28 December 1862: “It is said that on Friday last eleven men were shot in and around this place for desertion.”

Item description: Letter, 28 December 1862, from Thomas W. Patton, lieutenant in Company C of the 60th Regiment North Carolina Troops, to his aunt, Charlotte Kerr, Asheville, N.C.


Item citation: From the James W. Patton Papers #1739Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Murfeesboro, Tenn
Dec 28 62

Dear Aunt C.

Your answer to my last letter only reached me yesterday and as it was written better than usual – am glad to say I was able to decipher most of it. Brother B’s exploit was certainly a glorious achievement and I hope the subscription it produced the desired effect. This a day of great excitement here. We have been hearing heavy cannonading in the direction of Nasheville for the two past days and it was reported that our forces were gradually falling back before a large force of Yanks until this morning when the rascals were reporting to be within eight miles of town and all of the forces in and around here were ordered to the front and have formed a line of battle. It is said extending fifteen miles across the country about three miles below here, so it is reasonable to suppose that “something is up.” The “Bloody 60th” was marched off tho its position early this morning and much to my chagrin, but I suppose to your joy. I, as quartermaster, was ordered to stay in charge of the camps, which is decidedly dull work, so please to hurry Gus up.

Christmas went off much better than I had expected. Sam had nothing better to do than be sick, and so I had a fair prospect of having to cook my own Christmas dinner, but just after Breakfast Col Richmond rode over with an invitation from Genl Polk that I should take dinner with him which I was very gladly accepted and had a fine time of it. Gen Polk is a very polite old gentleman but not as much like a Bishop. He did not say grace before dinner.

It is said that on Friday last eleven men were shot in and around this place for desertion. I do not know how true that is but I know there was one executed from our Regt. The poor fellows name was Littrell. He deserted while our Regiment was stationed at Greenville and was arrested & brought back here about a month ago by Tom Stevens, and in company with two others (one of them Spain) was tried by court-martial and all three sentenced to suffer death. The other two were pardoned by Genl Bragg and he was shot in the presence of all the troops in his brigade. It was an awful sight, but I am convinced it was necessary for the good of the service and will put a stop to our men running away. I send you a slip token from Columbia paper which contained some very interesting news to me, in that there had been a fight at Murfeesboro [sic]. I think they treated us very badly to have so great a battle so near us and we not allowed to know anything about it.

Our Brigade has been torn to pieces and changed altogether. It is composed of the 50th NC Reg, 32 Ala, 4th Fla, and the 20th Tenn and we are put under command of Brig Genl Preston of Louisville Ky. I do not like the change much as I preferred Col Walker. Our division is annexed to Hardee’s corps. I would much rather have remained under Genl Polk. Do not get scared about the impending battle for I believe it will all blow over yet.

My boots reached me in safety, and I was most happy to get them and also the papers by Col Richmond. Love to all, write soon to

Your affc Nephew


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