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TO-DAY I rode on ahead of my division, stopped for a moment at our old home, ran into the garden and gathered for my darling some lilies of the valley, planted by my sweet mother, which I knew were now in the full glory of their blossoming. As I plucked them one by one, I thought of the dear mother who had planted them and the sweet bride-to-be who would receive them, and my heart went up in gratitude for the great love given me by both.
While I am writing to you, Braxton and the cook and the whole household, in fact, are busy getting a lunch for me and preparing to load up my courier and my boy, Bob, with as many more lunches as they can carry, to be distributed as far as they will go. My little sister is making a paper box to hold my lilies for you, and I am writing a love-letter to stand sentinel over them and guard the sweet, sacred messages entrusted to them. Old Jackerie will take them to you and will also bring you, with my sister's love, a box of her own home made dulces.
Perhaps, sweetheart, perhaps I say, you will see your Soldier sooner than you think. You know that since the capture of Roanoke Island and our abandonment of Norfolk and Suffolk, all that section of the country has been in the hands of the enemy. Now in the extreme northeast corner of North Carolina are stored away large quantities of corn and bacon. Old Peter, our far-seeing, slow but sure, indefatigable, plodding old war-horse, has planned to secure some of these sorely needed supplies for our poor, half fed army and there never was such an army, such an uncomplaining, plucky body of men never.
Why, my darling, during these continuous ten days march, the ground snowy and sleety, the feet of many of these soldiers covered only with improvised moccasins of raw beef hide, and hundreds of them without shoes or blankets or overcoats, they have not uttered one word of complaint, nor one murmuring tone; but cheerily, singing or telling stories, they have tramped tramped tramped. To crown it all, after having marched sixty miles over half frozen, slushy roads they passed to day through Richmond, the home of many of them, without a halt, with not a straggler greeted and cheered by sweethearts, wives, mothers and friends. "God bless you, my darling," "God bless you, my son," "Hello, old man," "Howdy, Charley," rang all along the line. Lunches, slices of bread and meat, bottles of milk or hot coffee were thrust into grateful hands by the dear people of Richmond, who thus brought comfort and cheer to many a hungry one besides their very own, as the men hurriedly returned the greetings and marched on. You would hardly recognize these ragged, barefoot soldiers as the trim, tidy boys of two years ago in their hand some gray uniforms, with shining equipment and full haversacks and knapsacks.
Be brave and help me to be brave, my darling, and to trust in God. I won't say, "Keep your powder dry," for one who doesn't know enough to do that is not much of a soldier. Faithfully and forever your
- George Pickett
- Heart of a Soldier the as revealed in the Intimate Letters of Gnl George E. Pickett CSA, 1908