Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Window to the Past


Susan Moore, a 7th generation native of Madison County, got in touch with me back in November and, knowing that I was at work on a book about Madison County during the Civil War, offered to share some family history. She brought me copies of letters written by her great, great, great grandfather's brother. Virgil S. Lusk (1836 - 1929) was a colonel in the Confederate Army and these letters were written while he was a prisoner of war,

I'm just now finding the time to read them -- the penmanship is beautiful but the copies are a little pale.  But how worthwhile to spend time with Virgil S. Lusk! He was an amazing person who really deserves a book of his own. But just now,  I expect that his voice will influence the voice of one of my characters.

In my transcription below, I think his personality comes across loud and clear. 




                            Johnson’s Island, Ohio, March, 29th 1865

Cousin Pauline: Your letter of the 17th inst has just come to hand and as your kind letters heretofore highly appreciated. It is not necessary to say that I am not exchanged yet as you will readily perceive that I am not seeing by the caption that I write from the city of incarceration. I am looking to leave here every day. I was paroled (?) on the 11 inst (?) for Exchange, but the long looked for time has not come. This will perhaps be the last letter you receive from me written from this place, that is if my hopes are realized. The exchange has been reduced to a reality and many thousands here enjoy its benefits though it may be possible that many long and weary days of prison life are yet in store for me. I have schooled myself to not be surprised at anything and so I’d not be surprised to hear at anytime that the exchange was stop(p)ed. Human nature is so fickle and the times so changeable that it is unsafe to count on anything certain. Cousin Pauline, you and Cousin Dan have been very kind to me, and I wish it was in my power to convince you how truly grateful I feel, but ‘tis (?) impossible. I’ll never forget you, whatever my fate (?) may be, and I hope --  I pray that I will yet live to prove to you that I am not unworthy of your friendship and that the Rebels are not as bad as you have been taught to consider them. I know you are my true and faithful friend – such as true hearted woman alone can be, and I’m sorry that we can’t agree politicly -- but ‘tis differences of opinion that make up the world. ‘Twould not do for us all to be alike, the world would be too monotonous—but we’ll not fall out on that point. When I am convinced that I’m wrong and you are right – I’ll come over and jine ye – till then I hope dear cousin you will be charitable enough to pardon me for being a Reble. I hope we will yet meet in­­­­­_____ and discuss this matter when peace is made. I wish I could write you a long letter but I can't. I’m well, will write you good by when I leave here. God bless you Cousin – respects to Cousin Dan.              
                       Virgil S. Lusk
                       No news from home since I wrote you last --
   

What I found really interesting as I read on is that Virgil was writing to a cousin who was NOT a supporter of the Confederacy. And his tone was so polite --  a 'we'll agree to disagree" attitude -- toward the end of a bloody combat.This was the last letter in the collection -- I'll go back and read the others and find out more.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing this window into the past!
 
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12 comments:

Ms. A said...

What a treasure to have and such amazingly beautiful penmanship! Wow!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a treasure Susan has shared with you. We just saw the movie Lincoln and have a good feel for how much disagreement there was.

I was amused about how monotonous he thought the world would be if we all agreed. I would bet ole Virgil would feel right at home in our current times.
Sam

Martin said...

And thank you too, Vicki, for sharing these precious documents with us. A totally fascinating insight.

Brian Miller said...

oh very cool is that...the civil war was def different than other wars as these were neighbors and sometimes even family...so you get these points of endearing care for each other and then the next day they are shooting at each other....what a treasure vicki

Vicki Lane said...

As I read Virgil's words to his Union -supporting cousin, I was reminded of the very civil disagreements I've had on Facebook with some folks who like my books but not my political views. No name-calling, just people trying to explain why they feel the way they do.

Carolyn said...

How fascinating and how perfectly apt! When I hear the name Virgil at the same time as civil war, I always think of that song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

Thérèse said...

Such windows have to be cherished!
Thanks for sharing and may we write something to leave behind to our loved ones...

NCmountainwoman said...

And thank YOU, Vicki for sharing this treasure with us!

Mamabug said...

totally awesome post today. its wonderful that families have saved those precious documents.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

What a marvelous group of letters to come into your possession from Virgil's decendent. I'm sure the rest of the letters will be fascinating. -- barbara

Brenda said...

So fascinating! I read the most recent letter from Johnson's Island and had to search back through previous posts to find out what that was all about. I'm intrigued with this historical period - even more so since seeing Lincoln last weekend! Have you seen it? It's really good.

Vicki Lane said...

Not yet, Brenda -- I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater. We'll see it when it's on Netflix.