Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: William G. Christie
Date: November 4, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Alexander S. Christie
Description: William reflects on his second anniversary of enlistment in the Union Army.

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Vicksburgh Miss. November, 4th 1863

Dear Brother. Tis two years ago today since I first entered the service of our Country, and I having But little to do feel like giving you a few thoughts of mine in connection with the life of a soldier now in contra distinction to my Ideas about it this time two years ago, and previous to that time. My impressions when I first saw great masses of men at Fortsnelling going through the first steps of Initiation in there duties as soldiers: looked like mere childs Play to see Bodies of men marching hither and thither, without arms in there hands and apparently without object, there was such holiday appearance about the whole thing, if fact it looked like a huge Joke. People were so full of ammal spirits and good nature, it was hard to realize that they had gathered to save the life of a Nation at the risk of there own. But after a short stay among the vast throng you would observe a growing earnestness among them, not seen at first sight, But made apparent By the strong desire to assume the garb and the arms of a soldier, the desire also to reach the nearest Point of contact with the enemmy: Being the wish of nearly everyone of the throng, Then in our green state we thought we would Be always on the move, and that there would scarcely Be a day or at least a week without a fight, But how different the realittes of the Past two years from all our supposittions about them while yet in the future. How few our actual conflicts with the enemy has Been, only three Battles in two years, and yet how much has been gained By these fights, to the cause of Liberty, and God. Pittsburgh landing, (or Shiloh) was not a victory, that seems to Be much spoken of at Present and I have even seen it mentioned By some writter as a fight that Brought us nothing, But a mass of dead and wounded men, But it was [more ?] than the mere Possesion of the Battle ground of our forces after the second days fight, it was the keeping of all the victories Previous to that time in the south west and was acctually an acceleration of the gaining of Island No. 10, and gan us Corinth without a Battle, in as you know a short time after, of our long rest at Corinth after it became ours, our drillings, and marchings for short distances hither and thither, our cleaning [?] up of allmost everything fit to eat, every man becoming theives as you might say, as well as murderers, according to the Copperhead creed, But in reality (as things were then and are now,) true Patriots: serving there goverment, not any too well, But often Better than the officers of said government wished them to do, Of hopes and fears, of mournings over Legions of men carried of By sickness, and wounds. and laid in hastily made graves with there Blankets as a coffin and a winding sheet, to Be looked for in vain By friends in the North and Perhaps forgotten among men, in a few Passing years, how indifferent you would think soldiers are to life, and I Beleiv as a general thing we are, for as a general thing, we might Be considered gamblers with the chances increased By two hundred fold against us, over and above what they would Be in civil life, so if the drum and file [fife ?] Precede the Earthly remains of a Brother soldier to the grave with Dolorous; note and low muffled sound, do they not as soon as dirt is heapped over the Body, lead Back to camp giving out the heart inspiring notes of a march or quick step So mirth jostles greif, and life and Death Pushes along through the world, Jolly Rolicking Life a few steps ahead of old Death, and thereby gaining, on the old BareBones in spite of all he can do. We you know after Being at Corinth all summer came nigh smelling Blood at Iuka, missing it By only an hours march or rather By Rosenzrances Precipitating matters a little quick, and Bringing on a row that was the means of Price getting away from that Place, At Corinth we did have our second row and By repulsing Van Doran Price Villepeige and Co; Broke up one string of Jeff Davis' Plan of driving Back the vandal Hordes; of the north I wonder if he ever read History, if so, did he think the lieing vermen whipping cutthroats of slavedom, could do, what the Legionaries of the old Roman Empire failled to accomplish; Poor withold [?] if he did, how foolish he must feel, just now at the Poor success of his Plans, after the Battle of Corinth a winter of marches, and counter marches: interspersed with the excitments incident to Passing through a Portion of country abounding with corn, Beef, Pork, Chickens; and too many good things, to mention, Cotton Gins and other out Buildings, giving out huge volumes of smoke By day, and vast Pillars of fire By night, long lines of Burning fences marking the road the army had traveled; and occasionally a dwelling house adding its lustre to the Blaze; then our trip down to Youngs Point, thence up to Lake Providence, hence to Millikins Bend, The march of three Army Corps; from that Point to Grand Gulf, through a land abounding to the first Passers; with meat; milk: and honey, corn and cotton abundant for all commers. The Glorious victories of Port Gibson, Raymond: Champion hills Blackriver Bridge and finnally the capture of Vicksburgh; Why Sandy I do think sometimes, I have not lived in vain, from the fact of my merly having been a unit of such an army, that drove a force half as large again as itself, fought three or four Battles with it, and kept the communication oppen of an ever lengthing line, untill it caused them to yeild up a Portion of there Fortifications, giving us a Base of supplies only 8 miles from our Place of opperations; instead of over 100 miles as at first, and then crowning feat of all, Putting them intoo what the Rebels themselves called the Bull Pen, and litterally starving them out; Surely Brother of mine “The Lord hath Been on our side.” or we could never have done these things, Is it, or is [it] not Profanenation, to use such language as the above at the end of such a tale of horror, and Horrable things as this letter speaks of, in such an apparently easy and flippant way, under all that I have said, there remains, shattered limbs and mangled Bodies of men, By the missles of war, there arises Before me now the looks of horrible Hatred Pain and agony fixed By death on the face of the slain, through the hum of camp life there comes up the cry of Pain from the wounded, and over all there comes the solemn sound, of mourning from nearly every family north and south for those that are dead, to them and this life forever, But Let us not be cast down, for these things had to be, We as a Nation, have gone astray: and now through Blood and tears, we are Returning to the Path [of] Rectitude, and Purity, God willing, and we working, we shall By His help gain our Salvation, as a People, and within our Borders, shall Be worked out the highest Destinies of our Race,

I have been troubled with a slight attack of Acute Rheumatism, it has gone and I am now getting the upper hand of a severe cold. Tom is well and as a Battery are coming out, in new Paint, as well as a new year, the Health of the co. in the main is good; give my Love to all, write soon, and often, for I am very hungry for letters: do send us a letter each week, so many of you might with great ease

Good Bye, William G. Christie

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