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~LETTERS HOME~

Soldier writing letter.

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The following letter was written by William Darst,a volunteer in the 21st Viginia Volunteer Infantry;

Camp of Instruction
May 3,1861
Hermitage Fair Grounds Camp

My Dear Ma:
  I received your kind and affectionate letter day before yesterday.I was very anxious to hear from home and to know how you were all getting along.I expect it is right lonely since Jack and i left.I never get lonesome here surrounded by about four thousand men,of all kinds.We get along very well here,never have any disturbances at all,except at night sometimes the guard take people to the watch house.There is a guard of one hundred men detailed from the different companies every night,which are divided into five different watches and each watch stands two hours before it is relieved by the next succeeding one.The cadets have the guard under their care,the reason is they are so much better acquainted with military duty than anyone else in camp.
  Everything moves as regulary here as if moved by machinery.The drum beats at five to get up.At ten minutes after,the roll is called,at six the drill begins,ends at seven,and breakfast at eight and drill at nine,ends at ten,commences again at eleven and ends at twelve,dinner at one and then we have a recess untill three,when drill commences again and ends at four,dress parade at sundown.The people of Richmond turn out by the thousands to see this,they assemble onto seats erected on the race course.It is a beauitful sight to see four thousand soldiers in full uniform forming the hollow square with a thousand on each side.
  You must all make yourselves easy about us.I expect your anxiety is harder to bear than our hardships.
  Write soon,give my love to Mrs. Summer,tell me everything that is going on in the neighborhood.

Yours affectionately

Wm.B.Darst


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Thomas Lightfoot was musterd into Company A,6th Alabama Volunter Infantry as second lieutenant on May 11,1861. This is his first letter home.

Camp Davis near Corinth,Miss.
May 29th,1861

Dear Cousin:
  We arrived here several days ago,but I have been so wearied that I was not able to write you.I will now give you my views of a soldier's life.
  A soldier is worse than any negro on Chattahoochee River.He has no privileges whatever.He is under worse task-masters than any negro.He is not treated with any respect whatever.His officers may insult him and he has no right to open his mouth and dare not do it.My officers have always treated me with the utmost courtesy,and I expect will always treat me so,for I am going to obey orders.This is a hard life,but I like it very much.We make our pallets on the ground and we rise at the tap of the drum or we are placed on double duty.I have been so fortunate as to be always at my post.
  We left Montgomery on Saturday last in very good 1st class passenger cars,and were getting along finely until we got to Chattanooga,where they placed us in box cars.Ladies crowded to every depot to cheer us on our way.I can truly say I never saw as many and as pretty ladies in my life as there is on the road from Montgomery to Corinth. The cars were literally covered with bouquets from the beautiful ladies.I think when I want a wife I will come somewher on this road to find her.
  It is generally supposed down in our country that the people of North Alabama are not right on the present issue,but I can assure you that they are the most warlike people I have ever seen.Womem cheer us,and the men go along with us.Every litte village has at least twenty-five flags floating aloft.
  You must write to me soon and give me all the news.Give my love to Uncle,Dr.and Lady,and all the rest of the family and accept the wishes of your most obedient and affectionate cousin,

T. R. Lightfoot


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At the First Battle of Bull Run,Philip Powers was serving as a sergeant major with the 1st Virginia Cavalry.He later became a captain in the Quartermaster Department,Cavarly Corps,Confederate Army of Northern Viginia.

Camp at Fairfax Courhouse,
July 23,1861

My Dearest Wife:
  Several Clark men,among them Knelles,were in our camp for a short time this evening but I was so busy I had not time even to drop you a line,and fearing lest the same thing may occur again,I write tonight,though excessively fatigued.
  Yesterday we had a drenching rain all day and most of last night,and being without our tents we could not escape the rain and mud.We broke our camp however about midnight and marched to this place accompanied by two regiments of infantry and one battery of artillery.I was glad to leave, for as I wrote you we were near by a hospital of the enemy where[there were]over three hurndred of their wounded,dead and dying.Many of them necessarily left out in all the inclemency of weathers to die.To pass by it was enough to soften and sicken the hardest heart.I will not dwell upon the awful scene.
  The battle was nothing to this after piece.The excitement of the contest,the cheering of the soldiers,the triumph of victory and the whole field of many of it's terrors-nothing could lessen the horrors of the field by moonlight. Enough-I cannot,I will not describe it.May God,in his infinite mercy,avert a second such calamity. Our march after we got beyound the scenes of the fight was rather cheering than otherwise.For twelve miles the road was literally strewn with every description of baggage,wagons,ambulances, barrels of surgar,crackers,ground coffee and thousands of axes,shovels,picks,arms by the thousands,clothing of every description,cooking utensils-in fact,everything-and all left behind to expedite thier flight,which was never stopped until they reached Washington.
  Our troops have been busily engaged in appropriating everything they might possibly need,from a pin cushion to the finest army tent.In this place we found in several houses clothing enough to fill every room in our house. Their army was splendidly equipped with every possible convenience and comfort.But I cannot account for their utter confusion and panic. Their own papers give our regiment the credit of turning the tide of victory on our side.The papers if you can see them will give you all particulars....
  I do not know what our next move will be but suppose it will be upon Alexandria.All I desire is to drive them from our soil and secure peace-I would not shed another drop...
  I cannot write now.Farewell! I pray that my wife and little childern may be protected and comforted at all times.

Ever Yours
P.H.Powers


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1861 ~ 1862
1863 ~ 1864 ~ 1865

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