From John Hennessy:
I found this letter years ago at the New York State Library, and came across it again today–an incredibly eloquent statement about war, written on January 1, 1863–the day of Emancipation. It is from a letter by Henry T. Hanks of the 30th New York infantry, written from his unit’s camp in Stafford County.
Let us be thankful, on this the first day of 1863, that we have been permitted to live and act in this age, and in our limited sphere do our part towards hastining [sic] the coming of this boon to mankind which restor[e]s to every soul, Gods sacred birthright–freedom. I have to day more than ever before thought over the object and purpose of our being far away from the loved ones of home, and among strangers in a strange land….Why are we here? I believe if we are true to ourselves and the light we have, history will answer, ‘to restore the nation a unit, and in doing this God says we must distroy [sic] the cause of all our trouble, and purge the nation of its great sin. And though at times all seems dark and gloomy, and we find ourselves obliged to put up without even the necessaries of life, and with scanty fair [sic] besides still when I can look the whole thing calmly in the face, and realize the cause and the wished for results of the war, and when I remember that we should not live and die alone for this generation but must look to the good of futue ages…I can but feel glad that I am here….”