Nancy finally receives a nice long letter from John in December.
He assumes she knows all about Chickamauga—which she does because it happened six months prior.
This battle was a blow to the Union army after the victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg.
Now John's letter goes on to tell, in intricate details, what happened in battle.
For Jethro, it makes him feel like he's there.
John breaks down Grant's battle strategies and tells of the moments leading up to the charge of the battle.
Jethro makes a copy of John's letter to send to Jenny and Shad, in addition to describing the battle details to John's kids.
Talk of peace starts popping up in the winter, and in December Lincoln promises to give a free pass to Confederates "who would swear to protect the Constitution and the Union of the states, to abide by the government's pronouncements against slavery" (11.24).
Matt loves the President's decision but there are loads of people in the North and South who don't.
Shad writes to Jethro about how he and Jenny actually saw Lincoln and Grant when they visited Washington.
1864 brings about exciting presidential election buzz and it seems like there's a lot of hatred for Lincoln.
People are tired of the war and want a winner to be crowned, but instead the summer brings yet another battle that makes Confederate Lee look good.
What the Union needs to clinch this war is to get their hands on Petersburg.
Shad writes a letter to Jethro expressing his response.
Apparently Shadrach's had a little change of heart toward McClellan because he is excited for the nomination.
McClellan's running platform includes not "offer[ing] peace on any terms short of the reestablishment of the Union" (11.48)—so we know where Shad stands on that one.
But by November things are looking way up for the North and voters ends up reelecting Lincoln.
Shortly afterward, a couple battles pop up in Tennessee. And John has a lot to write home about.
His first note gives a quick weather run-down and includes some praise for General Thomas.
But the second note—oh, the second—that's where things get interesting.
While feeding some rebel prisoners, John sees someone that looks like Matt.
Could it be? Is it he? Why yes, yes it is. It's Bill.
And get some tissues because things are about to get super emotional all up in John's letter.
So when John first sees Bill he stops like a deer in headlights; then, on the sly, he tells Bill that he'll try to come back.
John goes to his captain and asks if he could talk to one of the rebel prisoners since they're real live blood brothers.
He gets the go-ahead and goes back to find Bill.
And despite their environment John writes, "we was brothers agin and we talked like brothers ought to talk" (11.63).
John updates Bill on their family and everything he can remember from Jethro's letters.
Eventually it comes time for John to leave but before he does, Bill asks that John relay a very important message back to Ellen: "he was not at Pittsburg Landing. That bullet was not fired by him…" (11.64). Phew.