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

Haines Bluff, Miss., July 23d, 1863.

We arrived at our old camp yesterday—twenty days from the time we left it—the toughest twenty days of our experience. A dirtier, more ragged and drilled-out lot of men I hope never to see. The first thing I did, after eating a little hardtack and drinking a cup of coffee, was to bolt for the spring, build a fire, boil my shirt, pants and socks, scrub myself from head to heels, put on my clothing wet—though not much wetter than before—and return to camp a cleaner, therefore a better man. There have been times when we could not get water to wash our hands and face, to say nothing of our clothing, for a week or more.

It was dark when I returned to camp, but fires were burning brightly in every direction, and around them were gathered groups of men silently reading letters. I hastened to the Orderly and asked him “Have you anything for me?” “Yes, I have four letters for you.” My heart gave one great bound of gladness, and, grasping them tightly, I hastened to the nearest fire to learn what news from home. Rumors of a great battle, fought and won by Meade, had been in circulation several days, but no one knew whether true or fake. These letters from my wife confirmed them. The threatened invasion took place, was crushed, and Lee was suffered to recross the Potomac at his leisure, as he was allowed to do after Antietam.

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