Camp near Morton’s Ford, VA
December 3rd 1863
My Dear Mother
I know you are anxious to hear from me, so I thought I would write, if not but a few lines, to let you hear from me and to know that I was well and safe. We left this place today was one week ago. That night at 3 o’clock we left and went down the river towards Germanna Ford, where the Yankees have crossed in heavy force. We got there late in the evening, and had some very sharp skirmishes with them before night. We were in an old field on top of a hill, where the wind came with all its fury. The smoke from our fires was almost enough to kill a man. We were in that condition, expecting an attack by the Yankees day or night. We have to keep all of our things on all the time and one-half of the men up all night, in case of any attack. Yesterday morning we commenced moving about 2 o’clock, and at daylight we discovered that the Yankees had retreated across the river. Our Brigade was ordered to the front and we commenced the pursuit. We pretty soon commenced taking a few stragglers and by ten o’clock we have taken (from the looks of them as we passed them on the road this morning) three or four hundred. They were the poorest Yankees I ever saw. They did not have one mouthful to eat and said they had not had any in four days. They stated as an excuse that our cavalry had captured their wagons. Several of them offered me $2.00 a piece for crackers, but I told them we were rationed up for two days and I could eat everything in my haversack in one, so I could not spare them. I told them that they would draw something to eat pretty soon.
One of them gave me his knapsack and everything in it and then very politely asked me if I could spare him a cracker. I could not refuse him, for the things that he gave me unsolicited were very valuable. A pair of new shoes and a Yankee tent are things that money will not buy. I would not take $25.00 for my tent which he gave me. They are large enough for two, and so light that you can roll them in your knapsack and not feel the weight at all. I could have gotten more little Yankee camp conveniences than I could carry, but we were then in line of battle, charging through the woods and I did not wish to bungle myself up too much. I do not know how long we shall stay here, but it’s my opinion, not long. I hope it will be long enough for us to get rested and recruited again before we set out for another march. Tom Stith brought all the things which you sent by him, including the letters. I am too tired and worn out to write and interesting letter. I merely wrote to set your mind at ease. As soon as I can cook something I shall try and go to sleep I haven’t slept more than an hour at any time for nearly a week. My love to all. Write soon to your
Sincere and affectionate son,
Source: Laura Elizabeth Lee, Forget-Me-Nots of the Civil War: A Romance Containing Reminiscences and Original Letters of Two Confederate Soldiers (St. Louis, Missouri: A.R. Fleming Printing Co, 1909). See also Joel Craig and Sharlene Baker, eds., As You May Never See Us Again: The Civil War Letters of George and Walter Battle, 4th North Carolina Infantry (Wake Forest, NC: The Scuppernong Press, 2010).