070. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- Sept. 7, 1862

  • Image 01
    Bivouac near Frederick City, Sept. 7th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I have not had an opportunity of writing for a long time. The last letter, I had in my pocket for nearly two weeks, and I do not know whether it got off at last. I have no idea how I shall send this. Our communication is in a great measure cut off. It has been a campaign of hardships indeed. We have had nothing to ear half of the time. And only what we could pick up along the road for our horses. I think that the battle of Manassas, was even more severe than those around Richmond. The battle field, on Sunday, was the most awful sight that can be imagined. Battles on three successive days had been fought over the same ground. And one in the walking over was surrounded, by the dead, and dying for a distance of 3 or 4 miles. And sometimes there lay a wounded man by a decaying corpse, of three days old. In looking over the field I hoped some of our own men, whom I knew well, without recognizing them. It is truly an awful sight. I saw many dead bodies sitting up against trees, where they had dragged themselves, when wounded. I slept on Thursday night on an old rail road. The principal part of the battle was fought there the next day. And when I revisited the spot, there lay a pile of corpses, in the very place in which I had slept. It seemed to[End Page 1] me that there were at least 5 dead Yankees, to one our men. On Monday evening the fight was quite unexpected by us. We were marching along when suddenly our skirmishes commenced firing in the woods on our flank. And as we marched along, a cannon ball whistled across the road just in front of my horse. He swerved aside, and another passed over my head. Our Regt. lost in the 3 days fight 24 killed dead on the field, and 135 or 40, wounded. I do hope that this will do something towards ending the war. We have not received a mail for nearly a month, so that I can not tell whether there are any letters in the office for me or not. I am heartily sick and tired of this life. I am now sitting on the ground and writing on the back of an old tin pan, on Yankee paper, with Yankee ink. At Manassas junction, there was every luxury that we could desire but we had no means of bringing anything off. We all got what we could eat that day, and burnt the rest. How I do long to see you again. And now I can not even hear from you. I would give anything to get into a Hospital. But I am afraid that it is a useless wish. I must stop now, and go try to get my[End Page 2] horse shod. I will finish this by the first opportunity. Monday Sept. 8th I hear that there will be a chance of sending off letters, today so I hasten to write. I went into Frederick City yesterday; it is quite a flourishing place, almost as large as Columbia; and think of it, sugar is 15 cts. a pound, and coffee 25cts. But that does not do us much good, as we cannot transport it, and can only get enough for 2 or 3 days use. A great many of the store keepers are Unionists, and will not open their stores. I could not get a change of clothing yesterday, which I wanted very much. I have not had a change now for nearly a month. The boy that I hired, turned out to be a run away slave. He ran away from me on the day of the last battle, the 1st Sept. with a beautiful Yankee mare, which he had caught at [Manassa?] and which I intended to apply to the Government for. So that now I am without a boy again. How I do wish that I had Paris back! But perhaps he could not have stood by another horse, for they are comparatively cheap here, and he could always ride. But as it is, without a boy, I have trouble enough, to get one horse fed. This is a horrible life. I do not mind the hardships one bit. I can sleep just as well on the ground, as on a feather bed, but the dreadful filth, makes me absolutely sick. Almost every man is the army, is covered with vermin, and it is absolutely unavoidable.[End Page 3] I have made up my mind, when I come to that pass, and if this lasts, I must, to resign, and go home, and join the Marion Artillery. They will never be sent out of the state, and I could keep a boy with me there. The only objection I have to it is, that I might become some expense to you all. This morning I took off all my cloths, and boiled them, and washed them, and washed myself in a millpond; but there were hundreds around me, in the horrible condition I describe, so that one can not feel clean even after that. And yet it was a luxury, for it was the first time in three weeks, that we have stopped long enough to wash at all. But do not let all this that I have been telling you trouble you, for after all an end will come to it. And perhaps I shall enjoy the pleasures of home the more, when I get there in consequence. The truth is what troubles me more than anything else, is the not being able to hear from you. I am continually afraid that you may be sick again, and I can not hear how you are doing. You must not let this prevent you from writing, for I suppose that we will get a mail every now, and then, and I will get all the letter together. If I could only be certain, that I will meet you again, in perfect health, I believe that I should be happy. And somehow it seems to me that I will. When I come home, I do not think that I will give you as much trouble, about little trifles, I have all my lifetime. I think that I have learned to put up with some hardships. Did Maria and Aunt Sarah, receive my letters? and did you receive one that I sent two days ago? I wrote to Johny 5 weeks ago. I hope to hear soon. Your Own Affectionate, W. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    Bivouac near Frederick City, Sept. 7th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I have not had an opportunity of writing for a long time. The last letter, I had in my pocket for nearly two weeks, and I do not know whether it got off at last. I have no idea how I shall send this. Our communication is in a great measure cut off. It has been a campaign of hardships indeed. We have had nothing to ear half of the time. And only what we could pick up along the road for our horses. I think that the battle of Manassas, was even more severe than those around Richmond. The battle field, on Sunday, was the most awful sight that can be imagined. Battles on three successive days had been fought over the same ground. And one in the walking over was surrounded, by the dead, and dying for a distance of 3 or 4 miles. And sometimes there lay a wounded man by a decaying corpse, of three days old. In looking over the field I hoped some of our own men, whom I knew well, without recognizing them. It is truly an awful sight. I saw many dead bodies sitting up against trees, where they had dragged themselves, when wounded. I slept on Thursday night on an old rail road. The principal part of the battle was fought there the next day. And when I revisited the spot, there lay a pile of corpses, in the very place in which I had slept. It seemed to[End Page 1] me that there were at least 5 dead Yankees, to one our men. On Monday evening the fight was quite unexpected by us. We were marching along when suddenly our skirmishes commenced firing in the woods on our flank. And as we marched along, a cannon ball whistled across the road just in front of my horse. He swerved aside, and another passed over my head. Our Regt. lost in the 3 days fight 24 killed dead on the field, and 135 or 40, wounded. I do hope that this will do something towards ending the war. We have not received a mail for nearly a month, so that I can not tell whether there are any letters in the office for me or not. I am heartily sick and tired of this life. I am now sitting on the ground and writing on the back of an old tin pan, on Yankee paper, with Yankee ink. At Manassas junction, there was every luxury that we could desire but we had no means of bringing anything off. We all got what we could eat that day, and burnt the rest. How I do long to see you again. And now I can not even hear from you. I would give anything to get into a Hospital. But I am afraid that it is a useless wish. I must stop now, and go try to get my[End Page 2] horse shod. I will finish this by the first opportunity. Monday Sept. 8th I hear that there will be a chance of sending off letters, today so I hasten to write. I went into Frederick City yesterday; it is quite a flourishing place, almost as large as Columbia; and think of it, sugar is 15 cts. a pound, and coffee 25cts. But that does not do us much good, as we cannot transport it, and can only get enough for 2 or 3 days use. A great many of the store keepers are Unionists, and will not open their stores. I could not get a change of clothing yesterday, which I wanted very much. I have not had a change now for nearly a month. The boy that I hired, turned out to be a run away slave. He ran away from me on the day of the last battle, the 1st Sept. with a beautiful Yankee mare, which he had caught at [Manassa?] and which I intended to apply to the Government for. So that now I am without a boy again. How I do wish that I had Paris back! But perhaps he could not have stood by another horse, for they are comparatively cheap here, and he could always ride. But as it is, without a boy, I have trouble enough, to get one horse fed. This is a horrible life. I do not mind the hardships one bit. I can sleep just as well on the ground, as on a feather bed, but the dreadful filth, makes me absolutely sick. Almost every man is the army, is covered with vermin, and it is absolutely unavoidable.[End Page 3] I have made up my mind, when I come to that pass, and if this lasts, I must, to resign, and go home, and join the Marion Artillery. They will never be sent out of the state, and I could keep a boy with me there. The only objection I have to it is, that I might become some expense to you all. This morning I took off all my cloths, and boiled them, and washed them, and washed myself in a millpond; but there were hundreds around me, in the horrible condition I describe, so that one can not feel clean even after that. And yet it was a luxury, for it was the first time in three weeks, that we have stopped long enough to wash at all. But do not let all this that I have been telling you trouble you, for after all an end will come to it. And perhaps I shall enjoy the pleasures of home the more, when I get there in consequence. The truth is what troubles me more than anything else, is the not being able to hear from you. I am continually afraid that you may be sick again, and I can not hear how you are doing. You must not let this prevent you from writing, for I suppose that we will get a mail every now, and then, and I will get all the letter together. If I could only be certain, that I will meet you again, in perfect health, I believe that I should be happy. And somehow it seems to me that I will. When I come home, I do not think that I will give you as much trouble, about little trifles, I have all my lifetime. I think that I have learned to put up with some hardships. Did Maria and Aunt Sarah, receive my letters? and did you receive one that I sent two days ago? I wrote to Johny 5 weeks ago. I hope to hear soon. Your Own Affectionate, W. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    Bivouac near Frederick City, Sept. 7th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I have not had an opportunity of writing for a long time. The last letter, I had in my pocket for nearly two weeks, and I do not know whether it got off at last. I have no idea how I shall send this. Our communication is in a great measure cut off. It has been a campaign of hardships indeed. We have had nothing to ear half of the time. And only what we could pick up along the road for our horses. I think that the battle of Manassas, was even more severe than those around Richmond. The battle field, on Sunday, was the most awful sight that can be imagined. Battles on three successive days had been fought over the same ground. And one in the walking over was surrounded, by the dead, and dying for a distance of 3 or 4 miles. And sometimes there lay a wounded man by a decaying corpse, of three days old. In looking over the field I hoped some of our own men, whom I knew well, without recognizing them. It is truly an awful sight. I saw many dead bodies sitting up against trees, where they had dragged themselves, when wounded. I slept on Thursday night on an old rail road. The principal part of the battle was fought there the next day. And when I revisited the spot, there lay a pile of corpses, in the very place in which I had slept. It seemed to[End Page 1] me that there were at least 5 dead Yankees, to one our men. On Monday evening the fight was quite unexpected by us. We were marching along when suddenly our skirmishes commenced firing in the woods on our flank. And as we marched along, a cannon ball whistled across the road just in front of my horse. He swerved aside, and another passed over my head. Our Regt. lost in the 3 days fight 24 killed dead on the field, and 135 or 40, wounded. I do hope that this will do something towards ending the war. We have not received a mail for nearly a month, so that I can not tell whether there are any letters in the office for me or not. I am heartily sick and tired of this life. I am now sitting on the ground and writing on the back of an old tin pan, on Yankee paper, with Yankee ink. At Manassas junction, there was every luxury that we could desire but we had no means of bringing anything off. We all got what we could eat that day, and burnt the rest. How I do long to see you again. And now I can not even hear from you. I would give anything to get into a Hospital. But I am afraid that it is a useless wish. I must stop now, and go try to get my[End Page 2] horse shod. I will finish this by the first opportunity. Monday Sept. 8th I hear that there will be a chance of sending off letters, today so I hasten to write. I went into Frederick City yesterday; it is quite a flourishing place, almost as large as Columbia; and think of it, sugar is 15 cts. a pound, and coffee 25cts. But that does not do us much good, as we cannot transport it, and can only get enough for 2 or 3 days use. A great many of the store keepers are Unionists, and will not open their stores. I could not get a change of clothing yesterday, which I wanted very much. I have not had a change now for nearly a month. The boy that I hired, turned out to be a run away slave. He ran away from me on the day of the last battle, the 1st Sept. with a beautiful Yankee mare, which he had caught at [Manassa?] and which I intended to apply to the Government for. So that now I am without a boy again. How I do wish that I had Paris back! But perhaps he could not have stood by another horse, for they are comparatively cheap here, and he could always ride. But as it is, without a boy, I have trouble enough, to get one horse fed. This is a horrible life. I do not mind the hardships one bit. I can sleep just as well on the ground, as on a feather bed, but the dreadful filth, makes me absolutely sick. Almost every man is the army, is covered with vermin, and it is absolutely unavoidable.[End Page 3] I have made up my mind, when I come to that pass, and if this lasts, I must, to resign, and go home, and join the Marion Artillery. They will never be sent out of the state, and I could keep a boy with me there. The only objection I have to it is, that I might become some expense to you all. This morning I took off all my cloths, and boiled them, and washed them, and washed myself in a millpond; but there were hundreds around me, in the horrible condition I describe, so that one can not feel clean even after that. And yet it was a luxury, for it was the first time in three weeks, that we have stopped long enough to wash at all. But do not let all this that I have been telling you trouble you, for after all an end will come to it. And perhaps I shall enjoy the pleasures of home the more, when I get there in consequence. The truth is what troubles me more than anything else, is the not being able to hear from you. I am continually afraid that you may be sick again, and I can not hear how you are doing. You must not let this prevent you from writing, for I suppose that we will get a mail every now, and then, and I will get all the letter together. If I could only be certain, that I will meet you again, in perfect health, I believe that I should be happy. And somehow it seems to me that I will. When I come home, I do not think that I will give you as much trouble, about little trifles, I have all my lifetime. I think that I have learned to put up with some hardships. Did Maria and Aunt Sarah, receive my letters? and did you receive one that I sent two days ago? I wrote to Johny 5 weeks ago. I hope to hear soon. Your Own Affectionate, W. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    Bivouac near Frederick City, Sept. 7th, 1862 My Dear Mama, I have not had an opportunity of writing for a long time. The last letter, I had in my pocket for nearly two weeks, and I do not know whether it got off at last. I have no idea how I shall send this. Our communication is in a great measure cut off. It has been a campaign of hardships indeed. We have had nothing to ear half of the time. And only what we could pick up along the road for our horses. I think that the battle of Manassas, was even more severe than those around Richmond. The battle field, on Sunday, was the most awful sight that can be imagined. Battles on three successive days had been fought over the same ground. And one in the walking over was surrounded, by the dead, and dying for a distance of 3 or 4 miles. And sometimes there lay a wounded man by a decaying corpse, of three days old. In looking over the field I hoped some of our own men, whom I knew well, without recognizing them. It is truly an awful sight. I saw many dead bodies sitting up against trees, where they had dragged themselves, when wounded. I slept on Thursday night on an old rail road. The principal part of the battle was fought there the next day. And when I revisited the spot, there lay a pile of corpses, in the very place in which I had slept. It seemed to[End Page 1] me that there were at least 5 dead Yankees, to one our men. On Monday evening the fight was quite unexpected by us. We were marching along when suddenly our skirmishes commenced firing in the woods on our flank. And as we marched along, a cannon ball whistled across the road just in front of my horse. He swerved aside, and another passed over my head. Our Regt. lost in the 3 days fight 24 killed dead on the field, and 135 or 40, wounded. I do hope that this will do something towards ending the war. We have not received a mail for nearly a month, so that I can not tell whether there are any letters in the office for me or not. I am heartily sick and tired of this life. I am now sitting on the ground and writing on the back of an old tin pan, on Yankee paper, with Yankee ink. At Manassas junction, there was every luxury that we could desire but we had no means of bringing anything off. We all got what we could eat that day, and burnt the rest. How I do long to see you again. And now I can not even hear from you. I would give anything to get into a Hospital. But I am afraid that it is a useless wish. I must stop now, and go try to get my[End Page 2] horse shod. I will finish this by the first opportunity. Monday Sept. 8th I hear that there will be a chance of sending off letters, today so I hasten to write. I went into Frederick City yesterday; it is quite a flourishing place, almost as large as Columbia; and think of it, sugar is 15 cts. a pound, and coffee 25cts. But that does not do us much good, as we cannot transport it, and can only get enough for 2 or 3 days use. A great many of the store keepers are Unionists, and will not open their stores. I could not get a change of clothing yesterday, which I wanted very much. I have not had a change now for nearly a month. The boy that I hired, turned out to be a run away slave. He ran away from me on the day of the last battle, the 1st Sept. with a beautiful Yankee mare, which he had caught at [Manassa?] and which I intended to apply to the Government for. So that now I am without a boy again. How I do wish that I had Paris back! But perhaps he could not have stood by another horse, for they are comparatively cheap here, and he could always ride. But as it is, without a boy, I have trouble enough, to get one horse fed. This is a horrible life. I do not mind the hardships one bit. I can sleep just as well on the ground, as on a feather bed, but the dreadful filth, makes me absolutely sick. Almost every man is the army, is covered with vermin, and it is absolutely unavoidable.[End Page 3] I have made up my mind, when I come to that pass, and if this lasts, I must, to resign, and go home, and join the Marion Artillery. They will never be sent out of the state, and I could keep a boy with me there. The only objection I have to it is, that I might become some expense to you all. This morning I took off all my cloths, and boiled them, and washed them, and washed myself in a millpond; but there were hundreds around me, in the horrible condition I describe, so that one can not feel clean even after that. And yet it was a luxury, for it was the first time in three weeks, that we have stopped long enough to wash at all. But do not let all this that I have been telling you trouble you, for after all an end will come to it. And perhaps I shall enjoy the pleasures of home the more, when I get there in consequence. The truth is what troubles me more than anything else, is the not being able to hear from you. I am continually afraid that you may be sick again, and I can not hear how you are doing. You must not let this prevent you from writing, for I suppose that we will get a mail every now, and then, and I will get all the letter together. If I could only be certain, that I will meet you again, in perfect health, I believe that I should be happy. And somehow it seems to me that I will. When I come home, I do not think that I will give you as much trouble, about little trifles, I have all my lifetime. I think that I have learned to put up with some hardships. Did Maria and Aunt Sarah, receive my letters? and did you receive one that I sent two days ago? I wrote to Johny 5 weeks ago. I hope to hear soon. Your Own Affectionate, W. [End Page 4]
Title:
070. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- Sept. 7, 1862
Creator:
Wilkinson and Keith Families
Date:
1862-09-07
Description:
Willis writes from near Frederick City, MD, on the Second Battle of Bull Run or Manassas. His account (which places him at Manassas Junction), describes the battle-scenes and skirmishes, and his belief the "Yankees" had suffered more casualties. He also notes his inability to get some goods at Frederick City on account of the store owners being "Unionists"; his discovery that his hired "boy" was a runaway slave, (he has also fled from Keith); the misery of camp and his idea of resigning and returning to South Carolina to join Marion's Artillery who "will never be sent out of state".
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:
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862, Slaves, Fugitive 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.