This is a writing exercise based on the phrase “Love Keeps Me Warm.”
Years ago I read a journal written by a Yankee soldier who had been captured by Confederates. He detailed his stay as a prisoner of war in Texas and spoke of the hardships suffered by both the captives and the Rebels keeping them. While there was no mention of a wife or him writing letters to her. I have often thought if he did, this is what he might have written.
Love Keeps Me Warm by Julie Weathers
My Dearest Amelia,
I am remembering our last Christmas together and how I rejoiced when you opened the package with that smart blue dress. It was the color of your beautiful eyes. I would move earth itself to see that look of joy once more.
I do not know if you have received word of my plight. My unit was captured in Louisiana and some of us are now in a prisoner of war camp in Texas. Our camp consists of a deserted farm where we are being held in the barns and corrals. Our previous location was more secure, but unsupplied. Rumors abounded we were to be shot rather than burden the rebs with our keep. I, for one, was overjoyed when the Major Collins ordered us to gather our possessions for a march.
I think the rebs were as happy to leave that place as we were. The major insisted all food be divided equally amongst the prisoners and captors and we have all suffered mightily for the past two weeks. We heard some grumbling about that, but for the most part, his men are faithful hounds who would follow him to the pits of hell and back if he so bade them.
We sank into exhausted slumber as the rebs hustled the woods for victuals upon arrival. I can tell you we all hoorahed when the first man rode in with a fat deer draped across his horse. The cook stumbled upon a well-stocked root cellar and so we had a quite delicious venison stew.
A wild steer strayed too close and he will be the guest of honour at our Christmas supper. The cook even found some dried apples and I can now smell spicy cobbler baking. We know it will most likely be little more than a mouthful, but it will taste like heaven none the less.
Today is Christmas day. The men have fashioned a crude baseball field and are even now playing a rousing game. The rebs against the yanks. That is the way all wars should be fought I think.
I had great plans of presenting you with a new home for Christmas before I was called to war. You will one day have that home, but for now I ask you to content yourself with this meager letter. The major announced he would see to it our letters were posted if we cared to write home for Christmas. A great many here can neither read nor write so we have volunteered to write letters for them. My first customer is a young reb soldier who is waiting patiently by my side as I scrawl this poor message to you.
My love flies to you each night on swift silent wings. Know that each time the sun kisses your cheek it is my lips that caress your soft skin. Listen to the rustle of the leaves. Do you hear me whisper sweet words of love? Sink into your bed each night and be assured that I hold you as closely as the quilt draped across your dear body.
Your love keeps me warm on the cold nights. It beckons me home to your waiting arms. I pray that my love will also warm you on this Christmas day and always.
Your loving husband;
Lt. James Ewell Jackson