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[Detail] Photographic Print of Tilton C. Reynolds, undated


In writing, mood is the emotional quality or tone that pervades a passage. Mood can be cheerful, angry, sad, hopeful, purposeful, hopeful, resigned, or despairing.  Mood can be conveyed directly ("he was happy") or indirectly through evocative language ("it was a dark and stormy night").

In June 1862, Tilton Reynolds was missing following the Battle of Fair Oaks (Virginia). Joseph Green, a friend of the Reynolds family, searched the battlefield for Tilton after the Union defeat. On June 21, he wrote to Tilton's mother: 

picture of Tilton Reynolds

Photographic Print of Tilton C. Reynolds, undated. In his letter, Green several times referred to a likeness (picture) of Tilton. Why do you think he felt it was important to mention the picture in the letter to Tilton's mother?

Juliana do be as contented as you posibly can a bout Tilton for I think he is as Safe as can be. I am Shure he was not killed for we was all over the battle field where he was See[n] last and wher[e] our compiny fought and not a Sign of him could we find. And if he had of been wounded they would not of took him for they did not take any of our wounded for they had a nough to do to get there own a way. There was an orderly Surgant in compiny E Wounded and there was a young fellow by the name of Larimer was taking care of him and the Rebbles came and took Larimer and Stuck up a Shelter tent over the wounded man and left him there. This Larimer was a guide the Same as Tilton was. Him and Tilton both Staid in one tent when was as head Quarters So Tilton will not be a lone if he is a prisner. There was 3 more out of our Co. prisoners John Osburn [Osborn] for one.

From "Letter from Joseph F. Green to Juliana Smith Reynolds, June 21, 1862" 

What mood did Green try to evoke? How did he convey the mood?

Read the remainder of the letter. How do you think Green really felt about the situation? Write a diary entry for Joseph Green, evoking the mood you think a soldier might feel after a defeat in battle, with a family friend missing and many comrades injured or ill. In your diary entry, underline the words you think are most effective in conveying the mood.