3 July 1862: “It fell to my lot – being officer of the guard today – to give him a burial…”

Item description: Letter, 3 July 1862, from Union soldier Stephen Tippet Andrews to his beloved, Margaret (Maggie) Little.

For an introduction to the correspondence between Andrews and Little, please see our post of 11 February 1862.

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: In the Stephen Tippet Andrews Letters #5324, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Camp on the James River Va July 3rd, 1862

Dear Maggie

The proceedings of the last few days if correctly written will fill volumes. We have not had a chance to get or send a mail for the last ten days untill last night and then we rec’d a small amt. of mail and I looked in vain for a letter from you but was disapointed but as we are to have a mail every day I shall soon be gratified. We are encamped near the James and near Harrisons Point or Bar I know not which at any rate instead of being within six miles of the Rebbel Capitol we are thirty rather discouraging that isn’t it Maggie? I see by the papers that the movement of McClellan from the right to the left of his lines was a premeditated plan but from what I have seen I think it was an inglorious retreat; or in other words the Right “fell back unaccountably and discreditably” the same as Caseys command did at Fair Oaks only more so. The troops were moved from the right successively so that we; living on the left were the last to move so after the troops had all crossed the White Oak Swamp (and by the way Gen Kenny had a Land battle with the enemy who were close after him) and passed our Brigade we started (?) our regiment was left behind the Brigade as rear guard to protect the baggage and bring up stragglers. And a hard time we had of it too for we were called out at one oclock A.M. and looked all day untill 4 PM in a drenching rain to pry interesting employment a cavalry scout from a company which was left with us came in and went to meet them and had a little skirmish with no loss and a little fun, but now we have got through to this place and what the future is to be I know not. It certainly looks gloomy but it is just darkest before day.

The 4th, the glorious 4th passed off very quietly in camp with no demonstrations except a visit from Gen McClellan which was not much; in one of the divisions they fired a national sallute of thirty four guns and instead of using blanks they used shells and threw them within the enemys lines which somewhat stired them up. I presume your brother is here as nearly the whole of the forces in Virginia are hear but I have not yet seen him.

When you write me again address your letters to Picks Division instead of “Caseys” for the powers that be have taken the old hero from us and substituted a man we know nothing of which makes the boys feel down hearted for they fairly idolized Gen Casey  It was not enough that he and his troops should be called cowards but they must be separated much against the wishes of both parties but there seems to be settled purpose to kill Gen Casey by some of the Generals who are jelous of his popularity.

Yesterday some of our men found a soldier who was wounded about a week ago up on the right, he lay in the mud where he was thrown by the driver of the ambulance who was afraid of being taken prisoner and so to lighten his load and hasten his retreat he threw this poor fellow out and deserted him and fled  When they found him he could talk first enough to give the above particulars, the surgeon done what he could but he died this morning. It fell to my lot – being officer of the guard today – to give him a burial which I did by taking a file of men and digging his grave beneath a spicading hawthorn and placing the body wraped in his blankets without box or coffin;  a few evergreen boughs thrown over him and that was all; not a friend or mourner, not a sigh nor tear as the clods fill upon the cold remains of one whom will be looked for by anxious friends at home but perhaps they will never learn his fater – but he will sleep unknown (for we do not know his name or regiment) till the last trump with nothing by sighing sounds for his requiem. Oh! the horrors of war! I thought I could form a pretty good opinion of what it was by reading but how I was mistaken, A man must see for himself to believe. God grant that I may never see again as I have for the past month. But I must close now dear Maggie please write me a good long letter for I can get now for we are so close to the river. With a good long kiss I will bid you good bye.
As every from your own true


This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.