30 November 1864: “Thou hast nobly done thy duty, In thy Country’s holy strife, And thy soul of Christian beauty Hath assumed immortal life.”

Item Description: Letter from Polly Tunstall to her cousin Jane Alston, lamenting the death of her brother George Dudley Tunstall.  She also worries about the health of her father and her brothers Nathaniel and Landon who are serving in the Confederate Army.


Item Citation: Folder 22 in the Lucy Tunstall Alston Williams, #4351, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Home Nov. 30th 1864

My dear cousin,

Can it be or is it a horrible drama? Can it be that my first my good my precious Brother is no more? Something says it is unalterably truth. Oh! what must I do in my sorrow! I am no longer myself; my very being seems to sink beneath the power of this unexpected stroke. Why was my heart’s Idol so soon torn from me?

Who will fill the void in our hearts? But O blessed, comforting reflection that he is now resting in the bosom of the one, who sweet lackings have ever blessed him, enjoying eternal light and felicity, free from the tortures of an earthly existence.

“Thou art gone, my darling Brother.

Called from earth in youth’s bright bloom;

Gone to join our sainted Mother, Though death’s awful, silent gloom.

Thou hast nobly done thy duty,

In thy Country’s holy strife,

And thy soul of Christian beauty

Hath assumed immortal life.”

It may be well that in life’s bright morn he should pass away from earth so dark and clean. He was too sensitive to bear the many ills which must inevitably meet us all before the end of Time. His mission is fulfilled, the page of his life’s history is unsullied.

Even in our hearts will he live, and his memory will be cherished and interned with the charcoal flowers of affection whose delicious aroma will ever awake to the recollection of our loved one, bidding us look away from earth to those bright regions of eternal day where all the “pure in heart” shall dwell.

A Power Divine makes our destiny and we his helpless creatures creatures must submit. It does indeed seem that God has withdrawn his arm from around our family but let us remember:

“Judge not the Lord, by feeble sense

But trust him for his grace

Behind a smiling fairing Providence

He hides a smiling face.”

God’s chastisements are never needlessly inflicted upon his children.

He has always some object in view, either to incite us to reflect on our utter dependence on him Him or to arouse us from a lethargy or to arouse lukewarmness into which perhaps we had fallen; get it is hard for us to recognize His consistent decrees. “Thy will be done O, Lord not mine.” Could our hearts at all times respond to that sublime expression, life would be stripped of its vicissitudes.

Cousin Jennie will you pray God to give me strength to bear ? by this, my first great sorrow. I am trying to do so but it is hard to still my heart-throbbings; yet I know it would almost kill my poor grief-stricken father to see me so distressed. I am young and all that he has with him, so it ? on me to endeavor to [illegible] sweeten if possible his cup of not which is now ? once flowing. My poor father! He cannot survive many more crushing strokes; That ere long he the noble the generous man the best of fathers will soon sleep sweetly beneath the soil and his spirit will wing ito flight to realms of everlasting light. Poor Bro Nat is now a captain as well as my noble Cousin whom I shall always love [illegible] good to me. How much it would incur his anguish to know that my darling Brother is dead. “Dud and Hugh” precious names which will ever linger in my ear. And dear little Landon! is there not a thought for him in the midst of our anguish, for him who was snatched almost from his father’s arm and left all alone in this unfeeling world. No good brother to protect you now and supply you every want.

I feel that soon I will be left to trudge life’s rugged thorny pathway all alone with nothing to cheer me in my pilgrimage. What a sudden transition from happiness to misery, mine has been.

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