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In Their Own Words

September 18, 1861

Civil War Soldier Described Hard March and Confusion in Battle

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his mother, describing a hard march and how things could get confusing - tragically so - on the battle field, even in a small skirmish.

“…That night at 11 o’clock we were roused and ordered to fall into ranks with our arms, a blanket, canteen and haversacks with provisions for two days. After all had fallen, except the sick, we proceeded out of camps to form the regiment. I soon found that we would have a rough time walking, for the night was so dark that we could scarcely see our hands before us and the sky was covered with clouds which now and then would pour forth showers of rain, which forced us to carry our guns under our blankets to keep them dry. … We then travelled about eight miles up and down mountains, through cold rain, mud, branches, creeks and rivers, without without waiting to cross on logs or find dry places. … We were immediately ordered to get into the side of the woods and as soon as it was done both sides fired into each other. But the other side commenced hollering ‘Georgians, Georgians!’ … by which some thought they were Yankees trying to fool us. … we soon found they were the advance guard we had sent the other road coming back. … I ran from the woods to the other side and found that we had shot a man from the 12th Georgia in the leg, who immediately bled to death. I met Bill Dent with his face and head bloody. He had a slight wound on the side of his head above the eye. It is well now. And [I] saw Tom Brown lying on the ground shot through the lower part of the stomach. … We don’t think he will live. …”

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), pp. 64-65.