25 December 1862: “The boys are in excellent spirits however not much doing in the eggnog line…”

Item description: Letter, dated 25 December 1862, from Isaac Adams Howard of Gonzalez, Tex., to his father, Dr. William Henry Howard. In this letter, Howard, of the 5th Texas Regiment, Company B, gave a graphic description of the Fredericksburg battlefield and disparaged the conduct of the Union forces. Isaac Adams Howard was born 23 December 1843; he died about seven months after writing this letter, killed at the battle of Gettysburg.

Item citation: From folder 1 in the Howard Family Papers #355-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Camp near Fredericksburg

Christmas morning

My dear Father

I received your letter of the 22nd yesterday I was very glad indeed to [hear from] home once more as it was the first time I had heard from home in nearly 4 months. I was very much relieved to hear that all were well at home. I was sorry to hear that Tom was ill all of the time that he was at home. I suppose you will have heard of the great battle of Fredericksburg before this letter reaches you. The Yankees sustained the most utter and terrible defeat probably that they have experienced during the war. It was the most glorious victory we have ever gained. Our loss is trifling in comparison with the enemy according to Gen. Lee’s report of the battle our loss was 1800 killed wounded and missing while that of the enemy according to their own Statement was 15.500 and many of their papers place it as high as 20.000. Not more than one half of our forces were engaged [our?] brigade didn’t fire a gun. Gen Lee [said] that we had suffered so severely [at] Gaines farm Manassas No 2 and Sharpsburg and that he had called upon us so often in tight places that we should be held in reserve. Our regt had 5 or 6 men wounded by shell. No one was killed.

I think that we will go into winter quarters soon, as the Yankees seem to be disgusted with their ill success of this winters campaign & they are said to be going back to the Potomac to go into winter quarters.

The Yankee scoundrels almost completely destroyed Fredericksburg. They vented their malice & spleen in the most wanton manner. Breaking up and destroying whatever they could not remove. Nothing was too pure or sacred for their unbridled lust. The very churches were pillaged of whatever value or ornament they contained. The retribution they received for their iniquitous proceedings was sudden and terrible. The town was literally choked with [their?] dead. There was 5.000 dead bodies of Yankee soldiers lying stiffening on that [?] field the day after the fight. And the fight had been general throughout the whole line. The Yankee army would have been nearly annihilated. As it was their army was completely demoralized and recrossed the river more like a [rabble went?] than the grandest army the world ever saw as the Yankees were so fond of terming it.

The weather for the last few days has been admirable and to day it is mild and beautiful as any Christmas I ever remember having seen in Texas.

Tell Ma not to be the least uneasy about my personal comfort. I have plenty of good clothes and blankets and have been in excellent health ever since the fall set in.

There aint much preparation for Christmas in camp. The boys are in excellent spirits however not much doing in the eggnog line but with butter, molasses, sugar, confederate [cake] and apples from the sutlers and peas [?] roast-beef and hot biscuit from our own [?] we managed to make out a pretty good dinner. I wish I could send some apples. Nice red rosy cheeked fellows to Nellie and Susie. Bless their little hearts.

I am going down to see Conway sometime during the C.X. who is camped about 8 miles below here near Port Royal. I got a letter from Aunt Ellen a few days ago. All were well. I send this letter by private conveyance and will send some papers with it.

Good bye my dear father. God bless and preserve you all from every danger. Give my best love to all, and to Charlie and Tom whenever you write.

Your affectionate boy

I Howard

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