July 4th, 1863

July 4th, 1863

Dear Mother and Father,

            We have just ended a battle in a little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.  This battle was the worst I have seen, for there was a very ominous feeling in the summer heat on July 1st.  I noticed the feeling … even thought I couldn't quite put it into words.

            The Gettysburg battle was horrifying – men, both Confederate and our own, were lying dead and dying almost every where.  In a small patch of field near a hill called Little Round Top, I estimated that near 6,000 soldiers, blue and gray, were either mortally wounded or dead … And night had not fallen yet.  During the night, from our camp nearby, I heard the screams of those frightened souls.  After the screams softened, a new sound evaded my ears … the sound of a wild pig.  As we passed the field the next morning, the previous colors of blue and gray had been replaced by another … crimson red.

            I still shudder to think of the way those mend died … alone, in the silence of the night, and with their enemy.  I doubt they had cared whether they were Confederate or Union soldiers anymore, just as long as they knew someone was close by.

            It's raining harshly here now, and the thunder claps every few moments and the lightning strikes somewhere in the distance.  To be fighting for a cause such as this causes me not to mind the weather, or whether I live or die.  To be a survivor at Gettysburg is an honor … for the war is turned.  I'm ecstatic to be writing this, for now our army is going to march on to victory to honor those who died fighting.  And now you also know your son is alive, and ready to continue.

            Pray for me, but above all pray for the cause.  In your hearts, honor those who gave their lives for the future of our nation.  Never forget them.

I love you both,

Lt. Jimmy Buchanan