Letter from Frank to Fanny Hall. Camp Near White Oak Church, Va.
Read this letter before reading letter to Mr. Meyers, will you, own one?
Camp Near White Oak
March 25, 1865.
Own Dear Wify,
Mr. Barber has been here and gone. I have
bid him good by at the cars and certainly the whole affair has been arranged
by God sweetly for it is so strange.
When I come from the hospital tent yesterday afternoon. Col. Seaver told me there was a bundle for me, and it proved to be my own dear wify's handy work for hubby. The two cotton flannel drawers.
I supposed then of course, that Mr. Barber had arrived. He had gone down to Pliny Moore's tent. Soon he came back again & we were so long, all seated talking together, but he had a most vicious headache. He had started from the depot at Falmouth & taken a wrong direction & walked some fifteen miles. It is not more than 4 1/2 but he had gone up towards Stoneman's station & way round. He was obliged to lie down & I had some camphor for him & tea. Plin Moore sent him up a hot cup right away from his tent & a piece of toast & after resting for some time, he recovered. His son is sick in Washington & he was to return again without fail this morning, He had brought the draws, but told me he had been so unfortunate to drop all of his letters out of his coat pocket on the way, he had taken it off & hung it over his arm & they being in the outside head pocket, had fallen out. I feel at once that God had charge of those letters if it was right that they should reach me they would come back to me from the muddy fields of Virginia somewhere.
He had come over no road, but across the country. I did not tell him so as above of course, but said, "My dear Sir, do not be troubled in the least, not in the least." for he was very troubled. We sit talking till finally, before Col. Palmer & Col. Seaver, he said "I suppose you know something about our wanting you to come to Plattsburgh to preach for us, if we can have you." I said "I had had some intention of it" & there the conversation ceased. We sit talking a long while about every thing & c. & c. Till at last Col. Palmer went to bed & Col. Seaver also. Then I set talking further, but I made no allusion to the subject, of course, myself. The fact was I knew very little about the subject, at least was uncertain & did not know exactly who Mr. Barber was, remarks to the contrary. Col. Palmer had told me before he came that he was a fine man.
At last after much conversation about very many things but the subject, at about eleven o'clock he said suddenly, "I came down to tell you we wanted you to come to preach for us" and then told me how the position of affairs was & that the call in the end was unanimous, or as much so as calls usually are, in fact he was suprised to learn that it was so unanimous. I had made up my mind what my duty was, dear wify, so I spoke to him frankly.
I told him that my life had been pretty much decided from step to step, how that I had been called to Lazurne & then here & then the circumstances of my writing the letter to Mr. Meyers & c. It was gratifying, yes flattering, to me to have been thought of by the committee. That there was, indeed, no place where I would rather labor than in Plattsburgh, but that now the boys with whom I labor are Just about to plunge into the trials of the campaign & that my feeling was as to answering the question about coming to Plattsburgh now to labor there was emphatically this: that it was as it were, That woe was unto me if I deserted my post. That everything of a worldly nature would lead me to Plattsburgh. I did not look upon Luzerne as a permarcy, I did not feel you could be there. It was a sacrifice to me to be away from my family and that I would be rejoiced to accept as far as my inclination led me, but that nothing could induce me so to do. Well but he said if the Regt. is disbanded in May. I told him I could not say anything as to a single thing further than what I saw Just before me for I know not what was ahead, As far as we knew a few of the boys times was out in May & they would probably go home. But as to my leaving my post till I felt some that God said "go elsewhere," I could not move. So that the committee must act entirely interfluence in any way by me. But I wanted my friends in Plattsburgh distinctly to understand that I would love to be with them, but it was perfectly clear to me that I had no right to go.
Then he told me that only Mr. Meyers thought my letter meant I would come immediately. The others thought I could not come & so did he & thought I was perfectly right. We talked some more only reitterating, nothing new, as I remember, & then we went to bed, Mr. Barber sleeping in hubby's bed. He can tell you how comfortable it is. I slept for the first time in my new camp bed stead. Very comfortable, also a little bit cold for Letz should have sent me up by Edo one blanket more. But still I got along finely.
In the morning I rose first & folded the bed stead and soon we were all on the rise. When Mr, Barber was putting on his coat what did he find but the letters, one from Mr. Meyers and one from Dr. Dewy, a splendid one & my own dear little wify's dear dear letter. God certainly withheld them from me so that I could Judge. I fear I might have been troubled if I had read the letters first. I took the letters & read them & then it seemed to be so strange that I could not help telling Col. Seaver he had seemed so much interest without appearing to know, & I have seldom seen a man take so much real interest as he did. He thought it my duty to go to Plattsburgh or weigh the matter before. I told him how I had made up my mind. I knew nothing for a day more than the present that is on account of my position, & therefore I had to say know.
Well we took breakfast. Then at the conclusion of breakfast Col. Seavet said "Mr. Barber. I am going to take the liberty to answer a question for Mr. Hall. Tell your people Mr. Hall thinks he can not come now but in June probably he may not be needed here & that he would therefore like time to consider the matter" Mr. Barber was going to leave Just after breakfast. Col. Palmer said, "Why, the people carl get someone to supply the Pulpit till Mr. Hall can come," "No" said I playfully, as they had, "No Mr. Barber, Mr. Meyers has intended that the church will be injured by duty, Don't let me for an instant influence the committee. Give my answer that I am sorry but I can not come. I would love to go but can not, my duty is here," or something to that affect.
Soon the horses were nearly ready. Edo was putting on the saddle, as I came up from behind the cook tent. I saw Coats Just getting on the black horse with Mr. Barber on the white horse. The Col, said to me "you get my horse & catch up with them." They played a trick on me. There was yet no saddle on his horse, but it was too late, for the horses had gone. Edo saddled the Col.'s horse & I started but it is a very slow horse & I reached Falmouth Just about as the train was to start.
This seemed to me preindicative too. I don't know why all has been strange -- I went up to the train & called out to the sentry to ask if a man by the name of Barber was in the freight car. He checked but he was not there. I went to the next car & said the same when Mr, Barber himself answered, "here I am." We had quite a laugh over the matter, Then he said, "Well, Mr, Hall, did the reading of the letters make you alter your mind." I told them that I was willing, that I had read them afterwards but I felt the same. I then said I think you think I am right. He said, "Mr. Hall, I do & I think the committee will think so too but we want you there & I think we will wait."
We had some few words more about his son & c. & c. then the cars moved off & I mounted old Zollicoffer & came back. I forgot to say that I met Coats on the way from the depot so I changed horses with him on the way down & had old Zollicoffer again.
I forgot to say also this, that at the breakfast table I said, "l think I am right & so do you, do you not, Col. Palmer." He said, "I think if you went now (meaning to Plattsburgh), you would never forgive yourself all your life." In came Wilson a few minutes after & said "Chaplain I hear you are going to leave us." "No" said I, "I am not."
After returning from Falmouth, I happened to see Dr. Purdy & he said "Chaplain, I hear you are going to leave us. That you have a call elsewhere & c. & c." He said he had heard it a few days ago. I said I am not going. He said he did not see why it was not my duty to go & c. & c. Well Col. Seaver has talked with me & shown so much interest, saying he thought I should arrange it so to have time to consider. I told him I had no right to more than to say I could not come.
I think, dear one, that God has arranged all about the matter that I have done right things straight from him, If he wants me to go to Plattsburgh, he will send me there, but not now & I somehow feel he will. I think somehow or other that those that are my good friends here have said something to Mr. Barber & that he goes home with intelligence from them.
I may be rising nevertheless if God wants me to go to Plattsburgh, he will send me there. If not then if not. Dear wify, I feel as if I had done in a way that I must do, There was no other way to do. I was constrained to do it. We will leave it with God, all with God. I certainly feel he wants me here. All of the circumstances of last night & today have been so strange. A burden is off of me in one sense, for it did not seem how it would be possible for me to go in any way. I feel God had led me through, own one, sweetly & he will arrange the rest just as he wishes it. Certainly the deep things of our country's history are before us & close at hand. You will not be amiable to have hubby do God's will through them & in the very highest position he could serve him as his messenger of glad tidings amidst the coming together of the multitudes. Write & tell me you thank God he has directed hubby & tell me that you ape happy. Help me every way. Comfort me, own one. Who knows but that God will give us our dearest hopes in another way when hubby shall have done his will here & we are all permitted to come home. Oh how different that would be then to leave now & turn my back upon what he clearly points out as my work on this stupendous drama, an unseen work, but is it less than any other?
Own dear one, if I am to be at Plattsburgh it will all come out rightly in one time. Somehow or other I feel it will, but not now. Mr. Barber may be detained for a time by his son's sickness. You will know wether it is best to let them learn from him. Would it not be best, own one, to have them hear what they hear from Mr. Barber, himself? But do Just what you think best.
Own dear one: I am writing this morning, March 27th, 1863. Have written to the bank as you said & find I have money enough to send to Hartford. I send by today's mail; five days will be enough for it to get there.
Day before yesterday afternoon, the very day that Mr. Barber left, I received your letter saying that they expected me to answer & not simply send my answer by Mr. Barber. So I sat down & wrote my letter to Mr. Meyers, a copy of which I send you, sending it by the first mail. That is, yesterday as rather the only mail I knew was going. I have since found that there is one goes out from here at 12 o'clock at night from Brigade headquarters. Tell me Just what you think of my letter, & do not be unhappy.
Own dear wify, a week or two ago you felt that hubby had accepted a shadow of a proffer of coming to a congregation, & been here placed in the mortifying position of the congregation saying by role "Ha! Ha! We would not have you if you wanted to come ever so much."
I know how wify must have felt in spite of her cheering letters to me, her dear lines of comfort. But now, dear wify, it is entirely different. You find that the congregation were not so related to hubby as you thought. They really want him to come, it seems & the feeling entertained should give you no reason certainly to be mortified. But then in addition to this, you know fully that however great may have been the struggle, your own hubby has acted , just as he felt christian mankind should act. Is not the position of affairs far more happy than it was a week or two ago. And did I not then say that I hoped God had something far better in store for us. At that time however my feeling was indefinite, but confident. Somewhat as I felt when I replied to Col. Seaver the other morning at breakfast, when he said before them all, "Well, but Chaplain, when this is over (it is but temporary, you know) then you will have no place." "No, Sir," said I. "Am just as certain that God will give me a place as I am standing here." And that is the way I feel and I have to live so. And I know wify loves to have me so live.
After the Wednesday evening lecture, others came up to me. Lieut. Helms & Sargent Major & others said, "Chaplain, are you going to leave us?" "No, indeed," said I. They had also heard & felt bad. They told me Capt. Bently (as they said, the last man you would suppose would show interest in such matters) had said, "Well, I don't know where he can do the good he can do here." & that also Pliny Moore had said, "Well, I do hope he will not go."
It seems to be known pretty generally and I think what has occurred will only make hubby's position here even yet more pleasant & now, own dear one, will you write me just as you feel & keep nothing back?
I have had a beautiful letter from Morse Platt which I will try & answer immediately & I will also answer Dr. Dewy's letter. Give my love to dear grandma. Try & make her see how much better it is & if I come at alt to Plattsburgh eventually (which I somehow or other feel I will) it will be altogether more desirable to come then, than in the circumstances like the present.
Good by, own one. Of course it will not perhaps be but for anyone but my own wify, of course, to know that I feel at all about what may be. But wify will know what to do & say. I trust it all to her, only I don't want dear Grandma to feel bad.
Wify, I am so well. It is Oeautfiul weather & all is going finely. Hooker seems to be a general favorite & the army is in fine condition.
Own dear one, good by for the present. I wish I was with my own one to see & look right into her very soul. I do love her, oh so dearly and that very love leads me all the more to do all I can as she would love to have wify's husband do.
Col. Seaver has sprained his foot very badly; he is quite [lame]. I sent Mr. Meyers' letter yesterday. If he should not receive it, you may do you think best, show him your copy so that they may really lose no time on my account. Do just what you think best. Good by own one from own hubby.
Both Col. Seaver & Col. Palmer know
that wify wanted me to do what duty called me to do, spite of anything
else, for after thinking of the matter I showed them what was written on
the outside of your inclosed precious note to hubby, I also showed it to
my grand old friend, Chaplain Adams & he was so much pleased both by
the confidence & then by seeing the tender & sweet addition of
conclusion, I should Judge he has also a dear home in the living of the position
of his long pilgrimage. He has read me at times from her letters.
Good by, with sweet kisses.