Letters written to Thomas H Sims. By Harriet A (Lee) Sims
Troy E. Hall
Mt. Pleasant, Maury Co.
18th May 1864
How will I commence this letter for I know it will convey news that will grieve your heart. Yes Thomas we have resigned to the supreme Lord of life and death our lovely Gray in hope of seeing him again in a lovelier form, a glorified resemblance to the Son of God. His little body moulders in the dust beneath the old sugar tree in the graveyard by the side of his aunt at grandmaís. His spirit perfect with Christ. Thomas should we repine and weep. Why would we rather have our child tossed on the waves of trouble than be safe in the harbor of peace. He has entered into the rest prepared for the children of God. He will never know hunger nor thirst, pain, sorrow or suffering more. He will never taste the baneful fruit of sin. Here we snatch our few pleasures like gleams of sunshine between clouds upon a morning landscape. And little Gray is far from all this. He is perfectly safe. Happy exchange! Perhaps he has wisdom to look back with grateful emotions on the difficulties, perils and snares he has escaped. Oh how can we lament when we reflect that our tender and beloved Gray is forever far removed from all the physical and moral evils with which we are daily, hourly beset. Thomas you will think from my conversation that I gave him back to Jesus without a murmur. You are sadly mistaken. I thought it would kill me and at times now it seems as if my brain was on fire. I do not believe that any one ever felt more acute agony, more heartfelt anguish. I felt as if my lot was harder than any one else, too hard to bear. I felt as if I could not pray, that God had taken my almost idol from me and in perfect health. I did not have faith to submit to his will. But now, thank God I can say aright thy will be done Oh Lord and not mine. I got down in humble prayer and prayed for a meek and submissive spirit. Oh how I prayed that you might have more faith that I had to bear your bereavement. Our little Gray arose last Friday morning in perfect health. When I went upstairs to awake him up for breakfast he was sitting up in bed. He said Ma "I saw that yank". One had just left. He had searched upstairs he said for soldiers. He laughed one of his little cunning laughs and asked me if he came to take him and Willie off. I told him no. He was so affectionate all day. Went with me to get some bark to dye some thread. He picked the bark up put it in the basket and brought his little arms full to the house. He talked so much about me making him some new pants and cloth shoes. And he took so much interest in every thing I did. Hugh was sick and Willie was always in the field with the boys if he could. Poor little Gray had no one to play with him. He came into the house picked up a long string and I tied it on a stick to make him a whip and he started out to the kitchen. I told him to bring Frank a piece of bread. He brought it and laid it in the bed by his side and said "Here bud." These are the last words I remember hearing him say. Friday evening Gray was lonesome. He had no one to play with him except Bell and she was asleep. He went to the kitchen and played awhile and Aunt Mary said he started towards the spring and called Bell. She was asleep. Aunt Mary told him to come back but he wandered on till he got to the spring. And we suppose was trying to fish with the whip and fell in and pay there and struggled for life when I was so near and could have saved him so easy if it had been Godís will. I have no doubt he called Oh Ma if he said anything when he fell. Oh how sad! It seems as if my heart would break. When I went out to feed my goslings I missed him for he was always with me when I was out. I asked Jack where Gray was. He told me he was in the kitchen. I felt easy for never knew him to go off alone. He hardly ever went to the spring with any one but me. I never knew him to go down there by himself before. But it was Godís will that he should. When we found him life was extinct. Oh how I suffered. I felt if God would let him speak to me only once. I could bear it better. His Grandma held him in her lap and everything was done to restore life but all in vain. No one can tell how I have suffered the last week. It seems as if I had lived an age in that time. That sweet little form floating on the water is ever present let me do what I will. He is so deeply engraved on my heart that his little image will never be effaced. I have often thought that this affliction was sent because I was growing cold getting too worldly and remiss in my duty. Oh I felt like I could never commit another sin if I knew it. Yes the nearer we draw to Christ the nearer we will be to our angel Gray. Oh what felicity and honor to be the father and mother of a little angel in Heaven. What motive to holy living. How earnestly ought we to prepare for our home above. We ought to be willing to make any sacrifice to meet him in Heaven. And this should be an incentive to draw our hearts upwards and homewards. I advise you not to grieve for he is gone. His soft engaging smile shall never more please a fatherís eye or his gentle voice thrill with delight his motherís heart. But grieving will not bring him back to us but we can go to him and that is a great consolation. Then we have other children whose welfare requires our most vigilant care to provide for and advise and lead in the way they should go. And urge them to pursue virtue and holiness so at death they will be united with their angel brother. Gray was too pure for this world of sin. He was do kind and free hearted and full of life. He was always in some innocent mischief playing ever out of humor. And could be persuaded to anything without crying as the most of children. He talked about Pa going to make him a ring like Bellís and about your coming home when you had killed all the Yanks. I love to go upstairs and meditate and call to mind all his actions which once yielded us so much delight but now thrills us with pain. I can see in imagination his little form and lovely features and hear his gentle voice floating on the balmy air bidding me come. And often at the dead hour of night I have raised up and looked around to see if I could not catch a glimpse of him if only in a shroud and grave clothes. Yes Thomas I have almost prayed to see him thus. It would not frighten me in the least. But I know if I could see him clothed in all the righteousness of Christ and see that little face shinning as the sun I could not wish him here for a moment and we should carry our thoughts to that pure region where millions are redeemed from sin and are drinking of the water that flows from the throne of God. And this is the happy place to which our little Gray has gone. And we should not wish to bring him back here but rather prepare ourselves and children to join him there. What a happy family if we all should meet in Heaven.
I expect the girls will tell you the news if there is any in the neighborhood. The family are all well, the girls and Willie have gone to Sunday School and preaching for there is a two day meeting going on. Ma and Aunt Betsy(?) went Saturday. Willie grows very fast. Frank walked several steps yesterday. He grows fast. He can crawl outdoors. Thomas I will bring my letter to a close. You must take good care of yourself and write to me every chance you get and write long letters. I need something to encourage and revive me up. Give my love to Frank and Doc(?) and tell them to write to me. Farewell for awhile.
Your affectionate wife
My Loved Husband
I thought as I have finished the business and toil of the day I would sit down and while away an hour or two in conversing with the one that has my daily thoughts and prayers. One that is nearest and dearest of all the earth to me. Oh how sad to think of this cruel war. Parents and children separated but worse than all husbands and wife. How sad to think of much less experience. The desolate hearts hoping for their ones return is all that can cheer them up. You requested me to be cheerful and hope. I do try but alas how far from feeling so. I talk and laugh and try to be lively and for a moment may forget my sorrows. But then they return with greater force and very often the tears will come in spite of me. To be cheerful and feel so is impossible when I know that you are far away, sick and have no one to smooth your brow and cheer you up. Oh that I were with you now to care for you. You must try to bear with patience your sufferings. Remember whom the Lord loveth He chastiseth. Prayer is our only resort in sorrow. A great recreation when at night I have wept myself almost sick. I get out of bed and kneel down and humble my self and the mighty hand of God raises me up. I remember how merciful he is of old how He has cheered with numberless enjoyments. And my beloved husband amid all of your mental and bodily suffering call to mind the thousand and tens of thousands that have suffered. The only comfort is drawn from a view of our suffering Savior who for the joys that were before him endured the cross. So we must to be like him be meek submissive and patiently endure all things. I believe he will hear our prayers that have been raised to him for the restoration of your health and will let you be restored to me. I look forward with great solicitude to that hour when I can behold your dear face again. When we can converse together and unite our prayers to the great high God. Little Frank is the prettiest and smartest little fellow you ever saw but he is crying now so I will have to close. It is reported that the Yankees have been ordered to leave Columbia. I do hope it is so for they are destroying things generally. They do not respect Union men any more than Confederates. The family all sends their love to you. Your Ma is ( ) but trying to get some one to go after you but have not succeeded yet. I hope to see you soon for I feel like you will come home. Write soon to your loving and devoted. Harriet
P.S. I send you a piece of my dresses I made.