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211th Pennsylvania Infantry

Item LTR-8814
January 15, 1865 William R. Moore
Price: $225.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 8 pages, written in period ink.

January 15th 1865

Dear Sister

Will you read a letter written by your Soldier Brother on God’s Holy Sabbath evening? Will you read what my meditations are this evening? Here I am seated alone. Yes alone in my little house, while all without is as still as the noisy scenes of war will permit. The evening is still and tranquil, the soft wind flouts about, the calm. Silent moon sheds her pale rays on all around and the crystal water ripples in the little streamlet which wends its pleasant way past my tent. Tis God’s holy day. My Messmates are all away at church while I am left to take care of the house. What more fitting season could I have selected for a pleasant chat with the dear ones whom I have left behind me? I write this evening to let you know what a precious season we are enjoying from the presence of the Lord.

Dear Sister God is among us working wonders. We are having a glorious revival of religion in our Brigade. The series of meetings commenced about a week ago and already near one dozen of precious souls have professed to have an interest in Jesus’ blood and the good work is still progressing and many are turning to Jesus and enlisting under the banner of King Emanuel. Believe me, my friend, I am glad of the privilege of writing these lines. Last night I was at church and when the minister invited any who wished for the prayers of God’s people to rise and signify the same, he was delighted by seeing eight, sturdy, brave, noble soldiers rise, come forward, and kneel at the altar of prayer. Thank God there is yet a semblance of Christianity in the Army.

And now let me tell you what kind of church we have. I will first tell you what kind of church we have not. It is not built of bricks. It is not painted, It is not two storied. It is not lighted by gas at night or by numerous windows in daytime. It is not grand. It has not a steeple or bell. But it is built of logs, pine logs. It is daubed with Virginia clay. The walls are about 5 ft high and the whole church is about 40 by 70 ft, It is lighted by candles at night, which are placed in crude wooden candle sticks which are driven into the walls. It is covered with canvass, kindly, generously furnished by the U.S. Christian Com. God bless the Christian Commission. The light which comes through this canvass is all sufficient to give us light. Our church is humble. We love it full as well as our grand churches at home. It has no fine carpeted floor but mother earth serves a noble purpose. No fine pews with cushioned seats are found in our church, but a thousand noble soldiers are seated on crude seats made of round pine poles. No fine cushioned seat is in the pulpit for our minister to recline upon but a huge seat of pine puncheon serves as good a purpose. No splendid pulpit decorated with gold lace and silken velvet with gaudy colored fringes, out church is ornamented with But our good minister lays his holy book on a pine board which his own hand has hewn out of a log. And the pulpit is formed of pine puncheon. In this temple Holy spirit is being poured out upon us and much good is being done in the name of the Holy One. Our Chaplain lives in one corner of our church which is partitioned off for their use. I have told you the reason why I am not at church tonight. My messmates are all there and I am left alone to talk to you.

O Emma, how I wish you were here to see me in my little house. I could then talk to you like I was want to do in the happy days when I was one among the rest of you. But these days have flown, perhaps forever gone. Death is aboard in our land and visits not only us in the army, but also many blooming youth at home. As I told you before I left I do not expect to be killed in the army, although my position is the most dangerous of any man in the regt. I believe I will be permitted to return to my field of labour and perhaps my master may widen that field in some degree. It would be the very height of my ambition were I ever permitted to preach the gospel of Christ to a perishing world. I can not boast of talent. I have but a single one, but God commands me not to bury it, but to endeavor to increase it and become a wiser and abler man. Whenever I have ever exerted myself in the blessed cause of my master, success has ever crowned my efforts and my merits have always been very much over estimated.

While as a military man my calculations have almost invariably been thwarted and I have been the losing party. So it would seem that my proper place is not in the army when my country is free from rebellion and treason. God grant the day may hasten when war shall cease and I shall, in common with my comrades, be permitted to return home to our peaceful avocation. We are living in hope that this winter may end the struggle and save the terror of another spring campaign.

I am glad to know that the S.S. (Sunday School) is still progressing favorably. I hope and pray that it may continue. And now I come to a subject in my letter which I am very sorry I cannot do justice to. It is your kindness in sending me the box of good things.
My Dear Friends another very important, very strange link is added to our chain of friendship. This act of kindness has touched a chord which before remained untouched. Not so much an account of the value of the articles contained in the box but because it showed me that I am not forgotten or forsaken. God bless the donors of these good things. O how it rejoiced me when I saw the good name Aunt Mary on anything. The box had been thrown about so much and jammed that a good many things were spoiled but Aunt Mary, bless her, could be identified in several places. I used to like Aunt Mary a good deal I thought but now – well I like her a good deal more. How kind she is to her “Soldier Boy.”

Emma I received your letter of the 10th this morning (Jan 15th) and you may be sure I was very, very glad to hear from you. You must not be alarmed about not having anything interesting to write to me, you can’t write anything that won’t be interesting to me. I want to know everything about the dear old folks at home. I sometimes think I have run out of anything interesting to write about from the army, because everything becomes very monotonous to us who are here but when I write you anything unendurably uninteresting then let me know it and I will change the program. But I must close my writing for the present. My messmates have returned from church and report the revival as progressing wonderfully. Twenty soldiers came forward tonight to be prayed for. The meeting is carried on after the regular old Methodist style, I allow them to carry it on to suit them provided it is the means of bringing souls to Christ.
Yours very kindly
Don’t forget me.