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The Trials of the Soldier's Wife - A Tale of the Second American Revolution
by Alex St. Clair Abrams
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The tale which the reader has just finished perusing is taken from scenes that actually occurred during the present war—except, perhaps, that part which relates the tearing of the mother from the bedside of her dead child. In every other respect all that is narrated in the foregoing pages are strictly true, and there are parties now in the South, who, when they read this work, will recognize in themselves, some of the characters represented herein. The Author would rejoice, for the sake of humanity and civilization if the tale he has written was only a fiction of his own imagining; but did it not contain truths the work would never have been written. No other object than that of calling attention to the vast misery and wretchedness which at the present time of writing abounds in the South, prompted the Author to pen the pages which you have perused. He has witnessed them himself; he has seen the soldiers wife absolutely starving, and from a slender purse has himself endeavored to relieve their necessities. To present before the world the fact that there are thousands in our midst who are in absolute beggary, has been the object of the writer, and to call on those who are able to do so, to aid these unfortunates, is his purpose. This book is an appeal to the Rich in favor of the Poor. It is the voice of Humanity calling upon Wealth to rise from her sluggish torpor and wrest the hungry and threadbare victim from the grasp of Famine, and drive desolation from our midst. If this call is answered; if the wealthy awake to their duty and save the wretched beings who are in our midst, then the Author will have gained a richer reward than all the profits accruing from this work. He will have been more than rewarded by the knowledge that he has been the instrument, through which charity has once more visited the South, and swept oppression and want from our land. Such scenes as those we daily witness were never seen, even in the mildest form a few short years ago. Prior to the war there was scarcely a beggar in the South, and from one end of the country to the other could we walk without hearing the voice of the mendicant appealing to our benevolence. How changed now! In every city of the South the streets are filled with ragged boys and girls stopping each passer by and asking aid. It is a disgrace to humanity and to God, and that such things should be in our land, whose sons have exhibited such heroism and devotion.—Many of these beggary are the sons and daughters of our soldiers—of our honored dead and heroic living. To the soldier who lies beneath the sod a martyr to his country's cause, their sufferings are unknown; but if in Heaven he can witness their penury, his soul must rest ill at peace and weep for those on earth. To the soldier, who is still alive and struggling for our independence, the letter that brings him news of his wife's and children's poverty must bring him discontent, and render him unwilling to longer remain in the army and struggle for liberty while they are starving. How many times have not desertion taken place through this very cause. In Mississippi we witnessed the execution of a soldier for the crime of desertion. On the morning of his execution he informed the minister that he never deserted until repeated letters from his wife informed him of her wretched condition; informed him that herself and her children were absolutely starving. He could no longer remain in the army; the dictates of his own heart; the promptings of his affection triumphed and in an evil hour he deserted and returned home to find her tale, alas! too true. He was arrested, courtmartialed and shot. He had forfeited his life by his desertion and bore his fate manfully; his only fear being for the future welfare of that wife and her children for whom he had lost his life. When he fell, pierced by the bullets of his comrades, was there not a murder committed? There was, but not by the men who sentenced him to death. They but performed duty, and, we are charitable enough to suppose, performed it with regret. The murderers were the heartless men who are scattered over the land like, locusts, speculating on the necessities of the people, and their aiders and abettors are those who calmly sat with folded arms, and essayed not to aid his family. Rise, O my readers and aid the poor of our land. Let your hearts be filled with mercy to the unfortunate. Remember that

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed, It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes The crowned monarch better than his crown:"

and in performing an act of charity you bless yourself as well as the one who is benefited by such charity.

We shall now close our remarks with the hope that the reader will appreciate the motive which prompted the writing of this book. As will be seen, it has no plot—it never was intended to have any. The Author intended merely to write a simple narrative when he commenced this work, and to place before the public in the most agreeable form of reading, a subject of vital importance to the Confederacy, and to impress upon the minds of the wealthy their duty to the poor. He knows not whether he has succeeded in the latter hope, and he could have wished that some other pen had taken up the subject and woven it into a tale that could have had a better and more lasting effect than the foregoing is likely to have. Nevertheless he trusts that all his labor is not lost, but that some attention will be paid to his words and a kinder feeling be manifested towards refugees and the poor than has hitherto been shown. If this be done then nothing but the happiest results can follow, and the blessings of thousands, the heartfelt blessings of thousands on earth, will follow those who aid in the work of charity, called for by the present emergency, and from the celestial realms the voice of God will be heard thanking His children on earth for their kindness to their fellow mortals.

* * * * *

For the publication of this work the Author has to thank the kind proprietor of the "Atlanta Intelligencer," Col. Jared I. Whitaker. To this gentleman is he indebted for being able to present the work to the public, and to him does the Author extend his sincere thanks. In Col. Whitaker the Confederacy has one son who, uncontaminated by the vile weeds of mortality which infest us, still remains pure and undefiled, and, not only the obligations due from the author are hereby acknowledged, but as one who has witnessed the whole souled charity of this gentleman, we can record of him the possession of a heart, unswayed by a sordid motive. To this gentleman are the thanks of the author tendered, with the wish that he may live many long years to reap the reward due to those, who, like himself, are ever foremost in deeds of charity and benevolence.

END OF APPENDIX

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