"a soldier's Gratitude.".
The mother to whom the following affectionate letter was written enclosed it to a gentleman of Richmond
, requesting him to ascertain, if he could, to whom she is indebted for the kindness of which her son so gratefully speaks; and with his permission we lay it before our readers, not only because it contains a handsome and well merited compliment to one of Virginia
's most accomplished matrons, but also daguerreotypes an incident which, alike in its occurrence and results, reflects infinite honor upon human nature:
Monterey, Va., Aug. 10, 1861.
My Beloved Mother:
Among other promises which I made you when upon the eve of our departure from home, you gave me your parting kiss and blessing, I well remember to have told you that a would, when our regiment reached its destination, sit down and sketch you a history of whatever incidents of interest might transpire upon our journey.
Between home and Richmond
, however, nothing occurred to break the general monotony of dullness which generally reigns along railroad routes.
But when we were about leaving Richmond
an incident did occur which must forever still lingering, haunt the greenest spot on my memory's waste.
For several days previous to the receipt of marching orders by our regiment, I had been quite indisposed, and some of the boys in our mess attempted, even on the very morning we struck our tents, to dissuades me from accompanying them; but I rallied my feeble energies and resolved to face the music; but before I had marched a half mile towards the depot, I found I would be bound to fall in the ranks if I attempted to stay there; so I got leave to withdraw and proceed to the depot in a vehicle.
Charley was allowed to attend me, and as we were proceeding slowly along the street in search of a conveyance, we passed by the gate of one of the most splendid residences I ever saw in my life, at the door of which a lady about your age, dear mother, was standing.
She was dressed in mourning, and as soon as I caught the glance of her dark, lustrous and intelligent eye, I read in an instant the history of a great and noble heart in her beautiful face.
Yes, mother, she is very beautiful, illustrating the truth recorded by the poet when he said, ‘"The autumn of the beautiful is beautiful."’
Bending upon me a look of generous and motherly sympathy, she exclaimed to Charley, on whose arm I was leaning, in accents soft and sweet as the tones of an angel's harp, ‘"Why, young man, is not your friend sick?
Surely, he is very sick, come, bring him into my house and let me do something for him, or send for a doctor."’ If an angel had come sailing down out of the skies and lit before us, and offered to fan my fevered brow with its golden wings it could not have struck Charley and me more literally all up in a heap than this beautiful woman did.--We, however, after making a stagger or two, at something polite to say, finally shook off our embarrassment, and thanking her, told her we were compelled to hurry forward. --But do you think she was to be turned aside after any such a fashion as that?
Not a bit of it. ‘"Hurry forward indeed!"’ said she.--‘"You are not able to go at all,"’ and with a graceful and hospitable wave of her hand, and a smile that I have seen, my dear mother, a thousand and one times since, and mingled its light with the light of those fond memories brought from home to span with the rainbows of hope the dark clouds that lower over a soldier's tuft, she bade us ‘"come in,"’ and so completely were we mesmerized, that we obeyed her as promptly as if it had been the Colonel
giving an order, or St. Peter
inviting us into Heaven.
Well, we were soon seated in her spacious dining room, gloriously refreshed with some of the most delicious wine I ever smacked a lip over.
Oh, mother, I can taste it yet. She then made us sit up to her breakfast table, and I found myself suddenly decidedly convalescent.
Our appetites were soon with us, and it was precious little like a sick man — I came down to my work then and there.
To tell you the truth, mother, I was at a loss to decide with which I was most infatuated, the beautiful hostess, her delicious wine, or her superb breakfast.
It would be a reflection upon all the good taste and sense among the educated gentlemen of Virginia
, to suppose that any such woman can be single.
That is clear out of the question, or, if it is not, it amounts to an awful commentary upon the real
claims of Virginia
gentlemen for worthiness.
But, let her be married or single, I want you, mother, to pray that over her path, through this vale of tears, happy stars may shine, and in it the fairest flowers may bloom, for she has been more than a good Samaritan to your poor sick boy. When we rose to leave she pressed Charley and me to remain a few days, until I should recover my health, and when we assured her that could not be, she loaded us down with wine and nicknacks, which were as great a god-send to us, on our weary march, as the manna which was rained on the children of Israel in the wilderness was to them.
And now, mother, after all, I blush to tell you I do not know her name.--Her house is covered with quaker colored stucco, and stands on the corner of Grace and Sixth or Seventh streets, and you must not be surprised, my dear mother, if I tell you that, in those dreams Heaven sends to bless the soldier's pallet of straw in which he flies.
"To those fields traversed so oft.
In life's morning march, when his bosom was young."
That on my way through dreamland, back ‘"to the home of my fathers,"’ I also revert to that palatial residence where I met such gentle kindness; for never, no, never, while I breathe Heaven
's vital air, will I forget the incidents of that morning.
with the diamond- pointed pen of gratitude, they have been recorded upon the tablets of my memory, and there they will glow and glisten until, with me, the ‘"silver cord is loosened, and the golden bowl is broken."’