Bunker Hill, Va
July 17, 1863
I am again on this side of the Potomac. Again in the land of Dixie. We crossed last Tuesday. My Brigade was last to leave and the last to give the Yankees a round. They attacked us about two miles from the river, the cavalry dashing right among us and sabering several men; in the melee Gen Pettigrew was wounded and I am sorry to say there is little or no hope entertained of his recovery. The command then devolved on me and I am now in command of the brigade and have been since the battle of Gettysburg except a short time. I lost the last day about 250 men in the brigade, nearly all prisoners. Our brigade is in a bad fix. With no other field officers except myself and a very few company officers. The last days fight was the funniest affair I have ever been in. We had traveled all night through the mud and about eight o’clock stopped on a hill in open ground. We stack arms and lay down on the ground and were all soon asleep feeling secure as there was a force of cavalry between us and the enemy. I neglected to state that few of our guns were loaded and few that were would fire. I was aroused in about an hour and jumping up I saw the Yankee cavalry all among us cutting and sabering. The men jumped for their guns and then commenced a hand to hand fight as is seldom seen in this war. The men clutched their guns and knocked the Yankees off their horses. One man knocked one off with a fence rail and another killed a Yankee with an ax. We soon routed them or killed them as I saw only two of the whole number that made their escape. I was then informed that Gen Pettigrew was wounded and I was in command of the brigade. I have just received notice that the General is dead having breathed his last about 4 1/2 this morning. The General was shot by a Yankee major at the same time that he shot at and wounded him. When the general fell the Yankee was riddled by our men. I then received orders to fall back gradually to the river which I did. After going about a hundred yards the Yankees again charged us but we turned and gave them a volley which sent them back. I fell back slowly in order to protect the troops on my left but after while I found they were gone and left me entirely unsupported. I then fell back as fast as I could but not before I was flanked in the left and several of my men taken. I have heard nothing from Wat since I left but I know Dr. Warren will do all he can for him. How long we will stay here I can’t tell. The fall of Vicksburg was a terrible blow to us. The mail is going out and I must stop. My love to all my friends.
Your aff son,
Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in Edmund W. Jones papers, Southern Historical Collections, UNC- Chapel Hill.