Civil War Anecdotes
THE BATTLE AT MURFREESBORO
An Intercepted Leter from one of Bragg's Officers
We have been permitted to copy portions of a very amusing letter, written
by Maj. B___, of Bragg's army, to his dear friend M___, in this city, which
shows that the great skedaddler of Stone's River is not regarded as a NAPOLEON
by all his officers. The letter is as follows:
From the Nashville Union
Wartrace, Tenn., Jan. 10, 1863.
Dear M_____: My young friend, G. H. M., wrote you yesterday morning, sent
the letter and a number of late papers by Mrs. H. * * * * * Hope you received
them. I have been here one week. Left Murfreesboro Sunday morning last,
at daylight, on the last train leaving there. Did not know until 10 o'clock
at night that we intended to retreat the following morning, or rather the
same night. Do not believe the retreat was necessary. Do not believe Gen.
Bragg knew what he was doing; in other words, that he is not a man competent
to command on the field. Every Tennesseean is bitter beyond expression.
Some swear he is a fool. I think myself he has been blessed with very little
sense, and no genius; and you know I have no cause to think hardly of him.
He has recently had me promoted. Our official intercourse has been exceeding
pleasant, and this is more than many of his officers can say, for several
of them have been under arrest since the army left Mississippi.
But it is useless to disguise the fact that BRAGG'S career, as a Commanding
General, has eventuated in a disaster and disgraceful failure. Added to
this, he is not popular. I may go further, and say he is almost universally
hated by all our troops, especially by the Tennesseeans. At the same time
I think him a soldier-a man who has a sense of duty, and will perform his
duty to the best of his ability; that he is a fine disciplinarian and an
officer of spendid administrative ability. But it is sheer folly to call
him a General.
I am of opinion that history will relate that all the battles around Murfreesboro
were fought well, contested with desperate valor, but that they were fought
without generalship. Gen. BRAGG attacked and drove back their left wing
on Wednesday, because he had massed his heaviest forces on their right wing,
believing from demonstrations made by the Yankees, that their heaviest force
was there. Our attack on the left extended gradually toward the right, hoping
to move first one division after another until the whole army would be forced
to retreat. But having weakened ourselves on the right and centre, in order
to enable us to drive back their right, we found on attacking their whole
line that we were too weak to pierce his centre or drive back his right.
So Wednesday's battle closed without a decisive result. We had captured,
it is true, thirty-one pieces of artillery, upwards of three thousand prisoners,
and held the battle-field, which we continued to hold until we evacuated
our entire defences. But we had gained, you perceive, no decisive advantage
except on their right. They maintained their original position everywhere
else, having repulsed the several attempts made to carry their position
on the centre and right. On Thursday we were inactive except in taking care
of the dead and wounded. We secured the trophies of the fight on the left,
and shipped all the prisoners captured, ordnance, &c., safely to Chattanooga.
On Friday evening BRAGG foolishly (I can't conscientiously use a more expressive
term) ordered BRECKINRIDGE'S Division to charge their centre again. We took
the first front battery of the enemy, but after capturing it, discovered
we were immediately under the fire of numerous other batteries that had
up to that time remained silent. The inevitable consequence was a hasty
retreat, leaving the captured battery on the field, to fall again into the
enemy's hands; nor was this all-we lost many of our bravest and most gallant
officers and men. Gen. HANSON was wounded, and has since died. Col. PRESTON
CUNNINGHAM was killed. Capts. WOMACK, SAVAGE and SPURLOCK, of Warren County,
were all dangerously wounded. Defeated in our design, repulsed with heavy
loss, we retired to our former position. * * * * Early Saturday night the
entire army commenced moving. I started seven long trains off crowded to
overflowing with the sick and wounded.
* * * * * BRAGG discovered his mistake, and prepared for an evacuation,
after having declared he would win that battle or die on the field. Our
next line of defence will be immediately south of Duck River. Our headquarters
will be next to Tallahoma.
THE NEW-YORK TIMES
New-York, Thursday, February 5, 1863
An Officer's Experience
The following is an extract from a private letter, and one not designed
for publication. It is written by a New York officer in the corps of Sigel,
and is an amusing catalogue of personal infelicities and individual grievances.
It is dated at Stafford Court House (Va.), December 19th:
Our one tent is a perfect pig-sty. Four of us sleep and six of us eat and
write in it. We have nothing either in our one stove inside or on the little
space outside that can be called a fire. The wood is all green pine, and
after a whole day spent in hunting yesterday my teams could find no hard
wood. The smoke hangs to the ground, and there is no wind to blow off what
comes from the camp fires of a whole division crowded on to an acre or two
of land. Everybody is crying. Everybody is cross. The men, forever nibbling
at their biscuits on a march, are short two days, and while shouting "crackers"
to-day can draw none until the day after to-morrow. The weather is dull
and looks like rain. No milk is to be found, and butter at one dollar per
pound is abandoned. It is hard to get water, and such a thing as a good
wash is unknown. When all were out to drill, an hour ago, and I was left
alone in the tent, I begged of one of the negroes a half pint of warm water
to wash my feet, and then failing to cut my corns off with a dull jacknife,
worked them off with my finger-nails. Not a handkerchief have I had washed
these four weeks, until just now. John agreed to wash four for me and dry
them by the fire. Three masons, out of Company H, whom I hired this morning
to build me a fireplace in the outer tent - for all but one stove was abandoned
at Dumfries - after looking all the afternoon for bricks in vain, came back
at noon with stones, tore up the tent, began their work and were called
off for inspection. Of course I must wait another day. For forty-eight hours
the horses have had no hay, and only six ears of corn each all this day.
Everybody in camp has a cold; poor O. has the jaundice, and has applied
for leave of absence, which it is doubtful if he gets. Our Dutch doctor
has been drunk for two days, and is in arrest, leaving good Dr. A. all alone,
and there is not a delicacy or comfort to be found the whole county through.
Indeed, there are no houses or people. It is more God forsaken than Centreville,
which, in retrospect, now seems to us a paradise. Mud is everywhere. One
does never dream of a polished boot; I gave Joe twenty-five cents yesterday
to grease mine. We have no books, newspapers, letters, news, or even rumors.
SACRAMENTO DAILY UNION
Sacramento, Cal., Tuesday Morning, February 17, 1863
[From the Chicago Tribune, January 30 th]
A Word About Hooker
When the war broke out, General Hooker, then in California, came post haste
to Washington to offer his services to the Government. General Scott was
at the head of the military affairs of the country; and between that old
gentleman and General Hooker was a feud dating back to the Mexican war;
hence, as everything relating to the army was referred to Scott, Hooker
was suffered to apply in vain for even a regimental command. Disgusted and
mad, he made his preparations to return to the Pacific coast, and was about
to start, when the first battle of Bull Run was fought. There was nothing
in that to encourage; so he went up to the White House, as the last thing
before leaving, to call on the President, whom he had never seen. He was
introduced by some mistake of his friend as Captain Hooker, and the following
was the conversation that ensued:
Hooker-"Mr. President, I was introduced to you as Captain Hooker. I
am or was Lieutenant Colonel Hooker, of the regular army. When this war
began, I was at home in California, and hastened to make a tender of my
services to the Government; but my relation to General Scott, or some other
impediment stands in the way, and I see no chance of making my military
knowledge and experience useful. I am about to return; but before going
I was anxious to pay my respects to you, and to express my wishes for your
personal welfare and for your success in putting down this infernal rebellion.
And I want while I am at it, to say one thing more; I was at Bull Run the
other day, Mr. President, and it is no vanity or boasting in me to say that
I am a--sight better General than you, sir, had on that field."
The President, in repeating this speech, says that he looked at the speaker
to see what manner of man he was who made such a boast. "His eye was
steady and clear, his manner not half so confident as his words, and altogether
he had the air of a man of sense and intelligence, who thoroughly believed
in himself, and who would at least try to make his words good. I was impressed
with him, and rising out of my chair, walked up to him, and putting my hand
on his shoulder, said: Colonel, not Lieutenant Colonel, Hooker, stay! I
have use for you, and a regiment for you to command!"
He did stay. The promised regiment was put under his orders, and from it
he was soon promoted to a brigade, and thence to a Major General's place
in command of a division.
"In every position in which he has been put," says Lincoln, "General
Hooker has equaled the expectations which his self-confidence excited. As
a Colonel, as a Brigadier and as a Major General he has done exceedingly
well, and should he ever be called to command this army, I have no doubt
he would acquit himself as gallantly as any man in the country."
That's the way that General Hooker got into the service. In Washington,
Lincoln's partiality for him is no secret. When it was determined to remove
McClellan, the head of the Fitz John Porter gang, the question of successorship
was both important and embarrassing. The President's inclinations and preferences
pointed to "Fighting Jo." as the man; and he yielded them to the
representations of General Halleck and others with great reluctance, and,
as is said, with secret forebodings of what was to follow.
We believe in Hooker because he is thoroughly in earnest, and because he
is a man of genius for military affairs. His idea of war is that which all
great commanders have had-that it means killing, and that the struggle which
is the shortest and fiercest is the least bloody and the most merciful.
He regards the rebellion as a monster iniquity, to be overcome only by hard
knocks; and he would hoot at the man who should affirm that until that rebel
army is defeated and scattered, there can be compromise and peace. He is
in the prime of life; he has a vigorous constitution, an unusually good
theoretical education, the value of which he has proved in the field; and
he has that high moral courage that dare, for his country's good, accept
the possibility of defeat. Still he may fail. He may be rash, impetuous,
foolhardy. The confidence which has carried him thus far may be his ruin;
but he commands the admiration, the respect and the confidence of the army;
and he will not fail without a gallant and a bloody attempt to achieve success.
He will not, like McClellan, suffer that immense army to rot on his hands.
Heaven knows how devoutly we wish for his triumph.
SACRAMENTO DAILY UNION
Sacramento, Cal., Tuesday Morning, February 24, 1863
THE GREAT ARMY OF THE SICK
Military Hospitals in Washington
NUMBERS OF SICK AND WOUNDED GATHERED IN AND AROUND WASHINGTON-THE PLAN OF
ONE-STORY BARRACKS FOR THEM ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNMENT-DESCRIPTION OF THE
LATE PATENT OFFICE HOSPITAL-INTERESTING CASE OF A CONNECTICUT SOLDIER-A
CHANCE FOR THE BENEVOLENT-A CRITICISM.
Washington, Monday, Feb. 23, 1863.
The military hospitals, convalescent camps, &c. in Washington and its
neighborhood sometimes contain over fifty thousand sick and wounded men.
Every form of wound, (the mere sight of some of them having been known to
make a tolerable hardy visitor faint away,) every kind of malady, like a
long procession, with typhoid fever and diarrhrea at the head as leaders,
are here in steady motion. The soldier's hospital! how many sleepless nights,
how many woman's tears, how many long and aching hours and days of suspense,
from every one of the Middle, Eastern and Western States, have concentrated
here! Our own New-York, in the form of hundreds and thousands of her young
men, may consider herself here-Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and all the West
and Northwest the same-and all the New-England States the same.
Upon a few of these hospitals I have been almost daily calling as a missionary,
on my own account, for one sustenance and consolation of some of the most
needy cases of sick and dying men, for the last two months. One has much
to learn in order to do good in these places. Great tact is required These
are not like other hospitals. By far the greatest proportion ( I should
say five-sixth) of the patients are American young men, intelligent, of
indepedent spirit, tender feelings, used to a hardy and healthy life; largely
the farmers are represented by their sons-laregely the mechanics and workingmen
of the cities. Then they are soldiers. All these points must be borne in
People through our Northern cities have little or no idea of the great and
prominent feature which these military hospitals and convalescent camps
make in and around Washington. There are not merely two or three or a dozen,
but some fifty of them, of different degrees of capacity. Some have a thousand
and more patients. The newspapers here find it necessary to print every
day a directory of the hospitals; a long list, something like what a directory
of the churches would be in New-York, Philadelphia or Boston.
BARRACKS ADOPTED BY GOVERNMENT
The Government, (which really tries, I think, to do the best and quickest
it can for these sad necessities,) is gradually getting down to adopt the
plan of placing the hospitals in clusters of one-story wooden barracks,
with their accompanying tents and sheds for cooking and all needed purposes.
Taking all things into consideration, no doubt these are best adapted to
the purpose; better than using churches and large public buildings like
the Patent Office: These sheds now adopted are long, one-story edifices,
sometimes ranged along in a row, with their heads to the street, and numbered
either alphabetically, Wards A, or B, C, D and so on; or Wards 1, 2, 3,
&c. The middle one will be marked by a flagstaff, and is the office
of the establishment, with rooms for the Ward Surgeons, &c. One of these
sheds or wards, will contain sixty cots-sometimes, on an emergency, they
move them close together, and crowd in more. Some of the barracks are larger,
with, of course more inmates. Frequently, there are tents, more comfortable
here than one might think, whatever they may be down in the army.
Each ward has a Ward-master, and generally a nurse for every ten or twelve
men. A Ward Surgeon has, generally, two wards-although this varies. Some
of the wards have a woman nurse-the Armory-square wards have some very good
ones. The one in Ward E is one of the best.
THE PATENT OFFICE
A few weeks ago the vast area of the second story of that noblest of Washington
buildings, the Patent Office, was crowded close with rows of sick, badly
wounded and dying soldiers. They were placed in three very large apartments.
I went there several times. It was a strange, solemn and, with all its featurs
of suffering and death, a sort of fascinating sight. I went sometimes at
night, to soothe and relieve particular cases; some, I found, needed a little
cheering up and friendly consolation at that time, for they went to sleep
better afterward. Two of the immense apartments are filled with high and
wonderous glass cases, crowded with models in minature of every kind of
utensil, machine or invention, it ever entered into the mind of man to conceive;
and with curiosities and foreign presents. Between these cases were lateral
openings, perhaps eight feet wide, and quite deep, and in these were placed
many of the sick; besdies a great long double row of them up and down through
the middle of the hall. Many of them were very bad cases, wounds and amputations.
Then there was a gallery running above the hall, in which there were beds
also. It was, indeed, a curious scene at night, when lit up. The glass cases,
the beds, the sick, the gallery above and the marble pavement under foot-the
suffering, and the fortitude to bear it in various degrees-occasionally,
from some, the groan that could not be repressed-sometimes a poor fellow
dying, with emaciated face and glassy eye, the nurse by his side, the doctor
also here, but no friend, no relative-such were the sights but lately in
the Patent Office. The wounded have since been removed from there, and it
is now vacant again.
Of course , there are among these thousands of prostrated soldiers in hospital
here, all sorts of individual cases. On recurring to my note-book, I am
puzzled which cases to select to illustrate the average of these young men
and their experiences. I may here say, too, in general terms, that I could
not wish for more candor and manliness, among all their sufferings, than
I find among them.
CASE OF J. A. H., OF COMPANY C., TWENTY-NINTH MASSACHUSETTS
Take this case in Ward 6, Campbell Hospital-a young man from Plymouth Country,
Massachusetts; a farmer's son, aged about 20 or 21, a soldierly American
young fellow, but with sensitive and tender feelings. Most of December and
January last he lay very low, and for quite awhile I never expected he would
recover. He had become prostrated with an obstinate diarrhaea; his stomach
would hardly keep the least thing down, he was vomiting half the time. But
that was hardly the worst of it. Let me tell his story-it is but one of
On the boat, when night came and the air grew chilly, he tried a long time
to undo the blankets he had in his knapsack, but was too feeble. He asked
one of the employes, who was moving around deck, for a moment's assistance,
to get the blankets. The man asked him back if he could not get them himself?
He answered no, he had been trying for more than half an hour, and found
himself too weak. The man rejoined, he might then go without them, and walked
off. So H. lay, chilled and damp, on deck all night, wihtout anything under
or over him, while two good blankets were within reach. It caused him a
great injury-nearly cost him his life.
Arrived at Washington, he was brought ashore and again left on the wharf,
or above it, amid the great crowds, as before, without any nourishment-not
a drink for his parched mouth-no kind hand offered to cover his face from
the forenoon sun. Conveyed at last some two miles by ambulance to the hospital,
and assigned a bed, (bed 47, ward 6, Campbell Hospital, January and February,
1863,) he fell down exhausted upon the bed; but the Ward-master (he has
since been changed) came to him with a growling order to get up-the rules,
he said, permitted no man to lie down in that way with his old clothes on-he
must sit up-must first go to the bath-room, be washed, and have his clothes
completely changed. (A very good rule, properly applied.) He was taken to
the bath-room and scrubbed well with cold water. The attendants, callous
for a while, were soon alarmed, for suddenly the half-frozen and lifeless
body fell limpsy in their hands, and they hurried it back to the cot, plainly
insensible, perhaps dying.
Poor boy! the long train of exhaustion, deprivation, rudeness, no food,
no friendly word or deed, but all kinds of upstart airs, and impudent, unfeeling
speeches and deeds, from all kinds of small officials, (and some big ones,)
cutting like razors into that sensitive heart, had at last done the job.
He now lay, at times out of his head, but quite silent, asking nothing of
anyone, for some days, with death getting a closer and surer grip upon him-he
cared not, or rather he welcomed death. His heart was broken. He felt the
struggle to keep up any longer to be useless. God, the world, humanity-all
had abandoned him. It would feel so good to shut his eyes forever on the
cruel things around him and toward him.
As luck would have it, at this time I found him. I was passing down Ward
No. 6 one day, about dusk (4th of January, I think,) and noticed his glassy
eyes with a look of despair and hopelessness, sunk low in his thin pallid-brown
young face. One learns to divine quickly in the hospital, and as I stopped
by him and spoke some commonplace remark, (to which he made no reply,) I
saw as I looked that it was a case for ministering to the affections first,
and other nourishment and medicines afterward. I sat down by him without
any fuss-talked a little-soon saw that it did him good-led him to talk a
little himself-got him somewhat interested-wrote a letter for him to his
folks in Massachusetts, (to L. H. Campell, Plymouth County,)-soothed him
down as I saw he was getting a little too much agitated, and tears in his
eyes-gave him some small gifts, and told him I should come again soon. (He
has told me since that this little visit, at that hour, just saved him-a
day more, and it would have been perhaps too late.)
Of course I did not forget him, for he was a young fellow to interest any
one. He remained very sick-vomiting much every day, frequent diarrhoea,
and also something like bronchitis, the doctor said. For a while I visited
him almost everyday-cheered him up-took him some little gifts, and gave
him small sums of money, (he relished a drink of new milk, when it was brought
through the ward for sale.) For a couple of weeks his condition was uncertain-sometimes
I thought there was no chance for him at all. But of late he is doing better-is
up and dressed, and goes around more and more (Feb. 21) every day. He will
not die, but will recover.
The other evening, passing through the ward, he called me-he wanted to say
a few words, particular. I sat down by his side on the cot, in the dimness
of the long ward, with the wounded soldiers there in their beds, ranging
up and down. H. told me I had saved his life. He was in the deepest earnest
about it. It was one of those things that repay a soldiers' hospital missionary
a thousand-fold-one of the hours he never forgets.
THE FIELD IS LARGE, THE REAPERS FEW
A benevolent person with the right qualities and tact, cannot perhaps make
a better investment of himself, at present, anywhere upon the varied surface
of the whole of this big world, than in these same military hospitals, among
such thousands of most interesting young men. The army is very young-and
so much more American than I supposed. Reader, how can I describe to you
the mute appealing look that rolls and moves from many a manly eye, from
many a sick cot, following you as you walk slowly down one of these wards?
To see these, and to be incapable of responding to them, except in a few
cases, (so very few compared to the whole of the suffering men,) is enough
to make one's heart crack. I go through in some cases cheering up the men;
distributing now and then little sums of money-and regularly, letter-paper
and envelopes, oranges, tobacco, jellies, &c.,&c.
OFFICIAL AIRS AND HARSHNESS
Many things invite comment, and some of them sharp criticism, in these hospitals,
The Government, as I said, is anxious and liberal in its practice toward
its sick; but the work has to be left, in its personal application to the
men, to hundreds of officials of one grade or anohter about the hospitals,
who are sometimes entirely lacking in the right qualities. There are tyrants
and shysters in all positions, and especially those dressed in subordinate
authority. Some of the ward doctors are careless, rude, capricious, needlessly
strict. One I found who prohibited the men from all enlivening amusements;
I found him sending men to the guard-house for the most trifling offence.
In general, perhaps, the officials-especially the new ones, with their straps
or badges-put on too many airs. Of all places in the world, the hospitals
of American young men and soldiers, wounded in the volunteer service of
their country, ought to be exempt from mere conventional military airs and
etiquette of shoulder-straps. But they are not exempt.
THE NEW-YORK TIMES
New-York, Thursday, February 26, 1863
Contents of a Rebel Mail Bar
We have the contents of a rebel mail bag, intercepted a short time since
in the neighborhood of the Blackwater. Most of the letters are addressed
to persons residing in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk. The contents of
some of them are important, as revealing approaching movements of the rebels
in that region; and all of them are more or less interesting, as will be
seen by the following resume of the correspondence.
MOVEMENTS ON THE BLACKWATER
Here is a twelve page letter to a wife, dated from "Camp near Petersburg,
March 26, 1863," written on soft, fuzzy note paper, with the mark of
a factory in North Carolina, and opening with the tender appellation of
"My own dear Pussie." The writer is in the Ninth Virginia Volunteers,
Armstead's brigade, Pickett's division. I deplore the separation of two
such loving hearts, and confess that the writer sees nothing but a dark
future. In his last he had but little hopes; but since then darker clouds
had arisen, and now he could not see the least spark of hope. Nevertheless,
he says the boys are generally in fine spirits, and never enjoyed better
health. They would all shout for joy if they got an order to get ready to
march for Norfolk or thereabouts. A postscript, written a day or two afterward,
says that orders had just come to leave, but he knew not where they were
going. A day or two afterward they are on the march, hoping never to stop
till they got into Portsmouth.
Another letter from the rebel camp on the Blackwater, dated "On the
train, April 7, 1863," says: "We are stationed now on the Blackwater
and I hope that ere long we shall cross in the direction of Suffolk. I think
that they are massing large forces down here and are bringing down pontoon
Another letter, dated "Camp near United States Ford, Rappahannock river,
Spottsylvania county, Va., April 4, 1863," says: "We are camped
all in among the gold mines. We see the greatest pits where they have been
digging for gold that ever you looked at. * * Write me word what the people
think about the war, and if the Yankees are much afraid of us attacking
Norfolk. Orders have been read to us to get clear of all the baggage that
we cannot carry conveniently, and get ready for an active Spring campaign.
* * * We will wake things up in Suffolk and Norfolk before many months."
A soldier in hospital, writing from Richmond on the 30th of March to his
mother in Portsmouth, says: "I expect to leave Richmond on Monday next
to join my regiment in North Carolina, where I will have to endure long
and (illegible) participate in some of harassing marches, and (illegible)
the desperate battles which will probably fill the annals of the coming
campaign. * * Many, indeed all, with a few exceptions, entertain the opinion
that, after the approaching campaign shall have passed in scenes of desperate
and bloody battles, more horrible and decisive than any preceding, then
blessed peace, so unexpectedly delayed, will finally dawn upon us. If a
victorious peace, we shall certainly have cause for rejoicing. We have certainly
undergone and accomplished enough to entitle us to, and I have no doubt
we shall obtain, the position of a free and independent people. * * We have
had horrible weather here for some time. Snow fell last week to the depth
of eighteen or twenty inches, which increased tenfold the sufferings of
the army, which are always great. Atlas, the poor soldier! Dearly does he
pay for the follies of others.
A soldier, writing from camp near Fredericksburg, March 16th, says: "We
are going to have a dreadful campaign this Summer. I went into the battle
of Manassas barefooted, and cut my feet all to pieces."
Another soldier, writing from Drury's Bluff, says that Stuart's cavalry
is at Fredericksburg. He also writes: "Do not send us any more things,
for we can make out very well with what we draw."
HARD FARE IN THE REBEL ARMY
An Artillery man on the Richmond defenses, writing on 31st of March, say:
We were sent to guard a bridge across the North Anna river, close to Fredericksburg,
and had a hard time of it. The Federals gave our army their hands full,
and the losses were heavy on both sides. * * Our men must die for something
to eat. They cannot stand these hard marches and half feed. We get a quarter
of a pound of pork and one loaf of bread, and that is all we get in one
day, and nothing else, and we have not been paid off in three months. *
* We look for an early peace, and that is all the cry at this time. For
my part, I have lost all hope of this unholy war coming to an end during
old Abe's term. * * They say we will be sent to Western Virginia; but I
have seen enough of the mountains, and would be glad if they would let us
stay where we are.
A REBEL WHO DOES NOT WANT TO FIGHT
Here is another, dated "Fort Drewry, March 28, 1863," and intended
for a gentleman in this city, in which the writer says he was conscripted
in Norfolk, but had the good luck, so far, not to have been in any engagement,
and confesses he is not at all anxious to be in one.
THOMPSON WITH A P
A letter from the wife of the same writer, to her mother-in-law in Norfolk,
tells her that she can send her trunk to Mrs. Thompson, who is a "mighty
nice lady," and who probably does a mighty nice business in running
the blockade between Norfolk and Petersburg.
TIRED OF THE WAR
Another poor fellow, probably another conscript from the Portsmouth Navy
Yard, sends his wife a lock of his hair, plaited by himself, from Fredericksburg;
prays God that this thing may not last long, and asks his wife to pray to
God for peace and love in the land as it is too bad to see men killed off
as they are. In a postscript he says that they have marched to a place on
the river called the United States Ford.
YANKEES APPROPRIATE CLOTHING
A letter from Weldon, North Carolina, dated March 25, 1863, speaks of a
young man bringing a quantity of clothing from Camden county, and says a
company of Yankee cavalry caught him and took charge of the clothing. "Don't
know whether I shall receive my coat. Guess not."
ADVENTURE OF A REBEL MAIL CARRIER
I know the reason I did not receive your last letter. The mail carrier was
arrested by a Federal soldier, with the mail in his possession. He declined
going with the soldier. After a little persuasion by the Yankee, he consented.
After going a mile he picked his chance and shot the soldier through his
head, killing him instantly. He destroyed all the letters he had in his
possession, and made his way into our lines. He stopped the business.
YANKEES CANNOT TAKE CHARLESTON OR VICKSBURG
The Yanks may build their iron-clads, but will never be able to take either
Charleston or Vicksburg. As you are living, when they attempt it there will
be a great destruction of shipping.
THE FEMALE STRAGGLER NUISANCE
You can let Sallie come out here if you choose; but for God's sake don't
let her come straggling out here like the majority of females from our town
and Norfolk have been coming. The people living between this place and Portsmouth
(I mean in the country) have become disgusted with them.
BOTH SIDES TIRED OF THE WAR
A rebel soldier, writing from camp near Fredericksburg, says: We often stand
in sight of each other on the Rappanhannock. Sometimes we amuse ourselves
by shaking our fists at each other. The inhuman practice of pickets shooting
at each other has ceased. We converse together very often, and they as well
as ourselves are tired of this barbarous war, and want it stopped without
any more bloodshed.
A BILLET DOUX
The same writer incloses a note for delivery to his lady love, with the
motto, in print, "What's the matter, Susie?" He complains of Sue's
neglect of correspondence, and hints at a probable motive, in the jealous
question, "Have you heard from our Federal officer lately, or has he,
in turn, forgotten you?" No doubt, however, the receipt of the new
clothes is to him a full consolation for the desertion of the old love.
He says: Richmond is still very lively. Smith's band discourses sweet music
on the square every afternoon. It is a great place for promenades. Every
day the walks are thronged with the fair sex and their gallants. You know
how fond I am of music. Well, of course, I visit the square very frequently.
Of course he does, and more particularly since he got rigged out in "the
handsomest suit of clothes in Richmond."
HELOISE TO ABELARD
And now we come to our last two letters. We have reserved them to the close;
for, whereas all others treat of war, these are devoted to love-passionate
love-but, we regret now to say it, unhallowed love; not the sort of thing
that ought to exist between a woman and her spiritual adviser. They are
written in a rather neat style of caligraphy, and one of them is inclosed
in one of those long, narrow envelopes which ladies often use. The note-paper
on which they are written has, in the left hand corner, a figure of the
Virgin standing on the crescent moon, with her heel on the serpent's head,
a halo around her own, and with the pious device, "Mary, conceived
without sin, pray for us; we have recourse to thee." No impure or unholy
sentiment should be written under such a sign. But we will see how that
is. The letters are addressed to Rev. -- --, D. D., Portsmouth, Virginia.;
but they are without the signature or address of the fair writer. The first
is dated February 25th. It says: Your letter of 27th November reached me
only a few days ago. * * * I wish I could tell you all that I would like;
but there is no paper enough in the United States to write it. I must reserve
it till we meet. My friend (she occasionally seeks to disguise the personnel
of her lover by using the third person singular) is exceedingly anxious
to know all about me. But what can I say that he has not already imagined?
That question I scarcely know how to answer. I ought to be * * But is this
enough to content me? No. One thing is wanting. The greatest pleasure of
life is gone. I can neither hear nor see my best friend. Of course there
are many things to which we have been accustomed that we cannot get during
this war. * * I have wished so often that Father H. would be sent here.
Next to my own darling, I would rather see him. I am anticipating a visit
very soon from Rev. P.N.L. I have not been blessed with the sight of a clergyman
since last January, when I was inexpressibly happy. January twelve-months
I mean. You know how happy I was then. Do you ever hear from my Baltimore
friends? and yours? Once, perhaps. Miss Sarah envied me. Now I envy her.
Yet I am not jealous. * * I must close now, begging to be remembered in
your prayers during this holy season. A thousand fond messages to my heart's
own idolized. Fondly, * *
"I hope this may reach you, and that I will hear from you very soon.
Remember me to the sisters."
LOVE EPISTLE NO. 2
MARCH 6, 1863
Your sweet note of the 11th of last month reached me about a week after
it was written. * * * [Here follow some details of business, with names,
which we suppress.] I wish I could tell you many things, but they must be
reserved. Of one thing, my special friend [here she again lapses into the
mysterious third person singular] may rest assured, and that is that he
is as fondly remembered as ever. Though we may not meet for many weary months,
he is still fast in my heart-the dearest, the best, the most fondly loved.
He occupies that place that no other can occupy. He is ever in my thoughts-morning,
noon and night. Always remembered in my prayers, though he does not stand
in need of such poor prayers as mine. Say sweet things to him from me-a
thousand fond messages. All that the fondest heart could dictate would I
say to him. [Again she adopts the second person singular.] Let me hear from
you as soon as you can. Your letters are always cheering. Remember me to
the sisters. Ma's health is very bad. She returns many thanks for the picture
(illegible) May angels guard him [third person singular again] and our blessed
Mother watch over and protect him. Remember me particularly on the 17th
and 19th of this month. Good night. Sweet be your slumbers.
Your own, * * *
SACRAMENTO WEEKLY UNION
Sacramento, Cal., Saturday Morning, May 16, 1863
THE FAMOUS ORDER NUMBER EIGHT-We have come into possession, says the New
York Herald, in a very mysterious manner, of a document purporting to be
a copy of General Burnside's famous Order No. 8, referred to so prominently
in the report of the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,}
January 23, 1863}
General Orders No. 8]
First-General Joseph E. Hooker, Major General of Volunteers and Brigadier
General of the United States Army, having been guilty of unjust and unnecessary
criticisms of the actions of his superior officers and of the authorities,
and having, by the general tone of his conversation, endeavored to create
distrust in the minds of officers who have associated with him, and having,
by omissions and otherwise, made reports and statements which were calculated
to create incorrect impressions, and for habitually speaking in disparaging
terms of other officers, is hereby dismissed the service of the United States,
as a man unfit to hold an important commission during a crisis like the
present, when so much patience, charity, confidence, consideration and patriotism
are due from every soldier in the field.
This order is issued subject to the approval of the President of the United
Second-Brigadier General W. T. H. Brooks, commanding First Division, Sixth
Army Corps, for complaining of the policy of the Government and for using
language tending to demoralize his command, is, subject to the approval
of the President of the United States, dismissed from the military service
of the United States.
Third-Brigadier General John Newton, commanding Third Division, Sixth Army
Corps, and Brigadier General John Cochrane, commanding First Brigade, Third
Division, Sixth Army Corps, for going to the President of the United States
with criticisms upon the plans of his commanding officer, are, subject to
the approval of the President, dismissed from the military service of the
Fourth-It being evident that the following named officers can be of no further
service to this army, they are hereby relieved from duty, and will report
in person without delay to the Adjutant General of the United States Army:
Major General W.F. Smith, commanding Sixth Army Corps.
Brigadier General Sam. D. Sturgis, commanding Second Division, Ninth Army
Brigadier General Edward Ferrerro, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division,
Ninth Army Corps.
Brigadier General John Cochrane, commanding First Brigade, Third Division,
Sixth Army Corps.
Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Taylor, Acting Adjutant General Right Grand Division.
By command of Major General A. E. Burnside.
Assistant Adjutant General.
SACRAMENTO WEEKLY UNION
Sacramento, Cal., Saturday Morning, May 23, 1863
[Correspondence of the Sentinel]
Alexander's Batt. lt. Artillery,
Camp Near Hagerstown, Md.,
July 10th 1863
In sending you a list of the casualties of this command, I will preface
it with a few facts and reflections in regard to the late great battle of
Gettysburg. I had no opportunity of visiting different parts of the field
during the three days' engagement, being compelled to remain with my command;
but I presume, others more at liberty have already furnished you with a
connected history of the whole affair. There is no doubt the fact, that
our repulse here has, at least for a time, changed the whole plan of this
campaign. Almost every one feels that we attempted almost impossibilities.
I think we were too confident. I intimated this in my letter to you from
Chambersburg. Every man felt we could whip Hooker wherever we might meet
him. We had forgotten the power of the spade and the immense advantage which
position may give. We had lost sight of the striking history of the siege
of Vicksburg, even while in progress: there 20,000 men successfully resisting
and slaughtering a besieging army of 75,000 men, though surrounded and cut
off from all succor.
I am in Longstreet's corps, who commanded the centre on the right of Gettysburg.
Gen. Hood was on our right. Just to our front and right was a very rocky
spur, on which the enemy had a battery, supported, of course, by infantry.
Gen. Hood sent word on Thursday afternoon to General Lee, that he had met
with an unexpected obstacle in this mountain, and that he could not advance.
Both on Wednesday and Thursday we had driven the enemy without difficulty,
but when he had fallen back to this spur or mountain and the connecting
range of hills, our advance was checked. Thursday was a glorious day in
our front. The men were in splendid spirits. It would have done your heart
good (for it filled my eyes with tears) to see Gen. Wofford's Brigade charge
the enemy, who was strongly posted in a large peach orchard about 500 yards
from the grove in which our battery was placed. Between these two points
was a gentle valley, covered with clover and corn, affording no protection.
The enemy's artillery in this orchard damaged us terribly. One battery in
this battalion (Rhett's S. C. Lieut. Ficklin commanding) had lost 30 men
in less than an hour. But other batteries came rapidly in line, and the
enemy's fire slackened a little. Wofford's men were lying just behind us,
under cover of a hill. The order was given to advance. We ceased firing
a moment, and the noble brigade filed between our guns amid a thousand cheers
from full and admiring hearts of the artillery. They leaped the low stone
fence, and soon the noble line of two full regiments was formed, and began
to descend the slope towards the orchard. The gallant general rode to the
front with his hat high above his head, first cheering on the regiment on
the left and then galloped along the line of that upon the right. Oh! it
was a grand sight, and my heart is full now while I write of it. How gallantly
the brigade responded to this noble example of heroism! How beautifully
the lines dress up, rear and front!! How the cannoniers behind rent the
air with cheers!! The charge terrified the enemy, for he made no resistance.
Soon the brigade and its noble commander entered the orchard, and the artillery
which had been playing over their heads ceased, and this strong position
was won. Long may Gen. Wofford live to lead his men to victory!
The failure of Gen. Pickett to take the position on our left, was due to
the strength of the enemy's fortifications and want of support. He was posted
behind a strong stone wall, and had parallels beyond this, so that when
one line was taken, another and another remained. These places are not improperly
called by the men "slaughter pens."
The artillery fight of Friday (3rd) was the greatest of the war, some say
the greatest "field" artillery fight of the age. It began at 1/4
past 4. Our battery happened to fire the first gun at some skirmishers who
were endeavoring to get into a rivine in our front. Before 8 o'clock we
had blown up four of the enemy's caissons and we must have damaged him (and
I learn he confesses it) terribly during the afternoon. Between 1 and 2
o'clock, I am satisfied we fired 25,000 shot and shell. This was just before
Pickett assaulted the enemy's works. Had they been carried, we would have
been in Baltimore ere this.
Not a gun was fired on Saturday. it reminded us all of the day (Thursday)
that followed the battle of Sharpsburg. As it began to be intimated that
we would fall back, every face grew sad; but when it was ascertained that
our ammunition (heavy ordnance) was nearly exhausted, all acquiesced. I
have to see the first man who wishes to return to Virginia. I have talked
with timid men, but all agree that we can whip the Yankees any day on a
fair field. (illegible) but we (illegible) God's blessing, to do what the
(illegible) of Northern Virginia has so often done before.
There is great discontent among the officers and men in regard to Order
No. 72.-The stores are all closed. Men who profess to be our friends in
this State shut their doors in our faces and denounce our money. This is
intolerable. These men are as truly our enemies as the blackest Republican
in the land. To the Yankees their doors are wide spread. They say they can't
buy goods with our money. Why not let them invest some of their money in
our bonds? We don't wish to "buy them out." They embark in other
speculations which they own are more hazardous. They say we will certainly
establish our independence, and yet they will not turn a hand to help us.
Many of our men need shoes, hats and clothes, and yet quartermasters issue
none, and none can be bought, though we offer to buy what their men need:
no one wants ornaments.
But I must give you the list promised.
This battalion and that commanded by our townsman, Col. J. T. Brown, are
the only battalions which contain six companies. The others have only four.
Our battalion is larger than Col. Brown's, I think. It numbers, absent and
present, 886 men, and about 600 horses. Jordan's, Woolfolk's and Parker's
are rifle batteries; Taylor's (formerly Eubank's), Moody's and Rhett's are
Napoleons and howitzers. Col. E. P. Alexander, our commander, and who now
commands all the reserve artillery, had a ball to pass through his pantaloons
near the knee. The reserve artillery is composed of this battalion, the
Washington Artillery of 10 guns, and Maj. Dearing's battalion of 16 guns.
Col. Alexander deserves high praise for his incessant labor, day and night,
in posting the artillery, &c.
LIST OF CASUALTIES
Capt. P. Woolfolk's company, (Ashland Artillery)-killed: W. A. Britton,
Chs Hawkins, Jos R. Terrell. Wounded: Capt. P. Woolfolk, shoulder, badly;
Serg't (illegible) Corp Hancock, foot, slight; privates C. Bristow, thigh,
slight; R. B Bristow, knee, slight; John E Corker, arm, slight; John Z Gale,
seriously; W H Hart, arm, slight; Jos Boskins, arm slight; R H Harper, head
and arm, badly; G W Jones, hip, slight; T E Jackson, slight; Sam'l Mills,
Jas M Fay, both slight; R O Mason, leg and face, seriously; Jas B Pate,
G W Perkins, Jos Perkins, W T Smith, all slightly; J H Snead, back, serious;
J T Southward, abdomen, dangerous; S Chandler, slight. Missing: Thomas Howarth.
Moody's Battery-Killed: Serg't Jas Ganlan, Corp'l Chs Price, privates Pat
Malone, J R Ellison. Wounded: Serg'ts R Clarke and James Dwyer, Corp'l Pat
Ward, privates Jas Scanlan, C Delany, Mike Lawless, George Creswell, L H
Carter, Henry Halleck, Ed M Way, J C Butler, Thos Curley, Mat Reardon, Jeff
J Lewis, Dan Campbell, mortally; P M Ethridge, Luke Baxter, Mike Carr, T
Carey, Wm Carroll, Wm N Adam, Jas Sturdivant, Joe Ryan, Hugh McMasters,
J F Reajon, Jas Gallger, A LeCroy, A T Wood, M Sullivan, most of them slightly.
Parker's Battery, of Richmond.-Died in hospital: Privates Pat McNeil and
Jas B Loughbridge. Wounded: Sgt Jas Hallowell, Geo W Madison, severely;
sgts Moore, Wm B Coghill, privates John Pearce, A Gill, Geo Hancock, Joe
Hightower, Thos Forsett, Thos Todd, Jho Turner, Thos Evans, all slight.
Capt. Taylor's Battery-Killed: Corpl Wm P. Ray, corpl Jos Luntz. Wounded:
Privates C T Atkinson, E J Sheppard, Byrd McCormick, Carter Eubank, severely;
corpl Henry D Wirt, privates W F Buford, Silas Gentry, Jos O Moday, Oscar
Lucas, Byas Atkinson, all slight.
Jordan's Battery-on detached service at present-Killed: Geo Smith. Six wounded;
Brooks' Battery, from Charleston, S C-Killed: Corpl R M Ackis, privates
N P Crey, W Eason, E Street, D H Mitchell, T D Williams. Wounded: Lieut
S C Gilbert, severely; Lieut W W Fickling, slight; Lt C F O'Niel, seriously;
sgts W L Calvitt, D C H Smith, corpls A Martin, since died; H R Kennedy,
T J Hays, Braum H Bruning, Privates T S Ackis, Geo Antibus, J Algood, T
M Carrollan, T Hajuns, A A Kinney, E Mahear, J T Nicholls, C Noel, W D Watts,
P H Williams, H Woodworth, all seriously; sgt M Murphy slightly; privates
T Doran, T C Farrell, W S Fisher, S C Hibbard, J Kennedy, A McKinzie, A
Myers and T H Youngblood, slightly.
The seriously wounded were left in the hands of the enemy.
Total killed and wounded of Alexander's Battalion of Artillery-130. Horses
I hardly think our whole loss, including the missing, in this engagement,
exceeded eight or ten thousand. Of these, about 4,000 will return to duty
in a few days; many have already done so. Were we near Richmond, these men
would get into hospitals, from there go to their homes, and there remain
in many cases for months.
There has been heavy firing to-day in the direction of Boonboro, but we
know not with what result. I presume the cavalry are engaged chiefly. A.
Richmond, Va., Monday, July 27, 1863
[Correspondence of the Sentinel]
July 17th 1863
Allow me a short space in the columns of your paper in reply to an article
which appeared in your issue of the 16th, signed "Confed's."
In answer to "Confed's" first question, in regard to rations,
I reply, that the Government has no right to furnish officers rations gratis,
because the pay which "Confed" receives is amply sufficient, at
Government prices, to defray his expenses, provided he will stay closely
with his responsible command, as he ought to do. As to uniforms one would
last "Confed" twelve months; for which one month's wages will
pay. As for boots, he can easily dispense with them, as shoes are preferable
in camps-boots are inconvenient to get on and off in wet weather. As to
hats, he could get one on almost every battle-field, provided he stays with
his responsible command, or position. As to shirts, a couple of domestic
oznaburgs would last him a twelve month.
"Confed," if you think you would rather be a private, in the ranks,
than a commissioned officer, apply to me, and I will exchange with you;
but, before making the exchange, it is but fair to remind you that the private
has to buy his tobacco, paper, envelopes, postage stamps and ink. Besides,
he has the same appetite, and occasionally needs some of the conforts of
life, as well as the commissioned officer. Now, if you can do so much better
with the private's eleven dollars per month than you seem to be able to
do with an officer's one hundred and thirty-five dollars per month, I have
only to ask you-will you trade?
A PRIVATE AT HOWARD'S GROVE
Richmond, Va., July 27, 1863