A Civil War Thanksgiving

Lt. Johannes LeFevre

On December 12, 1863, Lieutenant Johannes LeFevre wrote a letter to his father while stationed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was responsible for conducting provost duty.   Just a few months before, President Abraham Lincoln had proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be a day of “thanksgiving and praise.”  In the letter below, Johannes requested information from his family about local gossip.  Also, he related the events of his regiment’s Thanksgiving dinner.  He closed the letter with poignant insight into how soldiers dealt with the death of their comrades.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

We had a stag-dinner an
old-bachelor-dinner for thanksgiving –day. Pete Elting
& Pete & Jake Hasbrouck & I and Matt Hasbrouck
from Stone Ridge. I expect Christmas & New Years
will be about the same if we are here yet & that is
by no means certain.
We had quite a gay time of it after all if it was stag
I would not be surprised if they missed us at home
more than we missed our homes. Two Thanksgivings
have already passed since we left them
With us in the army they have been eventful years
& we have many things for which to be thankful
How many a family circle had its vacant seats which
will never more be filled! O may the glad
time soon come when as each Thanksgiving and
New Year rolls round families may again be
gathered in unbroken circles and the absent ones
return to be called away no more by the bugle notes
of war! We in the army do not miss those who die
, or are killed, one tenth as much as there families & friends
do at home. Here a soldier dies & we bury him- we march
to the grave with Solemn music & to the sound of the dirge
& we march away from it, with lively strains & martial
music & thus we forget them- for it would not do to think of them
it would unnerve us, We would rather look forward to the time
when we shall “Meet our friends once more” Sol remember me
kindly to Phil & all the members of your family. And believe me
ever, most sincerely Your Friend Johan

Johannes LeFevre, December 12,1863 Page 1

Johannes LeFevre, December 12, 1863, Page 2

Johannes LeFevre, December, 12 1863, Page 3

Johannes LeFevre, December12, 1863, Page 4

Johannes never lived to see another Thanksgiving. He died of gangrene, the following October, from wounds he received a the Battle of Cedar Creek.
For more information of Johannes and his family, see the exhibit on HRVH at http://www.hrvh.org/exhibit/ hhslefever/

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2 Responses to A Civil War Thanksgiving

  1. Grace Castle says:

    I love that the history is being presented in this manner!

    There is also information on Johannes and some of the others mentioned in his letter in Answering the Call! An Elting Military Tribute, a book available in the HHS Museum Shop. Johannes was an Elting descendant.

  2. Kate Long says:

    Loved reading his letters with the students at home school day!

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