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Sunday, November 6, 2016

"To hear the shout of victory, before I die"

Letter of John Winn Moseley to his mother, July 4, 1863 (Library of Virginia)

     In the course of transcribing documents for the Library of Virginia, I am fortunate to come across a number of writings from the nineteenth century that have the power to communicate to us evocative feelings and events from that bygone era.
     This morning, I found this letter written by John Winn Moseley of the 4th Alabama Infantry. Born in Buckingham County, Virginia, in 1832, John moved to Alabama as a young man. He enlisted in the 4th Infantry in Marion, Alabama on April 24, 1861. His regiment accompanied General Lee's army as it undertook its ill-fated invasion of Pennsylvania in late June 1863.
     Sergeant Moseley would not live to see either Virginia or Alabama again. He was gravely wounded during Pickett's charge on July 3. Before he died the next day, he wrote this letter to his mother. He died convinced that his sacrifice had not been in vain.

Battlefield Gettysburg Penn.
July 4th 1863
Dear Mother
I am here a prisoner of war & mortally wounded. I can live but a few hours more, at farthest. I was shot fifty yards of the enemy's line. They have been extremely kind to me. I have no doubt about the final result of the battle and I hope I may live long enough to hear the shout of victory before I die. I am very weak. Do not grieve my loss. I had hoped to have been spared but a righteous God has ordained otherwise & I feel prepared to trust my cause in his hands. Farewell to you all. Pray that God will receive my soul.
Your unfortunate son

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