HEAD QUARTERS, ANDERSON’S BRIGADE,
November 14, 1862
My Dear Mother:
As I have another good opportunity of sending a letter the other side of Richmond to be mailed, I thought I would avail myself of it. One of our surgeons will leave in the morning for North Carolina, so that I can have my letter mailed very near home, it will stand less chance of being lost. I have neglected to write to you longer than I wished, waiting for an opportunity of sending it by some one. This is the first chance that has occurred. The letters that are mailed here for North Carolina, not one half of them ever get there, so I made up my mind not to write except when I knew you would receive it. We have been through a good many hardships sine I lost wrote to you, tho’ we haven’t had any fighting, that is, our Brigade has not, tho’ we have lain in line of battle several days and nights at the time, waiting for the advance of the enemy. The strongest position I think our Division ever occupied was on the mountains behind rock fences, near Paris. We stayed there one day and night, but the Yankees didn’t come. We left there and marched to Port Royal, there we laid in the line of battle two days and one night. Little after dark the second day we got orders to cross the Shenandoah River and take up camp some mile or two off for the night. The men were cold and hungry and somewhat expecting the Yankees that night, when the word was given they started at a double quick for the river, some half mile off, and in they went, half waist deep, the water was freezing cold and the wind almost cutting you in two. I guess you know something about the mountain winds in the winter. For the next few days we had some rest, but we don’t lie idle in camp long at a time. Night before last we marched seven miles, tore up and burned railroads all night, and marched back ten miles the next day. To-day is a beautiful sunshiny one, and I hope we will remain quiet for the men’s sake. We have had one snow some two or three inches deep, though it melted very soon, there are thousands of barefooted men in Virginia and I do hope we will have pleasant weather until they can get shoes. We have a good many in our Brigade stark barefooted, and have not had a shoe on since we left Richmond some months ago. John Burton, poor fellow, was paroled and came up with us some week or two back, looking dreadfully. He has gone home on a furlough. He was barefooted and almost clothesless. My feet can just be said to be off the ground and that is all. They are no protection from wet weather. I hope Pat Simms will come soon and have my boots with him. I am glad you sent me a pair of pants, as these are entirely worn out. I have been patching them up for some time. There is two big patches on the knees as large as your two hands, put on with blue cloth, you recollect the pants are brown. I never thought to mention any clothes in my letter. I hope you thought of them. I need a pair. I also need an overcoat, but I will have to wait until the Regiment get their clothes before I can get one. I hope before one month more passes we will be on the railroad somewhere, so I can get something good to eat once more. I think I will know how to appreciate something good after living on beef and bread for so long. I want some oysters and sweet potatoes and other winter delicacies so much. I hope, if we ever do get where I can change my diet, I will be able to stop the diarrhea which has been reducing me for some time. I’ve fallen off considerable since we left Richmond. With that exception I have nothing to complain of. In a great many respects I fare a great deal better than the officers of the regiment do. I have better fare and not half the duty to do.
The other night, when all the men were at work on the railroad, I was with our wagon and had as comfortable a night’s sleep as I ever do. I very often get a chance to ride on the march, too, for the last several marches I have ridden Col. Grimes’ extra horse. Since we left Richmond we have crossed twenty streams waist deep and very often in the night, and I have never waded one yet. I always get a ride across, some way or another.
We will have a general change at Headquarters in a few days. General Ramseur is assigned to this Brigade and I expect he will bring his own Staff with him. I’ll stand as good a chance of remaining as any of them and I think I will be very apt to remain, at least I shall try to do so. I hope he will be as clever as the other commanders have been. I like Col. Grimes very much and I think he is more entitled to the promotion of Brigadier than Ramseur, who was only a Captain of Artillery, though they say he is a West Pointer, and a very good officer. I hope he will prove himself to be as good as General Anderson was, though that his hardly possible. I don’t think he had his equal in the Confederate Army. I hope Dr. Harrell will pass his examination and get in the army as surgeon. It is the easiest and most comfortable position there is in the Army.
Tell Mr. Rhodes if I was in his place I would try to get in a new company, one that has not been in long. Dr. Bullock’s Company would suit him better than any other. He thinks that we’ve got a good one and a picked company, but it is not what it was, and he would be out of place all the time if he would try to keep up with men who had been playing the old soldier for nearly two years. I would rather be dead than in the place of some of the Conscripts sent to our Regiment, they look like they wanted to die, they felt so bad. Please let me know in your next whether you ever received my watch or not. I’ve asked in every letter and you’ve never told me yet. Write soon to your
P.S. Give my love to all the family, tell some of them to write. I haven’t sent a letter home yet with a stamp on it, it is because we can’t possibly get them and I know it makes no difference with you.
Source: 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). See also 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).