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First Eyewitness to War Letter

Originally published by America's Civil War magazine. Published Online: September 23, 1996 
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My Dear Wife,

I this morning sat myself down to write you a few lines to let you know that I am in good health. At this time hoping when these few lines come to hand they may find you and the children all well. My dear wife, I want to see you and my three little boys the worst I ever have in my life. If I could be with you and my little boys, it would be a joyful time in my life.

Before now we have been marching for 4 days steady and still have to march yet and got about half a nap if that. We are in forty miles of Manassas. Gun close, we are expecting a big fight any day now. I hope it will be over before I get there. There were ninety thousand in the same field I camped in.

Jackson whipped them back and holds Manassas, but it was a bloody bout. Now Bety take care of yourself and the children and I will try to do the same. I like to have forgot as I am almost like a distraught man, but I saw Jim and Tom Yarbrough last night and this morning. They both were well. You must write to me and divert your letter to Richmond and that will follow us up. You know that it is hard for a man to live with a life that is spiritually owned. One that has never known what it is to suffer.

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Stayed with Alexander last night and this morning, but we have to march today. He's working hard to get me in his company, but we did not have time to swap. We will be together again in a day or two and if I can't get to his company he is coming to mine. We are going to get together some way. Sure if we were together I could see ten thousand times as much pleasure as I do now. For I don't see any pleasure in my life. We are going on to be with Stonewall Jackson now.

August 30, 1862
David Chandler

A few lines to Edmey–

My Dear Wife,

I write you a few lines to let you know where I am. I am in Orange County going out to Harpers Ferry to beat the Yankees and reinforce the Jackson Army. I don't know which of us will happen to get to ride. So far our General says his men should not kill themselves if they never get to the place where they were ordered if they could not ride. This leaves me well at this time. Hoping this letter may find you and the children all well. I can't write as much as I want to write. Write to me for I want to hear from you mighty bad.

Alexander Chandler to
Edmey Chandler


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