Voice from the Past: "Not peace, but a sword"

Posted: 12/26/2011
Author: Laura June Davis
An 1862 drawing of Wilder Dwight by one of the men in his regiment. Dwight was mortally wounded at Antietam.

Happy Holidays! Today's Voice from the Past is Wilder Dwight of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. The following passage is an excerpt from a 15 December 1861 letter to his mother:

We can hardly receive the Christmas message, ‘On earth peace, good-will toward men,’ in any obvious and literal sense this year. It is said to be the appointed time for a holiday massacre and uprising among the slaves. It is certain that few Christmas firesides which do not miss a soldier from their circle can gather in our land. ‘Not peace, but a sword.’ Yet I can confidently wish a Merry Christmas to you, and look forward to a happier New Year. We are fighting a good fight; if only we can be true to our cause and ourselves, we have the right to indulge the brightest hopes and rely on the best promises. God is with us. 

Citation: Wilder Dwight, "Letter from Wilder Dwight, December 15, 1861," in Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols. (Boston, MA: Ticknor & Co., 1891), 349.

Photo Credit: Heritage Auctions.
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