31 May 1864: “The smoke has cleared away. The wild clash of the battle has died out…”

Item description: Letter, dated 31 May 1864, from Leonidas Polk to his wife Sallie.  He discusses the aftermath of battles in Virginia,  injuries, and how much we would like to receive a letter from her.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From folder 2h in the L.L. Polk Papers, #3708, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

On the Pamunkey River 12
miles from Richmond
May 31st 1864

My Dear Sallie,
Thanks to a merciful God I am yet able to write to my dear wife. The smoke has cleared away. The wild clash of the battle has died out & the lull into which we have subsided brings with it languor which follows a high degree of of excitement. Yesterday our division wound around & attacked the enemy’s left flank, charged & drove them helter skelter for nearly a mile to their breastworks.we only wanted to ascertain their strength, position, &c. to gain a new line We held the field until after dark & now we are strongly fortified all around. I will send a list to the Argus which will show how & when we were in the fight. The Anson Co.s in the Regt has lost since we came into Va. about 62 killed wounded and missing. Lt. Beeman poor fellow had one of his feet taken off. Tell Isaac to tell Dr. B. & that he served to stand it very well. I have not heard from him to-day.His right foot amputated above the ankle. [?] Lilly in leg very slight, but you will see the list which tells all. Gillesmore & son & Waddill all well & doing well.  Captain [Foreman?] Anson guards killed. Jim Tillman wounded in mouth.  Col. Burnett in command of Ramseur’s Brigade and safe.
I got a letter from Risden the other day he was in Petersburg, doing well. I wrote to you about every other day but fear you do not get the letters, since I have not had one from you since the one of the 9th & I know you write often to me. In fact none of the Anson boys gets letters.  Mails all deranged. I have been a little unwell and suffering with [piles?] but am much improved – feel very well today.
Well Sallie I have been on the march so long, lost so much sleep, had so much excitement & fighting & in short so much worn out that despite my best efforts and wishes I can’t write a letter fit to look at. Last night I slept about an hour, but as soon as I can finish this letter I am going to try to snooze a little. I can hear nothing from the Wild Cats. Billy May is safe &c.
Oh if I could only be at home now. to eat some of your good milk &c. I could enjoy it so much

& I could tell you a great deal. We now get plenty of meat & bread & tobacco. Sometimes a little coffee and sugar, but I want something from your table.  You know how extravagantly fond I am of good things to eat. But I try to console myself with the hope that I may be spared to enjoy the blessed day that will bring me to you & my little ones. How anxious I am to hear from you no one can tell, though I know it is not your fault. Three long long weeks and no tidings from home! What a blank in my life! Tell Father to write to me probably his letters might have better luck. He certainly does not appreciate my situation & feelings. It is rumored that John Polk is a candidate but I do not believe it because he wrote me urging me to run & said that although solicited he would not do it.
If all things work well and I am spared I think I can certainly come through. I would send that card for publication, but I think it best to wait until this thing is settled. I have the most beautiful little pistol for you you ever saw – looks as though it was made for you. I will send it the first chance if I can get some cartridges for it.
I do wish I could hear from home, but my constant prayer is for your safety & welfare.  I ought to be a grateful man and I try to be, for God has been gracious towards me in all things. Will you ever have any fruit? How is your garden, corn cane, &c. Have you much poultry? I ought to be home in about two weeks to take your bee gums.  I trust that I may be allowed to come to you again to stay. If we ever get through fighting here I intend to write a great deal. With that view, I write you very often & will continue to do so & hope you get all my letters. The crack of the rifle & the booming of the canon have become so common as to attract no attention.
Tell sweet little Lula to remember Pa in her sweet little prayers & Kiss them both sweetly for me.  Has Maj. Boggan ever gone after those things? I am afraid he will neglect it until they are lost. Sallie I must close. Wish I could spend some of these evening with you in sweet converse, God will do all things right, & let us pray together for the thing we so much desire. My love to Mother Met & all.  Tell Isaac to write, Direct to David’s Brigade, Rode’s Division. “A. N. Va.” Your own faithful and affectionate Leonidas.

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