Friday, January 18, 2013

"...we will chew up the Yankees..."

Sunday, January 18, 1862, Camp Gregg, Virginia

Another year is upon us and we are still in the field, defending our country. 1862 started rather badly for the Confederacy. Lincoln'a armies were massing against us in Virginia. The twin forts of Donelson and Henry fell in Tennessee, exposing a great area to depredations. Nashville and New Orleans fell early and later Memphis. Our gallant Albert Johnston was killed at Shiloh and his army whipped. My own town of Beaufort was still occupied by the enemy. We were vexed by several Yankee attacks with those infernal gunboats. We were able to repulse them but could not liberate any of the territory they occupied. That man Lee was sent from Richmond to command and he put us all to work with spades and axes like field hands. We were relieved when he was recalled to Richmond and Pemberton took over.

When McClellan threatened Richmond with his hordes, we rejoiced that we were being transferred to where the real war was. We eagerly yearned for some shooting instead of spading. In seven days, we sent McClellan back to his boats with tucked tail. Then came Second Manassas and we whipped another Yankee army.

I say we but if truth be told, it was one man, Robert E. Lee. When he replaced Joe Johnston as army commander, those of us who served under him in South Carolina expected little from him. We were quite unfair in our judgement of him. We followed him to Maryland where we bloodied Little Mac's nose at Sharpsburg. Lincoln them since relieved him from command in favor of Burnside. Burnside tried his had at Richmond and was slapped quite badly for his impudence.

Today, we rest in camp near the Rapphannock and await the passing of winter until the roads can support an advance by one army or the other. If we thrash them a few more times, perhaps they will see their efforts at subjigation are futile and they will leave us and our different way of life alone.

In the meantime, we rest,  play at cards and use up a great deal of firewood. Duncan and Castles were fair carpenters so we "elected" them honorary colonels and they built two cabins with proper roofs and fireplaces. Castles showed Holton and myself how to make a chimney from mud, sticks and old hardtack boxes. It caught fire but our next attempt still stands.

Duncan, Castles, Wilson Crenshaw and myself are in one cabin. The Bartons, Junior and Senior, Holton and Hancock share the other. Wilson has only recently come back to us from the hospital, having been wounded at Sharpsburg. Troy Crenshaw is still in the hospital, still recovering from his wounds sustained at Second Manassas. He is a shoemaker and we could use him now.

The rain has been against us. This is a wet winter and a cold one. There has been some snow but not a great deal of which I am thankful. I do miss my good blanket. As long as there is a tree left, we will be warm.

Our rations have been cut again, both meat and flour. When the spring finally gets here, we will be very hungry. We will go off in search of fresh victuals. If we do not find enough, we will chew up the Yankees and take theirs.

 We have a new corporal in the company, David Adams. He will get his own squad.

 Drums. Fall out. If the Yankees are coming, we may eat sooner than we expected.