July 25, 1863 Letter from Private Robert Dawson to sister, Rebecca Dawson while camped at Milldale, Mississippi describing the events in and around the Siege on Vicksburg

(transcribed by granddaughter, Ms. Clara Warner)   

Mill Dale, Mississippi,  July 25th, 1863


Dear sister,

I seat myself to day to write you a few lines to let you know that I am living & well & I hope those few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing. I have not wrote but one letter home since I came to this state. I did not receive any from you until the night of the 4th of July & I received twoo old ones & we was on the march then & we had left our knapsacks behind & I could not answer them until we got back to camp where our knapsacks were & that was not until day before yesterday, while we was on the march I received one from you dated July 1st so I will answer all three in this one I got the postage stamps that you sent me, I will give you a kind of a history of what we have been doing since we came here, we lay here in this camp (about 2 miles from the river) 11 or 12 days, & then we moved out within 7 miles of black river & was there 4 or 5 days. vicksburg surrendered on the 4th & that evening we left for black river leaving our knapsacks behind, but we did not cross the river til tuesday & then we shoved on for Jackson our cavalry drove up his rear guard. & friday we came up within 3 miles of town & about 3 oclock we formed in line of battle & throwed out skirmishers & drove the rebel skirmishers about twoo miles & then we stopped for the night. & the next morning we formed line of battle & the skirmishers advanced driving the rebels on before them & we followed them up to support them. we advanced about 1 mile when General Park (who commanded our corps) got orders from Gen. Sherman to stop & hold his ground for we was to fast for the right.  our corps was on the left & our brigade on the left of the corps so we was on the extreme left of the line, we had advanced up to the rebels works nearly & if they had left us alone we would have been in Jackson that day.  but they fooled around a week & let them out we had them all surrounded on the other side of pearl river & I guess grant wanted to get troops over there & shut them in but Johnson was to sharp for him. there was not much done but skirmishing on the right the rebs made one or twoo charges & our fellows one or twoo. but on the left where we was there was nothing but skirmishing, our regiment was not on the skirmish line at all but the bullets whistled over us & one day we lay in a piece of woods within 200 or 300 yards of a rebel battery & they shelled us & throwed grape at us but it went over our heads. we was relieved every twoo by the 2nd Division & then our regiment would have to go to the rear to picket & keep the guerrillas from capturing our wagon train, that is the way we came not to be on the skirmish line all the rest had a turn at it. we only got about one fourth rations & we had to forage for our living & when we got to the rear we would do some big foraging, we had chickens & every thing else good, we got orders to start back last monday & Sherman told park to march us slow & lay by in the heat of the day. but the old buggar marched us like everything we marched 20 miles the first day the weather is very hot & the men could not stand it. & there was a great many sun struck & died on the road it was so hot I saw lots of horses sun struck or several, we lost more men on that march than we did in the fight out of our corps, we was out tearing up the Jackson & Memphis rail road saturday & sunday last. we was about half way between Jackson

& Canton we tore up the track for several miles, we are going to leave this state in a day or twoo & I guess we are going to Kentucky. I dont hear of None or Ruel or dan turning out in the Militia. they are great boys the rebs in their own state & they wont turn out to protect it they are great boys, no more write soon

R D Dawson

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