On October 19, 1862, Lieutenant Colonel Carter Van Vleck wrote to his wife and daughter: It takes an immense amt. of study to learn well the art of killing people, without getting killed yourself And that is the great secret of war, to kill & cripple the enemy to the greatest degree with the least possible damage to those under your command It is a fearful yet a very pleasent study I like it much better than I expected to & much better than any thing else I ever studied or practiced. How I should like the sad realities of war, or how I should demean myself in an actual fight, of course I have as little idea as anyone else that kws me I might disgrace myself & family forever or might win hors worthy to be won. During the next two years, the young officer would detail his Civil War experiences in intimate letters to his -whole heart's love, - Patty, and their daughter Nellie. The letters reveal both the external challenges Van Vleck faced and his personal conflicts: the urge to eliminate slavery by serving his country well and the longing to return to his loved ones.