“Our victories, though, seem to settle nothing; to bring us no nearer the end of the war.”–Letters from Elisha Franklin Paxton.

Bunker Hill, Va., October 12,1862.

It has not been three months since I left home. I can hardly realize that it has been so long, the time has passed so rapidly. During this period I have had the pleasure of participating in what history will record as the most astonishing expeditions of the war, for the severity of the battles fought and the hardships endured by our soldiers. And now it seems like settling down to idleness. The last week was one of quiet and stagnation like the week before. I have not been in a saddle now for two weeks, and have not been half a mile from my camp since we came to our present encampment. Yet I have been kept so busy that the time passed fast enough. I have had general charge of the orders and correspondence, which has given me full employment. We may have some more activity this fall, but I am inclined to think the campaign is over. It is too late now for either side to think of accomplishing much before winter sets in. Our army is in splendid condition. It has been rapidly increasing during the last three weeks by conscripts and convalescents who have been coming in. If the enemy cross the Potomac to begin the offensive, we shall, I think, have another great battle near this place, and I feel sure that it will be a splendid victory for us. Our victories, though, seem to settle nothing; to bring us no nearer the end of the war. It is only so many killed and wounded, leaving the work of blood to go on with renewed vigor. Like everything else, it must have an end sooner or later.

And now, darling, I will take leave of you, hoping you may have a good time getting through with your complicated troubles on the farm. No doubt you think I devote little of my time to thinking about them. True, because my work here occupies my whole time except Sunday, when, by Gen. Lee’s order, we are to remain idle unless necessity compels the work. Kiss our dear little boys for me, and remind them of their absent papa. How I wish I could see you all for a little while! But I must not think of it until Christmas.


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

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