Before Vicksburg June 5th, 1863
My Dear Brother,
A mail, which had been chasing us, and following us around for the past 3 weeks, gone to Grand Gulf, come to McArthur at Warrenton and went out with him and the Third Brigade nearly to Yazoo city; finally ceased its meanderings yesterday by falling into the hands of the Orderly Sergeant, from where you may well believe, it was quickly distributed. I could not well complain of being slighted, for 6 St. Paul Presses, the Independent, and a letter from you of the 3rd May containing a sheet of postage stamps almost large enough to make a blanket, fell to my lot, besides 2 letters for William which I read of course, and Harpers monthly and weekly and New York and Chicago Tribune which came to the club of which I am an honored member, (note: parse this last sentence if you can, if not, give it to the School marm, whom you may remind at the same time, that she is neglecting her epistolary duties, and may be convicted by Gen. Pope of aiding and abetting traitors by refusing to enliven the hearts of the Defenders of the Republic with cheerful, or any other kind of, letters) . You shall have the full benefit of the stamps, and when they are gone I shall know to whom an appeal will be most effective. It is odd is it not, that while I am penning these lines, which you will soon be reading in your quiet Wisconsin home, the balls of the Rebel sharpshooters are hissing by me and crushing through the green bushes in our rear: and now I am watching two of our fellows who are leisurely walking over the crown of the hill behind us, where they are just as sure of being shot at as they are of anything in the world. There's the crack of the rifle: "ping" "whack" that was a close shot, struck the ground within a rod of them, raising a cloud of dust. Not in the least disconcerted, our chaps turn round to look at where the ball hit, and while one shakes his fist at the rebel breastworks, and gives vent to his outraged feelings in epithets not choice enough to be copied here, the other coolly goes up to the bullet hole in the hill, big enough to stick your hand into, and digging a while soon exhibits the Minnie to his wrathy companion, and the two pass on over the hill. There is no fancy in this description, it is sober fact, and its parallel may be seen here every hour in the day. Our boys seem to derive as much pleasure in seeing how near the balls will come without hitting, as the Rebels do in trying to hit them. I shall not risk securing a reputation for "gasconade" by telling you how often I have been shot at, or how near to me the messengers have struck, but I will tell you there is a certain exciting pleasure in being made a target of, and also, that they have not yet succeeded in their oft expressed design of making a pepper box of my posterior.
To be serious: the Rebs with all their practice have as yet succeeded in wounding only one of us, and in killing some half dozen horses. But when they get too audacious we throw over a few shells behind the works, and then you should see them make tracks, the cowardly bushwhackers. We are still in the works that we occupied when I wrote to Father, but there is a new position being made within spitting distance almost of the enemy, and we expect to occupy it; then we can rake the scamps lengthwise, and they will have to abandon their rifle pits.
Do not despond of our success here; Grant and his Boys are determined to go into Vicksburg if we have to stay before it all Summer. Every morning sees our rifle pits and batteries nearer to the Rebels, and we have artillery enough to knock them to smash when we get ready to open the whole line and keep up a continual fire. Our partial cannonades have already done them a great deal of damage, and it would not take long to destroy them altogether when we can cover all the ground they occupy with bursting shell and case.
Speaking of Grant reminds me that he and Gov. Salomon of Wisconsin came to see our fort a day or two ago with Gen. Ransom, commanding the 2nd Brigade. As they came into the work, the guard who was on the guns at the time, belonging to the 12th Wis. Battery, who are with us, advanced to the gents, and said sharply, "no smoking allowed in the Battery." Grant, who had two thirds of a Havannah stuck between his teeth, instantly flung it through an embrasure, to the great delight of a crowd of high privates who, like myself, witnessed the incident. When the General went away the guard went and got the cigar and said he should send it home in a letter, and tell the folks that he ordered it out of General Grants mouth.
That is one thing we like our Generals for, they are as plain as farmers with us, and indeed, to see old Grant as we see him almost every day around among us, without stuff or shoulder straps, and wearing an old hat that looks as if he had slept on it all night, you would take him to be no more than a Lieutenant at most, and McPherson, although the most refined looking of gentlemen, is just as unassuming in manner. I can give you a very good idea of how McClernand looks. He is as like what Uncle Samuel
Noyes used to be as you can imagine, and his voice put me in mind of Mother's brother very forcibly. You get no good likenesses of our General in the pictorials. Grant's
portrait in the Harper which we got yesterday is not worth a cent. I like the mathematical part of your letter very much, and I would have given you something of the sort in this, but that I have crowded myself out of room. There is some fatigue duty to do, and I must close. T.D. Christie
[Postscript on page 4] Have you got the money we sent to Sarah?