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I greet you from the "sacred Soil of Old Virginia", desecrated by our hallowed feet these two months. We are here-some eighteen thousand of us-camped down among the mountains, awaiting a battle, "tomorrow" the enemy will be down upon us, or we shall be certainly led against them. In truth, we know but little of our own plans, or those of the rebels. Of one thing be assured, we are ready for a fight at any time and have no fears of a defeat. Our experience on the way here was varied. Through Indiana and Ohio we were received with one continual ovation. Multitudes came out to see us as we passed and greeted us with long continuous cheers, and waving handkerchiefs and banners. We crossed the river at Parkersburg, an old town of about a thousand inhabitants, situated at the mouth of the Little Kanauha. The citizens were generally very quiet, some cheered us, others looked sullen and dejected.
On the opposite side of the river stood a beautiful cottage, half hidden among evergreens and other foliage. As we marched past, two beautiful young ladies stepped out from the cozy retreat, bearing a bright flag, and none other than the glorious stars and stripes. This was the last time we were thus cheered. The holiday was over, the campaign had commenced. We were ordered to go forward with our guns ready for action. The railroad train bore us rapidly from Parkersburg to Clarksburg, through a route diversified with hills, valleys, mountains, gorges, and not entirely free from the suspicions of lurking enemies. A three days march brought us thence to Buchhannon, where we remained until the 11 of July, when we were ordered to make a forward march to Rich Mountain. We camped within three miles of the scene of action and in hearing of the concluding volleys of musketry and heavier artillery. Wearied with our hard work, we lay down upon the earth to rest, but the night seemed an age. A cold pattering rain kept us awake. In the morning while we stood shivering around the fires, vainly attempting to dry our clothes, we were ordered to form and prepare for an attack on the remaining rebels.
The discomfort and disquiet of the preceding night were forgotten in the prospect of a fight, but we were disappointed. The "sesesh"* were missing. They had gone over the mountains and we were ordered to follow. We persued them to Beverly, and the next day to the hilly country beyond, as far as Huttonville. Our cavalry meanwhile captured a wagon loaded with camp equipage, etc. We secured as a trophy, a secession flag which was found hidden in a store. Our regiment was then stationed some eight miles farther up Izgart's river, where were built fortifications extending across the valley, thus cutting off the route to the rebel camp, some fifteen or twenty miles distant.
Our scouts are frequently fired upon, but as yet without damaging effect. Our pickets are now so close to those of the rebels that they can easily hail each other. Our men have one common feeling. Whenever a rebel comes within gunshot, they shoot him, nor can the officers prevail on them to be more moderate in their aim. The secessionists have several camps hereabouts and Gen. Lee is understood to be in command. Our pickets have succeded in capturing Captain Des. Sogrel, who commanded the rebel battery at Rich Mountain. He reports that his men refused to work the batteries, upon which he attempted to spike the cannon, but being wounded in the side, was compelled to desist and escape as best he could from the battle ground. He had since been lurking among the mountains, and trying to pass our pickets to go to Huttonville. He was captured one morning about daylight by a couple of our men, as he was creeping stealthily along as though fearful of being caught. He has been sent to Fort Lafayette.
We are on the lookout for stirring scenes. Twenty-thousand of the enemy are thought to be encamped around about us, and more are reported coming, but the passes are well secured, and the mountains themselves are impassable for an army. There must be a battle soon, in which case, if among the survivors, I will immediately send you the particulars.
*sesesh refers to Secessionist, the blue refered to Unionist; gray refered to the Confederates; rebels or rebs refered to Confederates.
This letter was written during the Civil War by Edward Ames Edwards, a member of Company K, 15th Indiana Infantry, from the battle field on September 9, 1861
A special Thank You to Jill Ralston and Beatrice E. Kottinger who contributed these letters. A reminder that no portion of these letters can be used without the permission of Jill Ralston.
Other names in family: Edwards, Brundige, Van Horn owned The Battery Site, now The World Trade Center. Webster, Marshall and Pennock (Pennock House and Herb Pennock) If you have any information or questions regarding the above names contact:
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