Here is a letter from an unknown Union soldier sharing with his family his love for them back at home and also sharing how the U. S. Christian Commission delegates were doing all they could to encourage him and his comrades in City Point Hospital, Virginia during the winter of 1864.
Here is testimony from an anonymous soldier of how the US Christian Commission delegates were helping him to experience a Merry Christmas far away from home. They gave practical gifts like clothing and books, they gave spiritual encouragement through the meetings and church services offered, and they offered the practical encouragement of helping these soldiers stay connected with family back home through the stationery and envelopes like this one the soldier used to write home on. Because of the delegates' sacrificial giving of themselves and their resources, soldiers like this one saw the love of Christ in tangible ways that pleasantly frosty Christmas in 1864. The Christian Commission did not predicate help on confirming if the soldier was a "Christian in good standing" before any assistance would be given. No, they gave to all in need whatever gifts they had to share as they pointed those who would listen to the Savior Who is the "Reason for the Season".
Do not overlook the Letter Head details:
I initially bought the above letter years ago so I could make up a reproduction of the USCC letter head. The seller warned me that it wasn't a highly valuable letter since the soldier couldn't be traced out and it didn't have much battle content [but he still expected a good price on it]. I smiled and bought it anyway after a quick read, and have not regretted the money invested. Its a revealing description of the delegates activities to help the recovering soldiers, along with additional insights into some of the tensions and hopes the wounded men faced that Christmas. While the Christian Commission could not meet every need of the recovering soldiers as evidenced by this soldier's hope that a personal care package might come from his family, the delegate's involvement clearly said "you are not forgotten" by people back home.
Additionally beyond this one soldier's testimony of how he was personally helped, the Letter Head demonstrates the USCC delegates also tried to do what they could to help the families far from the battlefield. In a situation when communications was sporadic and slow, the USCC tried to help bring whatever comfort of knowledge could be found to families living in uncertainty about their beloved soldier's fate. To me, this gives great insight into how seriously the delegates took their mission of being God's hands, feet & voice in that sad time for our nation.
Vicki & I and our kids have considered it a privilege for the past 20+yrs to help reenactors and spectators alike better understand the gracious love those Civil War USCC delegates showered on men in need like this unknown soldier at City Point Hospital in that winter of 1864.
It is our wish that you, dear reader, might have a Merry Christmas! May you look beyond the "shirts, drawers, stockings, mittens, paper in [en]velopes and books in bundance" that our present day culture seems preoccupied with gathering and see Jesus Who is the reason for the season. To all of our fellow reenactors remember, if you see us in the encampment, you are always welcome at our USCC tent: "God's love is free and so it this food, come on in soldier."
Your comments and insights on this letter and my post are most welcome.