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1862 September 6: “You can readily infer what the rebel plan of operations is to be in West Tenn.”

September 6, 2012

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.

Hunboldt [Tenn.], Sept. 6th/’62

Dear Parents;

                            Your letters come through preety [sic] quick, namely 4 days.  We have just received one from Phineas Flint mailed the 2nd inst.  I suppose you are now worrying yourselves about us as you have doubtless learned of the presence of Rebels about here.  That raid Homer of which Homer speaks occurred yesterday morning in which 1 of the Ill. boys was killed, shot through the right lung; 3 others were wounded.  They were on picket. Poor fellows, they were brought up here to the Hospital.  Not upon the gory battlefield where thousands meet in deadly conflict did they fall, but in the shady wood as their post, his their bravery never to become known to the world, perhaps, their  noble deeds never to appear on the page of  receive a record.  All that will be known of the picket that falls by the bullet, is luck an one fell & that is the last of him.  The rebels lost, in killed & wounded, 10.  Among the fallen their Liet [sic] Col. shot in the head.  Our mounted inffantry [sic] of detailed men from the Regt. under the command of Capt. Maxon [sic]1 went after them, but did not effect anything, merely capturing their Col. who says they have 10 Regts. at Brownsville.  Wonder if negroes won’t become more popular hereafter?  If they had let the negro come up here we could have got them in an hour & a half with reinforcements enough and killed or captured every one of them.

The dark cloud of War is coming over this part of Tennessee & fighting seems certain.  Price [Sterling Price] is said to be investing Bolivar [Tenn.] a fortified place.  Jackson [Tenn.] is fortified strongly.  Villipigue [sic],2 the advance of Price, stands the brushing.  There was a severe battle below the other day below Jackson.  The rebels were 6 thousand, all cavalry.  Our troops 2 Ill. Regts., 500 Cav. & 2 pieces of artillery whipped them completely.  The rebel loss was 175 killed & over 200 wounded & what seems almost incredulous, our loss was but 5 in killed & as few wounded.  The rebels surrounded them.  The 22nd  Ill. did not stir from their places, but loaded & fired in perfect coolness at the advancing rebels, who charged, both as Cav. & Intfanty [sic], upon them.  The Our [sic] Cav. dispersed them the rebels who having captured the cannon which they destroyed to prevent them from being of service to us.  You can readily infer what the rebel plan of operations is to be in West Tenn.  Fighting we expect.  We need 1500 good Cavalry.  We have been reinforced by 3 companies of the 54th Ill.  Companies A & B have got some new guns the Springfield rifled musket, a much nicer, lighter, & more effective gun.  The Tennessee boys have the guns we had, till they get the regulation arms for Cavalry.  [paragraph break added]

Nothing new to-day.  Affairs do not seem in a very good state at Washington.  President Lincoln [Abraham Lincoln] has got to come to his mil[?]3 — there is no alternative for him.  McClellan [George B. McClellan] must give an account of himself, or the President must.  The people are determined that the right shall prevail.  I must close.  One word more I have broken my pen & mu[s]t have another, according, I inclose [sic] a five dollar note.  I wish, if you can do so conveniently, get me a gold pen — a pen without a holder — worth .75 or $1.00 & send the balance in 1 dollar bills in Eastern money, which is current here.  Change is scarce here & 1 dollar bills are next best to change.  Write us soon.  We are both well.

Your affectionately — Edwin

1.  Orrin T. Maxson.
2.  This is might be John Bordenave Villepigue (1830-1862) a West Point graduate and career military officer. In the Civil War, he was initially commissioned as a captain of artillery but was quickly promoted to colonel of an infantry regiment. After defending Fort McRee in Pensacola harbor, he was promoted to chief of engineers and artillery on the staff of General Braxton Bragg. In early 1862 he was promoted again to brigadier general. General P.G.T. Beauregard put him in charge of Fort Pillow, Mississippi. In October 1862, he will command a brigade at the Second Battle of Corinth.
3.  No idea what this word is.  The first three letters are “mil,” and the fourth letter might be a “t,” but the last letter is just a squiggle!

Edwin Levings letter of September 6, 1862, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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