1863: Emma Louise (Ronaldson) Eldridge to Erwin James Eldridge

26b8825f-3473-4258-ac2c-a933a967490dThis letter was written by Emma Louise (Ronaldson) Eldridge (1833-1879) to her husband, Erwin James Eldridge (1833-1902)—a surgeon with the 16th Georgia Infantry and then Cobb’s Legion, serving in Virginia and then Atlanta and Macon during the Civil War. At the time Emma penned this letter from their home in Lee county, Georgia, the couple only had one child—Griffith “Morgan” Eldridge (1862-1912).

Emma was the daughter Archibald Ronaldson (1808-1865)—a Scottish-born coal mine engineer—and Ellen Jemima Ogilvie of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Flat Pond, Lee County, Ga.
Saturday night, July 25th [1863]

My own dearest Erve,

Your letter of the 11th came today. I need not tell you how very glad I was to hear from you even though it was such a short communication. What would I not give if you were so situated that you could write me a long letter occasionally. I want to see you my darling more than I can tell you; as I can’t do that a long letter fresh from the hand & heart of my darling would be the next best thing I could have.

We heard of Dr. Winn’s death ¹ sometime since. It is indeed sad. I knew you would be much distressed when you heard of it. I am so glad my darling that you wrote to his wife. It will be such a comfort to her to know that her friends remember & sympathize with her in her bereavement.

John Stokes was shot by one of the 8th Ga. Regiment. He mistook him for a Yankee sharpshooter. His brother does not seem to be much troubled about it. It is late, darling, and I cannot write you a long letter tonight. I know you will excuse a short one this time. I wrote you some days since that I had received a letter from Inez telling me of the death of Uncle Richard. I hope you got my letter. If not & you will let me know, I will write the particulars over again. I think my letters reach you regularly or at least I hope so.

Our darling little boy still keeps in fine health & is as fat & good as he can be. I wish you could see him eating watermelon. Sometimes he eats till his little stomach is as tight as a drum. Today he was sitting in a high chair with a large piece in his hand. Caroline & Georgia both asked him for a piece. He looked at it a moment & then pinched off a little piece & handed it to one of them another piece & handed it to the other. I could not help laughing at the little fellow, he looked so cunning when he did it. I never saw a sweeter or better child in my life, if I am his mother & say it myself. You will see a great change in him when you return home again. He gets prettier every day.

Erve, don’t let many months pass before you come home again. I do want to see you “so bad.” I don’t think I ever would have realized how much I loved you if you had not gone away, for never do we know how much we love, never do we know how necessary the object of our love is to our happiness until we experience the weary void of separation. I hope it will not always be this.

Mollie is in Houston with Mrs. Winn & L__ is in Sparta with Mrs. Maxwell. We are having a very quiet time of it down here. Mr. [Charles P.] Crawford has raised a cavalry company & expects to go to Florida by the middle of next month. Mrs. [Mattie] Crawford is dreadfully opposed to his going. She thinks he ought to stay at home with her but that cannot be. Everyone has to go now. Oh me! I wish this horrible was was over. Won’t it be almost perfect happiness when we can live together again & I will not have to part with you again for so long a time. It is almost too good to think about.

05780f8f-bfa1-46c8-be1f-204674469424I have no news to write you darling & I feel almost ashamed to send you such a poor letter. I just felt like having a talk with you tonight & have not succeeded as well as I could wish. I have not another piece of paper. I commenced to write you in a whole nice sheet when unluckily my hand hot a book which overturned the candlestick on my letter. The grease above on this page is part of the occurrence. So I am obliged to write on a half sheet much against my inclination. Don’t let a long time pass, my darling Erve, without writing me one of your loving, cheering, welcome & long letters. I do so love to get one from you. A few lines do so much good & a long letter makes me perfectly happy for this time.

My candle is about burned out & little Morgan is waking so good night, my darling Erve. Mrs. Crawford sends sweet love to you. May our Heavenly Father’s watchful care & blessings ever be with you. Write soon, my darling, with all my warmest & truest love. Ever believe me your “darling little wife.”

¹ David Read Evans Winn (1831-1863) was the son of John D. Winn (1791-1863 and Mary Shannon (1820-1847). Winn was a practicing physician in Americus, Ga on the eve of America’s Civil War. From Sumter County, Georgia, he enlisted into Confederate service on April 27, 1861. Initially commissioned a 1st Lt. of Co. K, 4th Georgia Infantry, he rose through the ranks until his November 1, 1862 promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. Accompanying the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia northward in the summer of 1863, he was killed at Gettysburg. His mother resided in Houston county, Georgia.

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