Camp Fisher, Va., March 7th, 1862
My dear Wife
My dear wife my last [letter] I sent to Joyner’s [Depot] supposing that by the time it got to N.C. you would have stayed from Turner as long as you could, and would consequently be in Town Creek. He was in bad hands on Town Creek without you…. It is not much pleasure to furnish them [Pender’s Parents] the pleasure that having him with them affords, for they abuse the trust so in the kindness of their hearts….
What you write about Col. Lightfoot I feel to be true, at least so far as his being a bitter enemy of mine, and I do not see why he should not respect me. I feel that I have respect of most of those with whom I am thrown in contact. It seems that he is about to lose one of his strong supporters in the Regt.—Lt. Evans Turner. As his friends around Hillsboro are trying to raise a Company of which they propose to make him Captain, I am sure I have no objection of his leaving the Regt., and all his admirers may do the same so far as I am concerned.
Maj. Webb says that the Colonel [Lightfoot] is completely dead around Hillsboro where he used to have a great [many] friends and admirers….
Would you believe that homesickness could make such hypocrites and fools as it does. Hundreds of our men have nothing in the world the matter with them but a crazy desire, as I told them the other day, to get home. I told them that no other man of this Regt. so long as I should command can expect me to approve of his going home so long as he was on the sick report. It seemed to please those who have been doing their duty very much. I let about forty loose the other day and told them to get to Fredericksburg as soon as possible, and although some of them pretended they could not carry their guns, they, I think, all reached there in about two days with gun and knapsack. I am beginning to believe that there is nothing the matter with about half of them and most of the others injure themselves by prudence and neglect.
One piece of news. Dr. C—is supposed to be on his way back with a wife. If he got her they had to run away. Honey, what a sad thing that a lady should run away against the wishes of her parents to marry a man they cannot like. Runaway matches are, I believe, generally unfortunate in the end and I do not see why this shall be an exception to the rule. Dr. C—is coarse and rude in manners, rather uncleanly and lazy in habits, deficient I think to some extent in the milk of human kindness, conceived out of wedlock and has risen I fear as high professionally as he ever will. Now from the picture above drawn—which was either gotten from other parties or corroborated by them—how could a beautiful, intelligent, refined and well turned woman be expected to [be] bettered in the end.
Well honey our long looked for orders to move are out. My surmises as to the point were correct. Our wagons go in a few hours. We shall not leave tonight. I cannot help but think it will be better for us in the end as we shall gain time enough to get our Regts. filled up. I shall not be able to write you again before Monday night, 10th. I hope to have a letter waiting for me. As I have filled my sheet and have to attend to getting ready, I must close. May our wise and good Father have mercy upon us and bring us to a state of Grace. Pray darling that I may not take the step [confirmation] I hope soon to take unwittingly. My love to all…and kiss the children.
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