1863-09-13Camp by the Wayside, Ky
Camp by the Wayside, Ky

Sept 13th 1863

Dear Parents

We are lying by today so I thought it a good time to chat awhile with you. We left our Camp at Crab Orchard on the 10th and have marched over the roughest part of the country you ever thought of. I hardly think unless you have crossed the Alps that you ever saw as bad looking country as the section of country we have passed in the last 3 days and I suppose we have worse hills to climb than we have crossed. There are two mountains ahead that are five miles over either of them. We are now waiting for the train to come up and they will hardly be up before night if they get up then. We marched l0 miles yesterday and stopped before nine o'clock a.m. so you may know a little what kind of marching we do. We started just at daylight and had a mountain full 2 miles to climb. We started from Crab Orchard with 8 days rations in our knapsacks and haversacks and all our clothing, blankets and all. We had just drawn clothing and our loads were none of the lightest without 8 days rations. We have over 50 miles yet through this mountain region before we reach Cumberland Gap and about 50 or 60 miles from there to Knoxville. Our road leads directly over the range of mountains. Some call it the Wild Cat Range. It is a branch of the Cumberland Range and it is one of the roughest districts in this part of Kentucky.

Evening and I am trying to finish this letter. I have no news of importance. I suppose we are to move on in the morning at an early hour. I presume you have heard of the capture Burnside made here at the Gap. He took 5000 prisoners and guns of large size and 6000 pounds of bacon and 5000 bushels of wheat. He took Knoxville and the Gap without firing a gun, Genl Rosecrans took Chattanooga without firing a gun. The Rebels evacuated without a fight. There are only a few Rebels left in Tennessee. They are at Kingston and I do not think there will be any fighting for us to do in this section of Rebeldom but supper is ready and I must stop.

Thursday 17th

Dear Parents

l was too late for the mail on Sunday so I thought I would wait till we finished our march to the Cumberland Gap or stopped for a rest. We came into camp here yesterday and are lying over for the train to come up and the teams to rest up. I have no news to communicate at present. There are no Rebels left in Tennessee of any account. I have no idea that we shall see any fighting very soon. I am of the opinion that the hard fighting is about over, for the Rebels are about to give up in this section of the country. The people are of the opinion that the war will end and peace be declared by the first of January, but I think we shall remain in service until our three years are out, but I have written enough on war. Mother, I presume you know more about how affairs are getting along at the seat of government. We get now papers now at all and hear nothing of what is going on out in the world. We are among the mountains so far that nothing has the appearance of civilization hardly. I shall be glad when we can get home again to enjoy the society of enlightened people. You spoke of the draft taking away many of the men. I for my part am glad to see them come as pay their $300.00 but I had much rather see them take the musket and follow up the traitors and give them what they deserve, death at the hands of the Northern people. Several of our Officers and 6 noncommissioned Officers have gone after Conscripts to fill up our Regt. I do not know how they will get along. I presume they will not like the service at first but if they are good pluck they can stand it as well as we did at first. I have nothing new to write at present. Please give my respects to all enquiring friends. We drew our pay last night. When I hear of the $15.00 I sent from Crab Orchard I will send $10.00 more and if that gets through safe I will send more if I can spare it. Write soon as convenient to your ever Affectionate Son

J.D. Strait

Direct as usual