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Augusta County: A. J. Gilkeson to Gilkeson's brother (probably Hugh Gilkeson), October 6, 1862

Gilkeson updates his brother on the health of his family and remarks upon the excitement of the times. He then devotes considerable space to discussing conscription and the reasons that he believes his brother should employ a substitute (he emphasizes the need to stay home as a father).

Oct. 6th 1862


My Dear Brother

David, a few days since, gave me yours of the 17 [illeg.] and at the same time, requested me to answer it, which I promised to do. I have neither written to nor received a letter from you for a long time. I suppose your excuse and mine for neglecting each other for so long a period are one and the same; [unclear: viz], we hear from each other through David. I have often thought I would write, but really in the times of such excitement I am almost unfit for any thing. I often feel, particularly after the occurrence of a battle or of a series of battles, that it will be impossible for me to bear up against the excitement. But I at all times, feel so restless and unsettled that I can scarcely compose myself to write at all.

We are all in our usual health, as are

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David and his family. Father has been more troubled of late with the inflammation in his face than usual; but I think it has not been near so bad as it was frequently in by-gone years. We have just gotten through with a very interesting meeting of the [unclear: Synod] of Virginia. It assembled here on last Wednesday evening and adjourned on Saturday evening. The subject of the chaplaincy in the army and furnishing aid and comfort to our soldiers in various ways occupied the greater part of their time. There were some very able and interesting speeches made on the subject: some detailing their experience as chaplains heretofore, and others, who have been within the enemy's lines, giving a detailed account of the sufferings and indignities inflicted on our people by the Yankees. But you will doubtless see an account of the proceedings of Synod in the Central Presbyterian.

You ask if the conscript law has been enforced in Virginia, and what are

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our plans when all between the ages of 35 & 45 may be conscripted. I think the first conscript bill has been pretty generally inforced here. And now all between the ages of 35 & 45 are liable to be called into service at any time. David employed a substitute, a week or two since, for whom he paid One Thousand Dollars. I have not as yet, and I think I will not; as I am satisfied that no surgeon will pronounce me fit for duty in the field, and if not I [unclear: hear] from our Representation (Col Baldwin) that they cannot require any other service of me. And in reference to your case I do no think you ought [unclear: indicate] the circumstances, to think of going into service. You must know that it is all important that you should remain at home on account of your children [illeg.] and your brother-in-law being in the service, you having the control of his business, you will be, very likely, exempted. But if you should not be exempted I think you ought not to hesitate

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to get a substitute. That is my decided conviction, and David and Father unite with me in urging you to get one. I am satisfied that you cannot stand the service; and if you attended it, your life will almost certainly be the forfeit, although you may never be in a battle. Now a man must be governed by the circumstances of the case: if he may be satisfied that he cannot stand the service, and his family and friends require his presence at home, then by all means let him employ a substitute. Now you may feel that you are not able to pay for one: but reflect that you can much better afford to employ a substitue, than your children can afford to be fatherless at this tender age. In addition to that is the fact, that your presence at home, during the times that war will probably last, will save you more than your have to pay for a substitue. Now cannot you make us a visit this fall, or winter. I would be so glad to see you. I am now a housekeeper, and will have so much more satisfaction with you now than when you were here before. And then it would be such a gratification to Father to see you once more. Make an effort to come, wont you? Do write me immediately on recieving this, & tell what you think of my suggestions. [unclear: Sam] joins in much love to you and joins me in urging you to pay us a visit. Give my love to your dear little [unclear: Amy]. Do write at once.

Yours affectionately

A. J. Gilkeson

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