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1863 August 17: Edwin Levings Describes Natchez, Mississippi

August 17, 2013

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.

Natchez Miss.  Aug. 17th 1863.

Dear Parents,

                        You perceive it is from Natchez that I write you this time, and I will say,—amid circumstances that are very agreeable,—that you, Father, will understand, if you have ever been here.  The Brigade left Vicksburg Saturday evening (the 15th) and arrived here after a 12 hours ride.  We were on the Steamer Rocket, and as we neared the shore, or levee, beneath the burning sun, the clear, cold spring water gushing out of the bank was a glad sight to the 12th Regiment.  Draughts deep and long were taken with no little gratitude, while refreshments were on hand in abundance.  Then came the tedious work of unloading the boat which occupied as many as could work, with advantage some 3 or 4 hours.  Afterward we toiled up the long hill to the city and marched through as beautiful & delightful streets as one could well imagine, to our present camp ground, 1½ miles from the river and in the outskirts of the city.  The streets are narrow, but graced with brick sidewalks, luxurient [sic] shade trees, beautiful shrubbery & fine buildings.  There is every thing here as at Memphis,—vegetables, fruit, &c brought in daily to the market & sold at reasonable prices.  Melons, apples, peaches, yuinces [sic: quinces], tomatoes, butter, sweet potatoes, onions, chickens, have all been in camp this morning.  There have never been a lot of troops here of either army, and we shall be healthy, if anywhere.  It seems a paradise to us, but so would any Northern city or village that had any attractions more than the sickly, contemtible [sic], desolated hote of Vicksburg.  I can lie in the shade & read & take comfort which I could not do there; I can go to church again, which I most assuredly shall do the first and every opportunity; I can ramble around on the hills without dodging rebel bullets; I can have a nice time generally, and if I don’t improve the time of our stay here, then I mistake.

Well, we have waited patiently for several days in anticipation of a letter from you, but in vain.  I expect some of our mail, or mail for us, was lost on the Steamer Ruth that was burned near Cairo a short time since.  We are both in fine health.  Have you seen the Capt, yet or Miles Hawley yet?  How many cows do you have.—How much hay.—How does that horse come on—What are you doing?  Let all us know all, & Mother & Grandmother, take time to write too.  I presume we shall stay here some time perhaps, till Fall.  The 29th Wis., 13th A[rmy] Corps, left here yesterday for some point a few miles this side of New Orleans.  There is one favorable indication for the health of the men that I must notice.  At sick call this morning the doctors turned away more than half the applicants for medicine, giving them a lecture on Hygiene — telling them what to eat & take care of themselves,—that is was [sic] of no use to give medicine to men who would eat every thing & not control their appetites & that they should not have the medicine.  But I must close.  So good day.

Yours affectionately,

E. D. Levings
Co A. 12th W. V.
3rd B. 4 Div.
17th A Corps
via Cairo

1.  The captain was Orrin T. Maxson; Miles L. Hawley, from River Falls, was another soldier in Company A of the 12th Wisconsin.  They may have been home on a furlough, perhaps recruiting.

Edwin Levings letter of August 17, 1863, from the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO) in the University Archives & Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Edwin Levings letter of August 17, 1863, 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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