RETREATING MANASSAS, March 14, 1862
We are all well as can be expected from the situation that we are now in. We have retreated from Manassas on account of not being able to hold our position. We are now 25 miles from Manassas, across the Rappahannock, and camped upon a high hill that commands a splendid view of that part of the river, which the enemy is compelled to cross.
We left Manassas on Sunday night and traveled until about 1 o’clock. When we camped for the night, everything that we could not carry on our backs was burned up, and I can tell you that you cannot imagine how much we suffered on the march, which consisted of three days’ traveling, loaded down with our baggage and equipment, sleeping on the hard, cold ground, feet sore, half fed on hard dry crackers and meat. Our lot was not to be envied and it is amazing how we bore up under the circumstances. We have been at this place for a day or two, for what purpose I know not, unless it be for us to recruit up for another march. We have no tents here to sleep in, but we have made ourselves shelters out of cedar bushes. We all seem to flourish, nevertheless.
The night we left Manassas it was burnt down and I expect there was a million of goods consumed on that night, all the soldiers’ clothes they could not carry with them and everything that could have been expected to be at such a place where everything was sent to this division of the army, all was burnt.
I do not know where to tell you to send your letters, for I do not know how long we will stay here, so I reckon you had better not write at all. When I get to a place where it is likely we will stay, I will write again at a better opportunity.
Give my love to all. Goodbye.
Your loving 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).