28 September 1861: “The weather begins to feel like frost, and hereafter we shall, I fear, find a soldier’s life rather uncomfortable.”

Item description: Letter from Elisha Franklin Paxton to his wife, Elizabeth, dated 28 September 1861. In the letter Paxton discusses a promotion in rank that he declined, the changing weather, items such as pants and coats sent from home, and his feelings of longing for his wife and child.

Item transcription:

Camp near Fairfax C. H., September 28, 1861.

I will close a delightful Sunday evening in answering your last letter, received a few days since. I heartily sympathize with you, Love, and our dear little Matthew in your wish for my return. My absence does not press more heavily upon your heart than upon my own. But we must not suffer ourselves to grieve over the necessity which compels our separation. We must bear it in patience, in the hope that when I return we shall love each other all the better for it. I have had the offer from Gov. Letcher of a Commission as Major. I was much flattered by the compliment, but declined it, as I would be assigned to duty at Norfolk. Feeling that I was more pleasantly situated and could render more efficient service here, I preferred to remain. I was very much tempted to accept it, from the consideration that it would probably afford me an opportunity of passing by home on my way; but I thought this should not make me deviate from what my Judgment approved as my proper course. I replied that I would accept the appointment if assigned to duty in this brigade, but would not leave it for the sake of promotion.

The weather begins to feel like frost, and hereafter we shall, I fear, find a soldier’s life rather uncomfortable. Sleeping in the open air or thin tents was comfortable a few weeks since; but when the frost begins to fall freely, and the night air becomes more chilly, lying upon the ground and looking at the stars will not be so pleasant. Then we shall think in earnest of home, warm fires, and soft beds. I think I shall get used to it. I have seen many ups and downs and begin to fancy that I can bear almost anything. In November I suppose we shall find comfortable winter quarters somewhere, or shall build log cabins and stay here. I went down to see Mat some days since, but did not find him.

Jim Holly came this evening and tells me he has the pair of pants which you sent me, and that Waltz will bring some more things for me. You need not get the overcoat; my coat for the present answers a very good purpose, and if I find hereafter that I need an overcoat, I will send to Richmond for it.

And now, Love, as I have taxed my eye about enough, I will bid you good-bye. I trust that you will make yourself contented. I shall be all the happier knowing that you are so. Give a kiss to our dear little boys for me; for yourself accept a fond husband’s best love.

Read more of Paxton’s letters at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/paxton/menu.html

Item citation: Paxton, Elisha Franklin. Memoir and memorials: Elisha Franklin Paxton, Brigadier-General, C.S.A. ; composed of his letters from camp and field while an officer in the Confederate Army, with an introductory and connecting narrative collected and arranged by his son, John Gallatin Paxton. New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1907.

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