FLASHBACK! This blog is now a year and a half old and I’m going share some earlier posts off and on to help us remember where we’ve been, electronic friends from history who we grew to know, and how the trauma of war came home for so many families. If you like the flashbacks or have some requests for topics, let me know.
First published on this blog on November 22nd 2011, we were just learning the depth of Pender’s love for his wife and his dedication to family and military duty. Earlier this year  we learned of Pender’s death after being wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Camp Fisher, Va., Nov. 22nd, 1861
My dear Wife
I was beginning to get anxious to hear from you, as it had been several days since I had received a letter from you, but this morning your dear letter of the 19th came. It afforded me much pleasure to find that you are getting on so well. It was quicker getting to me than any I have yet received. I am so proud of you honey for more reasons than one. Least of all I see you are trying to adapt yourself to your surroundings and you will be repaid. I know how they at home will love you for it. You try to please and interest them in so doing no doubt make your time pass more pleasantly than if you did not try to take any interest in what is around you. Turner must be getting on very fast in talking, the dear little fellow, I suppose he would call me Dorsey. I wish I could have been with you all last Sunday evening.
Oh! honey how anxious I feel that my parents should look to their future welfare. Particularly my father who I fear is not much better than an infidel for he has never taken any interest in those matters, never had any charity for God’s ministers, and has lived a wicked life. Honey you must read to them. They have tender feelings and can be worked upon. Interest them by singing and then read portions from the Bible that will be likely to strike them forcibly. I believe some good may be done them and are we not bound to do that good if possible. This I feel, and moreover, I feel that it is my duty to try everywhere, but alas I do not which will surely be counted against me.
Fanny, I do thirst after righteousness but am too indolent and weak to gain. Of late I have almost despaired of ever becoming a Christian. I try but fail to arouse myself to that earnestness that one should have. I make good resolutions only to be broken. I think of God and His Glorious Son less than I did, but I think honey I have a better conception of some portions of His doctrine than I did. In reading Romans I am forced to see that by Faith and that only can we be saved. I had the thing changed about. I had some indefinite idea that if we did good because we were low-minded, etc., it would be well with us. But now I think I feel that to believe in Christ’s ability and will to save us—not as [a] matter of reason—but to feel it and act it, is what we want. And here is where I trouble, I believe it as a matter of the mind, but do I feel it in my heart and act it in loving kindness to all. Alas no, but surely Christ who sees my feeble efforts will help, surely he who sees my ignorance of my wants, while in prayer—will ask those things that are necessary.
You speak as if David was coming on very soon. In one letter you speak as if you might come with him and in your next as if he might come right away. Please tell him to bring Harris an overcoat. Sweet potatoes also. I shall show my appreciation of your promptness about the rice pudding by having one tomorrow. Harris is very anxious to learn and does so very rapidly.
I have given out the idea that we will be attacked here, and shall commence to build as soon as I can get the tools, but it will be rather slow work. All my men have flues to their tents which makes them very comfortable barring a little smoke occasionally. I have just finished the life of Havelock and what a good and great man he was. A worthy pattern for any to follow….
I wish I could hear you say “bless your old soul.” … You, I hope, will have a chance of troubling yourself with me before the fire. How long do you propose staying upon Town Creek. I have about come to the end and said nothing. I knew you would not be frightened by my writing that we expected an attack or I should not have written. My own wife, if anything happens to me you shall hear it as soon as I can get the news to you…. May God bless and protect you and 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