Aunt Katy's Civil War Tale
The first of Uncle Lonzo's letters to Bea was dated July twelfth and tells of Pa's and Uncle Bert's wounds. At that time he didn't know where they were and was very worried tho he cautioned Bea not to tell Ma so.
"I don't know as I can tell you exactly where we are today; but we are not far from Williamsport and are near the old Antietam battlefield. I expect there will be another terrible battle here as our whole army is in this vicinity. We have been pretty busy for the last week. Our regiment has been engaged in skirmishing five days in succession. We were very fortunate and did not lose but a few men, no one killed since the battle of Gettysburg.
"Maryland is very fine country what I have seen of it. It's the richest farming country I ever saw. There is a great deal of wheat destroyed by the army as it is impossible to move so many troops in the road all the way so they have to go through the fields. I think the most of the people here are loyal, but there is once in a while one that shows seccession sympathies.
"Well, I guess you will get out of patience trying to read this but I haven't got any ink. Tell Louise I'll send her news just as soon as I get any tho she may hear from Bert before I do. Bert will take care of Wes and I pray all will be well."
By the time of Uncle Lonzo's next letter everyone knew that Pa and Uncle Bert were in the Frederick City Hospital. Ma had lost twin baby boys after hearing of Pa's being wounded. They weren't sure yet that Pa would live.
But Uncle Lonzo had other troubles on his mind. August 15th he wrote to Bea from Kelley's ford, Virginia.
"You have probably read before this about the fight we had with Stuart's Cavalry on the first. Our regiment was engaged all day and we had twenty-four men killed and wounded out of about one hundred fifty which was all that were with us. We were in the center of our line of battle and were directly under the fire of the Rebel batteries all day. They had some of the best artillery I ever saw and they done us a great deal of damage with it as the dead horses strung along our track will show. Our company was very fortunate this time as we did not have but one man hurt and that was done by his horse falling down.
"We found the Rebels near Rappahannock Station and drove them nearly to Cullpepper where we run on to a large force of Infantry and had to fall back several miles.
The weather is extremely hot and it is almost impossible to remain out in the sun. I shall be very glad when this month is gone. My health has been first rate this summer and if I get into the hospital it will probably from some other cause than sickness; but I am in hopes I shall be able to keep the field this summer.
"I suppose they know there now, who is drafted. I should like to hear first rate. There can't be many in our neighborhood that is liable to the draft. Give my respects to all and write when it is convenient."
The next letter is dated Raccoon Ford, Virginia, September 15th.
"I received your welcome letter of the 6th last night and was very glad to hear that Wes and Bert are doing so well. Your letter came to me just as we had got through with a pretty hard days fight and were standing in the rain as there was a heavy shower just before dark.
"We had been on picket near Rappahannock Station three days when the Cavalry all came up and advanced upon the Rebels. We were on pretty good terms with the Rebel pickets and had exchanged papers with them several times. Two of our boys met two of the Rebels the night before we advanced and shook hands and exchanged papers with them and the next day advanced upon them in line of battle and would have shot them down if they could. Such is a soldiers life, good friends one day and trying to take one anothers lives the next.
"Our regiment was in the advance skirmishes until we reached Culpepper. We had only one man wounded in our company. I don't know what our whole loss was in killed and wounded. You will probably see it in the papers as soon as I shall. This was a Cavalry fight; there was no Infantry engaged upon either side. We are now on the Rapidan River and the Johnnys are on the other side. While I am writing this there is a continual popping of muskets and carbines with now and then a shell sprinkled in. I suppose they are stongly fortified on the other side and when we cross there will be somebody hurt.
"I don't know when I can send this, but I thought I would write now as I may not have a chance to write again in some time."
Evidentally Bea had not written to him as often as he would have liked for on November 2nd he writes:
"On picket near Morrisville, Va.
"As it has been some time since I have written to you I thought I would write a few lines although you are indebted to me for one letter at least if I remember right.
"We have had pretty busy times for about a month and have seen a little harder service than we ever saw before in the same length of time. Our company has been quite fortunate as we have not had a man killed. Nearly every other company in the regiment has lost one or more. There is one man missing from our Co, but he is probably a prisoner, and a few of our men are at Dismounted Camp near Washington.
"There is some talk of our regiment going to recruit at home this winter; to go into the Veterans Corps. I don't know how they will make out but a majority of the regiment has volunteered for three years or longer upon that condition. I suppose if we go back there we will all have a chance to go home and make a visit.
"We are having some very mild weather here now but the nights are very cold for lying on the ground. Everything is quiet along the line now and there seems to be no prospect of any important move on either side at present.
"I suppose the people at home will soon be preparing for the draft again. If they don't get more men next time then they did before we might as well give up fighting and all go home."