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Alex Cressler to Henry A. Bitner, July 30, 1861

MSS 11395
Special Collections Department, University of Virginia

Chambersburg, July 30th/61

Dear Friend:-

Yours of the 19th inst. was received in due time, I was sorry to hear that you were not well., but I hope that you are now stout and hearty, enjoying the pleasures of a beautiful country home. I know not whether you would prefer a town life to one in the country, but if you lived in town awhile and had nothing to do, you would realize the truth of that saying, that "nothing to do" is the hardest work that one can engage in. I hope you will take care of that and always manage to have something to do, for children learn mischief when they learn nothing else.

You will excuse me for reminding me of the value of health, but my object is to put you on your guard that you may not, by unnecessary means, impare or injure your health, for it is one of the greatest gifts conferred upon a man by a bountiful Creator, a gift which few enjoy, and which a still less number try to preserve, how much less suffering would there be in the world if people would regard their health in the proper light, The only possible excuse that could be advanced for one's neglecting his health would, I suppose be, that Dr's must live too, He who loses his health, by abusing it, will then for the first time discover that he has forfeited all his claims to unalloyed and perfect happiness. Now as you and I are yet young and healthy, let us resolve that our health shall claim its share of attention,-that we will ever strive to preserve and maintain it as long as it is the will of our Maker to do so.

The war is not over yet, - the difficulties remain unsettled - the traitors still live to plot our destruction yea! it is just beginning to assume its destructive form. the defeat at Manassas Junction, and the cruel manner in which our wounded heroes were treated will forever remain on the pages of history as a living testimony against the slave drivers of the South, when the people of the North once suffer the cruelties which the south chooses to inflict-when his life depends on the sympathy of a southerner, he will say "the half was not told us of the inhumanity of this people" no, the war is not ended yet, we permitted the south to inflict upon a poor and helpless race of God's creatures the most unjust tortures that was ever heaped upon any race of human beings, and now we are to be asked to do just what rational beings might have expected to bow down on our knees before them that a like burden may be placed upon our shoulders, but will we do it, will we as freeman succumb to their unjust demands? will we sacrifice ourselves and our children to the everlasting curse of slavedom? No, but we will cheerfully sacrifice our all upon the alter of our Country and stand by the Constitution and the laws until the last drop of our heart's blood shall have oozed from our bosoms, not as long as we inherit the spirit by which our fathers were actuated can we shrink from the task before us, nor can we until that spirit shall have been entirely annihilated, yield to the mandate of that notorious traitor Jeff. not until we have lost everything that is noble in man, can we consent to the destruction of the government, which would be nothing less than our own destruction. No the war is not ended yet, the fighting is yet to do, and Virginia will become a free state, and slavery will gradually die out, and how is this to be done? Why I tell you our troops will take Virginia - occupy it, and then the secessionists will have to leave to escape being imprisoned for treason, and then western Virginia will extend her government over the whole dominion and abolish slavery herself, because the non-slaveholders will carry the elections, and after Virginia becomes a free state and presents to the other southern states her advantage gained by freedom and their disadvantage incured by the curse of slavery they will gradually one after the other become free and those who live to see it will behold the whole union cemented together by bonds of common interest and brotherhood, this is my opinion of the result of this war.

I am getting along with study old fashioned, and have some hopes of getting home before long, wishing you success in your efforts to get a birth of school teaching. I remain your,
True Friend
Alex Cressler