I said our real troubles commenced when we began to fall back. A cavalry officer rode up to the camp where Peter + I were attending to the wounded + told us to get away our army was falling back I thought it was to be a temporary affair + we would soon be back. I called to Peter + we walked off leisurely on to a hill where Genl Beaurigard1 was forming the La troops. When I joined the troops I found we were to retreat to Monterey at once, a little town about 8 miles back on the road to Corinth.2 I lost every thing I had with me in the Yankee camp, except my little leather case of medicine. My blankets were lost the day before.
If I should live to be an hundred years old I will never forget the night of the 7 of April 1862 + the little town Monterey in Tennessee.
[That?] night a cold drizzling rain set in which wet me to the skin in an hour, when I got to Monterey about 8 o’clock I was completely exhausted. as long as I could walk I could keep from shaking but I got past that after a while + had to drop down in the mud + rest + shake. We made fires of rails + stood over them to keep the rain from putting them out. If I should live to be an hundred years old I will never forget the night of the 7 of April 1862 + the little town Monterey in Tennessee.3 about midnight I found a piece of shoulder meat + cut off a piece + broiled it + ate it without any bread. It rained all night + was very cold.
As soon as I could see next morning I took the road for Corinth. I could not walk fast enough to get warm but I toddled on, there was no other way to get back. Our wagons were all full of wounded men. I got into camp about 12 o’clock worse broke down than you ever saw me. The boys gave me a cup of coffee + some diner + I got on some dry clothes + went to bed. Timmy declares I went to sleep several times while he was talking to me. I took some blue mass that night + it acted well + I was up the next day. My feet were badly blistered but they are well now. But it makes the cold chills run over me now when ever I think of that trip. It [liks] to have got Peter. He is recovering very slowly. Age will tell when it comes to exposure. Yesterday was a bright sunny day + parson Suratt preached to us.4 He is our Chaplain, what a contrast between that + the Sabbath before! Such is the life of a soldier. Our battle is called the battle of Shiloh, 5 why I cant imagine, unless there is an old hard shell Baptist Church close by.6 Shiloh is one of the old testament names of our Savior. You will find it in the blessing pronounced by Jacob upon his son Judah.7 Our company leaves camp this morning on picket + I go with them. I will write again the first chance I have. had but two letters from you + have written six. Love to all. Tell Briss + the boys not to get in the grass, but let me see what they can [do alone?]. There are no preparations being made here for a crop. Vegetation is about where it was when we left home.
GoD bless you all. pray for us. Your Alex.
Click on images to enlarge.
- General Pierre Gustave Toutant (P.G.T.) Beauregard (May 28, 1818 – February 20, 1893) born in Louisiana, commanded armies in the Western Theater. ↩
- Monterey, Tennessee now called Michie, TN. ↩
- Stuart Salling describes the retreat to Monterey as a “torturous experience” in his book, Louisianians in the Western Confederacy: The Adams-Gibson Brigade in the Civil War. ↩
- S.B. Suratt, Company C, 19th Louisiana Infantry ↩
- Shiloh has sometimes been translated as “tranquility” or “peace.” ↩
- Hard Shell Baptists are also known as Primitive or “Anti-Mission” Baptists. These Calvinist congregations arose during the early 1800s. ↩
- Genesis 49:10 “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” ↩