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Young Men Want Parents' Permission To Enlist In Army

Written in the Spring of 1862

(first part of this letter addressed to Dunstan Banks, father of Robert W. Banks, was lost). . . Yet the country needs my services and has your blessing rather than be compelled to let me go. — however reluctant ‘twill be in the end. I know that having always cherished the idea of my being an educated man, in the highest sense of the word, it is hard for you to entertain the thought of having your fondest dreams nipped in the bud; but then you remember the times have changed a great deal within the last few years- “our own Sunny South” with all her flourishing institutions of a short time back is now in a perilous condition — about to be overrun by merciless and implacable foe, and “tis the duty” of every “freedom loving” son of hers to rally to the rescue, and drive the hireling invador back, or nobly perish in the attempt, as did many a gallant brave on the bloody field of Shiloh.

Twelve months ago you would have burned with honest indignation if any one would have hinted that Mississippi would be invaded in so short a period and that you would not consent for me to strike a blow in her defense. Yet this very thing has happened.

I know that there are many in the C. S. [Crystal Springs] who have completed their education and are now amassing vast fortunes, who could go to war and do not. If such men do not their duty, is that any reason why I should neglect mine?

This conscription act is the ‘medicine’ for such selfish individuals. I hope that it will place the last one of them in the “front ranks” and cause them to fight to the last extremity, or it will cause them to fill a coward’s grave — a fit reward for such cowardice.

Give my best love to mother and sisters, and accept the same for yourself. With the wish that I may hear from and gain your consent to serve my country, soon,

I Remain ever
Your affect. Son,
Robert W. Banks

“Civil War Letters of Robert W. Banks”, Journal of Mississippi History 5 (July, 1943): 142


Camp Fisher near Dunifries, Va.
February 13th, 1862
Dear mother-
Yours of the 30th inst. came to hand a few days since and I now take my seat to reply. I am still enjoying good health and hope that you enjoy the same blessing. But to the point for which I write. I want to know your opinion about re-listing- you must know that the time for action has arrived we must show the enemy that we are going to fight it out. We are trying to reorganize the “old company” I would not consent to become a member of that company before consulting you. I have talked with Captain Wier and others and they advised me to write to you before re-listing. If reports are true we have suffered many defeats lately. This you know must encourage the enemy and is calculated to discourage us. There are 75,600 now in front of us and Gen. McLelland [George B. McClellan] says he will advance as soon as the roads permit. I have just come from “dressparade” and will now finish my badly written letter. Tell “Log” that I have received her letter and will answer it soon. Tell “Alice” that I am making a ring for her and will send it in my letter to “Laura.” I understand that Gov. Pettus has called out 12,000 more men. I expect that Dr. Bell will have to leave and all other married men for I cannot see where they will come from if the married men do not go. I want you to write as soon as you get this so that I will know what to do. I want to see you all very much, but I do not wish to start home next spring when the fighting begins and if I re-enlist I can go home now besides getting the fifty dollars bounty. I must close by asking you to answer this letter as soon as received.

Give my love to all and accept the same from

Your affectionate son,
George W. Hopkins

George Washington Hopkins Papers, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

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