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Fighting for Home

Hoyle’s second motivation to fight came from his home where his loving wife, Sarah, resided in Cleveland County. When days or weeks would go by without news from her Hoyle would write to encourage Sarah to send letters that were longer and to send them more frequently. His letters many times began with his expression at the joy she gave him. On May 23, 1862 Hoyle claimed that, “It raised my heart to read a few lines from one whom I know loves me... Dear Sarah you are so kind.” (Item 43) It appeared Hoyle kept fighting for the desire to see his wife.

Hoyle also frequently mentioned Isaac and Rufus Self in his letters home to his wife. Isaac and Rufus were the brothers of Sarah Hoyle. According to McPherson the war has been referred to as “the brothers war.” Brothers who fought along side one another in hopes of preserving their lives, as exhibited by the Self Brothers. (McPherson 1998). It was an implied duty of the soldiers to lookout for and to know the whereabouts, safety, and health of their relatives away at war. Thus, Lieutenant Hoyle checked in frequently to find out the status of these two young men. In a letter composed on December 29th 1863 Hoyle stated, “ I was glad to know that you had heard from Isaac and that he was well.” (Item 251) Many times soldiers’ would write a letter to an individual at home expecting that person to share the latest personal and war news with close friends. When Hoyle’s unit was stationed in Culpeper, Virginia he wrote to his wife, “You can tell mother’s folks how I am, for I am so feeble that I do not feel like writing to them till now” (Item 248) Although Hoyle and other soldiers cherished their homes, they maintained the motivation to fight by knowing he could tell his family how he was doing personally if the war ended. Lieutenant Hoyle even wrote a letter to his wife noting how much he missed his family members. He said, “Tell Rufus and Rooker I send them my best wishes, I would be glad to see them again.” (Item 250) Later he wrote Sarah warning her to urge Rufus to come back to the army base because his leave from being injured was up. Ultimately both Isaac and Rufus passed away during the war. Thus, his constant mention of family and desire to see his wife’s face seemed to be thoughts and feelings that prodded Lieutenant Hoyle to continue fighting.

Since Hoyle did not own slaves and since he was from the Western part of North Carolina, a region that generally was not as adamant about the Confederacy’s ideals for fighting, other motivations had to fill that void. One Confederate soldier surmised their motivations by stating, “A soldier fought for matters real and tangible... our property and our homes.” (McPherson 1994, 18) According to McPherson, “a soldiers consciousness of fighting for those at home buoyed them up.” (1997, 131) Likewise, Hoyle knowingly loved and missed his wife. He seemed to show that fighting for the Confederacy was inextricably linked to fighting for Sarah and his home. Hoyle found these matters of home, his wife, and his family to be a large motivating factor for fighting. On May 23rd 1862 he wrote, “ Of course I would rather be at home with you, but since my country demands it, I will have to be content to stay here.” (Item 42) According to Mitchell in Why the Confederacy Lost, many soldiers were torn between their homes and fighting for the confederacy. He stated, “ Not surprisingly, more of them chose their duty to their families over their duty to the Confederacy, even over their duty to their fellow soldier.” (Boritt 1992, 127) Hoyle depicted a soldier who though he fought for and dearly missed his home such sentiments propelled deeper motivation in him to continue the fight rather than desert the army.