(Written by a Pathfinder Member, Dorian Watt)
Dear Uncle Judd and aunt Beas,
I know its been a long time since I left home to join the confederate army and I hope you aint still angry about my leaving. I know I said a man’s got to follow his heart when it comes to war. Well, I was wrong. War aint so glamorous as I supposed it was and too many men have fallen since this thing started.
I think of home often and wish I was still there. Little Mary and Nath waiting up all night and brother Dorian sitting by the fireplace pretending hes cold all the time.
Word came down that we was to be marching over the river looking for ammunition and medicine. But I think we are heading that way just to teach the yanks there a lesson from the last time we crossed and they knocked us around a bit. There wasn’t too much enthusiasm among the men as some of them has family there. Just like me they left their homes and families because they believed in something greater, but just like me they never thought we’d be invading our homes.
But the new general, a cavalry guy, thinks we need to cross and deliver a blow for the cause, whatever that is anymore. We got our gear together and marched out of camp around 4 AM crossing the big river about an hour later. We marched north along a dirt road well passed the place where the previous skirmish took place then turned west fording a small stream at dawn. It was cold and the water was almost as cold wetting our aching feet. The only thing that kept most of the men going was freezing their feet if they quit marching. The road wound mostly west for a couple more miles.
Some time before noon, as I guessed by the sun, my watched stopped some time ago, we approached the stream again. Advanced scout come riding back about then and reported that a regiment of Yankees was guarding the bridge where we wanted to cross. Yankees from this area I guessed. Who was in that regiment I wondered.
Anyway the cav general sent us infantry forward along with the guns. No more did we start to deploy then the enemy guns opened on us. There was a duel that lasted a couple hours then, but we infantry had no time to stay and watch. We pressed forward toward that bridge and found it held against us. Our major wasn’t real happy with the general and we made a couple feints toward that bridge. They put down a lot of fire against us and suddenly the major got mad. We attempted to cross the bridge twice and were driven back both times. But when he saw the cav attacking the far side of the river and getting pushed around he started shouting about new orders. That general seemed to want nothing but the glory. He pushed the others around but they never gave much ground and always came back when he moved off in another way. We lined up to cross the bridge again, but the blue coats on the far side were suddenly reinforced. Don’t know if you remember Billy Jenkins, but I saw him get shot in the head as we crossed the bridge. I cant say but that hes dead. Poor Billy. You know he was an orphan.
I don’t remember much after that. Something hit me hard in the shoulder and searing pain erupted in my arm. I fell back as if in a dream landing hard on my pack. I must have gone under for a time for when I opened my eyes again there were three Yanks standing above me.
I was taken to a field hospital and treated by a yank doctor who said the bullet went all the way through but broke a rib and my shoulder bone. I guess the wars over for me. I cant say Im sad for that. A couple days after I was captured a captain come by and said I was to be paroled and should go home to wait for it.
Well heres my problem. Do I have a home to come to? I know I was a bit angry when we parted, but I sure am sorry for some of those words. I need to come home. For me the wars over. Could you uncle Judd and aunt Beas find it in your hearts to bring me back?
If you would write me and send the letter to the yankee officer here Im sure I could find my way back.
With much affection, your nephew,
Please write and tell me I can come home.