Flowers For Kate


Who is ready for the chilly weather to end? Can’t wait for those perfect seventy degree days and to see the tulips burst into bloom?

Out here in Southern California, we got a spring heat wave for a couple days, and it woke up the green leaves and blossoming trees. As much as I’ve enjoyed the rainy winter, I’m so ready for spring.

As military history students, we tend to think (historically) of spring as the beginning of large campaigns. That’s true, but I think it’s also important to remember that soldiers enjoyed the same “signs of spring” that we look for in the early days of the season.


In April 1864, a newly-wed bride settled into her Richmond home and sent a letter to her husband, describing the new flowers she’d purchased to plant in the front yard. The officer responded, approving his wife’s gardening decision and providing a delightful image of a spring morning in a military camp.

…What a pleasure it would be to be able to tend the flowers with you & help to beautify & adorn the house you live in. In the future that we both look forward to, this love of flowers will be a great source of happiness to us.

How I wish I could have been with you when you purchased them. Flowers are my special delight. I am glad you got yourself some; treat yourself to anything of the sort whenever you have a mind to. I only would be glad to have an opportunity to aid you in the selection.

It does seem to me a pity to shut up anyone in a dry, dusty city. And every time I step out of my tent & look at the green grass & fields & forests decked out in their spring livery, or listen to the birds singing as they do now in my hearing, I am sorry for your deprivation. I wish you could be here in the morning about sunrise, to enjoy the music of the birds. There are two mocking birds that sit just in the trees before my tent door, & warble most delightfully. Occasionally they vary their music by calling dogs, & imitating the clicking of hens, or the discordant cries of guinea fowls. They are wonderful birds; I should like to have a pair of them in a cage…


(Alexander S. Pendleton to Kate Corbin Pendleton – April 15, 1864)

Source: Stonewall’s Man: Sandie Pendleton by W.G. Bean, page 194.

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