James Colwell to Ann Colwell, July 4, 1861

    Source citation
    James Colwell to Ann Colwell, July 4, 1861, West Chester, PA, in David G. Colwell, The Bitter Fruits: The Civil War comes to a small town in Pennsylvania (Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, 1998), 73-74.
    Date Certainty
    Transcription adapted from The Bitter Fruits: The Civil War comes to a small town in Pennsylvania (1953), by David G. Colwell
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following transcript has been adapted from The Bitter Fruits: The Civil War comes to a small town in Pennsylvania (1998).

    Camp Wayne

    West Chester 4 July 1861

    My own dear wife Annie,

    I have been more said since my last than any time since my arrival in this place. You cannot imagine what a weight your letter of the 2nd lifted from my heart. It was handed to me today just after our arrival on the ground where the celebration took place. As soon as I could get relived, I sought a place to sit down & devoured its contents, and oh, what joy it brought to my heart. It w as like my own wife, and I cannot thank you too much for it. I hope now we understand each other & that you will scold me no more, but that rather you will forgive my many faults. I know I err frequently but it is nearly always an error of the judgment & not of the heart. It gives me pain to do anything that may bring unhappiness or even anxiety of mine to you. My whole effort in this world is to make you as happy & comfortable as, under all existing circumstances is in my power and if you will only not permit your affections to become estranged I think we will be very happy. It is not worth while to enquire at this late day whether I was right or wrong in entering into the present movement. It may be that I should not have done so. I did it with the best motive in the world. I have no hostility against the south, and this war is not in behalf of Lincoln or any other man, but it is to sustain the government. And if Jeff Davis had been elected president and was endeavoring to preserve this union, I would have been found aiding him with all efforts. But whether I am right or not, I do not see how I could get out of the service without bring[ing] disgrace and dishonour on myself & my little family, and my prayer and hope is that I may be saved from any act of that kind…

    O how I would like to see you. I hope to have that pleasure next week or the week after. I will if I can conveniently get permission. I am tied here and cannot get away without leave, which I have no doubt I can get unless something should turn up of which we are not now aware.

    I was vaccinated, as was the whole camp some days ago, mine has taken the doctor says. I wish you could have been here today. You would have seen some 1500 or 1800 soldiers together on a march, and thousands of citizens from the town & country, and probably a great many from other places. There were two or three small enclosures fenced off in which we dined, and people gathered round to see the animals feed, and watched us with great interest while we were eating. I must say here that the Carlisle Fencibles are the crack company here for good behavior & for proficiency in drill. We are attached to the 7th regiment and have been assigned the post of honour every time we have parades. But as you do not like that subject I will drop it.

    Now I hope my dearest Annie that you will endeavour to keep up your spirits & enjoy yourself as well as you can. I would like to be with you beyond all other things, but let us have patience and all will be well. Write me as often as you can as nothing affords me so much pleasure as your letters excepting those that scold. I do not know by whom I shall send this or whether by mail, as I may not see any of those who are about to leave in the morning. My space is occupied and I must now bid my dearest Annie adieu for this time. I remain your devoted and loving husband


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