1863-10-19Camp near Knoxville, Tenn.
Camp near Knoxville, Tenn.

Oct. 19th 1863

Dear Parents

This Monday afternoon finds me trying to write a few lines to you. When I wrote last I had but little time to spare before our mail left Camp but I have the afternoon before me. We were to have drill this afternoon but marching orders came so we have time to prepare for our journey on the morrow and the most of my time will be spent to chat with you though I do not know that l shall be able to make my letter very interesting. I promised to tell you something more about the Battle of Blue Springs. I hardly know where I left off my narrative so I will begin anew. After the first line of battle was formed up and we found the enemy had fallen back to a stronger position, we moved up and our Regt were deployed as skirmishers. We accordingly moved upon the enemy in such a manner that the Cavalry who had been playing with them were surprised to see Johnny Reb flying at the top of his speed for safety. Under cover of his cannon the enemy opened a galling fire upon our right but the first volley was all that did much damage. Our Co. being on the left of center we sustained no damage from their shot. We drove the Rebels through a piece of woods and across an open plain. When our right reached the top of a rise of ground in the field the enemies batteries made havoc. Our boys had to fall back under cover of the hill, where they held their position, the left Co's H,l,J,E were in woods so we were not engaged in the ranking fire of the enemey's batteries and their infantry did but little damage. We held our position till dark when we moved by the right flank out into the open field where the hottest fire had been and formed our lines on the crest of the hill and there remained during the night without any fires. You may be sure it was anything but pleasant after skimtishing for 3 or 4 hours and then lying upon the cold ground without any extra clothing. After our cooks brought our coffee we made ourselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances for the night. Three others and myself were sent out about 20 paces in front as videts and were to stay by all night but we arranged things as comfortable as possible but the best we could do our cartridges would keep time to Yankee Doodle.

The next morning we expected to see the enemy in full force in our front but when our skirmishers were sent to the front the supposed enemy were many miles on their way toward Richmond, Va. They had taken advantage of the darkness and moved all their baggage and stores. We heard a rattling of wagons and heard the battery when that was moved but supposed they were putting it into position but they had fled. A Reg't of Cavalry were immediately sent in pursuit and as soon as it was ascertained that there were none to be found in the vicinity we were on the trail. We found numerous evidences of their haste in leaving by the implements that were left behind. We followed them 22 miles that day and encamped for the night and the nearest ones we could hear of were within 10 miles. We had fairly routed them and Genl. Burnside thought the mounted troops might pursue them and we were ordered to return to our quarters at Knoxville where we now are but are to move at an early hour in the morning. The loss of our Reg't in all is 1 killed and 19 wounded, 3 of the wounded were mortal and since died. One was buried today. The enemy's loss that we know of were 90 killed and the same number of prisoners and I have heard since that our forces in pursuit have taken 300 prisoners together with the Genl. Commanding. The entire loss on our side I do not know. There were but few killed but a good many wounded, some of them very bad. Our Co. were very fortunate, not one of us hurt but it may be our turn next time though I hope we shall not be called upon very soon to go into another battle but we know not what the morrow may bring forth. I do not know what direction we shall take but it has been the supposition heretofore that this Corps would guard the RR from this place to Chattanooga but tonight I hear that we are to move toward Virginia. I hope not to the Army of the Potomac. I have heard it rumored that Genl. Meade was now whipped near Culpepper. I hope it is false for I don't want to hear of a single defeat of our armies. We get no news from Rosecrans direct but reports say he has given the Rebels another dressing and driven them all to Atlanta, Georgia. If that be the case and he follows up the advantage, we will soon have what Rebels there left in this part routed so that they will have no place to lay their heads. I do not know that I have anything more to write at present. I sent you $5.00 in my last letter.

I would have sent $10.00 but I did not know as it would go through and thought $5.00 would be enough to lose. When I hear from that I will send more if I have any. We shall soon have another $26.00 due us. When we get that I can send more if we are where I am able. I suppose if I had been saving like some others that I know of I might have sent considerable more home but I don't like to live on Government rations altogether. I don't know but one is just as well off in the end and better for he has more money but I don't want money in my pocket and go hungry for a few dainties now and then. I think if I ever get home I will never complain of hard fare when I have plenty of bread and butter and good potatoes. We have not drawn rations since day before yesterday except a little beef, no bread of any kind. I happened to have a good supply of hard bread on hand that I had saved by buying biscuit and light bread when out on the march but we have orders for 10 days rations so I think we will get something to eat soon.

Well my sheet is full, all but this blank space and l could chat for an hour yet. How I wish I could have the pleasure of sitting down to the table and eating an old fashioned supper. I think it would relish about as well now as ever but if I have my health another year I shall be free from this war. I often look forward to the pleasant times I will have with old friends unless they all turn copperheads and look upon me as only a returned Soldier and think me little above the brutes for having served three years in the cause of our country. I learn that our Patriotic friend J.L. Phoenix has got a subscription to pay his three hundred dollars so that he could stay at home and vote for the traitor Woodward. I hope you did not pay him a dime. If you did I think you must have been blind which I think is not the case. If Woodward is elected, and if our Reg't could only be in Harrisburg he would never take the Gubernatorial Chair but supper is ready. Perhaps you would like to know what I have for supper. Well, we have fresh beef and hard tack that is old. Well Supper, if such it could be called, is over l am going to tell you what I think of such men as Phoenix. I think just this much of him. If I should see him standing beside a Rebel in uniform and knowing that he voted for Woodward I would spare the Rebel and shoot him and that is just my opinion of all such Northern traitors. I deem that they are worse than the man who takes up arms against the government. I must bid you good night again. My respects to all enquiring friends but my best and most sincere regards to yourselves. This from your ever Affectionate but unworthy Son

J .D. Strait

Direct as usual