Civil War Love Letters: November 19, 1864

19, November 2014
"The Chicago Platform: Union Failures," illustration by Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly, October 15, 1864. This drawing by Thomas Nast appears to support George B. McClellan, but each image, surrounded by quotes from the Democratic Party platform, refutes the platform. "The Chicago Platform: Union Failures," illustration by Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly, October 15, 1864. Image from www.sonsofthesouth.net.

By the time James wrote this letter, he had lost all hope of Molly’s brother William obtaining a special exchange for him, but he was pleased with the re-election of President Abraham Lincoln. The war and related issues caused the formation of factions within the primary political parties ahead of the presidential election on November 8, 1864. A group of radical Republicans, who did not like Lincoln, formed the Radical Democracy Party. Their platform called for a continuation of the war until the Confederates surrendered, a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery, and a harsh peace for the South once the war ended. The party nominated John C. Fremont as its presidential candidate, but he withdrew in September after realizing that even Lincoln would be better than a Democratic president. On the other extreme were the radical Peace Democrats, or Copperheads, who believed that the war was a complete failure and wanted an immediate end to the conflict even without securing a Union victory. This platform offended many Union soldiers, including James, who believed it invalidated all their sacrifices. At their convention in Chicago in August 1864, the Peace Democrats nominated Union general George B. McClellan, even though he continued to support the war effort. The more moderate Republicans, who supported Lincoln, became the National Union Party to include War Democrats. These moderates did not want to compromise with the Confederacy to end the war. Lincoln also wanted to ensure that his party’s platform included a pledge to adopt an amendment abolishing slavery.   

Columbia S. C.
November 19th 1864

My Dear Molly

I have waited several days hoping to be fortunate enough to secure an Exchange as I am one of the Oldest Prisoners but it seems Exchanges are postponed again to a future day, and I must be patient. I would have escaped a month ago, only for this expecta­tion. Now it is too late. I rec'd your letter of Oct. 4th yesterday. I was very glad indeed to hear of your health, and that you were still enjoying quiet in Hoosier Land, and had not yet ventured to Missouri. Of course my dissapointment was great to hear that Wm. failed to procure a Special Exchange but the news we have had here led me to anticipate that much. The weather is again warm here, today it rains, and then we look for winter. I wrote to Wm. a few days since for a box to arrive at Christmas and we have begun to pre­pare our Shanty for cold weather; so you can judge that my hopes at present as to being in St. Louis this winter is small. I enter on the winter campaign in good health I assure you, and with the aid of a little money and warm clothing I have sent for will come out in good condition next spring, “so let not your heart be troubled.” Trust in me. There is much to say always that cannot be mentioned in these short notes. I look for later news from you daily by way of Savannah. Give my love and remembrance to Sallie, Mrs. R., Mother, Aunt and all the others when you reach St. Louis. We are much pleased with the election news we receive; sorry to dissapoint the “Doctor” and his allies, but MacClellan has now sunk beneath the surface never to rise, and the Chicago Copperheads will be jibbeted in history with the torries of the 1st revolution. Better far better for them to have come out as honest rebels, if they look for future name and fame!

I could give you much news but I dare not, so read the papers, and I must keep my budget until that time I so long for, when I can see you again face to face, when probably the war will be over and peace again dwell in our glorious land. The prospect at present to me looks bright. May I not be dissapointed in my constant prayer. I know you join with me daily, so I greet you with a thousand loving words and kisses.

I am, as ever,
Yours Sincerely
James E. Love
Capt. 8th K.V.

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