Christian. I feel now how far I am from what I would believe myself and what we should be, particularly one who has taken such solemn vows as I have. Oh, that I could be filled with the living Faith necessary to salvation. We are taught that the prayers of the just avail much—honey, pray for me continually for my conversion and that I may not go astray. The life I had is becoming more and more irksome to me, for the less chance I see of getting away from the army the less hope I have of that quiet and happiness on earth and that security… that I so much long for. God have mercy upon me, for I feel that I am not only a sinner but a perjured one. I made vows that I have in no way kept—only in a careless way of hoping to keep… this time. I have been very loose lately—not so much externally as spiritually.
We heard various rumors yesterday which if true may help to end this war. I pray sincerely as I can—night and morning—for a speedy close to this war. I am tired of glory and all its shadows for it has no substance. We work, struggle, make enemies, climb up in rank and what is the result—nothing. It is very much like gambling, money is won but soon spent and nothing left behind. I have not the slightest idea what we are to do, but cannot but believe that this army is the nucleus of any invading one. The quickness of Jackson—so contrary to his previous course—makes me think that it is so. The enemy seem to think so too.
I hope, Honey, that little indisposition on your part that we both looked forward to, has overtaken you, but if not bear up bravely in the consciousness that all things are directed from above and for our good. I can sincerely say that I believe such to be the case, and recur to things that I thought grievous and hard to bear at the time, that now I see were the very best that could have taken place. This is a part of my creed that I believe in fully. You may say I have none of the suffering, but I have for I know that I love you well enough to be troubled at anything that causes you suffering or unhappiness. Honey, I know I appreciate you very highly and love you dearly, but I sometimes feel that my cold and unfeeling nature prevents me from feeling as much of it as I ought, or even showing you what I have. May Heaven bless you for you are indeed dearer to me than anything on earth—now, ever was, and I hope ever may be. You will not allow yourself to have full and undoubting faith in what I now tell you because I do not do what you wish sometimes and what I ought to do oftener, but it is true if I know myself—as I live and hope for your whole heart. You will be astonished at this outpouring of sentiment. I am not always devoid of it when I fail to express it.
…You ought to make yourself easy at the Doctor’s for would you not feel hurt if any of your relatives were at your house and were making themselves uneasy and trying to go to Salem to board especially as they did not expect to remain more than a few weeks. Do unto others as you would be done by. You are too afraid of feeling under obligations. None of us can be entirely independent.
I have not seen Ham or Willie for several days as they went off Friday with their command. I am still of the opinion that I can not do better than buy the gray horse unless he is unsound and I am obliged to have a horse. I am now riding a quartermaster horse, Fan’s back being sore and Jim’s foot not being well…. I feel as strong as ever….
Sam Ashe wishes to be remembered to Helen and yourself. He thinks very highly of her. I think he will make me a fine officer. Give my kindest regards to all the Doctor’s people. Write me often to tell about yourself and the children. My love to Helen. God bless you my good wife.
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