One of A.P.'s chief comforts during the War was the mail he received from home. He craved bits of news from "the little house on the hill" in Pennsylvania and scolded his sister when her letters grew too short or left out important details. "There are thousands of things for you to write about," he chided Emma. ". . . You don't say a word about any of the neighbors what they are doing. [Hasent] Father planted anything in the garden but beans? Why don't you tell me about every thing? How much new fence has he made this spring. Have you got any pigs chickens or goslings? . . . there when you write again you can answer these questions . . . "

A.P. was guilty of omitting information in his own letters--but only because he wanted to protect his younger sister from the grim details of war. Even after the devastating Battle of the Wilderness in 1864, he managed to write cheerfully about his meager dinner and the coming of spring.

Hospital at Kenmore house
Fredericksburg, Virginia
May 20th 1864

My Dear Sister

. . . I wish I could tell you the number of killed and wounded but I cannot it would be a terrible list we have suffered severely. The last I heard from our Company there were only eight men left . . .
I am safe and sound so far though I lost my knapsack and all that was in it . . . I promised to tell you what I had for dinner well I had coffee and bread and (for a wonder) I had butter to put on my bread and condensed milk to put in my coffee so you see I fared very well.
The weather is extremely fine now after a long rain, roses are in bloom here and snowballs and lots of other flowers, apples as large as robins' eggs, cherries begin to turn red. It would be splendid down here if 'twas not for this terrible war. . .

Give my love to all,
Your brother
AP Hoadley

In one of his letters to Emma, A.P. enclosed a sprig of Virginia clover. In another, a stone from a nearby river. He even sent her a sample of hardtack , the tough biscuit-like crackers that were rationed out regularly to soldiers. He also filled his notes with brotherly reminders to pay closer attention to spelling and schoolwork, and not rush through her studies. And in almost every letter, he signed his name with the request that she write back to him soon.

Dear Sister Emma | A Principle of Duty | Sickness and Suffering | Please Write Soon
I hope some day to return | Take good care of it...

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Last updated:
October 14, 2003

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