On Sept. 3, 1864, a soldier at Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis sent a reassuring letter to his children upriver in Glasgow, a scene repeated thousands of times over the long course of the war. But in this case, the soldier, Pvt. Spotswood Rice, told his daughters to be patient, that he would come to free them. The same day, Rice — once a subservient slave, now a confident Union infantryman — sent another letter — to Kitty Diggs, the woman who owned his children, “that the longor you keep my Child from me the longor you will have to burn in hell and the qwicer you get their.”
My Children I take my pen in hand to rite you A few lines to let you know that I have not forgot you and that I want to see you as bad as ever now my Dear Children I want you to be contented with whatever may be your lots be assured that I will have you if it cost me my life on the 28th of the mounth. 8 hundred White and 8 hundred blacke solders expet to start up the revore to Glasgow and above the thats to be jeneraled by a jeneral that will give me both of you when they Come I expect to be with them and expect to get you both in return.
Dont be uneasy my children I expect to have you. If Diggs dont give you up this Government will and I feel confident that I will get you Your Miss Kaitty said that I tried to steal you. But I’ll let her know that god never intended for man to steal his own flesh and blood. If I had no confidence in God I could have confidence in her. But as it is If I ever had any Confidence in her I have none now and never expect to have. And I want her to remember if she meets me with ten thousands soldiers she (will) meet her enemy I once (thought) that I had some respect for them but now my respects is worn out and have no sympathy for Slaveholders. And as for her cristianantty I expect the Devil has Such in hell You tell her from me that She is the frist Christian that I ever had say that a man could Steal his own child especially out of human bondage.
You can tell her that She can hold to you as long as she can. I never would expect to ask her again to let you come to me because I know that the devil has got her hot set againsts that that is write. now my Dear children I am going to close my letter to you. Give my love to all enquiring friends tell them all that we are well and want to see them very much and Corra and Mary receive the greater part of it you sefves and dont think hard of us not sending you any thing. I you father have a plenty for you when I see you … Oh! My Dear children how I do want to see you.