Camp near Weldon No. Ca
December 30th 1862
My Dearest Friend
As I haven’t written to you since I left Goldsboro, I concluded I would take this opportunity of dropping you a few lines to inform you that I am still in the land of the living.
We left camp below Goldsboro on the night of the 22nd on board the train but before we got up to town we met with an accident and had to lie over till the next day. There was an empty train ahead of us which was ordered by the Colonel to run up to town and get on the turnout so as we could pass on her way up she run into a train, another empty one that was backing down to get troops, and broke her engines badly so there they were on the track and couldn’t get away and we right after the one that had preceded upon a few minutes and crash went our engine into her lifting the rear car on top of the engine carrying away the smoke stack and running back nearly as far as the tinder before we stopped, so there were three trains on the track neither one able to get away. There was two men sitting on the cow catcher up to within a few feet of the collision and they seeing their danger jumped off and saved themselves.
The accident was entirely through carelessness, the train backing down ought have had a light in front knowing that we were down there, and there would have been no accident. There was a detail made from the regiment, went to work and rolled the car off our engine, got all the rest of the trains out of the way by morning and another engine with ten more cars came down and attached to ours, we having thirteen backed down to camps took on the 52nd Reg. and started for this place where we arrived that night. I forgot to say there was no body hurt in the accident. John Patton came to us the morning we left Goldsboro, is with us yet. Port wrote to Mr. Patton that he was here and if he consented for him to stay he would be received into the company.
We had no Christmas. did you have any. There is some talk of Leventhorpe getting promoted to Brigadier General, he is well qualified for the position but we would regret very much to loose as fine an officer as he from our regiment. He said after the battle of White Hall he had the best regiment in the service and that we never would be exposed to such another fire during the war.
There has been bigger battles than that by a great deal but I don’t think there has been any regiment since the war commenced under a heavier fire than ours was, from the fact that we took the whole fire of the enemy ten thousand strong with eighteen pieces of artillery we being the only troops engaged. The others held in reserve except the 31st it was ordered down but never got in to action. Cos. B & F who were sent on picket at the bridge early into the morning fought the enemy two hours and half before the remaining part of the reg was ordered down. The only think that saved us from all being killed was the heaps of logs on the river bank and the only thing that saved Gen Robinson’s command there was the river, on an open field the enemy would have overpowered us.
At one time during the engagement I was behind a big stump on my knees looking over an a cannon ball went into the root of it, which made the dirt and chips fly like everything and which made me get low. A man from Co I was severely wounded by my right side in the shoulder. I tell you it made me feel bad to see the poor fellow bleed the way he did. When Walter Duckworth was killed he fell over on Pinks leg and bled a considerable amount on his pants before he knew he was shot in the head and died instantly. I have lost one of my front teeth, it was filled on each side but under one of the fills it had decayed in to the nerve and hurt me so I had to have it extracted.
I’m not very well as I have been sueffering with a cold ever since we came to this place and yesterday I had a chill the first I have had since I’ve been in the service.
I haven’t subscribed for that paper yet, reckon you think I’m a long time doing so. We have been expecting orders to Petersburg and I thought I would wait and see if we did go and if we did I could see someone that I knew going to Richmond and would send the money by him – don’t like to send by mail.
There is several cases of small pox in Weldon there were two cases came down on the train from Petersburg on Christmas day, a young lady and little boy were examined and isolated sent to the hospital. I saw the boy and his face was broken out all over like one that had the measles.
We haven’t got our tents yet – don’t know when we will get them they went to Goldsboro and are there yet. We have little huts made of split logs and dirt something like a potato house that we are living in now. A man don’t know what he can stand till he trys it. If we thought there was any probability of us staying here we would put up winter quarters.
Sources: Mike and Carol Lawing, eds., My Dearest Friend: The Civil War Correspondence of Cornelia McGimsey and Lewis Warlick (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2000). Original collections of the papers are in the Laura Cornelia McGimsey Papers and the George Phifer Erwin Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.