Volunteering for twelve months and for the war.--a patriotic letter from a son to his Father.
[From the Atlanta Southern Confederacy.]
The following letter was written by a son, 19 years old, to his father, who, whilst he was willing that his son should volunteer for twelve months, was reluctant to give him up during the war. If you think this letter breathes the right spirit — if you think it will touch, the hearts of other
fathers and of other
sons in the right place, please give it a place in your valuable paper:
The Lester Volunteers are now preparing to start for the seat of war, and I feel it to be my duty to ask your consent before I go. When I volunteered for on year, you seemed perfectly willing; but when I saw you last, you appeared dissatisfied that I had agreed to go during the war. It is needless for me to say anything in regard to the change which the Congress of the Confederate States has made.
Let it suffice to say that I think it is nothing but right, and if I did not, I would be willing to go anyhow.--Nothing can be too hard, no sacrifice too great, when Liberty is at stake.
But a father's love will foresee dangers, and urge a cause.
You point me to the toils, hardships and dangers of a soldier's life.
These I know are great; but is the strong right arm of God too weak to protect, too short to defend me from the vices and crimes which surround the soldier?--the only enemies I fear.
Shall I not trust Him?
but death is almost certain,"’ you respond.
Would you teach me to fear to die in defence of right, of truth and of justice?--Fighting for the land of my birth, for the rights guaranteed to us by the Eternal
God, for the home I love?
I feel that death, in its most horrid and ghastly form, would have no terrors for me. ‘"But perhaps you will not be needed; wait until you are called for again,"’ you reply.
I have heard this advanced often, and have as repeatedly inquired, when will that be?
Will it be when our land is invaded and laid waste with fire and sword; our homes desolated; our loved ones butchered — when the Confederate
flag trails in the dust, our army defeated and disorganized?
No, Father; the first gun that boomed from Fort Sumter
called in thunder tones upon me to rally to the standard of my country, and I burn to answer that call.
But I feel that I cannot go without your consent, for you are my father, and as such you have the right to say whether or not I shall go. I beg you, as you love me, withhold not your consent.
If you refuse, I must obey; but when it is done, life will have lost all charms for me, even if the South
should, by a vigorous campaign, soon end the war by driving from our land the vandals of the North
Oh! call me not back.
Rather immure me in some loathsome dungeon; let me be the cringing vassal of some heartless tyrant; bind, rivet the clanking chains of an ignoble, perpetuated slavery upon me, rather than shower on my head the blessings of a liberty bought by the blood of others.
Let me pour out the gushing fountain of my own heart to secure my own rights, and I am content.
I want no liberty but my own,
achieved by my own exertions and purchased by my own blood.
Call me not a blind enthusiast.
Does love of country need a stimulant to call it into action?
Must reason be dethroned that the fires of patriotism may be aroused?
No idle dream of fame, no slavish love of money actuates me. All I ask is to fight for my country.
I want no remuneration.
Give me a few tattered rags to hide my nakedness, a crust to appease the gnawings of hunger, and Liberty, and I am happy.
You want me to continue to my studies.--Do you suppose I can forget a bleeding country and devote my time and attention to the study of the law?
Impossible! I sometimes take up my books, determined to forget everything else, but, soon my mind is wandering over the plains of the Old Dominion, and, in my imagination, I hear the thunder of cannon on our borders, and I see the smoke of battle ascend in dense columns towards Heaven, and books, home, self, are all forgotten, and I long for the hour of departure to arrive.
I know it will wring my heart to bid you perhaps a last farewell.
Were I the only one to regret my leaving, I could go without a sigh; but to see my friends in tears is too much for me. Every day I think of that sad, sad hour, and my heart swells with grief; tears flow unrestrained.
I sit down sometimes in my room, at the lone hour of the night, when all eyes save those of an all seeing God are closed in sleep, sometimes in the depths of the forest beneath the overshadowing branches of some monarch of the woods, and give vent to the long pent-up feelings of my heart.
Do not, however, suppose that this or anything else will keep up from going. "Tell mother to make what clothes she wants me to have.--We expect to start in two or three weeks.
Now, father, let me entreat you, with all the earnestness of my heart, to give your consent willingly, and a father's parting blessing.
I cannot go without them; I cannot live and stay at home.