This is an actual real letter sent to my great-great-grand uncle, Clark Dix, during the Civil War (on the Union side) by a man only known as "Will". I read the letter which was done in a very lovely cursive and typed it out as it struck me as a very emotional letter. To me, it describes how not all man of the opposite side of a fight are "evil". The man described in this letter, Sile, was a friend of Clark and Will. According to the letter, he was shot in the hips and the Rebels took care of him until help could arrive. The way this letter is written shows how emotional the war really was. I was very happy to have found this and even happier to share it.
I won't claim authorship for it. This is all Will's writing. I just made it a little more clear.
Camp in the Wilderness
6 Miles East of Corinth
May 9th, Miss.
In answer to yours of April 28th, I know will write a line or two. I am in just moderate health and consequently don't feel very much like writing letters. The health of the Regt has been rather indifferent since the battle caused I suppose by a change of climate and water and probably in part by over exertion and excitement during the fight. I believe it is to be the hardest work ever did since the battle. We have been greatly exposed to the weather and part of the time, not very well fed.
You thought Camp Dennison fare pretty hard and so did I, but we had a continual feast there to what we have had for six months past. The greatest delicacy we can get here is now and then a loaf of very indifferent soft bread at a price that would make you open your eyes. I believe I could eat a ton of loaf in six bites (bearing in mind I have a very open countenance) and other things sell accordingly.
We have been moving on to take Corinth but the report in camp is Corinth has been evacuated which I suppose is true and some of our troops are already in there. I heard three reports of cannon last night said to be our men in Corinth firing signal guns too.
We hear so many reports in camp that we don't pretend to credit anything we hear. I will give you a report that came into camp last night for instance. Lieutenant Seibert brought the report that Mc(C)lellan had taken Yorktown with the whole Secesh force there and the loss of 20,000 men on our side also the loss of one of his arms. We don't think it is taken yet.
Well Clark, active field service is not camp D. service but yet we are getting along tolerably well out of what we call the Milford Bunk consisting of 21 members (originally) we have only lost one. Our old schoolmate.
I will here relate the circumstances of his death at your request. We charged a concealed body of rebels that were advancing on us through a dense thicket of underbrush about 9 o'clock A.M. and drove them back about 500 yards when a battery on our right began to rake our lines with grape(shot) and canister. In order to stop this, it was necessary to take the battery and for this purpose a part of the right wing of the 13th faced to the right and charged on it, shooting down the horses and men to prevent their hauling it off.
We soon took it and held it for the time, but one piece had been spiked and the rebels had carried off the rammers. Whilst we were doing this, those on our left had driven back again. They fell back fighting as they came but were unable to make a stand until they reached our former position.
The rebels following up closely subjected us to a close fire in from the left and front. There were only about two hundred men holding the little knoll on which the battery stood. Two or three Rebels were coming at us in front and a sharp firing was on our left. They were trying to flank our right so the only chance left was for us to fall back to our line.
This we did reluctantly, taking the friendly shelter of every tree that came in our way and giving them another word of caution reloading our pieces and retreating to the next tree.
The recollections of those few moments are not so pleasant for the grape(shot), canister, and ball whistled by our ears stuck in the ground before no throwing dirt in our faces and rattled against the trees close to our heads in a manner anything but agreeable. It was during this time that Sile was shot.
He had stopped behind a tree and offered his compliments to an advancing Butternut and was reloading his piece when a musket ball passed through him for side to side just above the hips. I did not see him fall nor did I know of it till in the evening.
I was in the charge but did not see him or know where he was. We made several more charges and again took the battery.
About 4 P.M., we were drawn off and left the work to fresh troops that had just come up. I got a sergeant to go with me to see if any of our boys were wounded. I felt uneasy for I had not seen Sile since making the first charge, but still I hoped he would turn up safe.
We had hunted till near dark when we met of the boys who said Mr. Fields was killed and turning to me said he Kimball is wounded and he feared mortally. My worst fears were realized. I found him near where he had fallen. Some of our boys had gotten him on litter to carry him out of the woods.
It seems that after he fell, the rebels treated him very kindly, doing whatever they could to help him. When we again drive them back, one of our surgeons came to him and tried to stop the flow of blood and gave him a dose of morphine.
We got him on the road and waited for the ambulance. We had with us Hisel Clark who was wounded in the arm. I was left to take care of them till the ambulance came, but it came not. I went and hunted with the company and got help to carry Sile to a log house.
We had just got him in when the rain began to pour down in torrents. The boys went away and I stayed with Sile. The surgeon said he was shot through the bowels and could not live long but he did all he could for him. He dressed his wound twice during the night. Sile seemed to suffer severely in the afternoon, but in the evening, he fell asleep and did not appear to realize his sufferings after that.
He bore it heroically and without complaint. He wanted me to take care of his knapsack. He said he could not get well. About six o'clock, Tuesday morning, his breath grew shorter and in a few moments, he ceased to breathe. My companion was gone.
I went to the company and told the Captain. That evening, we laid him in his last resting place. He lies in the grave of a brave and good soldier, a cheerful companion, and a true American. Peace to his ashes.
Well Clark, my line or two has held out pretty well and although they may be poor, have filled my sheet. I have some hopes of getting home this summer, but it is hard to tell. Give my respects to the folks and accept this from your friend. -Will