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In Their Own Words

July 18, 1863

Pleasant March, Horrific Battle

A Georgia soldier writing home to a friend told her first of the pleasant time they had going through Pennsylvania, before relating some of the horrors of the battle at Gettysburg.

“…We had a nice time of it in Pennsylvania and have inflicted serious injury upon the corpulent Dutch farmers of that loyal state in the destruction of bee gums, fowls, eggs, butter, cherries, green apples, cider and apple butter. It will take at least three seasons to replenish the stock, besides playing sad havoc with their horses and cattle. You have seen before this, I expect, a description of the battle of Gettysburg, and therefore I deem it unnecessary to give a detailed account of it. It was a stubborn fight and perhaps one of the bloodiest of the war, if not the bloodiest. It makes me feel sick when I think of the piles of dead men I saw upon that field. The third day we lay in line of battle the stench and unendurable. The whole field was strewn with their dead, and every house and barn around filled with their wounded, some of them with their limbs actually rotting off, the surgeons not being near sufficient to attend to them all. I pity those left in the enemy’s hands, and we had to leave a good many, it being impossible to remove them. The loss in our brigade is somewhere about three or four hundred killed or wounded. …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.),“Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 251.