Saturday, 6 February 2016

J.S. Walker Letter (26 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mill, 26th Feby., 1862

My very dear Wife:

            Your very welcome letter of the 24th inst. covering the last Advocate was received last evening by Mr. Williams, the more welcomed because it breathed the true spirit of patriotism, with a constant dependence upon our God. Your heroic consecration of your husband to the service of our Country, even at the cost of widowhood to yourself, orphanage to our little ones, and poverty to all, demanded even my admiration of your sacrifice, though I thought I had been able before to appreciate the blessing of so noble a wife as I have. It was indeed oil to my wounded spirit, not that I despaired of God’s protection to my country by that my faith in the spirit of our people was shaken. For the past ten days I have been able to do nothing but pray for my country and our cause, to bear to the altar my bleeding country and ask the God of battles to defend and keep us. I have found comfort in the exercise and have been able to lay all on the altar, and willing to sacrifice life, property, and all. The last and hardest struggle was to give up my dear family to the mercies of a ruthless foe, if it need be. That I now do, with the assurance in yours, of your willingness to be left to the care of our good Heavenly Father.
            The question of re-enlisting is one that no longer occupies my mind, the development of the recent reverses decide that for me. My place is now in the army till the end of the war, or death takes me hence. It is my place as a Christian, husband, father, master, and patriot, and tho I may be called upon to pass through deep waters and great afflictions, I will fear no evil for my trust is firmly fixed on God. Now that I have gotten the victory over Satan and all worldly considerations, I find the evil one tempting me with military ambition, and by appealing to my pride, to determine to hand down to my family a name for some daring heroic deed. Oh that the Lord will keep me humble and direct me by his Spirit. Oh, that I may always realize my own unworthiness and lean alone upon his strong arm for protection. I know that our recent disasters have already proven a great blessing to me individually, and I heard in conversation last night among some of our officers, unconsecrated men, the expression of great confidence in the power of prayer for a nation’s welfare. In reading the inaugural of our President, it seemed true his closing prayer for our country was accompanied by the Spirit, and answered in Heaven. In the conversation above alluded to, in defence of the Christian’s confidence in Heaven’s protection to our cause, I read to them apportion of your letter to show that even a dependent woman in the hour of sore trial can by God’s spirit be nerved as the most courageous on the battlefield, and can even laugh at damage and trial, tho they stare them in the face. I know that the Lord will protect and keep you and yours, and when you see your neighbours running about panic struck, and seeking a place of refuge from their fears, then go to your closet and alone with God, ask His council and protection, and amid the storm without you will enjoy the perfect calm. In your denunciation of the lukewarm and indifferent, be charitable, and let prayer for them take the place of contempt, above all keep yourself humble and pride under your feet. I wish I could have a short time of sweet Christian communion with you in our little room at home, I long for Christian sympathy and encouragement, and still hope that I will be privileged soon to enjoy it.
            I wrote you a hurried letter on Sunday, announcing that we should soon be ordered to march to Newport News to attack it, and asking your prayers for our success. We still await marching orders, and they may come at any moment, or they may not come at all. If not, I shall try and get up for a day or two soon, tho in this life everything is particularly uncertain, and continually reminds me more of the necessity of securing that only certainty, eternal life.
            At our prayer meeting last night, I felt more than usual freedom in prayer, and while I prayed with confidence for our cause, I found myself with strong faith realizing in this revolution, not only the restoration of civil liberty, but the rekindling of pure religion in the land, which in its moral effect will bring greater consequences to the world than the reformation, aye, even the dawning of millennial glory. God grant it may be so, that as we suffer in the flesh, we may gain in the spirit.
            I doubt very much the propriety or necessity of Amandus going into the army. His deafness is a very serious obstacle, and might prove a very dangerous one. He would be disqualified for guard and picket duty, and to me it seems providential, for without Grace he would be ruined by the temptations of camp. I think it my duty to write to him upon the subject and suggest to him the propriety of not going in. I believe it will be a great trial of his pride to stay at home while others are going.
            What will you say when I tell you that for the past few days I have found my recreation in reading the History of Scandinavia, and found it very interesting. The good books you sent me have been my soul’s comfort, the little library a great comfort and privilege to my men during the long season of rain and wet.
            The daguerotype of my family keeps their faces before my eye, while they ever live in my heart. God bless them and keep them. Kiss the dear children for father and teach their little lips and hearts to pray for our country. Remember me kindly to all friends, and continue constant in prayers for our deliverance from our enemy and sin.

                        Every your affectionate husband,

                                    Jno. S. Walker.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

J. S. Walker Letter (23 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 23d Febry, 1862

My dear Wife:

            I have not written because I have not had opportunity or anything to write about. I thank God that I continue in good health and try to be thankful for all my blessings, [missing word] while I humble myself before God on account of my country and cause. I feel like praying God at all times for his intercession in our behalf, and that He will bring us deliverance from our enemies and war. You may expect to hear of our going down to Newport News this week. If so, we will be very apt to encounter the enemy. Then let us pray with stronger faith than ever, not only for protection against sudden death and danger but for the Lord to manifest himself in our behalf and give us victory over our enemies.
            Oh, pray God to give me a spirit to meet any issue and to keep me in his holy keeping. I believe He will give me grace for every hour of need. Covenant with your praying friends for God’s blessing, and let the National feast day be kept in the spirit as well as the letter. God will bless us. I shall go taking my life in my hands with my trust in God. Do not speak of this except to David, to who I have written the same. Give no heed to idle rumors, for they will be legion, but await the official returns if we move down to meet the enemy. May the Lord have you all in his holy keeping and be your rock and defence. Then you need fear no enemy, for He is with you. Kiss the dear children for me. I write in great haste to send by Mr. Mayo. This is Sunday, the Lord’s day.

                        Yours affectionately,

                                    Jno. S. Walker

Saturday, 9 January 2016

J.S. Walker's Letter (20 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 20th Febry, 1862

My dear Wife:

            I received yours enclosing Luly’s. My duties will required me to be disappointed, and my friends, by the proposed trip home. I hope the weight of bad news we are receiving from different directions will have the effect of putting our people more fully upon the defensive, and our praying people to trusting more in God. You are right, even if the enemy be at Rocketts, put your trust in God and he will keep you and yours. I am willing to trust my God to the end and I hope I am now nearer the goal, my Father in Heaven, than ever in my life.
            Love to all. I write in haste to send by an opportunity that occurs.

                                    Yours very affectly ever,

                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

J.S. Walker's Letter (16 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, near Youngs Mills,
Sunday, 16th Feby., 1862.

My dear Wife:

            I have not written you for a day or two past, having no means of getting a letter to the Post Office, and nothing to write about. Your last advised me that Kirk would be married soon and be with you on 22nd Feby. That would add to the pleasure of a visit for me, and I have set my heart too much upon it, I fear, and may be disappointed, as at present no leaves of absence or furloughs are being granted. I will certainly be up the latter part of the week, if I can.
            I have opened quite a pleasant and profitable correspondence with Bro. Wheelwright relative to getting up a Battalion so as to be thrown together next year, looking to the probability of my being in service. I am very much troubled as to what I should do. My company wait on me and are ready to re-enlist if I will let them. I await a reply to a letter to David to know what he and the other boys propose to do. It may be with an overwhelming foe it will be the duty of all of us to be in the field. If not, we ought to be at home to look after the families and interests of the others. As I have become accustomed to the roughness of camp life and its duties, I would be more useful to my country and less liable to disease. Time is flying and the army should be reorganized at once, and increased to the full amount of arms we have.
            I think by the 1st of May by the blessings of Heaven we will have given such a check to our enemy as will bring a peace by the fall, or it may be that having His frown still upon us our enemy may press us sorely and cripple our strength greatly. I feel and believe that all depends upon the will of God, and the energy of our people. I feel thankful for the reverses of Roanoke Island, whenever my mind reverts to it. I am sure Christians have been humble and have prayed with more earnestness during the past week than at any time since the war began and I believe the fruit of this disaster will be a more general recognition of God by our people.
I sometimes fear that our people at home are lulled by their ease and luxury, with their feasting and riches, into the deceitful security of Belshazzer and will not awake till too late to the recognition of their danger, then panic will seize them. God avert it from them and be their strength.
            Had I not have taken part in this revolution, aye, to the end if need be, I never could have enjoyed the liberty it will bring. I should have felt like one who had stolen another’s rights, the blood of these slain to secure it would have been on my skirts, my manhood would have departed from me. I pray God to let me live to see it firmly established for my country and children and to direct me as to my duty to it and them, to keep all ambition out of my heart, and to plant and cultivate only there Godliness and true patriotism, to so order my steps as to reflect to his glory, to make me quick to perceive my duty and them give me grace to perform it.
             I stopped just here to attend our company prayer meeting, which we keep up and are very well attended and very interesting. It is very gratifying to me to see so many young men who amid all the temptations and trails of camp life preserve their profession unspotted from the world, and whose lives would put to shame many of the aged in their church. They are built on a rock, and if their lives are spared to return to the peaceful vocations of life, they will be useful members and active disciples of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is comparatively easy to preserve the outward form of Godliness in the Church, where there is no temptation to try, and with the soothing flatteries of Satan to blunt the conscience and believe we are loving to God, but the refining fire of affliction, temptation, trails, etc., separates the dross, and too often, alas, proves to us that the whole is counterfeit. The man who through the affliction of war comes forth a brighter Christian than he went in, who ever bears aloft the standard of his Saviour, who has it in his heart to praise his God while all without is as dark as midnight, has an anchor both sure and steadfast, and can then fully appreciate the blessings of peace, and the prospect of the final victory over death. I believe these alone are privileged to realize the depth of these similes of the Word of God which compare the Christian cause to a continual warfare, who have been in the midst of war. History and the accounts of battle fail to impress us with the extent of its meaning.
            It may be that as I suggested I may not be able to get up by the 22nd. If so and Kirk and Lucy should be with you, bear them my congratulations, and may they in their new life raise in their hearts an altar to God, may they realize that their present happiness may be marred by the trails and troubles by which we are surrounded unless their trust is in God, may the influence of a Christian wife be Lucy’s to bring her husband to God, and may Kirk’s love of his wife be second and subordinate alone to his love of God, then true happiness is theirs, then as whispering brooks in a united inseparable entrance flow gently, placidly on to the mighty ocean, may their united hearts in happiness flow on to the eternal bliss of Heaven. I pray God’s blessing upon them.
            Kiss the dear children and keep them in remembrance of father above all things. As your first duty to the world, train them in the way they should go. Always remember me to Sister Hays, who I congratulate has not to bemoan Thomas as killed, wounded, or a prisoner. Now to me plainly does God’s providence appear in that disaster, rebuking a wily politician and open blasphemer. Oh, Lord, forbid that a holy, just cause should suffer at the hands of the ambitious sinful, but direct in the appointment of all our superior officers and cause Thyself to be owned and recognized by all.

                        Love to all friends.

                                    Yours ever affectionately,

                                                Jno. S. Walker 

Monday, 3 February 2014

J. S. Walker's Letter (13 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 13th Feby. 1862.

My dear Wife:

            I drop you a line as I have the opportunity to let you know that I am very well. The enclosed note from Col. Cumming is an acknowledgement of some of the good things you sent me. He has his wife with him and this is a hard country to get anything fit for a lady to eat. The news of reverses in North Carolina, Tennessee, etc., almost determine me to book myself for the war. My company is very anxious to have me take them. I pray God to direct me. This is our dark hour as a nation, our liberty hangs in the balance, our enemy are strong and determined, ourselves have been too confident. Let saints pray the God of battles to avert the storm that hangs over us, and bring the blessing of peace and liberty.
            Give my love to all. Kiss the dear children. Nothing new down here.

                                                Yours ever affectly., in haste,

                                                            Jno. S. Walker

Dear Captain:

            Your messenger has just delivered to me your very acceptable present of  “creature comforts”, for which accept my thanks and those of Mrs. Cumming.
            I would be pleased to see you over, Captain, as also any of our friends from the 15th Virginia.

                                                Very truly yours,

A. Cumming.
Captain Jno. S. Walker,

15th Va. Rgt.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

J. S. Walker's Letter (11 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, 11th Feby. 1862

My dear Wife:

            I am in receipt of yours covering tracts and Advocate. The tract I read attentively and my experience justifies my endorsing every proposition of the author. Prayer is the leaven known to move heaven, the two edged sword that separates between sin and holiness, the life preserver of the Christian when the troubled waves of this worlds afflictions and troubles would over flow him. I trust I realize, it may be weakly yet truly, its mighty agency and necessity and employ it to my own good. Like the sinner in the last expiring struggle of Satan with his soul, throws himself meek and overcome into the hands and arms of a Saviour waiting to receive him, I now in the trials, troubles, anxieties and defeats which surround us, have no other help but prayer and turn to God for support and direction, and yet I feel that there is a veil between my God I would have removed. I am perplexed but not cast down.
            I believe the Lord allows it to draw me into still closer communion with Him and to enable me to more fully realize His Glory when he deigns to remove the veil. I believe my outward conflicts have something to do with it too. My heart is oppressed for my country, both for its national and spiritual condition, and then I am beset by troubles as to my individual duty. I want to do, nay I mean to do, what is right. God being my guide and director, I recognize in our recent defeats His providence and wisdom. I believe it will eventuate to our good and His glory. It will arouse the lethargic. It will make us flee again to the rock that is higher than us, poor mortals, we would be made much of by the gapping mob, Hero Worshippers, because He made us the instruments to defend a just cause, but He alone must have the glory, and when as a nation we render it He will then give us the final victory.
            At the mention of Bro. Wheelwright in yours, I have just written him a long letter and shall when I get through this write to David relative to his and the other boys’ plans for military service. The defeat of Gen. Wise’s forces at Roanoke Island has put new spirit in our soldiers and they are now seriously re-enlisting for the war. My Company only await my advice, and if I would agree to be their Captain they would all come forward for the war, but I do not see my way clearly yet. I am waiting for the Lord to mark out my duty. I lay it before Him in prayer, and believe that in His own time he will direct.
            I duly received the sundry packages by Lt. Lyon, and through you return my thanks to all the kind friends. I pitched into Luly’s cakes and candy and enjoyed them amazingly, and for breakfast this morning had eggs and hominy.
            I think it probably that the news from Roanoke Island will interfere with my proposed visit to Richmond. If so, we must be content tho disappointed.
            Kiss the dear children. I am sorry the roads are so bad and the uncertainty of military movements render it inadvisable for little David to come down now. Remember me affectionately to all.
                                                Yours ever affectionately,
                                                            Jno. S. Walker

            I am very, very well, thanks to my good Heavenly Father.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

J. S. Walker's Letter (3 Feb 1862)

Camp Deas, near Springs Mill
3d Feby., 1862

My very dear Wife:

            In the absence of anything of interest, I have not written you for several days. Your last advising that Kirk was in Richmond and on a frolic gave me pain on his account, and I do earnestly hope that he will find after his said experience that even an iron will cannot sustain him and that throwing aside a dependence upon his own strength and placing it alone upon God and His help can only give him the victory over the accursed appetite.
            The only incident in my camp life worthy of record is that being Field Officer of the day on Friday last I had to ride during the day about twenty miles visiting the several outpost pickets, and after ten o’clock at night, with the rain pouring and as dark as darkness, I had to visit the lowest post alone to instruct the picket.
            By telegraph it was announced that another fleet had made its appearance in Hampton Roads, and our Generals concluded it was to attack us that night by land and water. My duty was to advise the outposts and instruct them what to do in the event of an attack. It was so dark I could not see the horse’s head, and as I had to go by circuitous routes and bridle paths through dense forests, I, of course, lost my way a little, but by the aid of a lantern which I had taken with me to light in such an emergency, I soon got on the right track, performed my duty and got back to camp at 2½ o’clock. Being well protected by water-proof wrappings, I experienced no ill effects from the ride, and tho there was apparent danger of being fired upon by our own picket mistaking me for the enemy, and some little probability of scouts of the enemy being in my way. I have never felt more secure by the fire in my library than I did, for I had the assurance that the Lord was my shield; and that His providence protected me.
            I expect Allen Lyon today and that much coveted box, which I shall enjoy, thinking of dear ones at home. You must not be disappointed if I don’t get up by the 22nd, for the enemy hovering around our coast makes it the duty of every man to be at his post. My boys looking forward to the probability of re-enlisting from necessity, are sounding me as to my intentions as to the future. They feel dependent upon me and would willingly re-enlist under me. I read them your sensible views on the subject, as I have also done to several of our Officers, and tell them that that shall be my guide and that what Providence directs I will do. I feel my responsibility to them will cease with the year for which I enlisted them, and that then I shall be guided by such light as I have and my own convictions of the necessity of the case as to what I shall do.
            If Norman, David, Amandus should all go into the service, it will be almost absolutely necessary for one of us to be at home to look after and provide for the families of the others. If they do not go, then I must, unless a price can be raised to defend my country against ruthless invasion. I still cling to the hope that the Lord will yet deliver us in so manifest a way that we all will have to own and give Him along the glory. As a nation owned by Him in a thousand ways since these hostilities began he will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity to endure, but will in his own good time most likely when the cloud is darkest and the fury of the tempest is at its height, speak peace and there will be a great calm.
            Kiss the dear little ones and remember me affectionately to all relations and friends.

                                    Yours ever affectionately,
Jno. S. Walker

5th Feby. 1862.

            Have not had an opportunity of sending this till now, and only open it to say I am very well. Nothing new. Kiss the dear children.


                                                Jno. S. Walker