Near Bridgeport, Alabama – July 9, 1863

Near Bridgeport, Ala. July 9, 1863.

My Dear Wife

I was surprised + delighted this morning by the reception of your letter of June 16.  The last letter from you was of May 25. a considerable skip.  I hope the others will come to hand after awhile.  I am sory you get mine so irregularly.  It is the best we can do these war times. + so must bear it as we can.  I comfort myself with the reflection that I can love you + the children with my whole heart perhaps all the better that I cant hear from you often.  You ask when will the war end?  You cant possibly want peace more than we poor Soldiers.  You all have one great advantage of us you have the children with you.  we have nothing. I am proud of you + love you better + better to know that you are doing so well.  persevere my darling + remember that it is for you + the children that I am suffering all that I now do.  If you could see as I have the havoc + destruction that follows in the track of the hated foe you would say stay between us + them.  Bear it bravely dear. I have strong hope that the end is close by.

I am somewhat grayer than when I left home.  + I noticed the other day some wrinkles about my eyes that I never noticed before.

If I live I am coming home soon.  I cant stand it much longer without seeing you.  I will apply for a furlough soon + if I fail to get one I can resign, + will do it.  My health is very good, but I can imagine that you will detect changes in my appearance that I had not noticed.  I am somewhat grayer than when I left home.  + I noticed the other day some wrinkles about my eyes that I never noticed before.  I am not much of a hand to look in the glass you know. + they may have been there all along + I not seen them.  You are looking so young + fresh I am afraid you will be ashamed of your old man when he gets back.  well what sort of a 4th of July did you have?  A pleasant one I hope.  I will never for get it.  We passed the day + night in the trenches expecting to be attacked every minute by the Enemy, but were not.1

The great battle of the war will not be fought at Tullahoma as many thought.  Bragg has fallen back to Chattanooga with his whole army except our (Jacksons) little Brigade which is at present just accross the river from Bridgeport.2  There are a thousand rumors.  Some say Rosy is making for Ky, others say he is en route for Vicksburg.3  I reckon Bragg is posted as to his movements.  The telegraph this morning reports Vicksburg taken, stirring news from Va.  Lee is said to have fought desperate battle near Gettysburg Pa, taking 40,000 prisoner + killed + wounded 20,000 men + was in possession of Baltimore, had demanded an armistice of old Abe + threatened in case he refused to grant it, to march on Washington City, +c +c all of which you will doubtless have seen in the papers long before this letter gets to you.  The loss is reported very heavy on both sides in killed + wounded.4  I dread to hear the particulars.  Enoch was in the Cavalry fight the other day in Shelbyville but escaped unhurt.5  I have no late news from the old folks at home.  Tell Maj to dry up his volunteering for three months or six months.  When I left home he was to stay about + take care of the women + children.  Jack + I are in the field + he must take care of our young stock..

Every thing is in confusion in our present camp.  We expect to be moved to Chattanooga Soon.  Braggs Army is there now but is said to be moving to different points.  I have no doubt but a portion of the army will go to East Tenn. + perhaps a portion to Miss.  I hope our Battaln will go there.  It is folly to speculate on Army Movements.  There is no prospect of a fight near this place.  I will write to you from time to time + keep you posted if you can get the letters.  You are suffering for rain I wish you could have a part of what we have.  It has rained here every day for a month.6   I am told the wheat is injured in some places.  I will write soon again.  I am very busy now.  Write as usual.  I may get the letter some time. Take good care of your dear self + brats, remember me to all the kin + friends + believe me your own only Alex.

The Letter:

  1. On July 4, 1863, the Confederates surrendered Vicksburg, Mississippi and Lee’s forces began retreating from Gettysburg.
  2. Chattanooga was an important rail hub which connected to major Confederate distribution centers. It was also a major manufacturing site on the Tennessee River.
  3. Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans.
  4. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863, as this letter was written. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle.
  5. On June 27, 1863 the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry attacked Gen. Wheeler’s troops at Shelbyville, capturing four pieces of artillery and driving Wheeler’s Cavalry into the Duck River.
  6. During the Tullahoma Campaign, Union soldiers spread the humorous rumor that the name Tullahoma was a combination of the Greek words “tulla”, meaning “mud”, and “homa”, meaning “more mud.”