To My Dear Children:
I enlisted in the War for the Independence of the South on the 11th of April last, and I expect to leave soon for Virginia, which State the North is threatening to invade.
If I should not survive the War, and shall not be spared to give you my counsel as you grow up, and when you enter on the practical duties of life, I desire now to say a few words to you for your future guidance.
Be obedient to your Mother and to your Teachers at school, be steadfast, be just, be truthful, scorn to tell a falsehood under any circumstances. Be Peaceful (not quarrelsome), particularly with your neighbors, be industrious, be energetic, attend to whatever business you undertake with vigor, and do provide for yourselves and families.
Don't squander your property; don't go security for anyone, except a few of your neighbors, and only those that are safe beyond a doubt. I would advise you all to take some profession, even if you do not follow it; and always, after you settle in life, read and try all the time to be improving your minds. A great deal can be accomplished this way, much more than you suppose. I have no better mind than any of you, and by study and perseverance I have obtained some position.
The most important act of your life will be that of marriage. Do, my boys, don't marry a lady simply because she is pretty, and don't marry beneath yourselves. Select a lady in your sphere of life who is naturally smart and whose relations are smart and one who has been well educated. Let her possess a Good Constitution and from healthy (not consumptive) parentage, and whilst I would not have you set yours hearts too much on worldly things, marry at least as much property as you have and more if you can get it honestly. Don't think me selfish and cold-hearted, my dear boys, but mark what I tell you, this poor world of ours is governed very much by the "Almighty Dollar."
I could write you a volume if I had the time, but my Country calls me. I must tell you something, however, that I came near forgetting. Be brave. A coward is the contempt of mankind. Avoid a quarrel, but being in, so conduct yourself that your opposer may beware of you. Don't disgrace my name by a cowardly act.
Adieu, my dear angel boys, Adieu
O. M. Dantzler
(Colonel Dantzler was killed at Bermuda Hundreds, Virginia, June 2nd, 1864. He was a colonel of the 22nd regiment South Carolina volunteers.)