“The enemy yesterday entered Charlestown—in what force I do not know, or for what purpose.”–Letters from Elisha Franklin Paxton.

Winchester, February 28, 1862.

I reached here day before yesterday, and expected to devote yesterday evening to a letter home; but so soon as I got pen and paper ready to commence we had an order to change our camp. My ride here was as pleasant as I could expect. The first night I stayed at Mr. Sproul’s, the next at Dr. Crawford’s, the next at Mr. Williamson’s, and the last at Strasburg, reaching Winchester about twelve o ‘clock. Self and horse both in good condition.

I doubt not you will hear any quantity of news before this reaches you: that Winchester has been evacuated, the enemy approaching in countless numbers from all directions, and Jackson’s army flying before him. All I can say is, do not be alarmed, and make up your mind to bear in patience whatever of good or evil the future may have in store for us. Try, so far as possible, to divert your mind from the troubles of the country. The future is not so bright as it was before our late disasters, but we have yet many strong arms and brave hearts in the field, and should not despair.

As to our situation here, place no confidence in the rumors which you may hear. The enemy yesterday entered Charlestown—in what force I do not know, or for what purpose. It may be to take possession of the Baltimore & Ohio R. R. and rebuild it, or it may be a part of a force intended to advance on this place. All I can say is: I think, unless his force largely outnumbers ours, we shall fight him, and if it is overpowering we shall evacuate the place.

I write, darling, in the open air and a freezing wind, and will bid you good-bye until my next. I will write regularly, so that my letters may reach you Sunday morning when you go to church. Should anything happen me, I will have a letter written to your father, who will send it to you. Kiss the children for me, and for yourself, dearest, accept all that a fond husband can offer.

Elisha Franklin Paxton – Letters from camp and field while an officer in the Confederate Army

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