20 February 1863: “Possibly we may go to the railroad and ride to the seat of war – probably our legs will furnish transportation, as has been the case ever since we landed in this state.”

Item description: Letter, 20 February 1863, from Ruffin Thomson, 18th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, to his “Pa” (William H. Thomson).

More about Ruffin Thomson:
Ruffin Thomson was the oldest child and only son of William H. Thomson and Hannah Lavinia Thomson. He studied at the University of Mississippi and the University of North Carolina, leaving school in 1861 to enter the Confederate Army, serving as a private until February 1864, when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Confederate Marine Corps. After the Civil War, he studied medicine in New Orleans and began a practice in Hinds County. In 1873, he married Fanny Potter. In 1888, he went to Fort Simcoe, Washington Territory, as clerk to the Yakima Indian Agency, hoping to recover his failing health, but instead died soon after his arrival.

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From Folder 6 of the Ruffin Thomson Papers #3315, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Fredericksburg, Va.,
Feb’y 20th, 1863

Dear Pa,

Fearful lest I may be so occupied by the hurry of coming events I will write you a short letter this morning to give you some of our probable movements.

This morning there seems not a shadow of a doubt but that our brigade will move, and that too within a very few days. We do not know, of course, to what point we are going, but the general supposition is that we are off for Charleston. I would not be surprised if our neighbors across the river were not making for the same part of the country. All of our corps (Longstreet’s) are gone except our division (McLaw’s). We did hope that it would be necessary to leave at least our brigade here, as we were on picket. But it seems (per Madam Rumor) that Jackson and his army are to be left on the Rappahannock, and we as usual, go in search of a fight. Lee can’t spare Barksdale’s brigade when there is a fight brewing. We have sent back to the railroad our heaviest articles, cooking utensils, etc. We will follow very soon, and a most disagreeable time we will have of it. Possibly we may go to the railroad and ride to the seat of war – probably our legs will furnish transportation, as has been the case ever since we landed in this state. I look for my box in this evening, and Wesley’s trunk. We sent Perry Harter’s boy to Richmond after them. If he gets in safe I will add a P.S.

The campaign has opened early in the season this year, but I cannot think it will continue as long as its predecessor. But there are hardships enough in store for us yet. A march to Richmond will be worse than the tram from Yorktown to the Chickahominy. However, my health is fine and I guess I shall stand it as well as any of them. I never have broken down on a march yet – have always been among the few who reach camp with the regiment. My weight yesterday without my coat or extra clothing, was 142. This is heavier than I have ever been before. I think by the middle of March I would have weighed 150.

We have heard that the Yankee boats have succeeded in passing through the cut opposite Vicksburg. If this be a permanent advantage it will work a change in our defensive policy. I hope there will be no necessity for another fight in Mississippi – I think we can settle the matter by ourselves. A great defeat at Charleston and Savannah will bring us a great way nearer to a glorious peace.

I will save enough of this page to write about the box, should Perry get it through. Elbridge is busy baking rice puddings and sweet cakes.

My most affectionate love to ma and Ellen, and accept your share.

Your son,

Ruffin Thomson.

P.S. Perry got pack before dinner today. He brought the box, but the trunk could not be found. It is a great loss to most of us who were interested. I will miss my shoes more than any other article – of other things I have sufficiency. I will get a par of English army shoes before the march. We feasted on sausage, butter and molasses. Many thanks for the box – all came safely. I looked in vain for the bottle of wine.

Wesley is destitute of clothes, now that his trunk is gone.

Wesley is out on duty- will be in tomorrow morning. You may be certain that we’ll enjoy everything to the fullest extent.

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