Monday, June 9, 2008

Bates Letters - November 5, 1863

Brownsville, Ala Nov 5th

Dear Parents

It is so long since I have written to you that I suppose you have long since thought me in the Richmond Prisons, or perhaps in the grave, but thank God I am still in “the land of the free,” and in as good health as any mortal is privileged to enjoy. Since writing to you last (at Salem, Tenn.) my adventures have been rather of the fatiguing order, and nothing marvelous has fallen to my own particular lot, if I except my capture by the “rebs” and escape from bondage, all of which hapned (sic) since last Sunday.

I was with the advance of Gen. Stanleys Cavalry last July on its advance into Alabama, and have been with the regiment ever since. At the beginning of the famous Chickamauga battle my brigade, commanded by Colonel Mintty was the first in action, loosing 198 men the first day skirmishing. And my Regiment was the last to enter Chattanooga, being on the rear guard.

When Wheeler crossed the river at Washington to make his “raid” around our army my regiment was the first to encounter his force, (and the first to run away) and we perserveringly followed him until he recrossed the river at Rogersville. I charged on two “rebs” singlehanded and captured both, horses, revolvers and one rifle being the “spoils of war” accrueing to Government from my exploit.

My old War-horse, Jayhawker, got shot in the foreleg and disabled at McMinnville, and I have since been riding “common stock.” I got a very good horse from one of my captive rebs, but lost him last since by getting myself taken prisoner. I heard $800.00 offred for him (in secesh money) and refused the same day. I am now without a horse, and no prospect of getting another speedily.

The Secesh got possession of all my clothing at McMinnville, and I was left without a change of shirt but hope to make them pay for it some time. We are living on the country most of the time, having only been --- issued with eighteen days rations in two months, but we manage to exist even without “hard-tack.” I am so far from any news dept that newspapers are fifteen days old before they get here and news is out of the question here. It may be news to you to learn that 33,000 men from the Army of the Mississippi under command of General Sherman are within one days march of here at present, and coming up to join the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga. They are in fine condition as I hear from some of our men who were with them yesterday, and I expect that Something is going to be done soon.

It is so long since I have written any that my fingers get cramped up so I shall say good bye for the present. Give my love to all and write to me at earliest opportunity.

I am affectionately

Charles E. Bates
Co E 4th U.S. Cavalry
Maysville, Ala.

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