Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

John C. West–A Texan in Search of a Fight.

Letter No. XX.

Camp near Chattanooga,
October 20th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

Your unusually interesting letter of August 28th, as also one of September 22nd from brother Charles, in which he said you were all well up to the tenth of September, reached me on the seventeenth of this month, and gave me great pleasure, because you seem to have been enjoying yourself just as if you intended to use the world for all the good it can afford and I think you are right, and I trust you will take as many trips into the country as your duties at home will permit, and always try to be cheerful and happy. I like the soldiers’ song that is “all the go” here now—

“Now let the Wild world wag as it will,

I’ll be gay and happy still,” etc.

Where is the good sense in gloom and despair in anticipation of misfortune; there will be enough of life left to grieve in when trouble overtakes us, without borrowing in advance. You must not forget about the shade trees. I long to see them growing and to see the children playing under them.

We have had very disagreeable weather for two or three weeks, raining nearly all the time, but I am getting along about as usual and am perfectly well. You said nothing about the dogs, Morgan and Frank. I care very little what you do with them, as hunting is entirely out of my program now. I am sorry to hear that your meat is out, and trust that you will soon have a supply on hand. I have no doubt that your school will succeed very well, and am glad to have you try it. You must not despair of your letters reaching me. There is so much talking around me that I cannot write more at present. Love to Mrs. Carter and other friends. Your husband, faithfully ever,

John C. West.

Letter No. VII.

In Line of Battle near Chattanooga,
October 13th, 1863.

To Major Charles S. West, Judge Advocate General of Trans-Mississippi Department.

Dear Brother:

Three weeks have passed since the battle of Chickamauga, and I have not until now had an opportunity of writing to you as I had intended, immediately after the fight.

Our brigade left Port Royal, Va., on the 8th of September and came by rail to a burnt bridge, near Ringgold, in northeast Georgia. I had permission to stop in Columbia, S. C., where I spent two days very agreeablely, using the opportunity to have my clothing washed, and to get rid of vermin, which skirmish at will over the soldier’s body. The old brigade fell in love with South Carolina’s hospitality.

At every depot and station throughout the state the ladies, old and young, flocked in loaded with baskets of provisions, fruits and delicacies of every character which these scant times afford, which were offered amid smiles and tears and expressions of congratulations and encouragement to every soldier. Rags and dirt seemed to be a recommendation where gilt and brass failed to excite attention. It is useless to enter into incidents; suffice it to say that the reception all through the state was all that the speed and confusion would allow. I overtook the brigade on the morning of September 18th, at the burnt bridge just at the dawn of day and found all astir and making ready to move. I had no time to rest, but marched off immediately, passing Ringgold between eight and nine o’clock in the morning. Here we first heard of Yanks ahead, and putting out flankers moved on cautiously and slowly. At about twelve o’clock, while passing through quite a narrow defile, we heard considerable firing in front. We were ordered to load and await orders. While here I saw citizens, men, women and children making the best of their time in getting to the rear. One poor woman was overloaded with coverlets, tin pans and other utensils, with a child on each side and two or three bawling behind. She fell down two or three times, but scrambled on for life while muskets sputtered in the surrounding hills. I could not help thinking of “woe unto those who are with child and who give suck in those days.” We soon moved off the road by the left flank and were drawn up and advanced in line of battle for about half mile and halted. We remained here awaiting developments, while cavalry were dashing hither and thither, feeling the pulse of the enemy and discovering his positions. We now crossed the Chickamauga at Lee’s mill and moved on about two miles and were again formed in line of battle and advanced about half a mile across some very pretty little fields, with hills on the opposite side, suggesting the idea of sharp-shooters, &c.; indeed, we all expected a volley every moment and went through all the fears and motions incident to entering a charge. We were much relieved at finding only some cavalry who discharged a few shots too high to hit anybody and disappeared without a shot from our side. Here we remained in line of battle until nearly dark, when we moved on and camped about eight o’clock. Judging by the moving of troops and the rumbling of artillery during the night, I felt pretty sure that “the wool-tearing” would come off in the morning. We remained at our camp (occasional firing being heard on our right) where our line of battle was being formed, until about ten o’clock, when we proceeded about a mile and a half, being about ten miles from Chattanooga, and took our place in the line near the center. About half past ten or eleven o’clock a most tremendous fire of musketry was opened on our right, which continued for two hours without two minutes intermission. The country from this point to Chattanooga is an undulating pine and oak region, as you find in upper portions of South Carolina and Georgia—such as we roamed over about Camden in our boyhood days. So there was no trouble for anybody to get into the fight who was willing and anxious, no excuse for skulking or straggling. It was simply to move forward and whip the enemy in pretty open ground or be whipped back again.

There were no breastworks worth the name. The line of battle seemed to be short, not more than three miles long, and both sides had their troops in heavy masses, one behind the other. When relief was wanted it was nearly always in sight; in fact, you could look back and see your support waiting their turn to “go in.” This accounts for the unceasing fire of musketry. The locality was not well adapted generally to the use of artillery, but grape and cannister did some good work in the open fields.

Deducting the intervals necessary for reforming and relieving exhausted troops (and these intervals were very short), there must have been eight hours of unintermitted musketry on each day. It reminded me of rain on a tin roof, where at intervals the storm rages with tremendous fury, then lulls but still continues as sounds grow faint or distinct according to the changes of the varying wind. Our turn came about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. We advanced to within one hundred yards of the Yanks, when I could see them plainly lying and squatting in the bushes and scant undergrowth. There was a small field beyond them and a little hill on the other side of it, from which a battery annoyed us a little as we advanced, but had no serious effect on our progress. Just as I saw the Yanks and was about to shoot, a cry passed up the line that these were our own men, but very few seemed to regard it, and a pretty steady fire was opened on them and promptly returned. I had fired five or six shots, not over thirty steps, when the whole line in front of us seemed broken and confused, except two or three companies behind a cabin on my left. I was too much excited to notice any except those fleeing in my front. I rushed on, waving my hat, until I was pretty well mixed up with them and was knocked down, and fell almost upon the body of a severely wounded Yank, who asked me to unbuckle his belt, which I did with great difficulty, for I was very sick and spitting blood myself. He died before he had time to thank me. A ball had struck the handle of my bayonet, driving it against me, knocking it to pieces, and glancing downward, passed through my clothing, coming out about my right hip. I laid here some minutes, with minnies and grape showering about me and knocking the dirt over me. I got to the rear by a miracle. I went to the field hospital and remained until morning and then returned to the company about daylight, bruised and pretty sore, but able to shoot. We fought over the same kind of ground the next day, driving the Yanks back all the time. Our brigade pushed them about a half a mile about 1 o’clock p. m., and I believe would have captured a great many but for a flank fire by mistake from our own men. I was hit on my right wrist, making a bruise which hurt me for several days.

On Monday morning the Yanks were gone. I could hear artillery, which I presume was hurrying up their retreat. It is said among the men here that General Bragg has put Generals Polk, Hindman and Forrest under arrest, for what cause I do not know, but my impression is, that with either Hood or Longstreet or Lee in command, half of Rosecran’s army would have been captured. I have seen Bragg, Buckner, Longstreet, Breckenridge, Lee, Hood and President Davis. The three last look like great men, and would have been great in any age. I do not admire Bragg. Buckner has a fine, benevolent face. Longstreet is a bulldog soldier and cares nothing about flank movements. He makes a dead set at the center, and can whip any army on earth if he has men enough to fight until he is tired of it. Breckenridge is a game-looking, handsome man, six feet high.

We are now lying two and a half or three miles from Chattanooga, with our left resting on Lookout Mountain and our right on the river, six or seven miles from here, the line crossing Missionary Ridge, which, as Lookout Mountain, also commands a complete view of the Yankee camp. I do not understand what Rosecrans is to do. If he advances he will be whipped. He has a terrible road for sixty miles to retreat over, and has to haul his provisions over the same road if he remains in Chattanooga, with the chances of having his trains destroyed by cavalry—”Mr. Forest’s critter company,”as the old woman called it. She said: “They formed a line of fight right across my garden and calf lot, tore down every scrap of fence and run right over my ash-hopper, and the Lord have mussy! goodness gracious! what a dust they did kick up!”

Our picket lines are within one hundred yards of each other, and keep up a pretty constant chat and exchange of papers, though contrary to strict orders. I see no difference between this army and the Yanks we met in Virginia. President Davis paid us a visit on the 10th of this month and rode down our entire line. He was dressed in a dark suit mixed with steel gray.

Love to your wife and all the rest.
Your brother,

John C. West.

Letter No. XIX.

Camp Near Chattanooga,
October 9th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

Your letters of 16th and 26th of July, enclosing one from Mrs. Carter, reached me three days ago, but I was sent out on picket, immediately on receiving it and had to use spade and pick all day yesterday on a redan, which prevented me from answering sooner. You cannot conceive what pleasure Mrs. Carter’s letter gave me. All stereotyped newspaper paragraphs about “the poor soldier,” etc., seem insipid compared to such a kind, sympathizing note from a beloved friend. I have read her letter almost as often as yours, and treasure it next to one from you. I put all the letters I brought from Texas for Georgia in the postoffice at Augusta with my own hand, and told Mr. Rogers at the drug store that I had done so. Mr. Carter had gone to Charleston to attend a sale. I only saw Wiston in Richmond and asked him to attend to the delivery of the letters there as I was pressed for time.

Tell Stark that I cannot love him if he does not say his lessons and obey you and tell little blue eyes she must be smart and beat her brother reading. I am glad you were thinking of me in those hot July days, for from the 15th of June until the 27th of July was one constant march or manouver, while we were parched with thirst, pinched with hunger, foot-sore and weary. I have written quite a full account of all these things to mother and Decca, and requested them to save the letters for you. I hope you have received all these letters, and I regret to see you so desponding about our cause. The loss of Port Hudson and Vicksburg are small affairs, and did not cause me a night’s uneasiness except as cutting off communications from you, which has all the time been so doubtful that I do not consider the coming of letters as a matter of course, but only as delightful luxuries to be enjoyed “few and far between.” I have had only two in six months, in which you speak of others which have never come. You must not despond about me—what if I do suffer a little—better men have died in a worse cause. I have passed through trials of endurance and of my courage to which I thought myself uneqaul, but the hollow of an Almighty hand has been over me, and the trials of yesterday I can smile at to-day. Suppose we did pass seven days and nights soaking wet, marching, eating no meat and having bread without salt? What if we marched for days through briar fields, with worn-out low-quartered shoes until our ankles were a mass of blood? What difference is it now that we frowned and groaned with pain, when the soles of our feet were one great bruise? What boots all this if we returned from the campaign stronger and in better health than we ever were before? Now, when God brings us safely through all these difficulties and saves us amid a shower of bullets, when inside the Yankee line stricken down amid the dead and wounded of the foe, exposed to a torrent of shell and grape which literally tore up the earth about us, shall we not take courage and be grateful?

We have eaten corn-bread half done, made with unsifted meal, accompanied with bacon raw or broiled on a stick, for three weeks at a time—yet I am well, perfectly well. Verily I believe that God has guarded and preserved me every hour. I firmly believe that he will save me harmless through this dread day of our country’s danger, or He will answer my constant prayer that I may be taken, if die I must, in the very midst of my country’s foes, and that my spirit may ascend amid the smoke of battles, a fit offering to liberty and truth, and my body rest among the brave where the dead lie thickest, and here let me emphasize what I have said before, you must not cherish a hope of recovering my body if I am lost in battle. It will be the merest accident if you do so. You must not be troubled in mind continually. I can excuse some uneasiness when you hear of a battle, but do not be worried all the time. Of course there is great danger every time we go into battle. It seems to me it must be the utmost stretch of divine power to save one in the thickest of a fight. The rescue of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego was no more a miracle than the preservation of some of us on the afternoon of Saturday, the nineteenth of September, at Chickamauga. Don’t have the blues. Study your Latin, your music and your children, and leave the result to God. Kisses for the children, and love to Mrs. Carter. note

Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.

note —May 1st, 1897. Mrs. Carter mentioned in this letter, is now Mrs. Henrietta Harrison. She is still living in Waco—in a green and beautiful old age, a joy and a benediction to a large circle of loving and devoted friends. In matters of taste and propriety her word is an oracle to the young. In works of benevolence her hand is ever ready, and the poor rise up and call her blessed. In the church her light shines more and more as toward the coming of a perfect day.

“None know her but to love her,

None name her but to praise.”

J. C. W.

Letter No. XVIII.

Camp Near Chattanooga,
October 9th, 1863.

To Little Stark And Mary West:

I have a nice little piece of paper which I took from a Yankee port-folio on the battlefield of Chickamauga, and thought it would be a good time to send you a little letter. You must be good children and learn to read and write, so that you can answer this letter and read to me when I come home. We have been policing our camp to-day, and that means to sweep and clean up just like our negroes sweep and clean the yard. The soldiers make brooms out of the brush and sweep the leaves and trash into a pile and burn it, and then we have nice clean ground to sit and to sleep on at night. We have little tents which we took from the Yankees, and they keep the frost and rain off of our heads. Every night I go to sleep with my clothes on and my hat over my face, and sometimes I stay awake nearly all night and think about you and mamma and wonder if you are all well, and if you obey and mind mamma all the time, and say your prayers. God has given you a good mamma, and you ought to love Him very much and ask Him to take care of her. God takes care of the soldiers, too, and of all good people.

The soldier who carried our flag in the last battle was killed, and Mr. Makeig took the flag and carried it until he was shot through the neck. Mr. Makeig’s father lives near Waco, and you must let him know what a brave soldier his son is. He is loved by all the company and is a splendid soldier. We are very near to the Yankees now and I stand guard within sixty or one hundred yards of them, and get water out of the same creek. We talk with them and exchange newspapers, and swap tobacco for coffee. They are very tired of the war, and want to go home as badly as we do.

Your grandpa and Aunt Decca, in Columbia, got a letter from mamma and sent it to me. You must kiss mamma for me and be good children.

Your father truly,
John C. West.

Letter No. XVI.

By Camp-fire, 2½ Miles from Chattanooga,
September 24th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

God has heard your prayers, and through His mercy I am preserved through the perils of another great battle, far more dangerous in its individual and personal incidents to our brigade than any of the war. The oldest soldiers agree that they have never seen the like. The line of battle was only about two and a half miles long, and we advanced upon each other in column after column, one pushing on as another fell back. We were in open woods (neither party having any breastworks worthy the name), and coming up face to face, bayonet to bayonet. Our company got into a very hot place. The musketry was almost continuous from early morning till late in the evening for two days. It occurred about ten miles from Chattanooga, in the northwest corner of Georgia, on the Chickamauga river. Our casualties (Company E) as follows: Captain Joe Billingsly, Lieutenant Allen Killingsworth, privates — Miller, Tom Norwood, — Hicks, and Whitehead, killed; Sam Chambers and Durham Holloway, severely wounded and missing; Boze Chapman, J. W. Pamplin, Billy Burton and Fred Makeig, wounded, respectively in the thigh, hand, arm and neck. I got mixed up with the Yanks by being too fast. I have the credit of doing some good work at close quarters. When their line was broken, I took my bayonet off my musket because it hurt my hand in loading rapidly, and just as I put it in the scabbard one fellow took a fair shot at me in an open place about thirty steps off. The bullet hit the handle of my bayonet, which had not been in my belt two seconds, and knocked the handle entirely off. It was driven against me with great force, blinding and sickening me so that I fell and was supposed to be fatally wounded. It seems to me that a thousand bullets and grapeshot tore up the ground around me. As soon as I was able I crawled to a tree and afterwards to the rear, to the field hospital in a barnyard, where I remained all night. I was pretty sore but able to march, so I went back to the line of battle early next morning. I thought of Waco and its peaceful days and the sweet-faced, innocent children on their way to church.

Our brigade went in again about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and I received a lick from something, I do not know what, on the wrist, which was very painful for a day or two, but when we found that the Yankees were gone and the field was ours, I was much rejoiced. Many of these Yankee soldiers were Germans who could not speak English. I got, on the battlefield, a new blue-backed Webster spelling book, which I will send home to the children.

I got a splendid gun and accouterments, plenty of paper and a nice pair of woolen gloves. I cannot speak of the movements of the army, for I know nothing. I know that we are now in line of battle at the foot of Lookout Mountain and expect an attack in the morning. Our pickets had some skirmishing this afternoon, but the main body did not advance. I trust that God will spare my life, and have prayed Him to watch over you and the little ones if I am taken. You must not hope to get my body if I am killed, as it will be impossible to do otherwise than leave me on the field in a soldier’s careless grave.

I stopped in Columbia two days when passing and found all well but Douglas De Saussure, who is suffering from a wound in the shoulder received at Charleston. You have some new cousins in Columbia—the Wilkinsons—refugees from New Orleans. Mrs. Wilkinson’s name was Mary Stark. They are nice, sweet girls. Their father was colonel of a Louisiana regiment and was killed at Manassas.

At Chickamauga General Hood was wounded in the right leg and it has been amputated. As we were going into the fight he rode down the line in our rear towards our right. He said: “Move up, men; those fellows are shooting in the tops of the trees.” We thought then that he was a little too close in. The old Texas brigade is fearfully cut up. There are not more than 150 in our regiment. The Fifth numbers about 100 and the First about the same. There is said to be a company in the First Texas with one officer and no men left; another has one man left. Our company has about twenty-five men. Of course there is exaggeration in these statements, but we are terribly thinned out. All of the men whose names I have given above as killed or wounded fell in a space of not more than sixty feet square, except Captain Billingsley, who was killed at a different place on the afternoon of the second day, as we backed out from a charge across an open field, which got too hot to stay in. As I went to the rear after being wounded, I met General Benning of Georgia. He was bareheaded and riding an artillery horse with the harness on him. He said, “Where are you going?” I showed him my wound. He said, “Great God! is everybody killed? I have lost my brigade.” It did look in some spots as if the killed outnumbered the living.

There was a gallant Wisconsin officer killed in front of our Fourth Texas. One of the litter-bearers gave me his sword, which I carried to the field hospital. It was beautifully mounted and engraved, “Captain Haup, Company E, Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteers.”

You must keep in good spirits and don’t allow yourself to mope or feel uneasy. God knows best, and if I am hurt it is all right. Sometimes my faith is unwavering and I feel perfectly safe, and I have no doubt that He will watch over you and the little ones. Kiss them for me every day and go on with your Latin and music. May God and the good angels guard you.

Your husband, faithfully ever,

John C. West.

Letter No. XV.

Wilmington, North Carolina,
September11th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

I am at this place on my way to Bragg’s army. Our division has been ordered there. Of course in a hurried letter I can give you no account of the movements of our armies. Suffice it to say that we are not whipped on this side of the river yet, and I do not believe the combined Yankee army can subjugate the Texas brigade, though they may all be killed. I have met Major Hampton Gibbs here, and have spent most of the day with him visiting the blockaders, and he has extended to me every courtesy possible, and I shall recollect my detention in Wilmington with pleasure. I have had but one letter from you since I left Texas, but feel satisfied that all is well.

Brother Charles wrote to me in August and said you were all well up to the 10th of July. Douglas De Saussure was wounded in the shoulder a few days ago at Charleston, so I expect to see him in passing through Columbia, as I have permission to go by there. This will be sent by blockader Elizabeth. Hampton Gibbs sends regards to you. Your husband, faithfully ever,

John C. West.

Letter No. XIV.

Camp Near Fredericksburg, Va.,
August 17th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

I have just learned that Colonel Sweet, of San Antonio, will start across the Mississippi in a day or two. I have no chance to write a letter. It is 9 o’clock at night; I am writing by a camp-fire with twenty men talking all around me. No news. I am stronger and in better health than I ever was in my life. Joe Ben Majors and Burwell Aycock reached us yesterday, and several others from the hospital. I wrote to Sister Mary Blair yesterday without knowing there would be an opportunity of sending it.

All the Waco boys are well. Love to Mr. and Mrs. Carter and Bro. Burleson, etc. Kiss the little darlings for me.

Your husband, faithfully ever,

John C. West.

Letter No. XIII.

Camp near Fredericksburg,
August 14th, 1863.

To Mrs. Theodore Stark, Columbia, South Carolina:

Dear Mother: Yesterday was quite an exciting time among the soldiers. We were paid off our dues up to July 1st, and everybody consequently felt very rich. A great many bet at cards, who would never do so at home, because they have nothing else to do. It is a sort of frolic and past time, and a good many have already lost all they had. My pay amounted to $79.70. I enclose $50 of it in this letter, which you will please keep for me, as I may get sick, or wounded, some day, and need it, and can then borrow with a clear conscience, knowing I have the wherewith to pay. I will retain the balance to buy peas, rice, dried apples, etc., which our butler has. You can keep the money for Mary, or use it for her benefit, in case I should ever be missing at the fireside. I trust the report of General Hood’s promotion to Lieutenant Colonel of cavalry is true, and also of General Hampton to Major-General. I think Hood would endeavor to mount our brigade. Love to all.

Your son, truly,

John C. West.

Letter No. XII.

Camp Near Fredericksburg, Va.,
August 7th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

We have just heard of the death of Colonel B. H. Carter. He was wounded at Gettysburg—twice in the leg, and in the face, and left in the hands of the enemy. I wrote you not more than a week ago quite a long letter by Captain Hammon, telling you all about my Pennsylvania trip, a full narrative of which could be made quite readable, but I am not conveniently situated for thinking or writing, so as to render the undertaking feasible. I am having a pretty hard time of it, but heaven is blessing me continually with good health, and I believe will save me to the end.

You must not be uneasy about me when you do not hear from me. I have received but one letter from you since I left home, yet I am satisfied that all is well, and, strange to say, I have no desire to return home while the war lasts. I believe this disposition has been especially vouchsafed me in order that I may be fully prepared for all the hardships that befall me. Since the fall of Vicksburg I have not had much hope of hearing from you, though, to our suprise, yesterday, Coella and Macon Mullens received letters of the 5th and 6th of July. This has encouraged me to hope for one from you. I have written you a great many letters from different points. You must not be uneasy if you hear of me being destitute or in need of anything. A soldier can not carry enough with him on a march to make him comfortable. Another hope and desire you must give up; it is almost impracticable and hopeless to attempt to recover the body of a private soldier killed in battle, so don’t think about this; I can rest one place as well as another. All the Waco boys are writing to-day, as notice has been given that a Mr. Parsons will take them to Texas. Do all you can to keep your mind employed and your face in smiles. All will yet be well for us. Pray for me, and if I am taken from you, it will be all right. I trust in God. Kisses for the children.

Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.

Letter No. XI.

Camp Near Culpepper,
July 27th, 1863.

My Precious Wife:

I wrote you quite a full letter yesterday and sent it to the Fourth Texas Department at Richmond, the agent for which is very particular in seeking opportunities to send letters across the river, but still it may not reach you, so I have determined to try another channel which I have found to-day. Captain Hammon, quartermaster of our regiment will start for Texas to-morrow and has kindly consented to take this for me. You see by the caption that I am back at our old camp, which I am beginning to regard as home. I am sitting near the same spot from which I wrote you more than a month ago, and my surroundings pretty much the same, except the absence of our Lieutenant, Joe Smith, who was killed at Gettysburg.

He was a very talented and excellent officer, enjoying, perhaps, more than any officer in the regiment, the confidence and trust of headquarters. His loss is a very serious blow to the company. By the goodness of God I came safely through, though many were killed around me. One bullet passed through my beard, grazed my ear and struck a rock about an inch from my head. A piece of the lead flew into my upper lip, but caused no interruption or serious inconvenience. Our move into Pennsylvania was a failure, and I think General Lee never would have attacked the enemy in their position on the mountain side except for the splendid condition of his army, and his confidence in its ability to accomplish anything he chose to attempt. Our division was on the right of the entire line and our brigade the last but one on the extreme right of the division, and just opposite to one of the strongest positions of the enemy, which was on a high mountain and defended by batteries on mountains still higher. We took and held the lower heights long enough to capture the batteries, but were unable after several charges to scale the higher ones, being subjected to a fire on our left flank and in front while attempting to climb over rocks and gorges, which would have delighted a mountain goat.

On the third day, late in the evening, our center gave way, and we were compelled to retire down the mountain and take our position in the open field, where we threw up breast works and awaited the advance of the enemy. We remained here during the entire fourth day of July, and such another fourth I never expect to spend. We had no meat and very little bread for two days. Had not taken off our accouterments during the time, and the rain poured incessantly, so that the water on the level plain was two or three inches deep. On the following evening we discovered that the enemy were satisfied and were moving off. We were in no condition to follow. We remained on the battlefield until 2 o’clock at night, during which time I snatched a nap or two by lying on three rails, which kept me above water. In the battle I threw away my haversack and contents, except a flannel shirt and a pair of socks, which I tucked under my belt. I lost the socks and have been for several days without any, but have not experienced the inconvenience I expected, except in having my ankles considerably lacerated by briers in marching across the fields. I have had no change of clothing since, and hence have been compelled to throw away my undershirt, which had become a harbor for innumerable body lice. Don’t blush or be shocked; no true soldier is free from them, and I will scrub well before I come home. I am having my only underwear washed to-day, and owing to a large rent in my pants, would be subject to arrest in any well managed city, for improper exposure of my person in a public place. However, these are small matters, and we will smile over them in the better days to come. You must not try to send me anything, or trouble yourself in the least degree about me, unless you choose to send me some little token by some one who will deliver it to the agent of the Fourth Texas Department at Richmond. I have left you to take care of yourself, and you must not be disturbed about me. God will take charge of both of us. I have experienced no inconvenience in health for want of clothing. Since I have been here Allen Killingsworth has given me a pair of socks, and while I write this sentence Charley Darby sends me another pair; so I have two pair, and feel flush on socks. I have a good pair of pants in Richmond, and another for winter in Columbia, so don’t trouble yourself by thinking of me or my misfortunes, but smile, chat and keep well. Attend to your music, your Latin and the improvement of the children. Watch your chickens and turkeys as if you expected me home to eat them as soon as they are grown. I wrote to you and Stark on the 8th and 9th from Hagerstown, and this is the second letter since then.

I have no idea that you will ever get the others, but some hope that this will reach you. All the Waco boys are well and at their posts now, except Herrington, Clark and Majors. Herrington is in the hospital on account of his eyes, Majors is on the way to us now and Clark is at Sulphur Springs. Since Vicksburg has fallen I think you had better not attempt to go to South Carolina. You are safer in Texas. Our cause looks a little gloomy now, but I have no fears of the final result. I believe the war has been prolonged by the late success of the enemy, and perhaps it would be better if I were on your side of the Mississippi. I said in my letter yesterday that we would have another great battle in twenty days, but I hear now that it is the opinion of our generals that there will be no considerable engagement for several weeks, though nothing is certain.

I wrote to the attorney-general of the Confederacy yesterday that I had left my office in Texas and gone into the army, and saying that I would return to Texas if he thought it desirable or necessary, but I believe I am where I ought to be and I think he will sanction my course. Every able bodied man ought to be where he can strike the hardest blow for his country.

I received a letter from Decca Stark of June 23rd. Lamar, Douglass and sister Mac are in Columbia. I doubt not we will have a reunion after awhile. You and the friends whom I have named must still offer your prayers for me, and I shall fear no harm, for nothing but the special favor of God has preserved me thus far. Tell Stark and Mary to obey you and get their lessons, and when I come home I will take one on each knee and tell them about the soldiers. Remember me to the servants. May God and the good angels guard you and the little darlings. I have had but one letter from you.

Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.