26 July 1863: “…if it had not been for the warning of the slave he know doubt would have been captured perhaps murdered.”

Item identification: Diary entry by Levi Fritz, dated 26 July 1863.  Fritz discusses troop movements around Warrenton, Virginia, and recounts the story of a Union soldier being warned by a slave about an imminent ambush.

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Item citation: From folder 1 of the the Levi J. Fritz Diary and Letters (#05442-z), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Sunday July 26th

Left White Plains early this morning marched toward Thoroughfare Gap but instead of passing through we filed right and made towards Warrenton arrived at New Baltimore an insignificant place of a dozen houses here, we came upon the Warrenton pike, which town we reached at noon. This was presumed to be the end of our days journey, but we were only allowed an hour to cook coffee and eat dinner when we started out toward Warrenton Junction. The weather was oppressivel warm, and cases of coup de soliel were numerous, about a dozen men died and at one point the roadside was full of exhausted men, at 5 o clock we halted for the night about 2 miles from the Junction, having marched 13 miles.  We are constantly surrounded by guerillas, and they no doubt pick up a great many of our stragglers. Yesterday one of the boys had gone to a house some distance off the line of march to purchase things.  The lady of the house treated him very kindly, and if said if he would just wait a little while she could let him have as much butter and milk and bread as he wanted, but he must wait a while.  By and bye he noticed an old slave, beckon to him at the corner of the house, on gone up to him, he whispered “get out of this massa quick, quick.” Taking the hint he left, just as he was leaving he notice a lady from the back porch beconing towards a wood near the house.  In the woods was no doubt guerillas and if it had not been for the warning of the slave he know doubt would have been captured perhaps murdered.

During the day when Maj. Buel was coming along the rear of the corps he was fired upon supposing it to be the work of guerilas he took 13 of his Provost guard he gallop back, since he has not been heard from and is supposed to be captured.

More about this item: Levi J. Fritz served in the 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, and wrote the regiment’s song, “My 53rd.”

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