1863 November 11: “The [Negros] are feeling firstrate because they have had a chance at the Rebs”
The original letter is in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Be forewarned that Homer uses several offensive terms for the African-American troops.
Natchez, Miss Nov 11th 1863.
We rec’d. your letter of the 28th ult. yesterday while we were on picket. The box of boots came day before yesterday. The boys are all pretty well suited, mine are the best fitting boots I have ever had. I am affraid [sic] though if they should shrink, that they would be to [sic] small for me, but if they do I can sell them for more than what they cost. Those shirts and socks & mittens will be just the thing for us this winter, for we feel the cold more here than ever up north, for it is warm enough here one day to roast a man and the next day it is cold enough to freeze a man. [paragraph break added]
There is some talk of our leaving Natchez, two briggades [sic] of the 4th div. have been ordered up the river. The 2nd briggade [sic] started day before yesterday. I do not know whether the 1st briggade [sic] will go or the 3rd. We have some hopes of staying there on account of our regt. not having tents. [paragraph break added]
There were 4 darkies sent out today from the 6th Miss. collored [sic] regt, with a forage train, they were attacked by 35 rebel cavalry, the rebs charged on them three or four times riding there [sic] horses right on to their bayonets, but they could not scare the darkies so they had to leave the field. The rebs lost two men killed and one prisoner, the darkies’ loss was three killed, two wounded and one prisoner, the rebs took the nigger that they took prisoner, and murdered him. The darkies are feeling firstrate because they have had a chance at the rebs.
Nov. 12th We got twenty six dollars the 9th this month. We have not sent any of it home yet. I do not whether we shall send any of it before next pay day or not. We had to get up this morning at four o’clock & stack our guns, to prevent being surprised if we should be attacked. Col. Bryant [George E. Bryant], Capt Maxson [Orrin T. Maxson] are going to Wisconsin to recruit to-morrow for the regt., if we get our company filled up I supose [sic] Kelsey¹ will be our 2nd Lieut. Two [of] our boys started home on furlough yesterday morning. Holman,² from Prescott, and Van Warner³ promised to call and see you. Ed wants to write so I will stop.4 I would like to have you send four boxes Janes pills because we cannot get any here that are good for anything. No more this time.
Yours Truely, Homer W Levings.
1. Wallace Kelsey is listed in the official roster as being from Owatonna, Minnesota. He is currently a 1st sergeant and won’t become the 2nd lieutenant until January 21, 1864.
2. There were two Holmans in Company A, both from Prescott—Hollis N. and James H.
3. Francis Van Warner was from New Centerville, Wisconsin.
4. Ed’s letter follows tomorrow, on the 12th.