Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
PORTALES – Dr. Donald Elder III, professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Eastern New Mexico University, has published a book of love letters written between a husband and wife during the Civil War.
Love Amid the Turmoil: The Civil War Letters of William and Mary Vermilion is published by the University of Iowa Press.
Dr. Elder is also the editor of "A Damned Iowa Greyhound: The Civil War Letters of William Henry Harrison Clayton.
For more information, contact Dr. Elder at 505.562.2601, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following excerpt from the book is a letter Mary Vermilion wrote when she found out her husband had been in the Battle of Helena.(Read about the battle itself at this link.) [more]
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Saturday Night, July 12th, 1863
My Own Darling,
I am going to try to write to you a few lines tonight my loved one, though for two long days I have not written one word. I could not write, I don't believe I can now, but it is right today.
I am in some trouble, darling. Last Thursday I heard of the battle at Helena, and up to this minute I have not heard one word from you, sweet pet. Do you wonder that your Dollie is almost crazed? That she can't write or do anything? Every day we send for the mail, and get it, but there is nothing from Helena since the battle. This morning I got your letter of the 28th. Yesterday I got one written the 30th ult. (ultimo – previous month) That is the latest I have, my love, though Mr. Maiken and others have letter written the 3rd inst. (instant – current month) But none of us has a word since the 4th.
I hardly know how I have got on since I heard it, nor how I shall get on till I hear from you... If I do hear that you are well and safe the happiest woman in the state will be your own poor Dollie, if I hear bad news what will I do sweet pet? God help me! I fear everything for you are still living, I fear you are wounded and suffering, and I can't get to you. If you had only agreed to the plan I proposed, oh, if you only had my precious one, I should have been in Keokuk many hours ago, and I might now be far on my way to you.
As it is I was afraid to go, lest you would send me no word there, and I would miss my letters here. But if I hear that you are hurt I must try to find you. Oh, my love, I must find you. Sometimes I think you are safe, then again I am afraid to hope for it, almost.
A soldier's life is hard, but nothing, it seems to me, can be worse than this suspense, unless it be having our worst fears realized... Oh darling, I love you too much. I have loved you more than I love all on earth besides, or all in heaven. I am afraid I have sinned in my wild idolatry, and God has punished me.
I can't write. My darling, I can't write... Darling, my own best darling, won't you forgive me for this? If I hear good news, I shall write you such long letters, but now I cannot. I don't know what to say to you, dearest one. My heart is too full to talk. I can't cry. I wish I could.
God bless you and save you, my too dear husband, is the constant prayer of your Dollie
(photo by Wendel Sloan)