Camp Gregg, Va.,
April 21st, 1863
My precious Wife
You letter of the 17th came yesterday, a sweet letter it is. You have no idea how much pleasure it gave me. I could very easily imagine how my dear child felt and carried on, when fixing up my old rags and how happy she was to be doing something for me. If course they will suit me for if such love as you carried into the operation could not do what was pleasing, what could?
Oh you dear little woman how happy I am in the possession of you and how much I want to see you. I often think darling that when we get together again that I will not be cross and look mad and refuse to talk as I used to do. I know you won’t believe me, and I do not blame you, for I shall act just as mean as ever. It is in me and I cannot help it.
I am sorry you sent the butter for I fear you put yourself to inconvenience or possibly deprived yourself and you know we deserve no such kindness or self-denial. I have the stars on had for the coat and it will not be long before I shall need it as my old sack is getting rather seedy. I am a thousand times obliged to Pamela and shall appreciate her present as it deserves. Kiss the dear pretty little Sis for me.
The paper was not subscribed for till the 14th, but if it has not reached you yet, let me know and I will write about it. I subscribed to 1st Jan., ’64.
We are living horribly now and I am anxious for the month to pass away so I can install a new caterer. Maj. Englehard holds the office at present and justice requires me to say that I never saw one fill it worse and but one – Brewer- as badly.
I am very much worried of late about desertions. Our NC soldiers are deserting very rapidly. I have had about 30 in the last 20 days, and all due to those arch traitors Holden and Pearson and Co. O poor old NC., she will disgrace herself just when the worst is over, and after two years faithful service. I cannot bear to think about those rascally “conservatives” as they term themselves. Next to a Yankee a “conservative” is the most loathsome sight.
I think the papers contain very strong indications of a letting down on the part of Lincoln, but we have refreshed ourselves so often upon false hopes that I will only say that this war as anything, must have an end and that each day brings that desirable result nearer to us. I cannot make out why Lincoln does not carry out his Conscript Law. There must be something wrong for it is all gammon about his having men enough. They have not enough now, much less will they next month.
Gen. Lee is about again attending to business much to the gratification of all. There is no special indication of move, but we hold ourselves in readiness to move at any time.
I will see Dr. Powell and ask him if something cannot be done to help you retain your food on your stomach. I feel very anxious that you should get well, for it is hard enough upon you without having to content against sickness and then I always feel that I am to blame for it.
The next time I send any money home I will write David to buy you some NC money. It is only about 7 per cent and that would be a saving to you amongst those Yankee Dutch. I wish I had thought of it before for by the time I pay for the horse that Capt Sumney bought for me, it will be two or three months before I can send any to you. Can you get along for two months longer upon what you have? Do not stint yourself by any means for by the end of May I shall be a hundred dollars or so ahead.
I wrote a letter to Brother Robert but did not send it, for after thinking about the matter, it looked so absurd for me to be trying to buy a farm that I did not have the face to send it. I know you each laughed at me enough by this time about it. Bless you my dear wife it is all for your sake, for I know how much you would like to have a home where we could live quietly together. I fear I began to feel that there is no alternative for us but the army for life. If I can get a good position, it will be better than anything else I could do, probably. It will certainly be a gentlemanly position.
I went this morning to Fayetteville for a bolt of cloth and if you should not want it all, it will not be difficult to get rid of. Can you not get a straw hat made for Turner, and if not why not let him wear a bonnet. Anything these times. My love to all. God bless you my dear good wife, in all things
Your fond and loving Husband.
Source: 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).