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Corinth, Mississippi October 20, 1862 My Darling Wife, This morning I am alone in my tent. It's chilly and some cold. This makes it more lonely than were it not so. We yet have no stoves, all the fire we have is the campfire outdoors. To sit and think how congenial, cozy, and happy we could be at home by a snug warm fire and wife to cheer and make home so attractive. How would it seem. That is a joy we have not yet experienced. Are those days yet in store for us, I often ask myself. I know those are happy days for us if a kind and overruling Providence will but allow it. God has been kind to me my darling. He has brought me out of dangers that you know not of. A kind and beneficent hand has protected me in my times of peril and what I most fear is that my life is not in accordance with such kindness: that I am not sufficiently thankful for such blessings and such mercies. Four hard contested fields now I have taken an active part: Blackburn's Ford; Bull Run; Shiloh; and Corinth. In all, that same care has been over me. Each time in going into battle I have said my prayer to my God and each time have I tried in my humble way to thank him for his blessings and protection. I have also my dear wife commended you to his kind care and keeping, knowing that he observes the sparrows fall and that even the hairs of your head are numbered. I have prayed that kind angels might attend you and me and that we yet might be restored to each other. That we should never forget to look to him for mercies and be thankful for blessings received [and] are sufficiently thankful! Let us both by our course of life and by a proper and humble mode of worship try and offer sufficient homage to our only living and true God for his manifold blessings and protection that they may not be withdrawn from us. I trust and pray then, my life and yours will yet be spared many years and we be permitted to enjoy them together and never forgetting the Giver of all good things. Thus my thoughts run tonight my darling and they are not new ones, but they are in a measure new for me to write you thus. I know you love your husband although he is very unkind to leave you so. And will lend a willing assistance in the matter and things I have mentioned. You are blessed with the choicest of homes, your dear Father, Mother, and charming sisters all lend a fond enchantment to it and [not] only that but I should be with you. Your dear home made so attractive makes me feel the most intense longing to enjoy it with you. And not withstanding you are there and I know so well cared for yet that attraction has it's fascination to me, only doubling the comforts and delicacies that I might be in the enjoyment of. From my earliest youth up, you know I never have known what it was to have a Father or Mother and my home has always been among strangers. I have tasted deeply of the cold charities of the world and now that I have so happy a home it seems sometimes hard indeed that I should not be permitted to enjoy it. Still my darling I look to the future, still I see my star. Hope has ever cheered me to duty and still I see I think my home, wife, and kind friends, prosperity and blessings. Am I too confiding? Am I to be decried? In faith I trust that with my God knowing "He doth all things well". My noble and brave boys are happy in camp tonight: music in different parts of the camp; joking, talking and laughing. They seat themselves around the campfires and joyously thus they pass their time away: no care, no responsibility. Sometimes I think I [would] rather be in the ranks with them than with the responsibility of a regiment on my hands. I have no trouble with any of the men: no guard house now for months, but intent for their comfort and welfare is considerable although I have no complaint. I think I am making them as comfortable and easy as possible. I love my Regiment and men, especially my officers. They are all brave and trusty. Upon our last battlefield I lost three of my bravest and best: Captain L. W. Vaughn of Kewanee County; Captain Samuel Harrison of De Pere, Wisconsin, and Lieutenant Samuel A. Tinkham of Waupaca. They were all my friends. After I assumed command of my Regiment, I had Lieutenant Tinkham promoted for bravery at Shiloh and had Captain Harrison promoted from a Lieutenancy to Captain, for I had faith in him. I saw him at Shiloh, where the Captain and 1st Lieutenant had deserted the company. He, the Second Lieutenant, stood bravely and nobly by the boys. All three were in the prime of manhood and were looking forward to many days of happiness to be spent in the bosom of their families. Captain Vaughn's wife had only returned from here a few days before the battle. Seeing her made him desire to return and I think he would have resigned if the authorities would have accepted it. He must have had forebodings of what his fate was to be. How his stricken and heartbroken wife must feel. God be with her, bless, and protect her, comfort her in her loneliness and sorrow. Captain's last words to one of his company that saw him fall were "Tell my wife I died doing my duty". Captain Harrison, I understand, leaves a wife and large family to mourn the sudden death of a kind parent. I don't know that Lieutenant Tinkham leaves a family. He was a very fine, principled, quiet young man, brave and liked by all. Such my darling are the vicissitudes of war: some to glory and some to the grave. Thus I have written tonight. You will peruse these lines in your warm and comfortable room. I wish it were so I could be by your side and read them with you. Henry [Reardon] has just been in and had a sit for a few minutes. It's very pleasant to me to have him and [Edgar W.] Viall here, it seems quite like old times and I am glad they seem so well pleased with their prospects. I am getting chilled and must stop. Love to all and believe me your devoted and affectionate Husband, J Hancock [Captain Joseph G. Lawton and 1st Lieutenant George W. Bowers of Company F, both resigned their commissions in April 1862, following the Battle of Shiloh. Samuel Harrison is listed in the 1860 US census as a farmer residing near De Pere. He was born in England in 1821. Also listed are his wife Susan and their six children.]
Letter from John Hancock to Jennie Reardon Hancock. -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum

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