Camp near Fredericksburg, Va., Dec. 3rd, 1862
My dear Wife
This command after a long and fine march has at last come to anchor for awhile unless the Yankees cross the Rappahannock river, which I do not think they will attempt, altho they pretend to be making preparations for it. If they were afraid to advance from Warrenton it would look like nonsense to attempt it here. One cannot imagine the degree of confidence and high spirits displayed by our men. I am truly glad to get once more where we can get our mail and the papers. Here we can get both very easily.
I believe about everybody have moved from the town which will cause great suffering. They are scattered all through the country. A temporary depot post by us today had any quantity of furniture lying around with several old gentlemen shivering in the cold, apparently watching it.
Gen. Lee is very anxiously waiting for a fight. He told me today that he believed he would be willing to fall back and let them cross for the sake of a fight. All accounts are to the effect that they will not fight, and their numbers are not as terrible as might be supposed.
As A.P. Hill has been recommended by Gen. Lee for Lt. General, I hope he will be promoted which would be a means of both getting us out of Jackson’s command and myself a Division. General rumor and general feeling both have pointed me out to be Gen. Hill’s successor. He told me the other night that he hoped I would soon be a Major General. I had no idea that I was a man of reputation in the army until I got back. This is not to be repeated even in joke, for I do not like to have it thought that I might have my head turned, etc., etc. My people were glad to see me and they all said that they knew I would be back before the fight came off. The men seem to think that I am fond of fighting. They say I give them “hell” out of the fight and the Yankees the same in it.
Jake goes to Richmond tomorrow to attend to some little matters for the mess and himself. If we have nothing special I shall let him go home to spend his Christmas. I told him if he would not drink or smoke any between this and then, he might go. He makes a fine caterer and has improved generally. I think, since I left. Do not say I am disposed to underrate him and “wish that he had not joined me” etc.
I have finally settled upon an A.A. General. What would you say to the husband of that agreeable lady that called on you in Raleigh, Maj. Joseph A. Englehard. He is going resign his position as Brigade Quartermaster in James H. Lane’s Brigade. You must not judge him by his wife for he would be done much injustice as I would be honored to be esteemed by your goodness and good qualities generally. Honey, when I look around I feel more and more how thankful I ought to be for such a wife, and I do feel thankful. I feel, Honey, that I owe you a great deal for I know I should not be what I am if I had not married you.
Tell Pamela I saw a few days ago her brave Capt. W.A. Fry. He will do tolerably well to be shot at but not so remarkable to flirt with. He says he is going to Mr. William’s soon and of course will call on Pamela. She must not let his wound work too powerfully in his favor. Tell Ham it is time for him to return. Honey, I hope things will so turn up that I shall have you with me soon, but as long as we remain fronting the enemy as we do, it will be impossible. The Yankee papers do not seem so loath to have their troops go into winter quarters as they did. I must now close. My love to all and a kiss for Pamela and the boys. Tell her she must not give up Stephen Lee. How do you like the hoops. I rather pride myself upon having thought of them. The belts I fear were poor and not appropriate.
I suppose you know by this time how things will be for the next nine months. God bless you and the children. Please let me know as soon as you have settled the thing in your mind. Good bye.
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
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