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Hi everyone. To begin with, just a follow-up on what I wrote in the last chapter of this epically long, seemingly never-ending update on what I am up to. If you remember, I had said that I had been working on the book about the letters my Great Grandfather and his brother wrote home during the American Civil War. I had made pretty much progress and for the past couple of days have been adding foot-notes (more about that in a minute) and an overview of the Civil War action that their two respective units saw during the conflict. And then today, whilst going through my treasure-trove of information about them, I came across a photocopy of a three-page letter than Frank’s mother had written to a Mr. Graham, who apparently was the person who convinced Frank that enlisting was a good thing to do.

The good news about this find was that it was a copy of the actual hand-written letter, as opposed to the previously typed transcriptions I had been working with for the letters themselves. The bad news was that it was bloody hard to read. But, a project is a project, and I have always believed that once a project is begun, it must be driven to its completion. So after several hours, and the assistance of a huge magnifying glass (and then the application of common sense to the word choices), I managed to sort it all about; and then put it into the book as yet another appendix item. Am feeling pretty well chuffed about it.

Now, the reason that I earlier said ‘more about that in a minute.’ After completing the transcription of the letters themselves, I was in a pretty good mood and told a few people about what I had been up to. One of these people is a good friend who lives in the UK. Nicholas is the author of a fabulous book about aerial photography during the First World War (The Western Front from the Air, in case you are interested), and quite a while ago, we had been talking about historical records and I had mentioned that I had all these letters, but really wasn’t sure what to do with them. He had encouraged me to put them into a book. So, when Nicholas phoned me to say hi at about the same time I had more-or-less finished the book, I told him that I had indeed written a book about the letters. He then mentioned that in a few days he was going to see his publisher to talk about his book and wanted to know if was okay with me if he mentioned my project. I said “Sure, why not” but expected that his publisher would just chuckle or at least avoid using language like ‘’oh, cute,’’ or ‘’so?” But later rang me to tell me that the publisher did want to talk with me about “Letters Home,” and the next day in a phone call, I was told that they did indeed want to publish it. Nice…and perhaps one of the easiest publishing arrangements I have ever made. Now, the foot-note thing. The publisher did say to me that he would like me to foot-note selected words in some of the letters, and add the ‘action’ record of the brothers units, and this is why the book is now a tad fatter than it was before. Overall however, I think the publisher was right and I do feel even better now about the project than I did before…which was pretty flippin’ good then so I am feeling extremely chuffed now.

By the way, Frank’s mother was none to happy about him enlisting, as can be seen in her letter…which I thought I, as a parent, would share with you.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 4th, 1861
Mr. Graham,

Sir
Having heard that you and Mr. Clark advised Frank to go and enlist I should like to have you let us know if you can where he is. No doubt if you were interested in his going away you were also enough interested where he went and in what regiment and company he has enlisted. After having advised him to go it is quite likely he would confide in you that much that he would tell you of his whereabouts. Of course I would not wish to concern you in the least if you are not to blame but if Frank was controlled by what you said to him in regard to his being so suitable a young man you ought to have consulted whether his mother was willing first and not begin to praise him and advise him to go.

I supposed he was taught at Sabbath school to obey God’s laws in preference to any others and had he learned them he would know that one was to obey his parents and I think you as professing Christian men ought not to persuade him to break these. I have reared Frank with as much care for him as Mrs. Clark has her son and it is just as hard for me to part with him as for her to part with George or as it should be for your mother to see you or your brother go off to be engaged in this act of taking other men’s lives and sending poor souls into eternity perhaps unprepared to meet the living God. If that is what your Sabbath school teaches I think it high time to with draw my other boys from it that they may not in Sabbath school at least be taught such principles.

Frank has for so far been our obedient and good boy and had he obeyed his own impulses he would I think never have left home in the manner in which he did. He had not told us he was going or enlisted or anything of this kind and we have been to every camp and place around town where he would be likely to stay but could find nothing of him and if you know where he is you will confer a favour by letting us know.

Mrs. M. Rieley

The joys of parenthood. I assume that Mr. Graham’s reaction when he read the letter was something like ‘’Ouch’’ and apparently, deservedly so.

 

As my original intent when I began to write these letters was to share ‘’stuff’’ that is going on here, and to keep you all up to speed, there is something very exciting going on here. If you have diligently been following these “Letters from the Village,’’ you will know that in chapter number 66, I wrote about how I had decided to move from La Antigua to Sol y Mar. Well, after almost four years, I am moving back to the village where this all started. This hasn’t been the easiest of decisions, mainly because I simply adore living on the sea. But as I have often said, the key to making sound decisions is to make them at the right time, for the right reasons. Every time in the past few years when I have driven out to Puigpunyent to make sure my house is okay, I have stood overlooking the courtyard and felt how much I missed being there, so…time to go back. And once I know I am doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time, I don’t see any reason to doddle around. I started packing a couple of days ago and the movers are coming on the 12th. I am, as if you couldn’t tell, pretty chuffed about the prospects of being ‘’home’’ again.

 

 

Well, that photo was taken a few years ago I think

 

my spare room at Sol Mar...that now I can take apart again

 

page 1 of "the letter" to Mr. Graham

 

page two of "the letter"

 

page three of "the letter"

 

waiting for me to come home again

 

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012   James B. Rieley

jbrieley@rieley.com