Camp near Morton’s Ford, Va.,
November 11th 1863
My Dear Mother:
We are once more in our same camp on the Rapidan, which we left just a month ago. We had just begun to be comfortable in our winter quarters on the Rappahannock when the Yankees run us out. Last Saturday, about ten o’clock, the Yankees attacked our picket line on the river, composed of the Second and Thirtieth NC Regiments of our Brigade, driving them back, taking a great many of them prisoners. Col. Cox, of the Second, was badly wounded and afterwards died. The attack was a perfect surprise.
We had just drawn a large supply of winter clothing of every kind, and the men were just trying them on when we were ordered to fall in, which we did in double quick time, making for the river line of battle with our sharpshooters in front. ‘Twas not long before we came on their skirmishers and a brisk fire commenced, which lasted until dark. Our two lines of battle laid within speaking distance until 12 o’clock that night, when we were very quietly withdrawn, half hour afterwards our sharpshooters followed and we took up our line of march till sun rise, when we were drawn up in line of battle, we stayed until two or three o’clock. The Yankees not coming upon us, we started on the march again and never stopped till we crossed the Rapidan. We ate our breakfast Saturday morning in our winter quarters and did not draw a single mouthful to eat, or have any rest except when we were in the line of battle (and then were hard a work throwing up breastworks), until Monday night, ten o’clock. We waded the Rapidan about 9 o’clock the same night. I think it was the hardest time we have ever had, nothing to eat, accompanied with the hardest marching we ever did. All of our things were left in our winter quarters, expecting to go back there, but we did not, so we lost a good many things which we left behind. I happened to take my shawl and oil cloth along with me, which I save. I lost my two blankets, a pair of cotton drawers, pair of socks, which I had just drawn (I did not draw anything else of the new clothing, which I am glad of, for I should have lost them). I also lost my knapsack, tin plate, tin cup, etc. I saved my overcoat, with all the things you sent by Condon. That scrape has taught me a lesson. I’ll bet I never leave anything else of mind behind. I don’t care where we are ordered to.
Try and get Tom Stith to put the following things in with his own baggage: That worsted shirt, flannel shirt, flannel drawers, two pair socks, please send me a comb, coarse one, also a towel. Tom Stith will be the judge of what he can bring besides those things. Tell him we are at the same camp that Henry Warren came to us at. If I have time I will write to him tomorrow. We have just as much to do now as we can attend to. We are on Picket every third night (Nov 12). We moved camp this morning about half mile nearer our picket line. Cannonading is occasionally heard on the other side of the river. I don’t know what we will be doing, or where we will be tomorrow this tin\me. I am perfectly will for the Yankees to cross here, for I think we will whip them worse than we ever did at Fredericksburg. I shall be on picket tonight. I’ve got to go to work and get something to eat to carry with me. Give my love to all. As ever,
Your sincere and devoted 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).