The Battle of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg & Chancellor...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Marye's Heights, Fredericksburg & Chancellorsville - The Confederate View: Letter by James F. Camoron, 11th Alabama Infantry. Amazing Gen. Stonewall content!
A 4 page letter written in ink on legal size stationery headed, "Camp Near Fredericksburg, Va. May 8th 1863". Writing his father and mother, he states "I am well numbered among the living". Reads in Part:
"This Battle lasted 7 days, fighting incessantly night and day almost, for I don't think there was an hour during the time that cannon was firing. This was what you might call a country fight, not a field fight for I think that all of one side of Virginia was fighting at once."
"The enemy first made demonstration at this place last Tuesday morning. A week ago we was aroused from sleep at 2 o'clock, and ordered to be ready to march at a minute's warning, but we lay in camp all day Tuesday. The enemy threw up some redoubts in front of our Batteries, opposite Bank's Ford. Wednesday there was heavy cannonading up the river near the new U. S. Ford. Our forces gave up this Ford and enemy came across. Thursday, May the 1st, the Battle became general.... Our Brigade was marched up the River in double quick time. I passed Uncle Edmond Clay's boys, but I only had time to speak to them. I have not see them since. I don't know whether they was hurt or not. We marched round all day Thursday & Friday & Saturday, marching day and night, first up the river, and then back to this place, and we never got in the fight until Sunday."
"The enemy attacked this place Sunday morning. The fight was still raging up the river, and we only had six thousand men at this place. The enemy attacked us with heavy forces and drove us from our fortification by flanking us on our Right. We retreated back to 3 miles and we formed at a brick church."
"The enemy came in 3 columns. We let them get in fifty yards of us, when WE GAVE THEM A VOLLEY AND CHARGED BAYONETS ."
"They about-faced at dusk. We let them have it in back, STREWING FIELD WITH THEIR DEAD AND WOUNDED ."
"Night was fast approaching, and we got orders to fall back to our position. By this time they had got their artillery in position and began to grape and shell us desperately. We then fell back to our position at the church. They never followed us."
"There was an old house in the field. A great many Yanks threw down their arms and surrendered and crowded behind this house for protection. But Col. Sanders told us to stick our Bayonets if they did not get from behind the house and get to the rear. They was crowding our men from behind the house that had taken that position to load."
"Sunday night we received reinforcements. We threw up breast Monday and by 2 o'clock we had pretty good breastworks. Our forces was to flank them on the right and left. Old General Ewell got in the rear of them."
"They soon found we were flanking them, and they fled for Bank's Ford and crossed over. Our men followed them up and taken some 2,000 prisoners without firing many guns. I think if we had received our reinforcement sooner, we could have captured their whole force. Our reinforcement never arrived soon enough."
"Two children of ours was killed dead on the field. Bob Lyon is mortally wounded, I think. Kelley is mortally wounded, is shot in the head. The doctors think he will die."
"I never was as near to death in life. I never saw like of destructions of property in life. Those was the richest Yankees I have ever seen yet. When we retreated from our rifle pits, we lost all our blankets and clothes. We had pulled them off to go in the fight, and when we fell back, the Yankees burnt them. But in the place of my old rug, I got 2 splendid Yankee blankets, a fine knapsack in place of my wallet, the one you sent, my clothes last winter. I also got a Yankee canteen & haversack, 2 shirts and a pair of drawers, but unfortunately they flannel."
"After the Battle at this place, we were ordered to a place called Chancellorsville to drive the Yankees from their position, 11 miles from this place. Near this place is where the most of the hard fighting was done, but before our Brigade arrived at Chancellorsville, the enemy retreated across the river. Along the road to Chancellorsville presented the most honorable scene I ever witnessed. All the dead men had been buried. Only now and then you would see a dead Yankee lying on the road side, but you never seen the like of dead horses, mules, blown up caissons, shattered cannons, muskets, knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, blankets, everything in plunder line you could think of, covered country in every direction."
"It was teaming down rain all day yesterday. We are now at our positions we was at before battle, and the Yankees are at their on the other side of the river. Old Hooker is worse whipped than Burnsides was."
"General Stonewall Jackson lost one of his arms. It said one of his men did it. He rode outside of picket line and when was crossing back, our pickets fired on him. But it is to be hoped that he survives the loss of his arm. He acted a noble part in this fight. I doubt any battle will equal this."
"When we had to retreat from our rifle pits at this place, I thought every was lost, but old Billy Fixens Wilcox told us to not to mind the loss of our knapsacks, to let them come on, and we would soon get some of theirs in place of them. The reason we had to give up our fortification was that we did not have men enough to fill up rifle pits."
"Our Regiment lost 736 killed and wounded. I shot 20 times Sunday evening. The Color Bearer of our Regiment was killed dead on the field. I got overheated Sunday. I came near fainting once for lack of water. I have not got over it yet. So you must excuse this badly composed and written letter."
"Norwood was struck with a piece of a shell on the shoulder, but it never broke the skin. This I think is the tightest fighting we have ever had yet. I think this is enough. I think to convince the Yankees that we cannot be whipped easy. They was determined to whip us this time. For fortified as they came, marching all day and fortifying at night. I seen where our men charged them out of 3 lines of Breastworks 4 miles long, some 10 miles long. This breastworks was from 2 to 3 miles apart. The strongest looking fortification I have ever seen."
"They smite us Johnny Rebs, as the Yankees call us in such breastworks, and the world could not whip us out there. George Williams was badly wounded in the hand. I reckon old Aunt Sally's children will take Tom's death hard, but tell her he died bravely at his post. So no more at this time. I remain your affectionate, Son Jas. F. Cameron"
Staining, but nice dark ink. A rare content Confederate letter. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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