February 12, 1864

February 12, 1864

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Letter No 34

New Orleans Feb 12th 1864

Friday evening

My Dearest Hortense.

I was rejoiced to day at receiving No 26 from you. I was rejoiced for several reasons among which were the following, It was a good long one, and was full of love for me, and it had lately come from home. It was written the very day I arrived here. --- the 31st of Jun.

No. 24 has yet to come to hand, but I suppose it has gone to Texas and will probably come back in a few days. I hope so at least for I think your miniature must be in it and I dont want to lose that. You ask me if you shall send me Marys. No I guess not. I think I can do very well without it. I wouldnt carry her miniature for all the world so long as she is so foolish as to say that I belong to her as much as to you. I would like very well to have her Photograph for friendship and cousinship (sic) sake, but not as long as she is inclined to talk that way for it would only give her more encouragement to talk more. I think she acts very curiously(?) to say the least in doing as she does both as to talk and actions. She has no right to ride with Blood without Mrs Blood knowing it. The harm is not in riding with him (under some circumstances it would not be) but in doing so and doing it on the sly. I think it is mean to take advantage of our friendship and start on her excursions from our home. I never liked her actions with Frank Summer(?) the fall I was home. She is a homely old maid and it is foolish very foolish for her to still act like a young girl. Nevertheless Mary has her good qualities and she is smart but she would be liked much better if she would act out just what we all know she is , viz (sic) an old maid. I have been reading over some of your letters today and found some questions I have not answered. You say you saw an account of the taking of Fort Esperanza by Col Washburn and then say you thought Washburn was a Gen. I told you once but perhaps you did not notice it, that one Major Gen's name was C.C. Washburn that he used to be a member of Congress from Wisconsin and had two brothers members of Congress, one from Illinois and one from Maine(?) and all are universalists(?). Col Washburn is Col of the 18th Ind which is in the 1st Brg so when our Brigadier Gen Benton was away Col Washburn was the oldest officer in rank in the brigade and took command of the brg by virtue of his rank. All the soldiers loved Gen W for he was a good Gen but he was dissatisfied with the way things were managed in this department so he has left and gone to Washington to report and I hope he will satisfy the powers that be that Banks is not a General. _______ What do you think I am doing tonight? One Co is guarding Conscripts in the "Factors(?) Cotton Press", a large building which surrounds a whole square in this city, with a large court as open space in the center. They are from New York and are a hard set I tell you. Bah I wouldn't be a conscript for all the world. I see by the papers that the old 42nd has reenlisted. Good. Poor Mell, he will be unable to do so, but he has by this time (I hope) an honorable discharge. I know he would go in if he was able. You say in this letter "dont reenlist." I am very much afraid you will not like it but the more I think of it the more I think I have done the best thing I could do, for if I had come home this summer without reenlisting I could only have brought home a little over $100. Now we can lay up $500.00, viz the old $100 bounty and the new $400 bounty for I know we can live on what we will get for as soon as we reorganize I shall draw $20 per month for I shall be orderly and it will not be long before I have a commission and then if I see the war is likely to last long I can resign though I would like to stay in long enough to lay up $1000, besides paying my debts which wont be much. Major Hotchkiss was here today. He is going home, has resigned. The boys of his regt requested him to. Wm Henry told me. Dont say a word though. Wm Henry's chances for a commission are good. Dont say anything for he does not want it known and I would not tell anyone (not even his folks) but you. I am in hopes to be on my way home next week by this time. I shall not finish this till Sunday. Perhaps then there may be some change by that time. It will take us two weeks or more to get home for we will have to stop one day at least in Bloomington to have a big dinner given by Gen Hovey. The time is not to be taken out of our furlough though. I wish you could be there but you will have chance enough to see us when I go back, Good night and may God bless you. Saturday morning. Since I wrote you last I have been out two evenings to hear speeches by southern men in favor of having Louisiana come back into as a free state without slavery. On the 22nd there is to be an election for a free state --------(?). Only think of it!! In this slave state!! I heard good abolition speeches made by men who three years ago owned from thirty to two hundred slaves, and also by men who were driven away from here on account of love for the old Union. How times have changed, or rather how time changes the opinions of mankind. Louisiana Ark and Tennessee will soon elect United States officers and all will again ---- themselves under the old "stars and stripes." The old flag that "never moves but in path to victory" goes on conquering and to conquer". It will soon float over foot of American soil. God speed the day. How glorious is the thought that you and I have done our part towards accomplishing this great end. If what we have done shall cause our children and our children's children to praise(?) the old flag and love the old union more than they otherwise would have done, we shall be well paid for all we have endured. These days when we are seperated (sic) from each other are dark days for us Hortense, they are so dark sometimes I can hardly see the light, but the light will come sure as God lives and rules supreme in all this universe. We will have our reward Hortense as sure as fate for God has promised it. "When this cruel war is over" we can look back to these dark days with pride and joy and you my little wife will thank God for this cruel seperation (sic). I an afraid you will think I do not love you as I should or I would not have reenlisted. I will prove to you that a man can love his country and still have ---- in his heart for -------- woman(?) If a man has not a heart large enough to love his country he has not one large enough to love a true woman. A man whose soul is so narrow that he cant be a Patriot is incapable of true love. And if a man is a true Patriot he must do more than talk, he must act. If I did not love you Hortense if I didnt love my family with my whole heart and soul I would not be a Patriot. You have more influence in this matter than you can imagine. My highest ambition is to be loved by you, and how can you love me unless I prove by my actions that I am worthy of love, and how can I prove my love if I profess to love my country and yet am not willing to sacrifice my present happiness for it. The man who will sacrifice nothing for the country he professes to love, will sacrifice nothing for the woman he loves. Hortense do love you, but it is a divided affection. My other sweet heart is the old flag that floats over your head and mine and which protects you and me and will protect our children long after our bodies have moulded(?) beneath the green prairie of Illinois. Are you jealous of that sweet heart? No, you love her too. She has been insulted. Let me fight for her then for your sake and our childrens sake as I would fight to protect you and them who I love and whose love is the priz (?) and light of my life. Hortense, my faith is in this matter. I am proud of my wife and her love. I am proud of my country and my duty to one can never clash with my duty to the other and any more than your love for me can clash with your love for God. I have gone into this war from pure and good motive. My cause(?) had your(?) sanction and I had your prayers. I shall be very, very proud if my wife says "My husband has done right. I love & honor him for it" Hortense the good time is coming, we may have to wait for it, but it is sure to come. Dont be discouraged nor down hearted. Let me be in at the death of this rebellion, let me help bury it as I have helped kill it, and all my future life shall be devoted to you and for the part you have played in this war. for the fortitude with which you have bornn (sic) your trials you will always have the love and honor of your children and your husband. Hortense my love, my life, my world, good bye for this time. I hope I shall soon be able to clasp you in my arms and if I have done wrong will you forgive me? As ever your aff husband,

John M. Follett