The letters added an air of authenticity to the story. They also let the reader know how the brothers were doing and kept the story moving toward the end. The letters seemed like they were real because of the dialect used and the misspellings. Enough references were made to family members to let the reader know the connection to the story. They also gave a more real account of how the battles were going and what the troops thought of the generals, unlike what was being published in the newspapers. Notice how Shad's letters were written in a more educated fashion. These communications allowed the reader to see the morale of the troops as well. The letter about John seeing Bill in the POW camp let the reader know that Bill, if he lived, would not return home to further shame the family who had already suffered at the hands of bigots local residents.