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1863 October 14: The 12th Wisconsin Settles in for Winter in Dixie

October 14, 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. Oct 14th, 1863.

My Dear Parents,

                                     Yours of the 21st ult. [September] came to hand on the 7th; and we were glad to hear from you again, and from the boys at Potsdam.  We are still in Natchez.  Gen. Gresham [Walter Q. Gresham] commands the post.  Ransom’s brigade [Thomas E. G. Ransom] have gone up to Vicksburg, which leaves here the 4th Division only.  This removal brings us on duty more—as often as ever other day,— and our picket lines are very long, making us considerable travel.

This morning is cold enough, and one can hardly dispel the thought that we are to have a cold winter, with its freezing weather and big snowstorms so naturally we associate a little cold in Dixie with the keen, piercing atmosphere of our Northern winters.  But if the cold excites any uneasiness in your minds about our comfort, it will suffer some abatement, when I tell you the roses are now blooming and that many other kinds of flowers are beginning to appear; that people have just made their gardens; that the 1st next May we shall have new Irish potatoes.

Garden sauce grows throughout the winter without check or injury from the cold; so say the people.  It is just such weather as we Northerners like.  Speaking of gardens leads me to say there are many fine ones in Natchez; but these secesh grandies, or many of them, have concluded not to make any gardens this year & have turned off their gardeners, fearing the soldiers would steal all they raised.  Thus does a guilty conscience trouble them.  I head a poor Irish Union man say he  should make a garden, and a larger & better one then he ever had made.  Bully for him.  Innocence need not fear disturbance by Union soldiers.

I have just been darning a sock, Mother!  We have some of that yarn you put up left yet.  Anything that comes from home is much prized by soldiers.  That butter!  O that is excellent, —all the boys want some of Mother’s butter.  Homer says fill his boot legs with butter, Mother. There he is, out there scuffling & tumbling about; healthy & tough as a knot; with an appetite that does justice to Uncle Sam’s rations, but especially, to Mother’s butter.

We were very glad to get those papers— send us some more.  The Div. has just been inspected by the Inspector Gen. of the 17th Army Corps, Lieut. Col. Wm E. Strong, formerly our old Major.  He is & has been, since last fall, on McPherson’s staff [James B. McPherson], and is the most complete officer I ever saw.  The Inspector Gen. of this Department says that there is no Div. in this Department in as good condition as ours, being the cleanest and healthiest.

I hope Hattie will go & live with you; but, with Mother, I think she would be less likely to become homesick to come next spring than this fall.  We had just written when your last letter came.

 We have news by paper that Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans] is all right now; but he lost, according to rebel reports, about 35,000 men.  The citizens have news by the “grapevine telegraph” that Bragg [Braxton Bragg] had made another attack on the entrenchments of Rosecrans & was driven back with tremendous loss in killed, wounded & prisoners.  The rebels say Mobile is stronger than Vicksburg. I don’t doubt it.  France thinks if the U.S. puts down the rebellion it will be too large, too preponderating, the political power will not be sufficiently distributed among the nations, & they will be in danger. The political equilibrium would be destroyed, consequentially— her present hostility, to us.  But I must cut this short.

Write often & soon, Yours &c., E. D. Levings

Edwin Levings letter of October 14, 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 October 14, 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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