Posts Tagged ‘letters’

Civil War Letter

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015


My 11-year-old son wrote a Civil War letter as a writing assignment for his Civil War Binder. I read many Civil War letters to my kids to get a flavor for what would be going through the mind of a Civil War soldier. While studying Civil War letters, I came across a poignant letter. (You can read it here.)

My son chose a specific battle so that he would be able to make reference to finding Lee’s secret orders:

September 18, 1862

From J. Mitchell

To my loving wife,

I am writing this in a hospital tent, for I was shot in my right arm. So I will be writing this with my weak hand. We are at a river called Antietam Creek, and it was the bloodiest battle I have ever seen. I reported that twenty-five thousand at least died here, including my friend of whom we are all acquainted. It was gruesome watching him fall from that tree. He was a sniper, and he had shot at least a dozen enemy soldiers in the front lines. I also reported that you could walk across the battlefield on the bodies of the dead without touching the ground.

My night watch wasn’t good either. If anyone came by, I would say, “Stop,” three times. If he didn’t stop, I would shoot because it meant that he might be an enemy scout or spy. I couldn’t see very well, but if the soldiers were friendly, they would stop.

One time I was nearly hit when a cannonball whistled past my head and made a tree fall on a few of the soldiers in our ranks. It came as a complete surprise. One of those cannonballs could go right though you, killing you and the person behind you.

Guess what I found five days ago? Three cigars wrapped in paper. My friend and I delightedly picked them up and sat down under a tree, for my feet were hurting. Suddenly I found a message on the paper I was about to throw away. It was Lee’s orders for his next attack! I can’t tell you how exited I was when I showed it to General McClellan. Before, we didn’t know where Lee was; now, we knew exactly what his battle strategy was!

What a battle it was! I had to hide behind the bodies of the dead to survive, making barricades out of them! After the battle I saw a dead soldier hanging on a fence with fifty-seven bullets in his body. Some soldiers must have tried to hide behind him to survive but failed, for I found dead bodies behind him, too. It was a gruesome sight.

Hope you’re doing better back home. Best wishes to the kids,

J. Mitchell

Encouraging Letters for Children

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

If you can brainstorm some good character qualities for each of your children, you can write an encouraging letters to each of them. Those words will build them up and cause them to want to continue displaying those positive character qualities.

Recently I found these letters, which were written in April 2008. The first two were written by me, the last two by my 7-year-old son Stephen, in response to my letter to him:

Dear Bryan,

I’m glad that you’re learning to focus more on your math. When you put your mind to it, you can do anything!

I’m also proud of you that you are reading your book and don’t daydream as much as before.

I like the Bible studies we do together. I love to talk about God with you. It is fun to answer your questions about God.

I love you, Bryan, and I’m glad that you’re my son!



Dear Stephen,

Your enthusiasm for life is so fun. Your smile brightens the room. You serve other people with purity of heart, and I love that about you!

Thank you for cleaning up so fast today. Thank you for getting Rachel’s bib so quickly when I asked you. You obey so fast now, and it’s a delight to have you in our family.

I like how you do your math quickly and are diligent. I like how you write your verse without complaining. I also like that I can quote my James verses to you because you know them by heart.

I like how you love God, and I’m glad you’re my son!



Dear Mom,

I love you, Mom, and thank you for the card you gave me. I thank you that you love me, too. Thank you, thank you!



Dear Nathaniel,

Thank you for playing with me, Nathaniel. And I love it when you let me be police. I love you very very very very very much!


Beside his Dead Body

Monday, April 25th, 2011


I ripped open the envelope, and sure enough, there was a gift card. “Who is Grandpa John?” I yelled to my husband from the other room.

“He’s my second step-dad’s father,” he said.

“Have I ever met him? Like, did he go to our wedding?”


“Well, he sent me a $10 gift card for my birthday.”

“It figures. He’s never sent me a $10 gift card.”

That’s how it started, my letter writing to this man. I began by writing:

“Dear Grandpa John,

I don’t know who you are or why you’re sending me money, but thank you, and keep it coming.”

I went on to write several pages, telling him about my life and what I was doing. I only had one baby at the time, and I told him I was sewing a tapestry for the blank walls in my living room. I told him how my son chased a squirrel up a tree. I just said whatever, rambling about my life.

Ever after, I received gift cards for every birthday, and for each of my children’s birthdays. Every time I tore open the envelopes, my husband would say, “It figures. He’s never sent me a $10 gift card.” My sweet husband was like a broken record.

My husband was shocked the first time he found a letter addressed to me, written by hand from his grandfather. Yes, an old gray-haired man with an oxygen tank was writing me long letters. My husband was bewildered by whatever enchantment I had cast on his grandfather. He asked me what I wrote in my letters, and I told him that I just rambled about nothing.

One day my husband’s parents decided to drive from Southern California to Washington to visit us. Grandpa John insisted on coming, even though he had to drag his oxygen tank with him. For some reason he wanted to meet me.

Days later when they were pulling into my driveway, I went out to hug them all. But Grandpa John did more than hug me. He gave me a kiss on the lips. (Many families do this, by the way; I just wasn’t expecting it.) I was so disgusted I nearly spit on the ground. I calmly walked into the house and into the nearest bathroom to wash my mouth with soap. I told my husband what his grandfather had done. I tried to calm down and pretend like everything was normal.

After a long visit, they all went back to California. We continued writing letters to each other. I needed his money. But it was more than that; I loved him like family. He got such a kick out of my letters. He made me feel valuable.

That’s why I was sad when I heard that he was in the hospital. I called him and talked to him on the phone, knowing this might be the last time I’d ever speak to him. After hanging up the phone, I asked my husband, “Do you think he’s saved?”

“No,” he said, “I think he believes in his own good works to save him.”

I felt a huge burden on my heart to share the gospel with him before he died. I knew that I had a soft spot in his heart, and that if he would hear it from anyone, he would hear it from me, because I had never preached to him. I had only loved him, and he knew it.

Days went by. I still didn’t write the letter. The weight in my soul was unbearable. I finally grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil, and I poured out my heart and the gospel, all intertwined. I wept as I wrote the letter, not knowing if he was already dead, and wondering if I had been too late. I ran to the mail box and put the little flag up.

The next day we got the phone call: he was dead. I wailed so hard that day. I knew that his soul was going to hell, and that it was my fault. How come I hadn’t shared the gospel in so many years? I felt so much spiritual pain, my eyes were raw and swollen.

A week later I got a phone call. It was my husband’s parents. They had found my opened letter next to his dead body.

I screamed with joy. He had read the gospel right before he died, and based on everything I know about God, I know that God would never have expedited that letter to him just to pour more condemnation on his head. Jesus never did that, but He spoke in riddles just so that the people going to hell wouldn’t be under greater condemnation because they had heard Him speak. (On Judgment Day, people are judged according to their works, so hell is different for each person. They scream according to what they did in this life, as finally seen correctly, through the eyes of God.)

God must have known that he needed that letter, and that the timing was perfect.