December 23, 1863 Letter from Private Robert Dawson to sister, Rebecca Dawson while camped near Blaines Crossroads, Tennessee
(transcribed by granddaughter, Ms. Clara Warner)
Camp near Blanes Cross Road, Tenn. Dec. 23d, 1863
I seat myself this afternoon to answer your letters of Nov. l0th & 17th which I received on the 14th & 15th of this month, I was glad to hear that you were well. I am well at present & I hope those few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. you may think me a long while about answering your letters but I could not answer it sooner. when we left Knoxville we left our knapsacks behind & I left my writing material in my knapsack & we only got them twoo or three days ago. we left knoxville on the 7th of this month & have been tearing around ever since, we marched up the valley to Rutlege 33 miles & stopped there & our regiment was out at a mill twoo or three times 8 miles from Rutlege. we was out once to guard the mill while our men ground corn for rations for us. the mill was near the river & there was some rebels on the other side of the river from us & they would always take us out & bring us back after night, the last time we went out our
Brigade went out to keep the rebels from crossing they made their appearance on the other side of the river in the evening about a Brigade of cavalry with 3 pieces of artillery they shelled us some & wounded 2 or 3 men in the Brigade. then we had to march in after night then we fell back 12 miles & formed in line of battle & waited for the rebels to attack us but they done nothing more than skirmish a little & they have fell back & we are not attempting to advance on them. they knew better than to advance on us for we have a large force here now, there is 3 or 4 corps here from Chattanooga. there is some talk of us going over into kentucky (our corps) but I dont know how true it is. I hope
we may get out of this for we have been put through ever since we came to this state wherever the rebels made a dash our corps always had to go & fight them & we have not been half fed or clothed since we came here. it has been pretty cold for a few days back. we are 19 miles from knoxville & I wish we was 200 miles north of knoxville.
you have no idea how we have been put through. I will not say much about it only Burnside thought so much of us & he could not trust the 23 corps & that is the reason we had to run around so much. the rebels are afraid of our corps if they knew how small it is they need not be afraid of us. some of the prisoners that was taken at knoxville the time of the charge said they did not know it was the 9 corps they was charging or they would not have charged, their officers told them it was green troops they was very sure of capturing the place, that sure of it that they had a garrison flag with them to run up on the flag staff & they had artillerists with them ready to turn the guns on us but they did not have a chance to do that. after the rebels retreated our men went & buried their dead. they had laid them between the corn roes & threw a little dirt over them some of them the hands were sticking out. I think they are pretty near played out. I have not heard from Mcfarland or Joseph fullerton since we left crab orchard or camp Park at Nicholasville. they might be about here in some of these corps that came from chattanooga. I do not know what corps they are in. Andy is well & the rest of the boys that is here. Sam was getting along fine the last I heard of him 2 or 3 days ago, no more. write soon.
R D Dawson
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