The letter below was written by Benjamin Dean to his wife, Nancy (Booth) Dean, while he served as a Confederate soldier in the 16th Virginia Cavlary Regiment.
In Camp, Near Winchester, Va.
July the 19th, 1864
I embrace the opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that I am alive and that when these lines come to you they may find you all well.
We are under General McCaslin. We have been on a raid ever since the 11th day of May. We started at Lynchburgh, from there back to the Valley of Virginia to Winchester, from there to Maryland to Frederick City. We fought 25,000 there. Lt. T.S. Walker was wounded, his jaw was broken. Lt. Harris was wounded and captured. Hiram Grizzle's thigh was broken. Abraham Vaughan was shot through the body. I had two holes shot through my clothes in this battle, one through my pocket and one through my shirt sleeve.
We went near the city of Washington. We came back through East Virginia. I am near Winchester Today. We marched all last night. We have had a mighty hard raid this Spring and Summer.
Nancy, I am poor and feeble. And Nancy I want to see you and William and Lummy once more. I now want to see you worse than I ever did in my life. Nancy, I haven't had a clean shirt for over five weeks. We manage to get enough to eat. We hook the Yanks at every point we can.
Tell my father and mother that I would like to see them again before we are all swept into Eternity. Tell Father Booth and Mother Booth that there is not a day but that I think of them and long to see them once more.
We have been commanded by Colonel Graham. He does nothing but drink and curse and if Colonel Ferguson isn't exchanged by next season, I never expect to make another raid in this war.
Nancy, tell Mate I would like to see him but not in any war. Nancy do the best you can, for at best you now have a hard way of getting along.
Nancy tell Charity that Enoch Bartram has fallen in love with her, and says that she is the prettiest girl he has ever seen. He asked me to come and see here for him. He says he is going to write to her. We left Enoch Bartam at north mountain with Hiram Grizzle who was wounded. Enoch is a fine you man.
Nancy, when I return I want to see you fat and well, but war is very uncertain and I may never be able to see you again. I haven't drawn any money since I wrote last.
Tell William and Lummy to be good children till I come home, and the Lord will bless them. I have got two mighty fine horses and if Peace was only made sometime soon I would bring them back. I am worried sick to think I can't enjoy my home and the thought that I am banished from my wife and two little children grieves me daily. Tell Lummy and William to save me some apples to eat after I get back from the war.
So no more at present. I remain your affectionate husband until death.
NOTE: Mr.. Dean lived to see the war through and returned back home to his wife and family. But the hardships of four years of war had weakened his health. He died at his home on Wilson's Creek in Wayne County, West Virginia at the age of 48 years.
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For a comprehensive source of Confederate Regimenal History this is a very good source.
Information on the 16th Virginia Cavalry
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