It's not hard to figure out what this soldier wanted from home more than anything else. Shoes -- and the socks to wear with them -- were a perennial problem for both armies. Leather wore out quickly, and socks knitted from all-natural materials were never far behind. Although couched in comical language and laced with plays on words, the poet's plea for socks is genuine.

The Foote referred to in the tenth verse is probably Henry Stuart Foote (1804-1880), a Virginian who sat in the Confederate Congress and did his best to thwart the Davis administration's prosecution of the War. An ardent proponent of peace, he was an equally enthusiastic supporter of Reconstruction.

This poem was found in War Lyrics and Songs of the South, which was collected and published by Spottiswoode in London in 1866. A note to the reader explains that "a 'faithful few' among the 'honorable women, not a few,' in the Northern and Border States of the late Southern Confederacy, have thrown hastily together 'this Book of Poems,' in the hope that its sale to the charitable may secure a fund for the relief of the crippled and invalid men who fought as soldiers in the war at the South; the impoverished women and children, widows and orphans, as well as those who from 'sorrow, need, sickness, and other adversity,' have lost their health and their minds."

The note also explains that "the present volume has been printed in England, under circumstances that have prevented its receiving that revision in passing through the press which otherwise it would have had."

"Epistle to the Ladies"

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Last modified 18-April-2001