The following is one of the most remarkable letters we ever read from a boy. The writer was only fifteen years old, and his appeals to his mother for liberty to join the army are most striking. No one, whose whole soul was not fully in the matter, could make such ardent appeals. One sentence will be noticed by parents–the one in which he says that nothing, save the dissent of his mother, could keep him away from the field of strife. His mother’s assent was finally obtained, though she hesitated for some time, as her boy was in a favorable situation, with excellent prospects for the future. He left for the South in the Eighth regiment Connecticut volunteers, in the capacity of a drummer boy. Here is his letter:
WATERBURY, May, 1861.
Dear Mother: I have not written you for some time, as I have had nothing to write. I want to ask a very important question. May I go to the war? I do not expect to go as a volunteer, but as an officer’s servant. When I say “officer’s servant,” I don’t mean that I shall be at the beck and call of the whole company, but I shall arrange the tent, and go on errands for the officer, and for him alone. My heart is in the work. If I assist an officer, there can be another man in the ranks. I shall be in little or no danger, because I shall not probably stand in the ranks. But what if I am in danger? I shall not die until my time comes; and if I am appointed to die in the “service to my country,” I shall be there, and no earthly power can keep me away. What if I do die in my country’s service? Who is not willing to die in battle, if, by so doing, he can perpetuate the freedom and liberty of this Nation through all time? Gen. Scott says that more die at home, out of the same number that go to war, than are killed in battle. Be patriotic, mother, and let me go; don’t think that enough will go without me; no such thing should enter your mind; but have true patriotism, and be willing to sacrifice all you have, if need be, to let the “Star-spangled Banner in triumph wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Mother, I cannot be happy to stay where I am, at this time of my country’s peril. Please write, and tell me I may go, when I can get an opportunity. If you say no, I fear I shall go mad. Mother, I should do that. My heart goes as fast as my pen, and if you should say no! I should not be worth a cent to anybody.
I never was so uneasy in my life as at present, and it should be the last thing I should think of–that is, to give up going to war at this “glorious period.” Mother, don’t fear for me in any way. I shall keep right side up with care, and abstain from the use of all intoxicating liquors, profane language, and tobacco in every form. I will keep a journal of daily occurrences, and send to you in the form of letters, which please keep with gret care. Nothing would, or will, keep me away from war, neither argument, persuasion, or force, nor anything but a dislike to disobey you. Please don’t procrastinate, but say “you will,” “it’s right,” and “go ahead.” I ought to be in the garden at work, but it has “no charms for me.” My mind is so worked up that I’d rather take a flogging that would make me raw all over, than give up the hopes and desires I have so long cherished. It is not for any pecuniary benefit which I may derive, for I only spoke of that to let you see I could provide for myself when once installed into the army; but there is a deeper feeling which stirs up my whole frame, that tells me “go and prosper.” I have only six cents in my pocket-book; it will take three to pay for this letter, and three to pay for a letter to cousin; so if you want me to write again, please send a stamp. I do not think it necessary to write any more until I am in the army. Please don’t put me off. Write all the news, and don’t miss a mail.