My Dear Mattie:
Enclosed you will please find a piece of poetry that is well adapted to my present feelings, which you can keep for my sake:
And now, dearest one, I will keep this till after Christmas Day and then I will send it to you as I will have perhaps something new by that time to write. This is the 23rd day and Christmas is near by; how I am to spend it I cannot tell. I sent my name out to a private house today for dinner on the 25th. I am nearly starved for something good to eat--we get nothing here but mean water to drink and poor beef to eat, and good as no salt we don't have any to put on our bread--one small tea cup of salt for 20 lbs. of beef, and that has to do eight men three days. Soldiers dying very fast; busy burying all of the time. No war news to write only they are fighting like rip in places--big battle at Fredericksburg, Va., a few days ago; our loss, about 18 hundred. The enemy's is estimated from 8 to 15 thousand--shame to think how men are butchering up one another. No prospects of peace as we can hear. I never hear from any of the boys: I don't know where they are. I am going to write to mother in a few days. Our president, Jeff Davis, and Joseph E. Johnston were out here last Sunday to see our brigade, but I was sick and could not get out to see them. I have been quite sick for the past week--bowel disease--but am nearly well again; will be able for duty in a day or two. I will have to pay 8 or 10 bits for my dinner if I succeed in getting Christmas. Bacon is worth from 50 cents to one dollar per pound here; eggs $1.25 per dozen, chickens, $1.50; butter, $1.25 per pound; everything else in proportion. I think if I live to see next spring that I will come home. It does seem to me that I can't stay away any longer. I will send you a ring when I send this if I can get one.Thy room is vacant; Thy smile is gone,
and I am quite sad and lone --
Oh! Naught is left my heart to cheer,
But gloomy shades of black despair.
Oh! What deep grief it caused my heart
that you and I did have to part --
I weep for thee, my hearts best love,
as doeth the lonely, mateless dove.
Where'er I go to find relief,
I only find more bitter grief;
I often roam from place to place,
In search of lines thy hand hath traced.
But they were burned in curling flame,
And naught remains but thy loved name --
Oh! that my heaving breast was stilled,
My cup of grief hath been well filled.
Then "twilight" falls upon me now,
Before me "God" I humbly bow,
and ask that He would soon return
The one for whom my heart doth burn.
And then, Dear Mattie, I look away
With hopes to see a brighter day --
Oh! May that happy day soon dawn,
When you, loved one, will be my own again.
Then my sad heart will bound in bliss,
at the soft touch of thy warm kiss,
And I will prove my love sincere,
For thee, my own beloved dear.
Therefore, I'll try and not repine --
I fondly know thy heart is mine,
Thy picture I behold in tears,
But look for bliss in future years.
The ringlet of your golden hair,
Is to my gaze supremely fair;
Those lines in verse you marked with grace,
Have often been most fondly traced.
The ring which you have given me,
Is token of your courtesy,
Is emblematic of my love --
Without an end as time will prove.
All, all the token of thy love,
Are dear to me as heaven above;
They are a treasure to my heart,
Which never can from it depart.
After Christmas is over, I will write you a few more lines and send this, and tell all about my dinner.
E. H. Goodwin
December 23, 1861
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