September 7th 1862
My dear Friend,
Once more I am permitted an opportunity of sending you a letter. We have been from any mailable location so long, that no chance of sending occurred until now. By my heading you will perceive that we are at last in My Maryland. The events of the past three weeks would require much time to describe. I cannot do so fully, but will endeavor briefly. When last I wrote it was to Miss Mollie, this day three weeks ago, from Rapidan River, near Orange, C.H. We remained there a few days, ‘then started in pursuit of the enemy. We reached Rapphannook River but found the enemy across, and his batteries commanded every available ford, we moved rapidly higher up, but with vigilance he followed us. A few days were thus lost to us. The following Sunday witnessed a severe Artillery duel across the river, our Brigade supported several batteries. We had a few men killed and wounded. Monday morning at four we started on a rapid march and by ten at night had accomplished more than 28 miles. No one knew whither we wer egoing, but all knew that Jackson was aiming a bold blow in some direction. Four o’clock Tuesday morning we were again on the tramp, and had not proceeded far before we reached Salem, a town on the Manassas Gap Road. Here I first had an idea of our proposed destination. With Broad Run station, through Thoroughfare gap, Hay Market, Gainesville, and by night the head of our column had possession of Manassas Junction. Here after a short engagement, we captured immense stores, consisting of provisions and equipments, also some 6 or 8 pieces of Artillery. We had had nothing to eat for 24 hours, and here we found abundance including many delicacies. Our men supplied themselves with all they could carry, all captured wagons were loaded, and the remainder was then burned. Our Brigade got about $25,000 worh of Medicines—I got two horses. Wednesday night we marched upon and took Centerville. There we rested until noon, when we commenced our march backward. Jackson had about 20,000 men—the enemy in large force under Pope, lay between us and Longstreet to intercept us. McClellan with an immense army was marching upon us from Washington.—About four o’clock Thursday evening the battle opened, and raged furiously until about 10 o’clock. All was quiet for the night. Neither side had gained any advantage.
Friday all day the battle raged, yet still against tremendous odds, we held our own. Longstreet should have arrived Friday morning but where was he? Would he come in time? Could we hold out until then? These painful questions occurred to me hundreds of times. Late Friday evening the distant “boom-boom” of cannon was heard upon our right.—We all understood it.—A Joyous shout rose from our lines—“Longstreet has come,” “Longstreet has come,” was the universal exclamation of delight. He had indeed arrived with 30,000 fresh troops. Soundly we slept that night. All must be well on the morrow.—By early dawn the fight was renewed—& before sunset we remained victors on the field of Manassas, rendered famous a second time. The confused and routed masses of the enemy were rapidly falling back upon Washington. Many prisoners were taken, thousands of small arms, an umber of cannon and many other stores. His dead and wounded literally covered the ground. Sunday we employed in burying the dead, caring for the wounded.—I had plenty to do, being the Brigade Surgeon.
Monday evening we had another fight near Farifax C.H., which resulted again in our favor. Our loss in this series of engagements will not exceed 5,000. The enemy admit 15,000.
In the 21st, Col. Fulton was killed, Major Graves painfully, but not mortally wounded, Lts. Jackson & Owens killed, Capt. Hadly & Lt. Miller wounded in hands. Sergt. Shepperd sounded. Sergt. Copeland, Donell Wright, Old town Gus Butner killed—none other that I have learned. Sam is unhurt also Capts Pfohl and Miller. Col. Hoke is wounded in hand, our two remaining Captains also wounded. We lost quite severely, being engaged in every fight. General Pender was slightly wounded, but is now with his Brigade. General Ewell lost a leg, and is reported in Critical condition. General Trimble wounded.
On Friday we crossed the Potomac into Maryland & yesterday occupied this city, which has a population of some 12,000. The people are mostly glad to see us & hail us as deliverers. We have certainly made a tour of conquest, the most remarkable in history. Our troops are enthusiastic & under Lee and Jackson invincible. Will not our enemy now make peace? Must we again & Jackson demonstrate our invincibility? Time will show. I sent the receipt for pills to your mother, but fearing they may not have reached you, I will give it again extemporaneously. Perhaps the two differ slightly but their effect will be the same: Blue Mass—60 grains, Calomel—30 grains, Rhubarb—20 grains. Make it into 30 pills of which one to two make a dose.
Please give my kindest regards to your parents and Miss Mollie. Also to the others of the family. I would write more but time presses. We know not our destination, but think its onward. Address letters to Gordonsville. Let me enjoin upon all to take good care of yourselves & remain well. Surely our prospects are bright enough now to give joy to every heart. If I could communicate with loved ones at home more frequently than our opportunities allow, I would be better pleased. I am quite well. Write early as convenient, and believe me as ever.
Yours most truly
Sources: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 1. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in the Shaffner papers, North Carolina State Archives.