060. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- July 13, 1862

  • Image 01
    July 13th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I slept in a tent last night; what a luxury! We have just returned to camp after being for nearly three weeks on the road. Some nights, I have had my blankets to spread on the ground, and sometimes I have been without them, and had to be on the ground just so. I carried two blankets with me strapped behind my horse, but whenever we lay very near the enemy, and were expecting to move at any moment, of course I did not unsaddle my horse or unroll my blankets. Just imagine being for nearly three weeks without shelter of any kind, from sunshine or rain, night, or day, and without a chance to change ones cloths, or get a wash, for we left every thing behind us at camp. And if this were all it would be light, but in addition fighting is several battles, and working or traveling night, and day, for most of the time, and doing all this, with sometimes absolutely nothing to eat. I went sometimes for twenty four hours without tasting food, and sometimes parched some of the horse's [corn?] and eat that. Our Regiment numbers about 950 men, and when we returned to camp we had not 300. We lost 167 in killed and wounded and the rest broke down on the road, or were sick before. On the day that we lost most of our men, we did not carry more[End Page 1] than 350 men into the fight, and lost 150 of them. It was on Friday the 27th, I kept up with the Regt. all day, and consequently was in the thicket of the fight, and on that part of the field too, where the fight was hottest. It seems to me a wonder, when I think of it now, how I escaped the shot and shell, seemed to come so thickly around me. One of my nurses, who was with me was shot down, and has since died of his wound. I saw poor [Grimke?] Rhett after he was shot, the ball entered at the back of his head and came out at the forehead. We had an officer in our Regiment shot in the same way. Poor Shubrick Hayne was shot in the bowells. After the battle I heard that he was considered mortally wounded, and although I was almost run to death, attending to my own Regt., I looked for him all over the field, but could not find him. I hear since that he is dead. We have had about the hardest time of any [portion?] of the army, as we attacked the enemy first on his extreme right, and followed him up, and now having returned near Richmond, we are camping where his left rested. I think that the Yankee loss must be at least 20 000 not counting the slightly wounded, for I think that I must have seen nearly 5000 dead on the different fields, and we have nearly 500 prisoners, if not more, and the severely wounded must[End Page 2] have been at least twice as many of them killed. But our loss has been very heavy also. I am afraid that in killed and wounded it does not fall far short of that of the enemy. I have already written you two letters, giving you my impressions of the battle. I have also written over to Papa but have not heard from either of you. The day after the battle of Friday, I sent a telegraphic dispatch to Columbia, and tried to make arrangements for its reaching you. Paris begs me to remember him to you all, and say that he is very, very anxious to get back home, in fact as much as his master does. But I do not see why he should, for although he suffers all the hardships of the march, he has not half the work that his master has, and then he has replenished his wardrobe at the expense of the Yankees. He says that he only regrets that he did not have conveyance for the things that he might have taken as the lawful prize of war. He thinks if he could have carried them, he would have been a rich man. He says that he saw such piles of well stuffed, "[Nam?] sacks", but could not carry them, and could not stop to open them, for fear of getting behind the others and getting lost. He and the major's boy were nearer the battle than any other of the servants, and were really in danger sometimes, from the shells and spent balls.[End Page 3] We made them follow at a distance with our horses. At one time they had got behind a hill down which the Regt. was charging at a Yankee battery. They stood very well cowering behind the trees where the spent balls fell around them, but suddenly the battery opened, and the shells flew over their heads with their hideous whistling and whizzing, which frightens braver men than Paris, and Fred, till finally one struck the tree against which they were lying. And then they mounted and away they sped for precious life, and their excitement rises mountain high now even when they speak of it. But they obtained their reward, for being ahead of the others they had the first choice of the enemies' spoils. For the two days before I came to camp I was very uneasy. Paris got sick, and I had to leave him at a house very near the enemies lines, while we went still nearer, and compelled them to retreat, but we left, and came back here by another road, and I could not leave the Regt. to go for him, and no one would venture to go a long lonely road near the enemy to bring him. As the whole of our army had deserted their country, I gave him up as a lost, and thought surely that the enemy had him. The next morning by offering $10, I got a negroe to [illegible] back to the house 10 miles off or my house, in search of him. He brought me word that he was gone, and I was miserable. But the next day he walked into camp. On seeing the soldiers leaving he says that sick as he was he crept to[End Page 4] W.W. Keith Asst. Surgeon, 12th Regt. S.C.V. P.T. Keith Anderson C.H. So. Ca. [End Page 5]
  • Image 01
    July 13th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I slept in a tent last night; what a luxury! We have just returned to camp after being for nearly three weeks on the road. Some nights, I have had my blankets to spread on the ground, and sometimes I have been without them, and had to be on the ground just so. I carried two blankets with me strapped behind my horse, but whenever we lay very near the enemy, and were expecting to move at any moment, of course I did not unsaddle my horse or unroll my blankets. Just imagine being for nearly three weeks without shelter of any kind, from sunshine or rain, night, or day, and without a chance to change ones cloths, or get a wash, for we left every thing behind us at camp. And if this were all it would be light, but in addition fighting is several battles, and working or traveling night, and day, for most of the time, and doing all this, with sometimes absolutely nothing to eat. I went sometimes for twenty four hours without tasting food, and sometimes parched some of the horse's [corn?] and eat that. Our Regiment numbers about 950 men, and when we returned to camp we had not 300. We lost 167 in killed and wounded and the rest broke down on the road, or were sick before. On the day that we lost most of our men, we did not carry more[End Page 1] than 350 men into the fight, and lost 150 of them. It was on Friday the 27th, I kept up with the Regt. all day, and consequently was in the thicket of the fight, and on that part of the field too, where the fight was hottest. It seems to me a wonder, when I think of it now, how I escaped the shot and shell, seemed to come so thickly around me. One of my nurses, who was with me was shot down, and has since died of his wound. I saw poor [Grimke?] Rhett after he was shot, the ball entered at the back of his head and came out at the forehead. We had an officer in our Regiment shot in the same way. Poor Shubrick Hayne was shot in the bowells. After the battle I heard that he was considered mortally wounded, and although I was almost run to death, attending to my own Regt., I looked for him all over the field, but could not find him. I hear since that he is dead. We have had about the hardest time of any [portion?] of the army, as we attacked the enemy first on his extreme right, and followed him up, and now having returned near Richmond, we are camping where his left rested. I think that the Yankee loss must be at least 20 000 not counting the slightly wounded, for I think that I must have seen nearly 5000 dead on the different fields, and we have nearly 500 prisoners, if not more, and the severely wounded must[End Page 2] have been at least twice as many of them killed. But our loss has been very heavy also. I am afraid that in killed and wounded it does not fall far short of that of the enemy. I have already written you two letters, giving you my impressions of the battle. I have also written over to Papa but have not heard from either of you. The day after the battle of Friday, I sent a telegraphic dispatch to Columbia, and tried to make arrangements for its reaching you. Paris begs me to remember him to you all, and say that he is very, very anxious to get back home, in fact as much as his master does. But I do not see why he should, for although he suffers all the hardships of the march, he has not half the work that his master has, and then he has replenished his wardrobe at the expense of the Yankees. He says that he only regrets that he did not have conveyance for the things that he might have taken as the lawful prize of war. He thinks if he could have carried them, he would have been a rich man. He says that he saw such piles of well stuffed, "[Nam?] sacks", but could not carry them, and could not stop to open them, for fear of getting behind the others and getting lost. He and the major's boy were nearer the battle than any other of the servants, and were really in danger sometimes, from the shells and spent balls.[End Page 3] We made them follow at a distance with our horses. At one time they had got behind a hill down which the Regt. was charging at a Yankee battery. They stood very well cowering behind the trees where the spent balls fell around them, but suddenly the battery opened, and the shells flew over their heads with their hideous whistling and whizzing, which frightens braver men than Paris, and Fred, till finally one struck the tree against which they were lying. And then they mounted and away they sped for precious life, and their excitement rises mountain high now even when they speak of it. But they obtained their reward, for being ahead of the others they had the first choice of the enemies' spoils. For the two days before I came to camp I was very uneasy. Paris got sick, and I had to leave him at a house very near the enemies lines, while we went still nearer, and compelled them to retreat, but we left, and came back here by another road, and I could not leave the Regt. to go for him, and no one would venture to go a long lonely road near the enemy to bring him. As the whole of our army had deserted their country, I gave him up as a lost, and thought surely that the enemy had him. The next morning by offering $10, I got a negroe to [illegible] back to the house 10 miles off or my house, in search of him. He brought me word that he was gone, and I was miserable. But the next day he walked into camp. On seeing the soldiers leaving he says that sick as he was he crept to[End Page 4] W.W. Keith Asst. Surgeon, 12th Regt. S.C.V. P.T. Keith Anderson C.H. So. Ca. [End Page 5]
  • Image 01
    July 13th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I slept in a tent last night; what a luxury! We have just returned to camp after being for nearly three weeks on the road. Some nights, I have had my blankets to spread on the ground, and sometimes I have been without them, and had to be on the ground just so. I carried two blankets with me strapped behind my horse, but whenever we lay very near the enemy, and were expecting to move at any moment, of course I did not unsaddle my horse or unroll my blankets. Just imagine being for nearly three weeks without shelter of any kind, from sunshine or rain, night, or day, and without a chance to change ones cloths, or get a wash, for we left every thing behind us at camp. And if this were all it would be light, but in addition fighting is several battles, and working or traveling night, and day, for most of the time, and doing all this, with sometimes absolutely nothing to eat. I went sometimes for twenty four hours without tasting food, and sometimes parched some of the horse's [corn?] and eat that. Our Regiment numbers about 950 men, and when we returned to camp we had not 300. We lost 167 in killed and wounded and the rest broke down on the road, or were sick before. On the day that we lost most of our men, we did not carry more[End Page 1] than 350 men into the fight, and lost 150 of them. It was on Friday the 27th, I kept up with the Regt. all day, and consequently was in the thicket of the fight, and on that part of the field too, where the fight was hottest. It seems to me a wonder, when I think of it now, how I escaped the shot and shell, seemed to come so thickly around me. One of my nurses, who was with me was shot down, and has since died of his wound. I saw poor [Grimke?] Rhett after he was shot, the ball entered at the back of his head and came out at the forehead. We had an officer in our Regiment shot in the same way. Poor Shubrick Hayne was shot in the bowells. After the battle I heard that he was considered mortally wounded, and although I was almost run to death, attending to my own Regt., I looked for him all over the field, but could not find him. I hear since that he is dead. We have had about the hardest time of any [portion?] of the army, as we attacked the enemy first on his extreme right, and followed him up, and now having returned near Richmond, we are camping where his left rested. I think that the Yankee loss must be at least 20 000 not counting the slightly wounded, for I think that I must have seen nearly 5000 dead on the different fields, and we have nearly 500 prisoners, if not more, and the severely wounded must[End Page 2] have been at least twice as many of them killed. But our loss has been very heavy also. I am afraid that in killed and wounded it does not fall far short of that of the enemy. I have already written you two letters, giving you my impressions of the battle. I have also written over to Papa but have not heard from either of you. The day after the battle of Friday, I sent a telegraphic dispatch to Columbia, and tried to make arrangements for its reaching you. Paris begs me to remember him to you all, and say that he is very, very anxious to get back home, in fact as much as his master does. But I do not see why he should, for although he suffers all the hardships of the march, he has not half the work that his master has, and then he has replenished his wardrobe at the expense of the Yankees. He says that he only regrets that he did not have conveyance for the things that he might have taken as the lawful prize of war. He thinks if he could have carried them, he would have been a rich man. He says that he saw such piles of well stuffed, "[Nam?] sacks", but could not carry them, and could not stop to open them, for fear of getting behind the others and getting lost. He and the major's boy were nearer the battle than any other of the servants, and were really in danger sometimes, from the shells and spent balls.[End Page 3] We made them follow at a distance with our horses. At one time they had got behind a hill down which the Regt. was charging at a Yankee battery. They stood very well cowering behind the trees where the spent balls fell around them, but suddenly the battery opened, and the shells flew over their heads with their hideous whistling and whizzing, which frightens braver men than Paris, and Fred, till finally one struck the tree against which they were lying. And then they mounted and away they sped for precious life, and their excitement rises mountain high now even when they speak of it. But they obtained their reward, for being ahead of the others they had the first choice of the enemies' spoils. For the two days before I came to camp I was very uneasy. Paris got sick, and I had to leave him at a house very near the enemies lines, while we went still nearer, and compelled them to retreat, but we left, and came back here by another road, and I could not leave the Regt. to go for him, and no one would venture to go a long lonely road near the enemy to bring him. As the whole of our army had deserted their country, I gave him up as a lost, and thought surely that the enemy had him. The next morning by offering $10, I got a negroe to [illegible] back to the house 10 miles off or my house, in search of him. He brought me word that he was gone, and I was miserable. But the next day he walked into camp. On seeing the soldiers leaving he says that sick as he was he crept to[End Page 4] W.W. Keith Asst. Surgeon, 12th Regt. S.C.V. P.T. Keith Anderson C.H. So. Ca. [End Page 5]
  • Image 01
    July 13th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I slept in a tent last night; what a luxury! We have just returned to camp after being for nearly three weeks on the road. Some nights, I have had my blankets to spread on the ground, and sometimes I have been without them, and had to be on the ground just so. I carried two blankets with me strapped behind my horse, but whenever we lay very near the enemy, and were expecting to move at any moment, of course I did not unsaddle my horse or unroll my blankets. Just imagine being for nearly three weeks without shelter of any kind, from sunshine or rain, night, or day, and without a chance to change ones cloths, or get a wash, for we left every thing behind us at camp. And if this were all it would be light, but in addition fighting is several battles, and working or traveling night, and day, for most of the time, and doing all this, with sometimes absolutely nothing to eat. I went sometimes for twenty four hours without tasting food, and sometimes parched some of the horse's [corn?] and eat that. Our Regiment numbers about 950 men, and when we returned to camp we had not 300. We lost 167 in killed and wounded and the rest broke down on the road, or were sick before. On the day that we lost most of our men, we did not carry more[End Page 1] than 350 men into the fight, and lost 150 of them. It was on Friday the 27th, I kept up with the Regt. all day, and consequently was in the thicket of the fight, and on that part of the field too, where the fight was hottest. It seems to me a wonder, when I think of it now, how I escaped the shot and shell, seemed to come so thickly around me. One of my nurses, who was with me was shot down, and has since died of his wound. I saw poor [Grimke?] Rhett after he was shot, the ball entered at the back of his head and came out at the forehead. We had an officer in our Regiment shot in the same way. Poor Shubrick Hayne was shot in the bowells. After the battle I heard that he was considered mortally wounded, and although I was almost run to death, attending to my own Regt., I looked for him all over the field, but could not find him. I hear since that he is dead. We have had about the hardest time of any [portion?] of the army, as we attacked the enemy first on his extreme right, and followed him up, and now having returned near Richmond, we are camping where his left rested. I think that the Yankee loss must be at least 20 000 not counting the slightly wounded, for I think that I must have seen nearly 5000 dead on the different fields, and we have nearly 500 prisoners, if not more, and the severely wounded must[End Page 2] have been at least twice as many of them killed. But our loss has been very heavy also. I am afraid that in killed and wounded it does not fall far short of that of the enemy. I have already written you two letters, giving you my impressions of the battle. I have also written over to Papa but have not heard from either of you. The day after the battle of Friday, I sent a telegraphic dispatch to Columbia, and tried to make arrangements for its reaching you. Paris begs me to remember him to you all, and say that he is very, very anxious to get back home, in fact as much as his master does. But I do not see why he should, for although he suffers all the hardships of the march, he has not half the work that his master has, and then he has replenished his wardrobe at the expense of the Yankees. He says that he only regrets that he did not have conveyance for the things that he might have taken as the lawful prize of war. He thinks if he could have carried them, he would have been a rich man. He says that he saw such piles of well stuffed, "[Nam?] sacks", but could not carry them, and could not stop to open them, for fear of getting behind the others and getting lost. He and the major's boy were nearer the battle than any other of the servants, and were really in danger sometimes, from the shells and spent balls.[End Page 3] We made them follow at a distance with our horses. At one time they had got behind a hill down which the Regt. was charging at a Yankee battery. They stood very well cowering behind the trees where the spent balls fell around them, but suddenly the battery opened, and the shells flew over their heads with their hideous whistling and whizzing, which frightens braver men than Paris, and Fred, till finally one struck the tree against which they were lying. And then they mounted and away they sped for precious life, and their excitement rises mountain high now even when they speak of it. But they obtained their reward, for being ahead of the others they had the first choice of the enemies' spoils. For the two days before I came to camp I was very uneasy. Paris got sick, and I had to leave him at a house very near the enemies lines, while we went still nearer, and compelled them to retreat, but we left, and came back here by another road, and I could not leave the Regt. to go for him, and no one would venture to go a long lonely road near the enemy to bring him. As the whole of our army had deserted their country, I gave him up as a lost, and thought surely that the enemy had him. The next morning by offering $10, I got a negroe to [illegible] back to the house 10 miles off or my house, in search of him. He brought me word that he was gone, and I was miserable. But the next day he walked into camp. On seeing the soldiers leaving he says that sick as he was he crept to[End Page 4] W.W. Keith Asst. Surgeon, 12th Regt. S.C.V. P.T. Keith Anderson C.H. So. Ca. [End Page 5]
  • Image 01
    July 13th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I slept in a tent last night; what a luxury! We have just returned to camp after being for nearly three weeks on the road. Some nights, I have had my blankets to spread on the ground, and sometimes I have been without them, and had to be on the ground just so. I carried two blankets with me strapped behind my horse, but whenever we lay very near the enemy, and were expecting to move at any moment, of course I did not unsaddle my horse or unroll my blankets. Just imagine being for nearly three weeks without shelter of any kind, from sunshine or rain, night, or day, and without a chance to change ones cloths, or get a wash, for we left every thing behind us at camp. And if this were all it would be light, but in addition fighting is several battles, and working or traveling night, and day, for most of the time, and doing all this, with sometimes absolutely nothing to eat. I went sometimes for twenty four hours without tasting food, and sometimes parched some of the horse's [corn?] and eat that. Our Regiment numbers about 950 men, and when we returned to camp we had not 300. We lost 167 in killed and wounded and the rest broke down on the road, or were sick before. On the day that we lost most of our men, we did not carry more[End Page 1] than 350 men into the fight, and lost 150 of them. It was on Friday the 27th, I kept up with the Regt. all day, and consequently was in the thicket of the fight, and on that part of the field too, where the fight was hottest. It seems to me a wonder, when I think of it now, how I escaped the shot and shell, seemed to come so thickly around me. One of my nurses, who was with me was shot down, and has since died of his wound. I saw poor [Grimke?] Rhett after he was shot, the ball entered at the back of his head and came out at the forehead. We had an officer in our Regiment shot in the same way. Poor Shubrick Hayne was shot in the bowells. After the battle I heard that he was considered mortally wounded, and although I was almost run to death, attending to my own Regt., I looked for him all over the field, but could not find him. I hear since that he is dead. We have had about the hardest time of any [portion?] of the army, as we attacked the enemy first on his extreme right, and followed him up, and now having returned near Richmond, we are camping where his left rested. I think that the Yankee loss must be at least 20 000 not counting the slightly wounded, for I think that I must have seen nearly 5000 dead on the different fields, and we have nearly 500 prisoners, if not more, and the severely wounded must[End Page 2] have been at least twice as many of them killed. But our loss has been very heavy also. I am afraid that in killed and wounded it does not fall far short of that of the enemy. I have already written you two letters, giving you my impressions of the battle. I have also written over to Papa but have not heard from either of you. The day after the battle of Friday, I sent a telegraphic dispatch to Columbia, and tried to make arrangements for its reaching you. Paris begs me to remember him to you all, and say that he is very, very anxious to get back home, in fact as much as his master does. But I do not see why he should, for although he suffers all the hardships of the march, he has not half the work that his master has, and then he has replenished his wardrobe at the expense of the Yankees. He says that he only regrets that he did not have conveyance for the things that he might have taken as the lawful prize of war. He thinks if he could have carried them, he would have been a rich man. He says that he saw such piles of well stuffed, "[Nam?] sacks", but could not carry them, and could not stop to open them, for fear of getting behind the others and getting lost. He and the major's boy were nearer the battle than any other of the servants, and were really in danger sometimes, from the shells and spent balls.[End Page 3] We made them follow at a distance with our horses. At one time they had got behind a hill down which the Regt. was charging at a Yankee battery. They stood very well cowering behind the trees where the spent balls fell around them, but suddenly the battery opened, and the shells flew over their heads with their hideous whistling and whizzing, which frightens braver men than Paris, and Fred, till finally one struck the tree against which they were lying. And then they mounted and away they sped for precious life, and their excitement rises mountain high now even when they speak of it. But they obtained their reward, for being ahead of the others they had the first choice of the enemies' spoils. For the two days before I came to camp I was very uneasy. Paris got sick, and I had to leave him at a house very near the enemies lines, while we went still nearer, and compelled them to retreat, but we left, and came back here by another road, and I could not leave the Regt. to go for him, and no one would venture to go a long lonely road near the enemy to bring him. As the whole of our army had deserted their country, I gave him up as a lost, and thought surely that the enemy had him. The next morning by offering $10, I got a negroe to [illegible] back to the house 10 miles off or my house, in search of him. He brought me word that he was gone, and I was miserable. But the next day he walked into camp. On seeing the soldiers leaving he says that sick as he was he crept to[End Page 4] W.W. Keith Asst. Surgeon, 12th Regt. S.C.V. P.T. Keith Anderson C.H. So. Ca. [End Page 5]
Title:
060. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- July 13, 1862
Creator:
Wilkinson and Keith Families
Date:
1862-07-13
Description:
[Incomplete letter] Willis writes detailing life at camp, a fateful charge [also described in previous correspondence] and its death tolls, and also the experiences of his camp slaves, Paris and Fred, who apparently declined an opportunity to desert.
Collection:
Wilkinson-Keith Family Papers
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Manuscripts
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Confederate States of America. Army
Topical Subject:
Slaves
Geographic Subject:
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Shelving Locator:
Mss 0111
S.C. County:
Charleston County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
image/jpeg
Digitization Specifications:
600 ppi, 24-bit depth, color, Epson Expression 10000XL scanner, Archival Master is a tiff.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital image copyright 2010, The College of Charleston Libraries. All rights reserved. For more information contact The College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC 29424.