Letter written by Major Thomas K. Jackson, C.S.A., to his fiancée Lucy Reavis of Gainesville, AL, from Enterprise, MS. Jackson jokingly refers to himself as vain for expecting another letter from Reavis so soon after her last one. He describes playing chess with friends, including the Assistant Surgeon, Dr. Huggins. He also mentions a possible visit to Reavis in the upcoming week. Jackson, who is in charge of buying meat for the army, plans to go to Gainesville to purchase supplies for General Braxton Bragg’s army, including one thousand hams. Jackson mentions a local woman that recently shot her husband, then threatened to shoot the soldier who came to investigate.
Enterprise Miss. Oct. 11/63
I rather expected a letter from you this morning – I don’t know why – but somehow I fancied you would write to me yesterday – perhaps it was only an undefined hope – a pleasing something, which I cherished until the barren mail dispelled the illusion – I think of you so much & so fondly, I’m not at all surprised that my vanity should sometimes lead me to imagine you doing little things for my gratification – I had no reason whatever, to expect a letter – but just like us men – especially soldiers now-a-days – we are so vain – a little civility makes us insufferably arrogant – I intended to write you a little note last night to send by Mr Hart, but some
gentlemen called to play chess with me, & I had to postpone it until today – I played four games, with different antagonists, & gained them all – quite a champion – Am I not? there is but one gentleman in town who has thus far obtained any advantage (& slight at that) over me – He is Dr Huggins – Asst. Surgeon from Alabama – His name is quite familiar to me – Who is he? – I think I’ve heard you speak of him –
No doubt Mr Hart thinks me a very disinterested clever fellow, for permitting him to go home a full week earlier than he expected, but Mr H- don’t know everything – I had resolved in my own mind, that next saturday would be a nice time for me to refresh myself from the fatigues of labor & restraint, & make a flying visit to you, my darling, & other friends in G. whom I love so much –
So you see, there was no inconsiderable amount of latent selfishness incorporated with my exhibition of graciousness, which however, I hope, will be compensated for, in some sort, by the agreeable surprise afforded his family – I am not yet sure I can go up there – so you need not be disappointed if I do not, nor surprised if I do – I am going to make Gainesville a point d’apui [d’appui = military term referring to a point where troops are assembled] (no laughing, if you please) from which to reinforce Bragg’s Commissariat, & shall collect a thousand hours in that neighborhood soon, preparatory to sending them forward to Atlanta.
I am much obliged to yr Uncle John for his kind remembrance – but I fear his is a “sod wog”, & like his fair niece, fond of his little joke – I am not conscious of any “carryings on”, & he may divulge
all he knows about me – I’ve not seen the widow since he was here – & I don’t “understand” – I’m in clined to believe, that he, the cunning fellow – jealous of my attractions (?) has spirited her away – A sad affair transpired here the other day – A woman shot her husband dead – his body lay near the house all night waiting for the coroner – I am unacquainted with the merits of the case – During the Inquest a soldier expressed a desire to see the woman who could do such a deed, when the amazon appeared – said she did it, & if he did not leave instantly, she would blow his brains out for him – the soldier was satisfied & retired – I have not received yr Mother’s letter, which you mentioned – I can’t imagine where on earth the silly post
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masters send them. I was mighty sorry to hear of Miss Nannie’s sickness – & hope she has gotten better – Has Reavis heard from the diplomatic letter to “that old woman”? I am anxious to learn how his affairs are likely to turn out. Give my love to all at home & believe, dear Lucy, ever
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I was truly shocked to hear of Dr Anderson’s death – poor Mrs A – What a terrible blow to her!
Lucy Reavis (age 21 in 1863) was the daughter of prominent judge, Turner Reavis. She met her future husband Thomas K. Jackson while he was stationed in Gainesville AL. They married December 16, 1863. At least 30 known letters exchanged between them during the war years have survived. They had five children together. Lucy passed away in 1876 at just 33 years old. Thomas never remarried.
Thomas K. Jackson was born December 12, 1824 in SC. He entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in June 1844 and graduated with the class of 1848. He was appointed brevet 2nd lieutenant of the 4th U.S. Artillery, then transferred to the 5th U.S. Infantry, then the 8th U.S. Infantry. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in 1849. He served about 7 years on the Texas-Mexico frontier with James Longstreet, until he was assigned as an instructor of infantry tactics at West Point in 1857. In 1858 he rejoined the 8th in Texas. In 1861 he resigned from the U.S. Army and was made a captain in the Confederate Army. On September 26, 1861 he was announced as Chief Commissary of the Western Department under General Johnston. He was appointed major on November 11, 1861. He was captured at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and imprisoned at Fort Warren. He was exchanged c. May and returned to duty as depot commissary in Gainesville, AL, where he met Lucy Reavis. They courted and were married December 16, 1863. Jackson was stationed at various sites throughout the remainder of the war. He was paroled at Gainesville on May 13, 1865 following General Richard Taylor’s surrender. He remained in Gainesville with Lucy to raise their family and work as a merchant and farmer.
Letter written by Mary Chalmers Ferguson to her husband, Sergeant William A. Ferguson of the 8th Confederate Cavalry, from their home in Pickensville, AL. Mary comments on the different soldiers who brought her husband’s last few letters to her, including an African American. She has received a bag full of her husband’s winter clothes, as well as a pistol and a horse’s shoe. She writes about their daughter, and tells William how the ladies of the village made shirts for wounded and sick soldiers at Columbus, with fabric supplied by the Soldier’s Aid Society. They are also planning on sending a wagon of goods and food. Mary mentions an engagement at Richmond, VA known as the Battle of Seven Pines, and lists the casualties of what she calls the “Pickensville Blues” regiment. She has hopes that William’s army will come near enough to home that she may get to see him.
Home Friday evening
June 13. 1862.
My own dear William: –
The last letter I received from you was brought by Mr Cockrell to Columbus – and mailed at that place. Since then I have heard from you several times – by Capt Mc Caa’s company – coming through this place, first by one of the Capt’s negro’s – who considers himself a member of the company – says – “our company” – “our boys” &c. Willie Herrean has also come back- and took tea with us – tells me you are in fine health. I got the carpet bag containing your winter cloths. I felt like I had met an old friend, when I saw your little pistol. I shall keep it by me and if necessary, defend
myself. Among the other things in the carpet bag I came across “a horses’ shoe” – now – do tell me what horse has worn this shoe – that you think enough of it to send it home? One of Dr Carpenters negroes came through Pickensville yesterday and tells me that he saw you last Monday – says you are in fine health and fine spirits. I am glad to hear from you this way – but how much I should like to have a late letter. I hear that Beauregard’s army are not permitted to write any letters at all. If I cannot have the pleasure of reading a few lines from your pen occasionally I can still write to you and tell you how we are all getting along at home. The pet of the household – that sweet little girl of ours – or yours as you will have
it – is so sweet. She can almost sit alone – and has learned to pull her Granfather’s beard to perfection. He plays with her frequently and loves her very much. You cannot imagine how much company she is for me. I play with her every day – besides bathing her all over every morning – and dressing her every morning – and undressing her every evening. She sleeps with me and gives me a sweet smile as soon as she opens her peepers in the morning. I give her a kiss in return. I wish you could see her eating black-berries – with her little mouth and nose all blacked. Whenever Sarah brings me berries – or plums (of which we have an abundance) she daps her little hands in the midst of them and scatters them all over the floor, at the risk of a make believe
scolding from her Grandmother.
She loves to play with the children and gives every one a sweet smile who speaks to her
But if I tell you so many nice things about the baby – poor little I will be forgotten – if such is not already my fate – (thought of as among “the things that were“)
Last week the ladies of our quiet little village were busily plying the needle for the wounded and sick soldiers at Columbus.
We made up into shirts – three bolts of domestic – sent down by the “Soldiers’ Aid Society” at that place. To morrow evening we are going to form a society at this place – in order to do more work for those noble spirits who have suffered and are now suffering so much for our cause. We are going to send up to them to morrow
a wagon load of vegitables – potatoes, dried fruits – milk butter – eggs- chickens &c. We are not near enough the poor sufferers to wait upon them but want to administer to their wants in some way.
You have probably heard of the engagement near Richmond – call it the “The Battle of the Seven pines.” Papers received to day – say that “Gen Rhode’s brigade – consisting of the 5th, 6th, 12th Ala and 12th Miss is admitted to have eminently distinguished itself. They bore the brunt of the battle for some hours. The casualties of the “Pickensville Blues” are as follows – Killed John T. Vargaut, John L Taylor, John Works, Thomas R. Peeks, Horace Stansel. Total 5. Wounded. Sergeant M. F. Wakefield
J. E. Addington, A. A. Ball, Joseph Coleman, J. R. Donaldson, B. Y. Franklin, James Free, R. J. Tunsley – J. S. Gordon D.W. Goodwin. J. P. Harper. G. W. Hines. A. Johnson. H. B. Johnson – N. G. Jones. W. W. Peterson. Jessie Tall – W. C. Taylor. E. W. Vernon. Wm Kall – Jas Wright, G. B. Petty, G. W. Prew. M. P. Stedman. H. W. Story. J. D. Wheelbright. W. A. Burgin. Total 27. You probably know a great many of the above list. I have a letter from cousin Willie of the fourth of June – in which he says – he is sorry he was not in the fight – having a situation in the pass-port office in Richmond at the time of the engagement – and that he intends to join the comapny immediately in order to be with them in the
next engagement – which he thinks will soon take place. I think he had better stay where he is. Henry when last seen was crossing the Chickahominy bridge – going towards the enemy’s lines.
Mr Shaffer and Miss Boggs from Columbus took dinner with us to day – They tell us that the fortifications at Columbus were commenced last Monday. I[t] was rumored in that place that Gen Beauregard was visiting that place – but nothing definite was known. If Gen Beauregard sees fit to fall as far back as Columbus – you will probably visit us – perhaps on a foraging expedition. I must confess – that I would like to see you very much but the army to which you belong is just about as close as I would like to have it – especially if the
enemy are following you as closely as is reported. I expect secrecy is the best policy on the part of our army – but I find that curiosity is at the highest pitch to learn the movements of those three Generals – Beauregard – Bragg – and Price.
Brother Willie starts to school Monday morning to Mr Garthright at Summerville. Col Talbinds regiments are suffering severely from measles – pneumonia, fever. Mr Wm Fort’s remains were brought home Wednesday and deposited at the Garden church yard. Mr Horton has had the measles. But I must close as ai Have exhausted my paper – perhapse your patience.
If you cannot write – send me a message by every opportunity
A kiss and much love from
Your own dear Mary.
William A. Ferguson, from Pickensville AL, enrolled in Captain McCaa’s Company A of the Alabama Cavalry in October 1861, aged 29. He was mustered into Baskerville’s 4th MS Cavalry Battalion on November 14, 1861. Baskerville’s Battalion patrolled the Tennessee River prior to the battle of Shiloh and and participated in the battle itself. The Battalion was consolidated to form the 8th CS Cavalry Regiment. Ferguson was promoted to lieutenant and again to captain. He was captured in the autumn of 1863 and incarcerated at Johnson’s Island Prison, near Sandusky, OH. He was exchanged and rejoined the fighting in Atlanta. He served with his unit until its surrender at Greensboro, NC in 1865. After the war he became a farmer and had at least 3 children with his wife Mary before passing away on January 21, 1902.He is buried in East Hill Cemetery in Salem City, VA.
Letter written by Private James Perry Campbell of Company D, 79th IL Infantry, to a friend, from Chattanooga, TN. Campbell is recovering from an illness in the hospital, where he has been since the Battle of Chickamauga. He is “heart sick” after the army was forced to retreat, having hoped for a victory that would end the war. He describes casualties on both sides, including the “River of Death” at Chickamauga, and the reality of dying for one’s country. He states that a soldier’s real motivation is less in glory and more in dreams of peace and going home. He mentions Braxton Bragg’s army is also camped nearby and that Confederate soldiers were stealing clothing left on the battlefield. Campbell thanks his friend for looking after his family.
Chattanooga Tenn. Oct. 17th 1863
I take this oportunity to write you a few lines. I must excuse my self for not writing oftener to you, but I scarcely ever write except to home, I think that my diarhea is getting better since I have been here in the hospital I have been here ever since the battle waiting on the wounded and I think if I keep my self whare I can take care of my self that I will get shet [shed] of it after a while but this is a poor place for that purpose it is the most disagreeable place I ever was in, this is the first time I have been away from my ridgment since it came out in the servis, The ridgment is camped in about four hundred yards of my hospital the boys are all well what few thare is of them left, The hospital I stay at has about six hundred patients in it and my ward has had 36 and thare has 13 of them died and several more of them are bound to die yet, but the cases we have here are all of the worst kind the slightly wounded wer all sent to Nashville and other places north This was a very distructive and hard fought battlethe hardest of the whole war I think, I tell you Tom, I though when we comenced to fall back to this place that we wer gon up, it was a new thing for this army to retreat it was the first time it had ever done that trick, I never felt so heart sick in my life
as I did when our army had to give up the field for I had though only of victory before and then a speedy close of the war and the joys of home dear home a gain, but we did not have that field without an effort as the dead of both armies will testify, it was the bloodiest field of the war and we left many a brave soldier thare who gave his life for his countries salvation I saw whole brigades cut to pieces at a single charge and even divisions melted away like snow we ever as you have learned before this greatly out numbered, our ridgement lost a bout half of our men but we do not know who is killed or who was taken prisoners as the fight we suffered most in took place after night, but Tom it will not take more than one more such a scratch and the history of the 79th regment may be writen in full for it will be with the things that wer, And what their history the ridgement may be remembered but those that composed it will be forgotton befor the flesh drops from their bones, talk to a soldier a bout the glory of dying for his country (as some of the northern papers do) and he will point you to the ditches on the field of Chickamauga and ask you what glory you can see in 3 or 4 hundred dead bodies piled in one narrow ditch, it is to save their country and get home to their families a gain that animates the soldier to do his duty, the fame of dying in the battle especially when that fame is to be sung by such selfish and cowardly men as the majority of those at the north are is not prised verry highly by a soldier, but talk to him of peace and of home and you will animate his whole
soul, the soldiers want an honorable peace, not one of Vanlandinghams, Well here we are or what is left of us laying in a half circle round this town and Braggs army lays in the same shape just outside of ours, and neither of them seems willing to attact the other, I think that the rebs got the worst of the fight in killed, but we lost a great many guns and other soldier traps the rebs got a good suply of clothing from our boys that was left on the field they got one suit from me the best I had
Tom I feel much obliged to you for the interest you take in the welfare of my family and hope I may yet be able to partly return thos favors, but that must be left to the will and providence of an alwise and merciful God who rules and controls the destinies of man as well as those of nations and armies, If thare can be a fare price got for that land of mine I would like to have it sold and if it is not too much trouble I would like to get you to see if you can make a sale of it, and to help Hester to collect some of those debts if help will do any good, I must close this letter and I hope it will find you all well and doing well. Tell Hester that I am getting along verry well now and feel more like getting well than I ever have since I have been aling with the diarhea, Remember me to your wife and tell her I think she mite have writen to me
Your ever faithful friend and brother
J. Perry Campbell
James Perry Campbell, from Paris, IL, enlisted in Company D of the 79th IL Volunteer Infantry on August 1, 1862. He served as a private and mustered out on June 12, 1865 at Camp Butler.
Letter written by Private Isaac B. Jones of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 18th U.S. Infantry, to his cousin Helen Sofield, from Belotes Ford near Cairo, TN. Jones mentions that the mail had been captured several times in the last few months and is unreliable. He describes the hard marching from Winchester, TN to Bowling Green, KY. They caught up with General Braxton Bragg but General Don Carlos Buell held back, and Bragg escaped.They pursued Bragg’s forces to Springfield. Jones writes in great detail about the Battle of Perryville, including descriptions of the heavy artillery. The following day he walked the battlefield and describes the carnage he saw, including the surgeons amputations of many arms and legs. Jones concludes by writing longingly of his family.
Belotes ford near Cairo, Tenn. Dec 4th, 1862
I received a letter from you a little more than a month ago, I think, and allow me to say that I was very glad indeed to hear from you, for I had not received any word from any of my folks for a long time. I received one letter from my wife since I last wrote to you. She and Susie [daughter] were well. I had been looking for a letter from you for quite a length of time, and had almost came to the conclusion that you had not received my letter. Our mail have been captured, here and in Ky. several times within the last three months. So there is not very much dependence to be placed in them now. Well, cousin, we have some sharp times, and awful hard marching since I last wrote to you. We have marched over 800 miles, including our flanking movements, since we left Winchester, Tenn. We marched from Decherd, Tenn. a distance of 20 miles to reinforce Gen. Shouph. He was expecting to be attacked almost every hour. We did not get the order till evening. Then we started and marched nearly all night with nothing but blankets and rations. It rained hard, and was very cold and disagreeable. We had nothing but dry crackers and a little fat meat to eat, and only half rations at that. We got here the next forenoon and laid in line of battle two days. We had no fighting except some skirmish and picket fighting. We then moved on, with our whole force, near Pelham, Tenn. We expected there for sure to
have a general action, but the enemy evaded us. We then marched to Murphreesboro on a forced march a distance of 65 miles. We rested there 20 hours and started in the evening, marched all night, and continued on till we arrived at Nashville, Tenn., a distance of 32 miles. We done all this marching on half rations and scarcely water enough to drink. We guarded the bridge of the Cumberland River at N[ashville] 7 days. Then we received another order for another forced march to Bowling Green, Ky.’ We made that in three days, a distance of 69 miles just in time to catch Bragg and his force of about 80,000. But Gen. Buell would not leave us at them, but kept us back two days, and Bragg made his escape again, after being allowed to take 4,400 of our men prisoners, and paroling them. Co. K, 2d Batt. out of our regt. was taken there, and the duce of it was, it was just a full company. They had just came into the service – consequently green, although well drilled. (I will resume our journey) After the enemy had two days’ the start of us, Buell, the old “traitor,” concluded to leave us go on the pursuit of the Confederate forces. The men were a good deal discouraged, but marched well. The fact of the business is, the marching we made has never been equaled in the U.S. We were 8 days without running water to drink, but twice. All the rest of the time we had to drink water out of mud holes in the road, and ponds in the fields. The water in some of the ponds was all green on the top, but we got so very dry that would drink almost anything in the shape of water, and we had nothing but dry crackers and a very little meat to eat, and coffee to drink. We never get beans or rice on a march for want of time to cook them. The day after we got to Louisville, Ky. There was
325,000 Union troops bivouacked there. We rested there a short time and started after Bragg, Buckner & Kirby Smith’s forces. We went by the way of Shepherdsville, Bardstown, Springfield, etc. We marched 9 miles before we got to Springfield without a halt. All the time as fast as we could possibly walk, and part of the time on a double quick. There the Rebels opened fire upon us with their artillery. But ours proved too much for them. They had to retreat. Our brigade was in the advance and our regt. was in the advance of the brigade, so you see we were thrown in the hottest of the fire. We fought them back from ½ past 11 till night. The next day there was some skirmish fighting, but the third day they took a stand this side of a creek, they having the choice of the ground and all the water. So you see we had to fight them back for water. The general action commenced on the morning of the 8th of October about three o’clock, and both sides fought their best till after dark. Our brigade was held back as a reserve, but were called into action a short time before sundown. So that we were under heavy fire at least an hour and a half. Our battery took its position and opened up with incredible fury. Night was growing fast upon us, and the combat grew every minute more ferocious. The flashes of the artillery was blinding, above, around, in front. Bombs, solid shot, canister and minie balls flew like hail whizzing & exploding in every direction. The shrieks and groans of the dying and wounded, added to the horror & confusion of the moment, made up altogether a scene of consternation and dismay enough to
appall the stoutest heart. I was over part of the battlefield the second day after the fight, & the ground was literally strewn with the dead & wounded. I seen one place where the surgeons were at work with the wounded. They then had a pile of legs and arms about four feet high. I seen one poor fellow with the whole of his underjaw shot off He was living yet, but never could [say] anything; and others equally as badly wounded. One man in our regt. had his leg taken off, another was shot through the lungs, & another had both of his arms blown off, & face & breast burned all into a crisp. The battle was fought at and near Perryville, Ky., and it is called the battle of Chaplin Hills.
I was very glad to hear that cousin Alfred was so well situated. I only hope his regt. can stay where they are. If they should be ordered out on a few such chases after the Rebels as we have, he will begin to have a poor opinion of soldiering. I think, however, that the most of these new regts. will escape these hard marches. We have actually marched as high as 32 m[iles] a day, on half rations, with rifle accouterments, and 60 rounds of cartridges. You were saying you wished me to write to cousin Alfred. I don’t feel myself at liberty to open the correspondence. It would be entirely contrary to our discipline. If the capt. would write to me, I would be most happy to answer to the best of my ability, and give him all the particulars of the movements of the Army of the Ohio. We have 20 companies now in our regt., and three new ones ready to join us. Our regt. is different from the volunteers, we are divided in three battalions. I would rather be in a volunteer regt., on account of their not being so strict as the regulars. I would like to write more, but don’t feel able. I have been sick for several days. I am afraid my constitution will not bear up much longer. I have not much to live for, but my dear little daughter. If I could but see her once more I would feel better satisfied, but it is more than I expect. Give my love to your children, and accept the same for yourself. Tell Alfred I wish to be remembered. From your affectionate cousin, Isaac B. Jones
Direct: Co. C, 3rd Batt./18th U.S. Infty./ 1st Division 3rd
Brigade/ Gallatin, Tenn.
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Please answer this immediately if you deem it worthy. Direct to Gallatin, Tenn. this time, but at any other time you may direct to Louisville, Ky. It will always be forwarded. I would be very happy to receive a letter from cousin Alfred.
Isaac B. Jones was a carpenter from Williamsport, PA. He originally enlisted with Captain Joesph E. Ulman’s Battery of Light Artillery PA Volunteers at the age of 27. The company was discharged March 7th, 1862 and Jones re-enlisted with the 18th U.S. Infantry. He was killed in action on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.
Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.
Letter written by Corporal William Farries of Company E, 24th WI Infantry, to his brother, from Louisville, KY. Farries thanks his brother for sending him postage stamps, and describes life as a soldier. His main source of discontent is the constant moving. The citizens of Louisville were scared that General Braxton Bragg was coming to burn the city, so Farries’ regiment was ordered to defend it. Most of the women and children left the city for Jeffersonville. Repeated alarms in camp indicated that Confederate troops were near, yet no enemy soldiers appeared. Farries mentions a rumor that they will be losing their colonel, as he may be promoted to brigadier general. He remarks on the poor crop that year, and inquires about his horse, friends, and family back home. Farries concludes by requesting newspapers as well as some tea.
Louisville, Sept. 27/ 62
I received your letter last night. I was glad to hear from you. I could not tell what was the reason you did not write. I have written 2 letters to you & 1 to Mary, & yours is the first I have rec’d. I got the Harper’s Weekly, but I did not get the Sentinel. I am much obliged for the postage stamps; they came just in the nick of time. Those that I brought from Milwaukee got wet & spoiled. I am glad you are all well & I hope you will stay so. For my part, I never was healthier in my life. You want to know how I like a soldier’s life. I like it pretty well, at least as well as I expected. We have it hard at times, & there is times when we can take it easy. There is one thing I dislike, & that is moving so much. We have been in 6 different camps since we left Mil[waukee]. At present we are encamped at Louisville, Ky. The people here got scared. They thought Bragg was coming to burn the city, so we were ordered to
come here to help defend it. The people of Louisville got scared almost to death; nearly all of the women & children left the city & went over the river to Jeffersonville. There was quite an excitement in camp yesterday about 4 o’clock. The long roll beat, the men seized their arms, & rushed into the ranks, & were marched out to meet the foe. They marched 2 or 3 miles to the entrenchments, where they waited about an hour, but as no enemy appeared, they were marched back to their quarters. We had scarcely time to eat supper & get a little repose when again “the drum did beat at dead of night” & we were marched back again to stand 2 hours in the cold for an enemy that did not come. As soon as Old Sol began to warm up the earth, the officers got over their scare & marched us back to camp, a tireder if not a wiser reg[iment] of men. There must be some Secesh around here, for a reg. of cavalry passed here yesterday with a man & a bull dog, which they had taken prisoner. They said they were Secesh. Nearly all the teams they have are composed of
mules, & some of them are the best I ever saw. They have rather a peculiar way of driving them, & as it will be new to you, I will try & describe it. A teamster in Wis[consin] thinks it quite a feat to drive 2 pair of horses, but a teamster down here thinks nothing of driving 6 mules with only one line. How the[y] do it is a mystery to me. They have them hitched up the same as we hitch our horses with.
This difference; they have a stick tied from one bit ring to the other on the inside (between the mules) & where we use 2 lines to each team, they use but one line for them all. Yet they will turn & twist them as easy or easier than a Wis. Teamster can his horses. There is a rumor in camp that we are going to lose our colonel. They say he is going to be a brigadier general. If it is true, the boys will be sorry to lose their colonel, for they like him in spite of his crossness. We were out on drill one day, when the right wing of the battalion made some mistake. “There, there,” said he. “The right wing is gone to hell, & I will never see it again.” I thought if he kept on
swearing, his chance to see it there would be pretty good. We had rather a poor crop, but I suppose it is as good as the general run this year. How does Nell [horse] get along? Has she got over her cold yet? Take good care of her, for I want to use her riding the girls around when I get back. How are Carrie and the family? I have written to her 2 weeks ago, but haven’t got an answer yet. I have also written to Mr. Dexter & Gunnyon. I do not know whether they have received them letters or not. I wish you would send me Harper’s Weekly or Frank Lashes’ paper as often as convenient. Next time you write, send me a dram or two of tea in the envelope. My present address is Louisville, Ky.
Give my love to mother & Hattie & the rest & keep some for yourself; from
Your Brother, William Farries
P.S. I am sorry the plate was spoiled; was it good for nothing[?] W. F.
William Farries, from Wauwatosa, WI. He is listed as a farmer, born in Scotland, about 5’9″, with hazel eyes dark hair, and a fair complexion. He received a $25 bounty for enlisting for 3 years service. He enlisted on August 6, 1862 as a corporal in Company E, 24th WI Infantry. He was later promoted to sergeant, and was wounded November 25, 1863 at Missionary Ridge, TN. Sgt. Farries was mustered out of the army June 10, 1865 at Nashville, TN.
Letter written by Private Thomas C. Potter of Battery B, 1st OH Light Artillery, to his siblings, from a camp near Murfreesboro, TN.In it he describes the events of the Battle of Stones River up to the evacuation of Murfreesboro by Confederate forces. He recounts that on New Year’s Day, there was “heavy skirmishing on picket” to relieve the Chicago Board of Trade Battery. Throughout the night, he could hear the Confederates working on their entrenchments. The next day, the Confederates opened fire on the 7th Light Artillery. Within three minutes every man had been hit or driven away. Potter’s regiment endured firing from the Confederate forces until ordered to fall back. Potter considers himself lucky, for he escaped with only singed eyebrows. The morning of January 3rd brought the sounds of Confederate artillery as they opened fire on the camp. Firing continued until the evening. Murfreesboro was evacuated that night, and the next morning Potter walked through the battlefield and saw soldiers burying their dead comrades. Potter writes favorably of General William Rosecrans, and says that the “army fairly adores him.”
In Camp 2-1/2 miles from Murfreesboro, Tennessee on
Mc Mcanville Turnpike. Monday morning Jan 12th 1863
Dear brother and sister
Perhaps you may be interested to know what part our battery took in the late great drama before Murfreesboro. I propose to give below the outlines of our movements since leaving Nash[ville] up to the evacuation of Murfreesboro by the enemy’s force under Gen. Bragg. We left our camp near Nashville Friday morning, Dec. the 26th, our brigade taking the advance on the Mur[freesboro] road.We found the enemy in considerable force near the little town of Lavergne, some 14 miles from Nashville, determined to dispute our farther advance. This soon brought on a splendid artillery skirmish which lasted until day, when we went into camp on the same ground. The only casualty of our company was John Blanchard, seriously injured by a premature discharge. Saturday 27th formed our line soon after sunrise; drove the enemy before us with slight loss on our side, went into camp that night within 10 miles of Murfreesboro. Here we stay until Monday morning, the 29th, when we pushed forward, the enemy disputing every inch of ground. Went into camp with our line formed and skirmishers out before the Rebel line of earthworks within some 2-1/2 miles of Murfreesboro. Tuesday 30th formed our line some four miles in length. heavy skirmishing along the whole line all day very heavy artillery firing all day from both sides. Our casualties of the day one of our wheel horses shot through the heart by a musket ball – Camped for the night on the same ground as the night before – Wednesday morning the 31st. This morning the grand ball opened on our right. Our battery was stationed at the point known as the Cedar point, on the right center. Our line at this point was formed in the shape of a crescent. Our brigade formed the advance. As you would say, [it] was the point most advanced. In our rear was the cedar thicket. In our front and right was a large corn field. Joining this on the left was the noted cotton field, through which the Rebel masses, maddened
and half crazy by whisky and gunpowder – which had been dealt out to them in large quantities – made charge after charge up to within 30 yards of the muzzles of our guns, in solid columns, despite shot, shell, and canister that tore great gaps in their ranks. But [their ranks] were quickly closed up again, and a perfect storm of musketry. Never did I see men face the music. When so close to our guns they pulled their hats over their eyes so that they could not see the flash of our pieces, and moved up as steadily as if they were on the parade ground. After our ammunition was all expended, we were ordered to the rear to replenish and refill our empty [ammo] chests. Until that time I did not notice the peculiar form that our division had assumed – Gen. Negley, on our right, had fallen back, thus uncovering our right flank. And two Rebel brigades occupied that ground that he left. Our division had assumed the form of a triangle, and was fighting on four fronts. Everything on our right had fallen back, and one battery on our left, and two on our right had been captured by the enemy. And as we passed to the rear over the ground where we were in camp the night before, we passed over large numbers of the enemy’s dead that had fallen in our rear. We were held as a reserve the remainder of the day. Our casualties of the day [were]: Sergeant George Wolf of Cleveland, struck by a shell -killed instantly; Orderly Sergeant L.T. Thompson, struck by a spent James solid shot (weighing 12-1/2 pounds) has since died; John Elliott (Troy) wounded in small of his back (I afterward found him dead on the field); Samuel Ruple (Cleveland) shot through the neck by a ball from a spherical case shot from a 6 pdr. & since died; and some 12 others wounded. I think that they will all recover. In this day’s work we had 15 horses killed or disabled. Thursday (New Year’s Day) very heavy skirmishing on picket to relieve the Chicago Board of Trade Battery
We took our position; no. 1 and 2 and 3 pieces in the center, no. 4,5 and 6 pieces were just to the right. From 400 yards distant, and on our left the 4th Indiana Battery was formed on the same line with us. Our infantry support lay just to our rear under cover of the ridge on which we stood, while in front and about 600 yards distant running in a parallel line with us was a skirt of timber, which was in the hands of the enemy. Our skirmishers were about 100 yards in front of the battery. All night long we could hear the Rebels working on their entrenchments in the woods in front. Soon after daylight our skirmishers and theirs commenced amusing themselves by trying the accuracy of their rifles. Then the 7th Indiana B[attery] opened and drove their skirmishers back into the woods. Then one of Gen. Rosecrans’ staff officers rode up and gave positive orders not to fire unless we saw large masses of the enemy. He had hardly rode out of sight when the Rebels opened on the 7th L[ight] A[rtillery] with four batteries which they had masked in the woods during the night, and not more than 400 yards distant. Well, I have been in several warm places in my time, but this was a few degrees warmer than any place that I ever saw or imagined (in this everybody who saw or heard agreed with me). Within three minutes they drove every man away from the guns of the 7th Battery, and killed and crippled up the horses so that they were obliged to leave their guns on the field. They [Rebels] then concentrated their fire on our three guns; we were laying still on the ground a few minutes with a terrific storm of shot, shell, and canister flying over and around us. It seemed just as if they would sweep us from the ground, when a shell struck just ahead of us and filled our faces with mud. This was more than Lieutenant Baldwin could stand. He sprang up with, “come boys and give them …” We opened on them with a will, but the
infernal missiles howling around us. After we had fired about ten rounds a piece, the lieutenant ordered us to fall back, or we would lose every man and horse that all had. By this time, two of our batteries had taken position on the ridge about 600 yards in our rear, and opened on the batteries on our front. We succeeded in disentangling our dead horses. We got our piece back under cover of the other batteries. No. 2 piece, the boys pulled off with one horse (5 being killed on that piece), and no. 3 had to leave their piece on the ground until we got ours under cover, and went back and pulled it off by hand. Our loss on this occasion: Chauncey Lyons (driver from Lorain Co., Ohio) struck by a solid shot, killed instantly; N. Lerone, struck by a fragment of a shell slightly; Wm. Grant, slightly, and 7 horses killed. For my part, I considered myself fortunate to escape with my hair and eyebrows singed by the explosion of a 12 pdr. shell. I chanced to have one of Waverly’s novels in my overcoat pocket, and the same explosion set it on fire. The fragments of the shell I avoided by throwing myself flat on the ground within three feet of it. As the boys term it, “comes the drop down on it,” Well, we refilled our ammunition chests and picked up horses enough to make up for our lost ones. About 4 o’clock p.m. the enemy made a furious assault on our left wing nearly half of a mile. As half of our battery was still out to the front, were we not ordered out until sometime after the engagement had grown pretty lively. When we arrived on the ground, our reserves were just ordered forward to charge the Rebel masses that were moving through a large field in great force. They stayed their ground like veterans, but they could not stand such a fierce artillery fire and a charge at the same time. They gave way in some confusion, and fell back to their first line of earthworks. From [this] we soon dislodged them, by bringing up nearly 50
pieces of artillery to enfilade their rifle pits. It was here that Colonel Stanley’s brigade charged and captured four pieces of the famous Washington white horse battery of New Orleans. Our boys drove them in splendid style until darkness closed in their favor, and saved them from a perfect rout. If we had had two hours more of daylight, we would have went into Murfreesboro. Thus closed the 2d day of Jan. (’63). Saturday the 3rd. Our reveille this morning was the deep toned thunder of Rebel artillery, as they opened on our camp with four batteries – probably as a cloak to cover their evacuation. Heavy skirmish firing along our whole line. The ball closed by a heavy musketry engagement, commencing at 6 P.M. and closing at 9:30 P.M. was occasioned by our infantry advancing down the pike, driving the Rebels from their first line of rifle pits. It was a splendid
sight from where we were on a ridge, nearly half a mile in rear of our men, with an open field between us. It appeared like two long sheets of flame, with now and then a change of scene as forth belched red artillery. The only thing disagreeable to a spectator was sometimes a few rifle bullets would sing along overhead, far back in the timber. Sunday morning the 4th; All quiet. Murfreesboro had been evacuated during the previous night. After breakfast, I started out to take a view of our first day’s battleground, which was about one mile distant. I passed along musing on our probable loss. The field was alive with little silent groups. ‘Twas plain to see their occupation: burying their fallen comrades
reaching the cedars, passed through them and came out near where our battery was engaged. I passed along among a group of our own and the enemy’s dead, when a familiar face, upturned and ghostly, startled me. A nearer view assured me that I was not mistaken. It was the earthly remains of poor John Elliott (of Troy). I covered his face and hastened back to the battery. Two of his messmates returned with me, and selecting a quiet spot, committed him to his last resting place – peace to his ashes. He was a noble hearted boy, a brave soldier, one that was beloved and respected by both officers and men. Sister, please pardon me for passing in silence over the horrid, ghastly details of this fatal tragedy this great military drama. I refer you to the periodicals for the shadow, and yet you draw on
your imagination for the balance. Well, on Monday, the 5th, we moved to our present position. Where the Rebels are now is more than I know madam rumor says that they are coming back to see us, but I think Gen. Bragg has seen just as much of Gen. Rosecrans at present as he wants to. Well, our army has implicit confidence in our general commanding. He was with us in the thickest of the fight, everywhere directing the movements himself. Our army fairly adores him. Well, I must close. I have written this in great haste. I guess it will take you some time to read it. I wrote a few hurried lines to you from the field. Did you get it? Write soon. Remember me to all inquiring friends.
Total number of shots fired from the battery 1670
Private Thomas Corwin Potter enlisted at age 20 on September 5, 1861 in Battery B, 1st Ohio Light Artillery. He served with his unit in combat at Mill Springs, Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga. On Sept. 20, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga, Pvt. Potter was mortally injured when both of his arms were blown off by the premature discharge of his gun. He died the following morning at 3:00 A. M., and was later buried in the National Cemetery at Chattanooga.