Transcript of a Confederate Soldier's Letter
Dear Brother Charlie:-
As an opportunity presents itself, I take pleasure in writing you a few lines. I am glad to inform you that I am well - my health continues better than I expected it would. I have had only one little chill since I came to camp. I hope you reached home safely and are now well. I was uneasy about you after you left me at Wytheville for the weather kept so cold and disagreeable, and I feared you would suffer with cold on your way back through those bleak and dreary mountains. I would be very glad to hear from you now - to know the adventures, and ups and downs of your trip back home. I had no trouble in getting my travelling papers at Wytheville and made the journey down to Richmond very easily and successfully. I got my baggage hauled part of the way from Richmond to the camp. I found the Regt. About 6 miles below the city in a very disagreeable, muddy and inconvenient situation. Though they had very good little houses to camp in yet they were necessarily compelled to keep small fires, which was altogether contrary to the habits and feeling of our mess who were always accustomed to huge wood-piles close to their doors. The men suffered a great deal over there, I reached the Regt. On the 20th. After I got to the Command we remained four days on the north side - near Fort Gilmer. On the 24th we got marching orders. That night about 10 o'clock another Brigade came and took our place, and we moved away. Here on these lines we have to move in the night to prevent the Yankees from seeing us. The night was dark, and the roads wretched muddy. Some of the men fell in ditches and mud-holes, and some fell in the creek we had to cross on a log. We marched all night - arrived here about sunrise. The distance we came was about ten or twelve miles. Crossed Gaines River on a bridge a little above Drewery's Bluff. I stood the march very well. I hired a man to carry part of my baggage. We now occupy the same place here near the Howlett House, that we did all the fall. We are all very glad to get back here. But we do not know how long we will be permitted to remain here. New movements are looked for.
A hard fight is expected on the lines 6 or 8 miles south west of Petersburg. Grant is said to be gathering troops in that vicinity. There is a good deal of talk about our troops evacuating Petersburg and forming a new line on the North side of the Appomattox River. Sherman is in South Carolina with Beauregard fronting him. It is thought that since Charleston and Wilmington have been evacuated by our forces that Beauregard has concentrated a sufficient force to check Sherman's advance. It is a decided fact that if Sherman is allowed to come on to Va. Richmond will have to be given up - if he can be driven back Va. can be held. I sometimes fear there is going to be a bloody time as soon as the weather and roads get good. This Army as well as all of our Armies are considerably discouraged, and low-spirited, and it is a doubtful case whether they will fight very much more or not, unless a better and a brighter prospect speedily looms up before the eyes of Confederate Soldiers. A great many are so disheartened and discontented that they are leaving either to the Yankees of to the mountains at home. More or less of our Division go to the Yankees every night and I learn that it is the same all along Lee's lines. The times are gloomy here, it is a dark hour for the Confederacy, I do hope that better times and more prosperous and encouraging circumstances will soon attend this unhappy and troubles people.
It seems that our authorities are firmly fixed in the determination to struggle on for independence tho' if our army leaves the field their efforts will be fruitless. But I do not think our army will give it up yet. Lee is now trying to enforce a Strict Discipline in this Army. He is now Commander-in-Chief of all the Southern Armies. Furloughing is stopped with the exception of one man out of a hundred. Beverly does not know whether he will get home or not. Ira and Beverly are well. I do not think Ira has any hope of getting a furlough. We got tolerable good rations, tho' a great many of the men complain of not getting enough. They have been giving us some beef and mutton that came from London. It is cooked and put up in air-tight tin cans without salting - it is very good. The Co. is generally well two or three of the boys have the chills. I wrote to Mother while I was on the North Side of the River. I must desist. My love to all at home, I hope none of you will be uneasy about me. If it be my portion here to fall by sickness or in the fight, I humbly trust that your loss will be my infinite gain. My love to Eliza and all the kith & kin.
Accept the sincerest affection of your Bro Sam P Fuller.
According to available documents, Sam enlisted in Co. G of the 29th Virginian Infantry on March 27th 1862 at Lebanon Va. He enlisted for three years, and was a 2nd Sergeant by June of that year. It is frustrating not to know what became of him, since his letter was written so close to the end of the war.
Supplied by, Joan Foxon, Washington Artillery
The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, August 1998