24 April 1864: “If I could only look in upon you (wherever you are) I could cheer up and not have the blues again tonight. I wonder where you are and what you are doing?”

Item description: Letter, dated 24 April 1864, from Emma Clayton to her husband Thomas L. Clayton

More about Thomas and Emma Clayton: Thomas L. Clayton (1834-1905) of Asheville, N.C., was the son of Ephraim Clayton (1804-1892) and Nancy McElroy Clayton (d. 1882). He married Emma Adelaide Smith (1839-1887).

Thomas Clayton did not enter the military until January 1864. Before that he served as acting military storekeeper at the Confederate Armory in Asheville, N.C., and assisted friends in the Confederate army with their financial and personal business. In January 1864, Clayton was ordered to report to Columbia, S.C. After serving there for about a month, he was assigned to an engineering unit in General Hood’s Corps. Clayton was stationed in Georgia during the Atlanta campaign, writing letters from Dalton, Dallas, Marietta, and near Atlanta. He later moved to Jacksonville and Florence, Ala., where he was a member of General [S. D.] Lee’s Corps.

During the war, Emma A. Clayton remained in Asheville, raising their children. After the war, Thomas Clayton became a contractor for the Western North Carolina Railroad.

[Item transcription available below images.]

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Item citation: From the Clayton Family Papers #4792, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Sunday Eve, April 24th

My own dear absent Husband,

You can not imagine how very sad and lonely I have been all day. I do think I never saw it rain more constantly than it has all morning and this evening there is strong indications of a thunder storm.

I feel this evening that I would give the world (were it mine to give) if I could only be with you. I never felt so sad as I do, it seems to me that I can see nothing but a long and weary life before me, for I can see no end to this war. Were the Yankees to make a peace (satisfactory to us) tomorrow, I would have no confidence in it for I believe from what I read in the papers, that they are becoming more enraged every day, at their own condition, and I do not believe they will ever allow us to live in peace again, for they are certainly a ruined people.

But now I know you are ready to say, hush Emma, you must not look on the dark side of the picture. Well my dear I know all that, but I can’t help it, I’ve tried to be cheerful since you left and I think I have done very well so far, but as the days pass by, I realize more fully my lonely condition, and the great responsibility that is resting upon me, and indeed I don’t think it at all strange, that I should have the blues. You must try and bear with me, perhaps I will feel better after a while.

Well well the sun is shining out again, we have just had a very hard shower, this is more like real old fashioned April weather than any thing we have had this spring. We have had some very pleasant weather since you left home. The children do enjoy it so much. Ephie says she loves the warm weather, because he loves God. He is a good boy I have nothing to complain of. But Ann is a hard child to govern. I have a great deal of trouble with her.

O! my dear one, how I wish I could see you this evening. If I could only look in upon you (wherever you are) I could cheer up and not have the blues again tonight. I wonder where you are and what you are doing? I hope you are at your journey’s end and safe and sound and I know what you are doing – thinking of the dear ones at home. O! when shall we all meet again? Perhaps we may never meet again in this world. But there is a brighter home my dear husband, where there is no war nor bloodshed and where parting is not know where I hope we will an unbroken family be permitted to meet never to part again. O! what a consolation it is to me, to think that our Heavenly Father has prepared such a home for us, and given us the means by which we may reach that blissful place. 

O! that He may help us to live with eternity in view for “we know not the day nor the hour when the son of men cometh.”

Kate is not at home, she went with [Joe?] Ray to visit Alice Burnet. Ma, Pa, & all send much love to you. I do hope to get a long letter from you soon for I think it would do me so much good. Do write as often as you can, for it is my greatest pleasure now to read and answer your dear letters. here anxiously I will sit and wait for the mails. Mother & Father are well. Remember me to cousin Thad, I hope you will get to be with or near him for he will be so much comfort for you. The children all send their dear Father many long sweet kisses. Good by my one dear husband. God bless and protect you is the prayer of your true and devoted wife.


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