Letter No. XXIII.
Camp Near Louden, East Tennessee,
November 15th, 1863.
My Precious Wife:
I have been deterred from writing to you on account of our continued movement. We left the front of Chattanooga on the 5th of this month; that is, Longstreet’s corps. The remainder of Bragg’s army still lies in line of battle, where they have been for six weeks. We are now in about thirty miles of Knoxville, with-Burnside in front of us or at Knoxville, I do not know which. Think there will be a fight in a day or two, unless the Yanks fall back. If we can whip them we can get in the rear of Chattanooga, and Thomas (Rosecran’s successor) will be compelled to fall back to middle Tennessee or Kentucky, but it is almost impossible to conjecture what will take place, as a single movement of the enemy may change the entire face of affairs in a day.
I wrote to Mrs. Carter about two weeks ago, and also to Judge Devine, giving him my reasons for not being at the January court. J will write to Brother Charles to-day. I saw John Kennedy from Camden, South Carolina, this morning. He is colonel of the Second South Carolina Regiment. I used to help him in his Greek and Latin at school. He is one of the handsomest men in the army, and a good officer. James Villipigue is quartermaster. Frank Gilliard is lieutenant-colonel of the same regiment. Henry Green, our old college sheriff, is their chief cook and bottle washer. I was forcibly reminded of my old college days and times, and have had my happiest moments since I left you in meeting old South Carolina friends. They have been my most congenial associates. The air is so chilly and damp that I shall have to cut my letter short, for there is little satisfaction in writing in the open air.
I am getting quite anxious to see you and the children, and occasionally I am very homesick, and always tired of the war, as is every man in the army, without exception. Nevertheless it may prove a blessing in making us all appreciate home and its blessings. I am satisfied there are few or no occasions which are sufficient causes for war; its horrors will never be dreamed of except by soldiers actually engaged in it. Don’t be uneasy about the children; make them obey your rules, but do not make your rules severe or numerous. Do not have too many rules on any subject, but have one universal rule; you must be obeyed. Then be cautious how and what you order. I often look from my blanket to the stars and think of the childrens’ favorite, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” and wonder if Stark has taught it to Mary yet. I want to see them grow up and love each other, and we can look at them and be happier. I feel like I will see you all again after awhile, and even if I do not there is much consolation in the 11th verse of the 59th chapter of Jeremiah. I have time to read a good deal now when we are camped, and have read several interesting books lately; among them is, “Great Expectations.” Oh, how many passages I have read and wished you could enjoy them with me, and we will enjoy them yet.
Give my love to all who love me, and tell the servants to obey you or look out for my ghost. All the Waco boys are well. Billy Dunklin received letters from Frank and the doctor yesterday.
Your husband, faithfully ever,
John C. West.