The most moving of the exhibits at the Gettysburg Historic Museum was the one entitled, “I TAKE UP MY PEN….Letters From War.”
Nearly three million men served in the Union and Confederate armies from 1861 to 1865; writing letters was their principal connection to the homes and families they left behind. The soldiers wrote about whatever was on their minds—the battles, politics, slavery, food, camp life, the weather, their leaders, their brothers in arms, the places they were located, their health AND all the things they were missing about home! They produced a volume of personal correspondence that no other American conflict has seen before or since. These letters help us to better understand them, the conflict they were involved in and this era of our nation.
On display in this exhibit are some of the over 12,ooo Civil War letters that have been preserved.
A couple of my favorites:
“There is nothing in the world that gives me more pleasure than to receive letters from you, besides the pleasure of reading the letters, it is some satisfaction to have and look at articles that were in your hands such a short time before.”
Joseph Maitland, Orderly Sergeant, 95th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to his fiancée, Belle Wharton, March 9, 1865
“you won’t go to war ever again will you?”
8 year old Georgiana Tillotson in Greene County, New York, to her father