12 Jun 2014
On this Father’s Day weekend, we honor fathers and the love and special bond they share with their children. No time is this more evident than during war. The following letter, originally written 150 years ago this month, is taken from the May 2009 issue of Confluence, the newsletter of the Beloit, Wisconsin Historical Society:
Dear Madam, A Confederate Letter
In this article we read the lament a father expresses to a nurse, Miss Sallie S. Beard, who tended his dying son, a Confederate soldier…It was sent by Dr. C. W. Andrews to Mr. W. H. Chesbrough Sr. in 1931. Mr. Chesbrough was a Civil War veteran and very active in the Grand Army of the Republic L. H. D. Crane post here in Beloit…The father of the Confederate soldier is N. Lefler and he is from Concord, North Carolina. The letter is dated June 8th, 1864.
Miss Sallie S. Beard
I seat myself this morning to address you a few lines in answer to your very kind and interesting by much lamented letter dated the 21st (ult) [last month] which I received on last night. Dear Madam I am under great obligations to you for the kind treatment you showed to my wounded son, and the great satisfaction I received through you giving me a statement of his wounds and the condition you found him in. Dear Madam I never shall be able to repay you for the great kindness you showed to him in his suffering condition the only compensation I can make to you at this time. I beg of you to accept my heart felt acknowledgement for you kind assistance towards him. I have not words to acknowledge the great indebtedness to you for the lock of my son’s hair stained with his own blood, which I received in your letter through your kindness.
Dear Madam the loss of my son was a heavy bereavement to me. He was the fourth and last son I had killed in this war in less than twelve months.
Dear Madam I have one request to make you, will you be so kind as to state to me what effect he had with him when you first saw him and how he was clad if he had on a new uniform or if he had on any uniform, also please let any body else say that heard him speak, if so please give me their name.
Dear Madam I could ask you a great many more questions but I fear I am trespassing on your patience. I will only say to you that he left behind him three motherless children, an old sorrowing mother and an only sister, to mourn his loss.
Enclosed please find stamp to prepay letter sent back, this leave us all well hoping it will find you enjoying the same blessing.
I will now close hoping to hear from you soon in return I remain your unknown but sincere and humble friend until death.
Concord, N. C.
Blog editors note: Upon further examination, it is believed that N. Lefler was Nicholas Lefler, a retired merchant and postmaster. The letter is in regard to his son Robert, who would have been about 29 in 1864. Robert’s wife Clarissy (Clarissa) Ridenhour Lefler died in April of 1862. In 1870, Nicholas and his wife Betsy, both in their mid-60s, had custody of three children, James (age 13), John (age 11) and Robert (age 9). It is presumed these are the three children mentioned in the above letter.