(Continued from Part I)
Many of the men are bored and restless.
Fights break out daily. Many cannot read
or write. Many cry – yes, cry like lost children
without mothers or fathers. Others talk of
wives and children left behind; homes,
farms and livestock, plowed fields and gardens;
nights by the hearth: warm, secure, rested from
a good day’s labor; content with hard won
prosperity, with bread and meat on the table;
sons and daughters in good health and spirit,
God-fearing; tranquil nights and untroubled days;
merriment and barrels of good ale – contentedness
like peace itself. They talk of these things until,
dry of tears, and sleep overtakes them.
My dearest, it is for these cherished things
we have left our homes, why we all are here,
what we are fighting for, what with all my heart
and conviction I believe all decent and rational
men desire, crave – what as yet, in our short
marriage I have denied you – because without
liberty no man is free to possess his happiness.
Love, be strong of heart & courage by what
I tell you now. Should I not survive this war –
by cold, by hunger, by disease, by blood – think
of me as one who fought for cause & purpose,
who fought as much for his own interests as
those of others, who believed that liberty,
justice, & the peaceful life are what all
men of good heart desire, for themselves
& for all others; that life is good, nay,
a blesséd gift, if men only might live it
to good purpose. For I fear, my love, that
“Liberty & the pursuit of Happiness,” as
the Declaration states, shall be a thing
ever writ in men’s Blood.
Dearest love, the light from my Candle
flickers wildly, as if knowing its flame
must soon be eaten by the Darkness that
presses in on it so hungrily. I must perforce
bring this Letter to a reluctant end – my fingers
stiffen and my script shall cause you effort.
I shall, as I have for so long a time now, sleep
another Night in the uncertainty of what
another Dawn may bring.
My sweetest wife, words seem the least
comforting in times as these, & the most
ardent sentiments are like a fire that
cannot warm. Yet know this: do not doubt
my burning love for you, even as I am certain
yours burns for me as strongly. You stay
the darkest hours that nightly rush in
about my heart in these anxious days.
Daily supplicate the Lord for success
in our cause, He, in whose hands our destiny
now rests, is neither blind nor deaf nor slow.
To my last breath, I will ever remain
your loving & faithful husband – Josiah.