27 July 1864: “I wish I could give you some idea of what a noble girl she is – Her letters are not only my greatest pleasure (next to seeing her) but they are something more than a girls love-letters.”

Item Description:  Letter, dated 17 December 1863, from Benjamin Lewis Blackford to his mother, Mary Berkeley Minor Blackford.  The letter details packages received, his love life, and family news.Item Citation:  Letter dated 27 July 1864, in the Blackford Family Papers #1912, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Office of Chief Engineer, 3d Military District, Department No. Ca. and So. Va.
Wilmington, N.C. July 27, 1864
My dearest Mother
It is very discouraging to write now, for the mails are in so crazy a condition that the chances are [?] against a letter going through at all.  it is evident that up to the date of your letter by [?] you had not received mine – I am glad though to tell you that your letter containing the $20.00 reached me safely after being a month on the way.  I am very touched and grateful, my dear Mother, that you should spare me money out of your small resources, and I feel ashamed that it should not be the other way.  I manage to get along somehow, though my mess bill alone amounts to $250.00 per month and dos fare at that.  I get various little articles imported through the kindness of blockade-running friends, and sell half of them for enough to pay for the balance, and something over [?] Cousin Fanny Mitchell (Miss [?] that was) is going to Richmond today and I will get her to leave for you at Cousin Mary G’s a paper box containing two bleach veils, on for you and one for Mary – they are very nice I think and I hope they will suit you – Since you last heard from me my love affairs have not prospered so well (I mean with the old ones) and I have fought them hard – Mr. K. who has [?] of sense keep his mouth shut and is civil, barely, but is [?] opposed to the whole office and endeavors to show me by anything short of actual [?] that I am not welcome in his house.  Mrs. K. though, who is a coarse woman with an ingovernable temper is ​[?] to me [?] her house, but abuses me [?] and [?]for not abandoning the unit when I found it was not agreeable to them – Indeed two weeks ago we had reached the very verge of a runaway match.  Harshness and persecution had made  Sue ill and finally when her Mother made some patch wrok about she told her that she would stand anything but that and gave her to understand that a repetition of the offence woud bring about instantly just what she wished to avoid.  Matters have improved a little though [?].  Mr. Hepburn, the Presbyterian pastor has been consulted and has taken the matters in hand and has already poured much over it on the troubled waters and has had much talk with all parties – I have given him, he having been requested by the authorities to receive it, my “ultimatum” which is as follows – that I am to be allowed to meet her freely, when and where I please, to be regarded as her accepted invitation and that in consideration of such concessions I am not to urge a marriage till after the war or at all [?] till the parents shall consent to it.  On the other hand, if they continue as they have lately done, and endeavor to break off the whole thing by [?] force – I sent them word fairly that I would be married as soon as Sue came of age next November I have not yet heard the result of this, but hope to do so today – I don’t much care which way they decide; our minds are made up and Sue, though it has cost her many tears and an agony I never saw anyone else suffer has finally resolved that she has neither the right nor the power to sacrifice me even at the bidding of her parents – I wish I could give you some idea of what a noble girl she is – Her letters are not only my greatest pleasure (next to seeing her) but they are something more than a girls love-letters.  I wish you could see them, so full of good advice and wise suggestions, and I depend as completely upon her suggestions &c as I probably should do if she was really as she playfully signs herself sometimes my “little wife”.  In many respects she reminds me of you, especially in her earnestness of character – her integrity and independent individuality – It would gratify you to hear old people and children + servants speak of her. To most people of her own age and rank she is naturally haughty and reserved, but her manner to the old is so deferential and the attentions she pays them so flattering that they look upon her as a bright exception to the frivolities of the present generation usually called “young ladies.”  I could write many pages of truthful rapture about her, for my admiration grows as I watch her character under trying circumstances, but I forbear she  loves me, I believe as only she ever loved before – Not even in jest, [?] moment will she deny her love – If questions are asked by persons whom she believes to have no right, no one knows better how to freeze them on the spot.  Toa friend who asks her seriously she speaks of her engagement with great pride + dignity – Did Mary get the carte de visite of Sue I sent by John Payne?  I enclose a letter for Mary.  tell her to answer it at once.  She (Sue) has expressed constantly much sympathy for Mary in her recent troubles which I hope are well over now, by the way.  I am trying to do [?] for [?] to have him send to me.  I hope he will succeed – I have not heard from Eugene for a long time, nor indeed from any of the boys –Hope to come home on furlough before the summer months; my health has been very bad and I am thin to a degree.  Sue lives at the Sound now 8 miles off so I do a deal of riding – I have been offered $5000 for my mare – I think I must part from her.  Give my best love to sister Sue + Mary – Tell sister Sue that my Sue often inquires about her – your aff. Son 
B Lewis Blackford
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