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In Their Own Words

June 14, 1864

Civil War Soldier Wrote of Seeing Bodies on Old Battlefield

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, telling her of being near an old battlefield and the disturbing sight there, and of being sick.

…we are near the memorable spot of Malvern Hill, the first spot where I ever seen an enemy in battle array. Here lies the remains of departed heroes with nothing to cover their bones from the heavens above. Many a loving and affectionate husband, father, or brother’s bones lie exposed and trodden under foot, here too lies the skeletons of our enemies, thousands upon thousands, all over the fields and woods side by side enemy lie. When we behold these things we are constrained to say, Oh, God is man that thou are mindful of him or the son of men that there visited him, man in his animal estate is worst than the best of the field… I have been quite unwell with dysentery for more than a week but have not quit the field. I feel much better this morning. We have had fighting every day more or less since I last wrote you though we have no heavy engagement. The enemy is moving and several days may pass ere we meet again. It is thought they are going to the south side of James River. That will be southeast of Richmond. … I think the war must have an end this year, one way or another. God grant that it may come and our independence with it. …”

Source: Ronald H. Moseley (ed.), The Stilwell Letters: A Georgian in Longstreet’s Corps. Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002), p. 264.