June 30, 1863
5 miles south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Your last letter was well received here in camp. Many of the boys left family behind, and have been missing them sorely. Your news of the farm and Grandmother eased many a homesick man's melancholy.
It has been raining for most of the daylight hours here, but it has slowed to a mizzle; providential for our regiment, as we have stopped to make camp for the night. Commander Hill says that tomorrow will be a sight better, though, for a small company of men has been sent to find food and supplies in a small town called Gettysburg, only a few miles north. He has promised extra rations of biscuit for all us men if they succeed, and our hope has assuaged the day's weary march. There has also been news of the singular Gen. Lee in these parts, and some of us hold the expectation that we shall see him afore nightfall.
Yesterday, Lt. Taylor presented me with a handmade set of cards for my birthday. I promptly lost one day's ration of cush to him in a game of gin rummy. He let me keep it, though, for "it's not everyday a young corporal turns eighteen, eh, Jem?"
The men are singing now, that old song that we learned back in 1861. Even Com. Hill has joined in. I've included the words here for you. Be sure to sing them for Will—the Confederate Army needs his sharp eyes.
"I want to be a soldier,
And with the soldier stand,
A knapsack on my shoulder,
A musket in my hand.
And there beside Jeff Davis
So glorious and brave,
I'll whip the cussed Yankee
And drive him to his grave."
I must stop here, for the company sent to Gettysburg has just arrived, and they are sore afraid. Half are missing, Mother. They say that the dagnabbed Yankees are there in Gettysburg, and now Com. Hill is ordering us all to arms. Yet another battle!
Give Eliza my love, Mother, and hug Will. I'll be home soon enough.
Your affectionate son,
Jeremiah Rob't Howell