Posted in History

Civil War Letters: A Southern Dinner

8The longer the war lasted, the harder it was to find food on Southern tables. We often read about the soldier’s fare, but what were they eating at home?
I had the pleasure of reading some interesting accounts of Southern meals from 1865 written by Eliza Frances Andrews. Enjoy!

“She had such a dinner as good old Methodist ladies know how to get up for their preachers, though where all good things came from, Heaven only knows. She must have been hoarding them for months. We ate as only hungry Rebs can, that have been half-starved for weeks, and expect to starve the rest of our days. We have no kind of meat in our house but ham and bacon, and have to eat hominy instead of rice at dinner. Sometimes we get a few vegetables out of the garden, but everything has been stripped to feed the soldiers, that we never have enough to spread a respectable meal before the large number of guests, expected and unexpected, who sit down to our table every day…
Cornfield peas have been our staple diet for the last ten days. Mother has them cooked in every variety of style she ever heard of, but they are cornfield peas still. All this would have been horribly mortifying a year or two ago, but everybody knows how it is now, and I am glad to have even cornfield peas to share with the soldiers.”

“We have nothing but ham, ham, ham, every day, and such crowds of company in the house, and so many lunches to furnish, that even the ham has to be husbanded carefully. It is dreadful to think what wretched fare we have to set before the charming people who are thrown upon our hospitatlity. Ham and cornfield peas for dinner one day, and cornfield peas and ham the next, is the tedious menu. Mother does her best by making Emily give us every variation on peas that ever was heard of; one day we have pea soup, another, pea croquettes, then baked peas and ham, and so on, through the whole gamut, but alas! they are cornfield peas still, and often not enough of even them. Sorghum molasses is all the sweetening we have, and if it were not for the nice home-made butter and milk, and father’s fine old Catawba wine and brandy, there would be literally nothing to redeem the family larder from bankruptcy.” 

~Quotes curtesy of The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl

Posted in History

Civil War Letters: Honest Journal Entries

52One of the highlights to reading a journal is the brutally honest approach the author has when she believes no one will ever read her journal. I’ve had the pleasure of reading two journals written by women so far and will be sharing a few quotes from these ladies. I should warn you, that I’ve spent enough time with these ladies to know that they normally aren’t so harsh so don’t judge them too hard. 😉 And I hope you get a giggle out it.

Nannie Haskins Williams:
July 25, 1863
“Yesterday was the first time I ever met with Mr. Ensly. I think he is handsome when he is not looking at you, but when you catch his eye, what a sleepy expression. He actually looks stupid to me, although he talks very well; but I would not let anybody see this for the world.”
August 14, 1863
“Miss Williams is one of the prettiest, most fascinating young ladies young ladies I ever met with, but it is a great shame that she receives the attention of the Yankees. Anna Ewing is very pretty, but is much too fast for me. She’ll admit anybody to wait on her, but I suppose I ought not to speak so of strangers.”
October 2, 1863
“Fannie brought me a thousand messages from Mr. Sypert. He sent me the most beautiful bouquet by Fannie when she returned. Sometimes I think probably Mr. Sypert is trying to flirt with me, but he cannot do that for I do not care one straw for him. Then again I think he really loves me. However time will prove. I know there is one who loves me, but I do not even like him. He says he could always heretofore talk to young ladies, but in my company, he is perfectly mute. I believe he loves me devotedly and sincerely. I wish I could transfer his love to someone who could return it.”

Eliza Frances Andrews:
April 6, 1865
“Captain Greenlaw brought his flute and spent the morning. He is red-headed and ugly, but very musical, and such jolly good company that one can’t help liking him.”
April 7, 1865
“Captain Greenlaw spend the day here and brought me the biggest bouquet of the biggest red roses I ever saw; I couldn’t help laughing when he threw it in my lap. He calls me “cousin,” because he says we both have such red heads that we ought to be kin. There is something in his easy, good-natured way of laughing and joking about everything that reminds me a good deal of Fred. And he has the sweetest way in the world of carrying flowers about with him, and slipping them into your work basket, or throwing them into you lap, or laying them on your handkerchief -no matter where, but I can always tell when he has ben about by finding a full-blown rose, or a sprig of wild honeysuckle, or a bunch of swamp lilies, or some other big bright flower lying around among my things.”
May 4, 1865
“General Breckinridge is called the handsomest man in the Confederate army, and Bragg might well be called the ugliest. I saw him at Mrs. Vickers’s where he is staying, and he looks like an old porcupine. I never was a special admirer of his…”
May 4, 1865
(Truly, one of the most surprising gems in the entire journal!)”Judge Crump, especially, is one of the most entertaining men I ever knew. He has traveled a great deal and I was very much interested in his account of Dickens’s wife, whom he knows well. He says that she is altogether the most unattractive woman he ever met. She has a yellowish, cat-like eye, a muddy complexion, dull coarse hair of an undecided color, and a very awkward person. On top of it all she is, he says, one of the most intolerably stupid women he ever met. He has had to entertain her for hours at a time and could never get an idea out of her nor one into her. Think of such a wife for Dickens!”
May 12, 1865
(Speaking of one of the Union soldiers station in her town) “He really seems to have the instincts of a gentleman, and I am afraid I shall be obliged to respect him a little, in spite of his uniform.”

Quotes courtesy of The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl written by Eliza Frances Andrews and The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams

Posted in History

Civil War Letters: The War at Home

120I’ve had the pleasure of reading and learning from Eliza Frances Andrews and her journal titled: The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl 1864-1865. I have so many highlighted sections that I want to bring to you, but today, I want to share a couple of excerpts with you on Eliza’s experience in a divided house. 

We often hear that the Civil War divided families and that brother fought brother and cousin fought cousin. Eliza knew first hand what this was like. Her father was a stout Union supporter from the very beginning, while ALL of his children were “hot rebels,” as she puts it. All of his three surviving sons joined the Confederate army and Eliza and her sister secretly created the Confederate flag that was flown at the top of her town’s courthouse. Conflicts abroad become conflicts at home. Here them from her own words:

(Eliza talks about watching the American flag on parade past her house) “Cousin Liza turned her back on it, Cora shook her fist at it, and I was so enraged that I said I wished the wind would tear it to flinders and roll it in the dirt till it was black all over… Then father took me by the shoulder and said that if I didn’t change my way of talking about the flag of my country he would send me to my room and keep me there a week. We had never known anything but peace and security and protection under that flag, he said, as long as we remained true to it. I wanted to ask him what sort of peace and protection the people along Sherman’s line of march had found under it, but I didn’t dare. Father don’t often say much, but when he does flare up like that, we all know we have got to hold our tongues or get out of the way. It made me think of that night when Georgia seceded. What would father had done if he had known that that secession flag was made in his house? It pinches my conscience, sometimes, when I think about it. What a dreadful thing it is for a household to be so divided in politics as we are! Father sticks to the Union through thick and thin, and mother sticks to father, though I believe she is more than half a rebel at heart, on account of the boys. Fred and Garnett are good Confederates, but too considerate of father to say much, while all the rest of us are red-hot Rebs….

…Henry is like me; he can’t talk politics without losing his temper, and sometimes he gets so stirred up that he goes off to his room and won’t come to the table for fear he might forget himself and say something to father that he would be sorry for. Serious as it all is, I can’t help wanting to laugh a little sometimes, in spite of myself, when I see him begin to swell up and hurry out of the way, as if he had a bomb in his pocket and was afraid it would go off before he could get out of the house. But it is dreadful; I wonder what we are all coming to.”

Click here for more Civil War Letters.

Posted in History

Christmas During the Civil War: From the Frontlines

0001Instead of focusing on one single letter, I’m bringing to you a collection of snippets from soldiers during the Civil War. I know that together, they’ll paint an accurate picture.

December 25, 1862:
“This is Christmas, and my mind wanders back to that home made lonesome by my absence, while far away from the peace and quietude of civil life to undergo the hardships of the camp, and may be the battle field. I think of the many lives that are endangered, and hope that the time will soon come when peace, with its innumerable blessings, shall once more restore our country to happiness and prosperity.” ~Corporal J. C. Williams


“During the days preceding Christmas, I received some boxes from home, full of nice comfortable things, and the letter which came to me at that time, you may be sure, made me feel homesick.” ~John H. Brinton


Wednesday, Dec. 25th, 1861, camp near Swan’s…
“This is Christmas & and very dull Christmas it has been to me.  Had an egg-nog to-night but did not enjoy it much as we had no ladies to share it with us.” ~ Robert A. Moore


“It is Christmas morning and I hope a happy and merry one for you all, though it looks so stormy for our poor country, one can hardly be in merry humor.” ~ Robert Gould Shaw


“December 25th
My dear sister,
This is Christmas Day.  The sun shines feeble through a thin cloud, the air is mild and pleasant, a gentle breeze is making music through the leaves of the lofty pines that stand near our bivouac.  All is quiet and still and that very stillness recalls some sad and painful thoughts.  The day, one year ago, how many thousand families, gay and joyous, celebrating Merry Christmas, drinking health to absent members of their family and sending upon the wings of love and affection long, deep, and sincere wishes for their safe return to the loving ones at home, but today are clad in the deepest mourning in memory to some lost and loved member of their circle… When will this war end?  Will another Christmas roll around and find us all wintering in camp?  Oh! That peace may soon be restored to our young but dearly beloved country and that we may all meet again in happiness.”  ~Tally Simpson

“December 26th  A despondent Christmas has just passed, yet people contrived to eat hearty and good Christmas dinners.  The soldier unfortunately have not even meat, and have had none for several days.  The Commissary General has singlely failed in his duties; while there is plenty of food in Georgia there is none here.  There is no sufficient excuse for this.  The food must be brought here, and the means to so provided and organized..” ~
General Josiah Gorgas


“The one worn-out railroad running to the far South could not bring us half enough necessary supplies: and even if it could have transported Christmas boxes of good things, the people at home were too depleted to send them.” ~General Gordon











Posted in History

Christmas During the Civil War: On the Homefront

2047_1229winter20130134The following excerpt was taken from: L. Virginia French’s War Journal 1862-1865
Lucy Virginia Smith French was living in McMinnville, Tennessee during the war. Her journal tells the perspective of the Southern Homefront.  

Christmas 1862

“…On Tuesday evening Brooks Trezevant came to spend Christmas with us. He brought me as a Christmas gift 25 lbs of nice sugar, than which nothing could be more acceptable. On Wednesday having “made a rise” of a few dozen eggs (butter I could not get,) some turkies etc. I set to work cooking “Christmas goodies,” and succeeded “beyond my most sanguine expectations.” We had to be “Santa Clause” ourselves this season for cakes, apples and a little candy, and some picture books were all that could be procured for the children. We had to tell them Santa Clause couldn’t get thro’ the pickets, Jessie wanted to know why “the old fellows couldn’t go to his Quartermaster and get him a pass?” They seemed to enjoy their Christmas quite as well as usual however, notwithstanding that Santa Clause was blockaded. Indeed I often feel rebuked by the way the children take what is set before them never complaining or repining that it is not better, or that they must now do without this, that, and the other to which they have been accustomed…”

I loved hearing their explanation about Santa in her own words. I had found the “Santa and the blockade” fact during my research some time ago, so it was a treat to see it in an actual journal. I had incorporated this bit of information in the short story, The Hands and Feet of Christmas. You can read it here. You can also see my take on an 1860’s Christmas tree in last month’s post here.  

I also feel rebuked at the children’s ability to accept whatever is given to them without complaint. This is an area that I desperately need to grow in. 

Now, she goes on in her journal to talk about the gifts they exchanged that year and the activities. Keep reading to learn more about her experience…

“Mollie gave me a beautiful silver waiter for a Christmas gift, I got her a handsome pair of pins and cousin John a set of shirt buttons – gold and enamel. Mollie’s pins were gold and turquoise, I got Bouse 2 sets linen collar and sleeves – Ting and Bee white dresses – the Col. some new socks, and Brooks 6 pair of the same. (*Notice here that Brooks receives 6 pairs of socks. It pays to give a little sugar. 😉 ) To each of the servants I gave something, and so did Mollie…
On Christmas Eve we were “stormed” by some of the young folks, the members of the “dancing club” and they danced until about 2 o’clock. The children were delighted with the exhibition and sat in the dancing room, watching with all their eyes, until those sweet eyes closed of their own accord and they nearly dropped asleep in their little chairs. The Col. was showing the children to Capt. Butler, and had Jessie to play and sing for him. I was in the back room at the time. Soon the house became so still that I noticed it and went out to see what was the matter. I found all hands had quit dancing and adjourned to the other room to hear Jessie play. She acquitted herself very well indeed and was greatly complimented by her audience. I danced twice during the evening, once with the Col. and once with Capt. Butler. Sallie Rowan and Bettie Reed seemed to be the belles of the evening. We all noticed that Capt. Butler paid great attention to Sallie, and I could not help thinking what a beautiful couple they would make. Capt. B. I think very handsome, graceful, easy, and gentlemanly more so indeed than any man I have seen for years. He is really an elegant gentleman, and Sallie is a very lovely girl. I thought as I looked upon them both that night that I never had seen two persons whom I could more wish Walter and  Jessie to resemble, when they are grown, and this is the highest compliment I could pay either…”


Posted in Christian, History

Nothing New Under the Sun: A Mother’s Heart

2050_1231spring20140539To fully appreciate the following letter, you’d want to go back and read last month’s post where I shared a very special letter from Agnes Lee. Agnes was under some heavy conviction and while she wrestled with these things, she penned a letter to her mother seeking advice and clarity. Her mother then wrote back, which is the letter you’ll see below. Shortly after these letters, Agnes wrote her father, Robert E. Lee, which is the letter you’ll find in the link above. 
What I most want to highlight today is the heart of this mother. Like in my last post concerning the Lees, I was struck by how similar these events and their feelings surrounding them are. There is, after all, nothing new under the sun, even after 158 years has passed. I hope you enjoy this beautiful letter which bears the heart of any mother blessed enough to see one of her children come to the saving knowledge of Christ. And I hope, even after all these years, you’ll find yourself rejoicing with her as well as renewing your own personal efforts in praying for your children. 

Arlington Wednesday 14th 1857?
It is very late my precious little daughter, but I cannot let another day pass without telling you the real happiness your letter afforded me, you for whom I have felt so anxious, to hear that God had sent his Spirit into your heart and drawn you to Himself. Remember what He says, “Those who seek me early shall find me” The promises of God are sure and cannot fail. Therefore seek Him with all your heart. Be willing to give up all for Him and He will strengthen you and give you that peace and happiness which is not to be found in this world. And then to think that your dear brother Robert has been the means of producing this blessed change. You must pray for your sister for your brothers who are out of the fold of Christ. Think what a happiness to your poor Mother to be able to to present  all her children at the throne of God and to be able to say “Here I am Lord and the children Thou has given me.” Pray for your Mother that she may be more faithful in her prayer and example. Commit your all to Christ and do not fear He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will give you strength to resist the world and to serve Him. The more faithfully you serve Him the happier you will be for “His Yoke is easy and His burden light” Have you written to Robbie to tell him this good news it will rejoice his heart. I forgot to send you any stamps, but you can buy some with the money as there are none in the House I can send you with this letter. I only sent you 2.00 which was all the change I had but if you need more before Christmas, you must let me know. Your sister has gone to Goodwood. Annie sends her love and rejoices with me in the good news and I know there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. I  accept my dear child you penitence for all your faults towards me and freely bestow my forgiveness. Pray to God never to suffer you to fall into the like again, but to transform you into the image of His dear Son in whom was no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. …I so long to see you and you will now be so doubly dear to me. I cannot thank my Heavenly Father as I ought to do for all His mercy.
Good night it is 12 o’clock and all are in bed.
Your devoted and happy
Mother M C Lee
Do not get tired of this long letter. I will be more moderate another time.

This excerpt came from Growing Up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee

Posted in History

Civil War Letters: Jealous Rivals

2013_06222013summer0079I’ve never known a man to own up to being so petty, and yet here it is in the man’s own handwriting! Lol Enjoy!
“…I received your letter yesterday and had only one fault to find with that was it was too short. You gave me a great deal of news nevertheless. I suppose by the time you get this Peter Hull will have arrived in town. You must know that Peter and myself are rivals either for Miss Monie or Miss Millie I don’t know which, so you must spy upon him and watch him even as the cat doeth the small rat and report promptly all things of suspicious nature. I want to be even with him when he comes to camp, for when I came back he knew everything I had said and done while I was down there. You said in your letter that Miss Monie had deserted me “Entre nous.” I don’t care a fig if she has, but you need [not] let her think that. I want to have some fun out of Peter Hull, he is evidently extremely jealous of me, but I can’t tell exactly whether it is Miss Monie or Miss Millie he doth affect the most. Whichever one it is there am I also. I expect you are tired of this nonsense but really it is so dull up here that I have nothing to write about….”
*Click on the “Civil War Letter” tag on the right for more real letters. 
Posted in About the Author, Christian, History

Nothing New Under the Sun: Salvation


I had the pleasure of reading Growing up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee. You may not be familiar with Agnes, but surely you’ve heard of her father, Robert E. Lee. The journal was an interesting blend of daily activities, family, and faith. But I was most surprised to read Agnes’s testimony… especially when it brought back memories of my own. I came to understand what Solomon concluded, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” You can read my personal testimony here

Before we pick apart Agnes’s testimony, let’s read it in her own words:

Staunton Thursday 9th April ’57
My precious Father,
I have something to tell you which I know will make you very happy. It is, I believe both of your daughters are Christians. I am sure Annie is, and O Papa I am resolved to doubt no longer that there has been a great and blessed change wrought in my wicked heart. That though I see now I am far more vile and desperately sinful than I ever had the smallest idea of, from this very knowledge I feel the insupportable weight of sin and the desire and the necessity of casting my burden at my Savior’s feet and finding rest and peace where alone it can be found. I often feel a sweet peace staling over me making me so very happy, calming my angry passions, and stilling my complaining tongue, a feeling of deep gratitude to my Father in Heaven who made me so wretched for some time to make me turn to Him, and to my Savior whose blessed promises of pardon and mercy to all who seek Him have raised me to hope and strive while before I was in despair at the awfulness of my sins. At first the struggle was dreadful. We had been studying McIIvain’s “evidences of Christianity.” Its beautiful style and interesting matter attracted me immediately. I did not then know, but soon found out, what momentous truths were most unquestionably proved it, and that he or she was worse than an idiot who could doubt the reality of religion. It set me to thinking, when I heard Bishop Johns was to confirm those disposed Easter. One Sunday when I had spent a most unprofitable day – at night I went into a room where two girls were weeping for their sins, then at once Mine stared me in the face in such awful magnitude – from that hour I had no rest. I wrote to Mamma she sent me a sweet confirming letter advising me to be confirmed if I had a single desire from henceforth to please God….. my tastes, my hopes, my pleasures, are very different from what they were, I have determined to lead a new life by God’s help. The tempter puts so many dreadful thoughts in my mind which I have much difficulty in putting down. The first and oh! a powerful one was that I was so young – to put it off and enjoy myself until I had become weary of the pleasures of this world then it would be very well, but now it would make me deny myself so many anticipated gratifications, that Christians were so gloomy and so criticized I never could expect to pass as one in the estimation of others. Then he would make me believe my repentance was not sincere, that it was just an uneasy fancy which would leave me as before, so I must ask for no advice – tell no one. O these and numerous other temptations have best me, dear Papa, and how can I thank God sufficiently that He has thus far kept me from falling back and has led me to strive on. I am sure I have always had your prayers and dear Mamma’s. O  I pity the human being who has never known a christian Father and Mother! Grandma sowed good seed in my young heart and often have her hold instructions come to me when I most needed them, O may her sainted spirit know how I thank her!… He told us of the cause of our Savior’s dreadful sufferings. There He stood driving back the overwhelming wrath of an avenging God from a helpless guilty people! But my feeble pen is a mockery of his speaking language….Though I much fear it will soon pass away from the minds of many I feel sure there are some, may they not be few, where the Spirit has found an eternal abiding place….I have not yet thanked you for your last two letters, prized as usual. I am very grateful for your prompt long answers but, dear Papa, you must not deny yourself of needful slumber even though it deprive me of great pleasure but I can stand it better than you…I must stop or your eyes will be fatigued…Yours ever

What a beautiful and powerful testimony! Now, let us look back through it and glean what we can. Together, we’ll examine the basics of conversion. 

1 Notice of Sin
Agnes:there has been a great and blessed change wrought in my wicked heart. That though I see now I am far more vile and desperately sinful than I ever had the smallest idea of,…
Myself: I continued life with my filthy mouth, wicked thoughts, and sexual sins. I knew these actions were wrong, but it didn’t bother me enough to quit.
Bible: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight…” Psalm 51:3,4

2 Feeling Wretched
Agnes:a feeling of deep gratitude to my Father in Heaven who made me so wretched for some time to make me turn to Him…
Myself: …These words echoed through my mind so often…
Bible: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Romans 7:24

3 Turning to Christ
Agnes:from this very knowledge I feel the insupportable weight of sin and the desire and the necessity of casting my burden at my Savior’s feet and finding rest and peace where alone it can be found…
Myself: …I had finally come to grips with the truth and would finally turn my whole life over to Him…
Bible: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

4 The Lies of Satan
Agnes:The tempter puts so many dreadful thoughts in my mind which I have much difficulty in putting down. The first and oh! a powerful one was that I was so young – to put it off and enjoy myself until I had become weary of the pleasures of this world then it would be very well, but now it would make me deny myself so many anticipated gratifications, that Christians were so gloomy and so criticized I never could expect to pass as one in the estimation of others. Then he would make me believe my repentance was not sincere, that it was just an uneasy fancy which would leave me as before…
Myself: …A few years later, the devil would attack my assurance. He would begin to plant doubts in my mind…
Bible:  “He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

5 The Lie of a Comfortable Silence
Agnes:so I must ask for no advice – tell no one. O these and numerous other temptations have best me, dear Papa…
Myself: …Now that I was certain of my salvation, Satan then tried to keep me quiet about it. By twisting Scripture, he reminded me that “pride goes before a fall” and it would be best for me to enjoy my salvation, but just don’t tell anyone else about it. His reasoning was that if I stood up and announced that I had security, what if these doubts resurfaced further down the road and I was proven wrong next time? How embarrassing would that be?! I had to admit, he had a point. And being my enemy, he knew my weakness was my pride. I didn’t want to tell everyone what I had discovered, only to be wrong and have to renounce it. …
Bible: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20

6 The Faithfulness of Christ
Agnes:and how can I thank God sufficiently that He has thus far kept me from falling back and has led me to strive on….
Myself: …I felt the Spirit speaking to my heart saying, “The same thing that proved you today will prove you tomorrow.” And at that moment Satan’s hold on me was finally shattered….
Bible: “I have not lost one of those You gave me.” John 18:9

7 Peace
Agnes:I often feel a sweet peace staling over me making me so very happy…
Myself: …I cannot tell you the amount of peace that flooded my heart from this moment on….
Bible: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1

8 Change
Agnes:my tastes, my hopes, my pleasures, are very different from what they were, I have determined to lead a new life by God’s help…
Myself: …It’s the strangest thing, but the things that I used to love, I was growing to hate, and the things that I had once hated, I was growing to love. It was impossible for me to hate my sin while I lived in darkness, just like it was impossible for me to have the Spirit of God living inside of me and not change into His image. Although I have come a long way in my walk, I feel that I must clarify that I do and can still sin. But when I do, I no longer love it. When I sin, it literally grieves the Spirit within me. To put it plainly, it feels dirty; it feels wrong. Remember, sanctification is a life-long process. No one will reach the end until they reach Heaven…
Bible: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

What’s so important about picking apart Agnes’ testimony? Because she did an excellent job showing  what conversion actually looks like. I once talked with someone who described the moment of conversion as warm, peaceful, and loving. Please understand me, I don’t bring this up to poke fun at her or anyone else. I only bring it up to make it clear what genuine conversion really looks like. The hour that the Spirit battles with the flesh is anything but an hour of peace, warmth, and love. Peace comes after conversion, but not during it. Love is present in God’s mercy and grace, but in the midst of the battlefield, the focus isn’t a feeling of love. The truth is, sometimes love hurts. I’ve always loved C.S. Lewis’s example of conversion in the life of Eustace from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace, who had turned into a dragon due to a greedy heart, had tried to cure himself. He washed and he scratched away his dragon skin, but it couldn’t get clean. He couldn’t get deep enough. Then Aslan pierced him with his nail, digging deep into the dragon flesh and cutting it away. Eustace talked about how it had hurt him at that moment but felt gloriously free just after. You see, when God works heart-deep it’s going to hurt. It feels like you’re being ripped apart as Eustice can clearly testify to.
If your testimony doesn’t include a recognition of sin, feeling wretched, a literal turning to Christ that resulted in peace, and a change of desires then you need to reexamine your salvation. Do not be alarmed to find Satan’s tricks and lies weaved into your experience, but hopefully you will also be able to proclaim Christ’s faithfulness to you both then and ever since then. 

If you have some concerns and wish to discuss these things further, please email me. I’d love to talk with you.
With love,
A.M. Heath

Posted in History

Civil War Letters: Hardtack, Bacon, and Maggots! Oh My!

2013_06222013summer0071While writing Civil War Fiction, I spend a lot of time reading real letters and journals that were written during the war. I’ve found some of the most amazing stuff. You can click on the Civil War Letters tag on this page to read the collection of letters I’ve shared so far. Today, I want to share a humorous quote on the terrible food these men were given to eat:
“…our hardtack was harder still… We hailed the advent of a barrel of flour with great joy, although we had no convenience for cooking it. But necessity is the mother of invention so we hatched up a plan whereby we could get pancakes for supper, though Buddy the cook would have horrified at the idea of calling them pancakes but in the absence of anything better, we voted them excellent but the stomachs refused to sanction our decision…The boys gathered all the hardtack together placed it upon the back of the bacon and proceeded to drum them out of camp, the bacon carrying the hard tack but what was our surprise to find that the bacon had come back during the night…”
Another man writes about the food and says, “Our bacon was so maggoty that it could almost walk, and our hard-tack so hard we could hardly break it…”
Perhaps the story about their bacon “walking” back into camp was more truth than fiction. 
Posted in History

Civil War Letters: A Letter from a Father

2015_0413Appomattox0186As you can see by the date below, this letter wasn’t written during the Civil War, but the author of the letter is so closely associated with the war that I didn’t think you would mind. 😉 

Robert E. Lee writes to his daughter, Agnes, in the summer of ’56 while he is serving in Texas and she is away at school. Agnes has become rather restless at school and complained a great deal about it in her previous letter. What I love most about this letter is the timeless voice of a father. As we study the war, we sometimes forget that the great men involved were family men. They loved their wives. They adored their children. And, at times, they even disciplined them through whatever means available. Listen to the affections of a father in this timeless letter: 

Camp Cooper, Texas 4 Aug 1856
I cannot send off my letters to Arlington dearest Agnes without writing to you. But what shall I tell  you more than you know already. How glad I was to receive your letter (May 24) to hear from you, to talk to you. Oh, that I could see you, kiss you, squeeze you! But that cannot be Agnes and I must not indulge in wishes that cannot be gratified. That reminds me I must take  you to task for some expressions in your letter. You say, “our only thought, our only talk, is entirely about our going home.” How can you reconcile that with the object of your sojourn at Staunton! Unless your thoughts are sometimes devoted to your studies, I do not see the use of your being there, and if it was “so hot” (May 24) as to render it “impossible for you to study,” in the mountains of Virg. how can  you expect to exist in Texas in July and August? It is so hot in my tent now, that the spermaceti candles become so soft as to drop from the candlesticks. Sturine candles, have melted, and become liquid in the stand. The chair I sit in and the table I write on is hot, disagreeably so, to  the touch, and feel as if made of metal. Do not speak of heat Agnes, for you know not what it is and I shall have to relinquish all hope of ever having you here with me.     …I must now bid you goodbye. Give love to everyone. Your affectionate father
R.E. Lee

Source: Growing Up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee *Letter was copied as written. **The letter in the picture was not written by Lee.