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Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: October 18, 1862
Location: Corinth, Mississippi
Addressee: James C. Christie
Description: Thomas describes the battle of Corinth, and details the tasks of the artillery during battle.

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Camp near Corinth, Oct. 18th /62

Dear Father,

I begin to despair of ever getting another word from any of you. Since I came back from Iuka not a letter have I recieved [sic]. There must be a screw loose some where for this long silence is unprecedented in the annals of our Correspondence.

I wrote you from Ripley acquainting you with our participation in the Battle of Corinth, but whether you have got the letter or not I could not say, for mail regulations here are in a very uncertain state. You probably have seen accounts of the great victory and perhaps have seen our Battery mentioned so you will know the [share?] that we took in the first day's conflict.

Nearly all the correspondence that I have seen slights our Division most shamefully and seems to give the impression that the first days fighting did not amount to much. The number of troops engaged was not very great, to be sure, but what there was fought desperately, witness the losses of the 15th Michigan and 14th and 16th Wis. who supported the First Minn. Battery. As at Shiloh, our guns were the first to open on the advancing enemy, and unlike some batteries who have paid reporters and get praised accordingly we never limbered to the rear without the General's orders.

Let the Newspapers go, the official report will set us all right. And now I suppose you would like to hear an account of my second battle.

My remembrance of it extends to these items. Country heavily wooded, and intersected by chains of hills, every one of which we defended as long as possible and then fell back to the next, the booming of the guns and bursting of shell, the roar of the rifles and “spat,” “spat,” of the bullets around us, men limping to the rear or carried by comrades, with here and there a skulker hurrying out of the reach of the musical lead. All this I remember and also that when our gun was heated it was mighty hard work to ram down the charge, which was my duty as I was No. 1. Nothing is so exciting as working a gun in real action. The sound of the discharge almost raises us off our feet with delight. Before the smoke lifts from the muzzle I dash in, dip the brush in the sponge bucket and brush out the bore using plenty of water, then seize the sponge stuff and sponge it out dry. No. 2 then inserts the cartridge which I ram home, then the shot, shell or canister, whichever it may be and it is sent home, then I spring out beside the wheel and fall flat, “Ready” shouts the Gunner, No. 3 (who has been serving vent while I loaded) now pricks the cartridge, No. 4 jumps in and inserts a friction primer, to which his lanyard is attached, in the vent, springs outside the wheel and straightens his lanyard. The Gunner gives a turn or two to the elevating screw, taps on the trail and has it carried round a little, and then, “Fire” “Take that,–––– you” says No. 4 as the gun rushes back with the recoil. The other numbers run her forward at the command “By hand to the front” while I load. While you have been reading this description we would fire 3 or 4 shots, so rapidly do we work.

The sound of the gun is most exhilerating [sic], it fills us with enthusiasm, and we would die rather than desert her. However, you probably do not understand these feelings, and so think it all foolishness.

I saw James Dempsey on the morning of the battle, and we had quite a talk about the expected conflict. He was quite cheerfull [sic] and courageous. Little did I think when we passed the 17th drawn up in Battle line as we went out on the field, that it was the last time I should ever see him. As we passed over the Battlefield early on Sunday morning in pursuit of the Rebels, I looked at all the bodies I could find, but, although there was many a one of our brave fellows stretched out, I could see nothing of him. Two of his comrades buried him that forenoon and put up a neat headboard.

The enclosed relick [sic] I picked up beside the grave of one of those who fell in the attack on the fort. They were in a bloody haversack that he had worn. This storming of the redoubt was the most desperate and murderous charge that has been made during the war, this is shown by the rebel graves that cover the space before the fort. Gen. Rogers is buried within 10 steps of the ditch, and his men lie in long trenches close by.

Hoping that illhealth [sic] is not the cause of your long silence, I remain your affectionate son, Tom

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