"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reporting To The Home Folks

As the Valley Army rested from its grueling, tortuous march through the snow and ice, some soldiers were able to put pen to paper and get letters off to their family and friends back in Georgia. Private Wiley Leatherwood of the Gate City Guards reported that his company was in good spirits:

[W]e returned to this place, which is the hardest camp you ever saw—on the side of a mountain, so cussed steep you have to pull up by bushes. It has snowed, and it is now deep, and here we are, camped in the woods, and do not know where we will go, or what we will do. Suffice it to say, if any fighting is to be done or any marching on hand, the G. C. G’s are sure to be in for it.

While on this march, we were six days without tents or blankets, and the ground all the time covered with snow—eating a little parched corn, or a biscuit, without salt or grease so much as once in forty-eight hours, and exposed all the time to the enemy’s guns; yet for one to have heard the peals of laughter or the loud huzzas from the G. C. G’s, you would have thought them in splendid quarters; and frequently while one wing of our regiment would be fighting, the other end would be playing poker or singing and dancing.

Another Georgian was not so exuberant:

Our brigade, or at least two regiments of it, the 12th Georgia and the 3d Virginia, were in the advance—did all the advance picket and guard duty. We slept every night except three for two weeks in the snow, without tents or blankets, and for three days had not a mouthful to eat. I had thought that in the retreat from Laurel Hill we had seen the worst phase of a soldier's life, but I think I only express the feelings of a majority of our men when I say that I would rather take two such trips as that than go through the exposure and hardships of the last two weeks.

The 1st Georgia regiment, which when we left here on the 1st of January numbered nearly 700, marched with less than two hundred and fifty men. The rest had all broken down and been sent off to the hospitals; and on Tuesday morning about 100 of these had broken down, and had to stop and come back. This trip will cost the lives of over a thousand men.

Captain Samuel Crump of the Walker Light Infantry described his efforts to stay healthy in the severe weather:

Where we go to next from here, no one knows, our General properly keeping his own secrets. Our army is numerous enough to make an advance anywhere. We can drive any force before us that we advance upon. We may go to Romney, but I doubt it. If we take it, which is certain, it will be of no use to us, as we will be too far from our provisions. It is my impression that we will go into winter quarters at this camp, as we have everything we want here, wood, water, &c., and can guard all points from this place. We are all well, except colds. The exposure in this climate without tents half the time, and nothing to eat for twenty-four hours, very often, of course, will produce more or less sickness. My health and Joe’s never was better. Two things I am careful about in this climate—keeping my chest and feet always warm, wearing flannel next to me, and two pairs woolen socks always; by this means I don’t suffer from cold any more here than at home, although the ground nearly all the time is covered with snow. I have, at last, learned to take care of myself, as you will perceive.

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