Camp 12th regt.
March 3rd. 1864
I have delayed writing to you for several days because I did not have a good
opportunity to do so.
It is raining now and has been constantly for for some time. The ground is about as
sobby as it can be. Our tents are in a low place and the water rises in them so that
it is constantly muddy in the tents. My feet keep wet every day but I have not been
injured by it as I know of yet. Nearly all of our troops are down on Picket at South
Anna bridge to day about 3 miles from here. Governor Vance addressed this brigade
yesterday on his way from the army at Orange C.H. where he had been making
speeches to the North Carolina troops. The brigade turned out to hear him almost to
a man. The weather was inclement though he was well received. After some amusing
antidotes illustrating the course of his remarks he went into a logical argument of our
political status, prospects,hopes & condition. I wish you could have heard his speech
though I would not have had you here with the army.
Said when Gen. Johnston telegraphed him of the enlistment of this brigade for the war
be it long or short from that moment the independence of our country was certain in
his opinion. It showed to him that those who had endured the hardships were not afraid
of the consequences. Said the principal dissatisfaction existed with the people at home.
They got scared of fact as wagons, ambulance, stragglers in the rear of a great battle
not to mention quarter master & commissaries were worse scared than those in the front
ranks. He told an anecdote to illustrate this. Said a youth just from college prided himself
upon his great learning and was somewhat ashamed of his daddy. One day he and the
old man went out in the field to work. When about 11 o"clock the old man pulled out
some cheese and bread to eat his lunch. His son told him he surely did not intend to eat
that cheese. Handing him a spy glass told the old man to look at it through that. Asked
him if he did not see the animalcules in it (small animals).
Guessed soldiers knew what small animals ( lice ) were. He understood that there were
some up in Ewells corps that had the letters I.F.W.( one for the war ) on them= but to
return to the anecdote the old mans son asked him if he did not see how the animalcules
The old man without paying any attention to him crammed the cheese in his mouth with
the remark let them squirm, if they can stand it I can.
Now the governor said if the soldiers could stand it the people at home could and should
do it. He went on to show the utter fallacy of trying to make
peace with the yankees by separate state conventions in it could not alter the position of
the state in the eyes of the yankee government because it would still be in rebellion against
the united states and the accepted unconditional terms, while it would at the same time
involve us in a war with the balance of the confederacy. He theorized the course of the war
and paid his respects to the great yankee heroes in command of the army of the Potomac.
Formerly the grand army of the union from old Scott down to Meade. After giving each
ones brief career he was gathered unto his fathers and another reigned in his stead. When
he got to McClellan, after bringing him up to the chickahoma, that Stonewall Jackson came
on his right flank and one Zeb Vance ( himself ) Col. of the 26th NC Regt. on the left flank
and between them they made McClellan skidaddle.
He made a touching allusion to the battle of the wilderness. In speaking of Burnside, said he
crossed crossed over the river but heard the gray jackets singing to him to get out of the
wilderness. You must not think the Governors speech was all in this humerous style. It had
it's serious parts to it in speaking of our losses and great sacrifices. He made a touching
appeal to the soldiers not to dessert their colors and country. That they must trust the people
at home to take care of their families. That if they run away and got home, could not aid their
families. They could not go to work for fear of being taken up and could only streak about and
eat up a part of what little their families had. He said when a man sneaked out horses in that
way he was afraid even of a militia officer with his cotton yarn stripes on his collar. Though
don't let the militia know this last sentence. The Governor might lose a vote by it.
It so happened that a deserter from this regt. ( Catawba rifles ) was carried on the ground and
heard this this governor's speech though I do not know whether the governor found out or not.
The reason that he was carried out was that the men who had him under guard wanted to hear
the governors speech and they were allowed to carry their prisoner with them. I understand that
when this man deserted he went out about home and lived in a cave but in the late snow
knocking about to get something to eat he was tracked up and caught. I do not know what will
be done with him but I understand that no man has ever been shot yet from this regiment.
Our brigade has been reviewed twice lately by Gen. Johnston. He inspected every
man himself. He thought our co. was pretty well clothed and asked capt. Plummer if we got
enough to eat and I understood he asked capt. Plummer if his men were made to patch their
clothes or if they did it of their own accord and the capt. told him they did it of their own
accord. I received a few days ago to me an interesting letter from you, not dated though you
said it was holiday from which I know this date there has been preaching at the Baptist
churches near this place by the chaplain of the brigade. Sometimes twice a day and at night.
I have attended frequently. There have been a good many mourners and some converts in. John
received a letter from Sallie a few days ago with a piece in it to me from you which I was glad
to receive.I was also glad to hear that Henry was teething. I wish I could see you and him,
however as that is useless now I will content myself with writing to you.
You must not take matters to heart any more than you are obliged to do for it becomes best to
bear our trials in this life as christians with fortitude's.
When you have an opportunity to send me anything please send if you have them some small
pieces to patch my pants with. I do not know of anything else I want you to send me. You did not
state in your letter whether you received my letter but I take it for granted you did as the blanket
came to hand.
When you write, please give me all the neighborhood news as well as our son. Matters for everything
going on in old Nutbush is interesting to me.
John is well and still attending to Jack Russells ambulance, They have nick names here for a great
many of the boys. They call John mankind because he uses that word so often in conversations.
Jack Russell they old thunder, A.B.Faulkner they call Dr.Minos, Josh Davis, creek (Terrapin)
Weldon Genl. Duke they call sloop of war. Two of our men, Conner ( Gen Dalmouth) and John
Daniel have lost their voices and can only whisper. The boys were very often wjispering to them
though I think that is wrong. All the boys from Nutbush that I know of are well I beleive. Let me
know whether you heard uncle Micajah say if he received a letter I wrote or not. John says he wants
them to keep a certain man at home ( Bob Cole ) because he wants him to keep the property together
at the widows but he intended to examine the accounts he keeps when he gets back. Run your pen
through the last sentence when you read it, for you will keep the letter. Give my love to all the
family and accept it for yourself. Kiss Henry for me.
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