Reprinted in John Young Foster, New Jersey and the Rebellion: A History of the Service of the Troops and the People of New Jersey ... (Newark, NJ: Martin R. Dennis & CO., 1868), 869-870.
Mrs. H.W. Sawyer
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Richmond, Va., July 6th, 1863.
My Dear Wife: — 1 am under the necessity of informing you that my prospects look dark.
This morning all the captains now prisoners at the Libby Military Prison drew lots for two to be executed. It fell to my lot. Myself and Captain Flynn, of the Fifty-first Indiana Infantry, will be executed for two captains executed by Burnside.
The Provost-General, J. H. Winder, assures me that the Secretary of War of the Southern Confederacy will permit yourself and my dear children to visit me before I am executed. You will be permitted to bring an attendant. Captain Whilldin, or Uncle W. W. Ware, or Dan, had better come with you. My situation is hard to be borne, and I cannot think of dying without seeing you and the children. You will be allowed to return without molestation to your home. I am resigned to whatever is in store for me, with the consolation that I die without having committed any crime. I have no trial, no jury, nor am I charged with any crime, but it fell to my lot. You will proceed to Washington. My government will give you transportation for Fortress Monroe, and you will get here by a flag of truce, and return the same way. Bring with you a shirt for me.
It will be necessary for you to preserve this letter to bring evidence at Washington of my condition. My pay is due me from the ist of March, which you are entitled to. Captain B____ owes me fifty dollars, money lent to him when he went on a furlough. You will write to him at once, and he will send it to you. My dear wife, the fortune of war has put me in this position. If I must die, a sacrifice to my country, with God's will I must submit; only let me see you once more, and I will die becoming a man and an officer; but, for God's sake, do not disappoint me. Write to me as soon as you get this, and go to Captain Whilldin; he will advise you what to do,
I have done nothing to deserve this penalty. But you must submit to your fate. It will be no disgrace to myself, you or the children; but you may point with pride and say: "I gave my husband;" my children will have the consolation to say: "I was made an orphan for my country." God will provide for you; never fear. Oh! it is hard to leave you thus. I wish the ball that passed through my head in the last battle would have done its work; but it was not to be so. My mind is somewhat influenced, for it has come so suddenly on me. Write to me as soon as you get this; leave your letter open, and I will get it. Direct my name and rank, by way of Fortress Monroe.
Farewell! farewell!! and I hope it is all for the best. I remain yours until death,
H. W. Sawyer,
Captain First New Jersey Cavalry.