Camp near Richmond,Va., June 25th, 1862
My dear Wife
I commenced this with the intention to write you a long and egotistical letter. The same day I received your letter saying that Sarah had gone home, I received one from David giving me the intelligence… that Sister James could remain in this world but a few hours. She had six doctors all of whom had given her up. What a terrible blow it will be to brother Robert, for she has been to him a noble wife and to her children an irreparable mother. She has certainly done in a worldly point of view at least her duty as a wife and mother…. What in the world will brother Robert do with all his little children? Charles and Georgia had just gotten out of danger and Bob was still very sick. I wish you were there—not with the children—to help him, but it is too late now. Sister Patience I know has done all any woman could do. David wrote that he had suffered very much with a cough since I had seen him. Do you know honey that I am fully impressed with the belief that he cannot live long and then there will be poor Mary, with her cross old Aunt and worse brother. I shudder when I think on the consequences to her.
I am getting on finely. My Brigade has improved very much. I shall be able to take in the fight about 2700, and as we are preparing for marching orders which we expected tonight, it may not be long before we have to try it. It seems to me that we can with the favor of God expect a most decided victory. We will probably join Jackson who is now supposed to be near Richmond ready to fall on McClellan’s rear. Jackson is undoubtedly near but no one knows where he is or when he came. It has been done in the most miraculous and secret manner. Our Major Generals know nothing of his whereabouts, only we all feel convinced that he will be about when the battle comes off which must be in a very few days.
Our Generals who have access to General Lee are beginning to gain a great deal of confidence in him. Everything, darling around Richmond looks bright. McClellan has undoubtedly lost a great many men since he leftYorktown, and he is crying very lustily for more. We are getting reinforcements from all directions… intent upon making this one battle decisive. We have, I am convinced, more men to bring into the fight tomorrow than he has and when that is the case—unless a miracle should be performed in his favor—what must the result be but victory. May God give it to us, is my nightly prayer. I want one grand battle and have the thing settled. Some of the Northern papers begin to talk as if they thought a defeat to their arms here would not only be disastrous but decisive of the contest. They begin to fear for McClellan instead of exulting over our fall and are crying that if he should be allowed to be defeated here that Secretary of War E.M. Stanton and his crew should be made to suffer for it. I have written for Sam Ashe to ask him to take the Adjutant Generalcy in this Brigade, but have not heard from him.
You wish to know all about me these days. It can be said in a few words. I am about as when you used to know only I am less dignified, and more lazy as I do not get up before 7 A.M. I have really but little to do myself, having so many others to do for me. The only fear is I shall become more helpless and too grand in my notions to retire to a small far after the war. The scheme I have not yet given up, and unless they bribe me by giving at least a Colonelcy in the Regular Army there is some danger of their losing me. I am sick of soldiering and especially the fighting part, particularly as I have no desire to be killed. My uniform is very unassuming, so much so that I always have to tell the pickets that I am a General before they will let me pass. The next coat, however, shall be more stylish. I was glad to get any when I got this.
If Frank should by any means get away from his present position I shall always have a place for him. My staff as yet being very moderate, only one volunteer aide, and he likely to leave at any moment. Do you know any real clever fellow who is desirous of serving his country at his own expense?
Would you believe it, we pay 50 cts. Per lb. for all the mutton we get and 50 cts. Per quart for milk. We concluded as soon as we found out what we had to pay for the latter that we would not encourage any such rascality altho’ a Mrs. Christian did practice it. Now really I have told you about all I know of myself unless it is, Honey, that I know I am falling off in order to be a Christian.
As I now have to attend to some business I must close. You must not feel uneasy if you do not hear from me for several days as it will be impossible for me to write.
My love to all. May God bless and protect us.
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