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Semmes, Paul Jones (1815-1863) to Emily J. Semmes

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00101 Author/Creator: Semmes, Paul Jones (1815-1863) Place Written: Culpepper, Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 11 June 1863 Pagination: 12 p. ; 25.2 x 20.2 cm.

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Summary of Content: Writes to his wife that he "wept like a child" when reading her last letter. Expresses his thoughts before going into battle en route to Gettysburg. Discusses his concerns about his possible death, the welfare of his family, and his diminished wealth. Exclaims, "If my life be spared, we will have to return & live humbly & economically - If not spared, Oh! My Lord! What will become of my Dear, My Dear Family?" Mentions his life insurance policy and states that since his life is so uncertain, it might be best to renew it despite the cost. Sends love to the children. Stresses the need for her to be frugal. Talks of infighting in the high command and the opinion other officers hold of Semmes and his brigade. A very emotional, sentimental letter, describing his religious conversion and calling upon God. Writes horizontally in the margin of many pages. Signed with initials. "... I do humbly trust & pray to be carried safely through this wicked war and restored to my dear family In going into battle I commit myself to God ... I feel that though I have thus far escaped, the next Battlefield may be the last to me- the last of me ... The enemy confronts us with three times our force, & we are both to come in Conflict any day - Indeed, a Battle I feel satisfied will not be long postponed unless Hooker & his Army run away, for I doubt not we are going to advance This is the general impression although Gen Lee keeps his own counsils I feel and believe that McLaw's has attempted to poison Lee & Longstreet towards me ... Whether he does injustice or not, the true history of my Brigade will occupy a bright page in history ..."

Background Information: Semmes was a banker, planter, and a captain in the state militia before the war. In 1861 he became colonel of the 2nd Georgia. Confederate brigadier general, commanded a brigade at ...Seven Pines and defended Marye's Height at Fredericksburg. Semmes died from a wound received at the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, 2 July 1863.See More

People: Semmes, Paul Jones, 1815-1863
Semmes, Emily

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Battle of GettysburgReligionChildren and FamilyFinanceEconomicsMilitary HistoryCivil WarConfederate States of AmericaBattleConfederate Soldier's Letter

Sub Era: The American Civil War

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