Camp on Rapidan River, Six Miles North of Rapidan Station
Sept. 22, 1863
My Dear Mother:
I had intended to write you the very day we left Orange Court House, but the movement prevented me. We left there yesterday week, marched towards Rapidan, camped near the river for two days, hearing the cannonading between our forces and the Yankees the whole time, neither crossing in any force. Our cavalry made a dash across the river, taking some thirty prisoners. The Second North Carolina Cavalry are on the other side of the river now and is thought to be cut off. We are now eighteen miles from Orange Court House on the Rapidan River. I can’t learn the name of the ford. Our division is in line of battle, about one mile from the river. We have thrown up some breastworks and we have an excellent position. All I hope is that the Yankees may come across, for I feel confident we can whip them worse than they ever have been yet. a desert who came across says they have only two corps and that they are most conscripts. He says they are deserting by the hundreds. Last evening our division moved in a piece of woods some three hundred yards in the rear of our breastworks. I suppose it was done that the men might keep more comfortable. Night before last we had a pretty smart frost and the wind blew like winter. I spent two thirds of the night by the fire to keep warm. My pair of blankets got left in one of the wagons.
If you do not have any use for that map of Virginia, which you bought last winter, please loan it to me; send it by Thompson. I will take good care of it and return it.
In times like this, one blanket is as much as any man wants hung to him, and nine times out of ten he throws that one away during the fight. As soon as we go into camp again I shall have plenty of bedding. When Dr. Thompson comes back, I wish you would send my overcoat. I think I shall need it by then, also one pair of woolen socks. The flannel drawers you may keep until we go into camp. I have no way of carrying them. I never intend to carry another knapsack on my back, as long I stay in the service. John Valentine brought the things you sent by him. The shirt fits exactly. You need not trouble about making the other in any hurry. I shall not need it until we go in camp.
Henry Warren came to us yesterday morning. The bag of potatoes which he brought could not have come in a better time. It was a rich treat, I assure you. We have been lying in line of battle two or three days, living on half cooked rations sent from the wagon yard, and to get a bag of sweet potatoes was a perfect Godsend. We just set around the fire and roasted them last night and talked of the good things at home for a late hour. Tom Stith, Tom Atkinson, Peter Christman and myself compose our mess and whatever either gets, he shares it with the rest. Tom Stith has a trunk of things at Orange Court House, that Henry had to leave, as he had to take it afoot to where he found us; his boy brought my potatoes. Tell sister that I will write to her soon. I should have written this time, but couldn’t get the paper. It took me half an hour to borrow this half sheet. You need not look for me home on a furlough for a long time yet; there are men in the camp that haven’t been home since we came to Virginia. You know I have been home twice. It will be a long time before my time comes around. The next furlough, I expect, will be a wounded or sick one.
Give me love to all the family and believe me as ever,
Your 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).
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