Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 8 - Tennessee Civil War Notes

8, Letter by William S. Thomas, a wounded Confederate scout, to his wife at Mulberry Gap, Tennessee

Sullivan County, Tenn.
Dec. 8, 1863

Dear Companion,

I think likely you are anxious to hear from me for I know that I am very anxious to hear from home. I can inform you that I am improving slowly -- my hip is gaining strength though it continues to run and is very sore. Thee have been as high as eight different places running on my hip and back at one time. I went to Doctor Murphy and he split my hip nearly to the bone -- a place two inches long and probed it but could find nothing. He says that the ball or some particles of bone would have to work out before it will get well. My back is very weak and it is so tiresome for me to ride though I have just returned from Bristol. I go there every other day in order to see if I cannot get a letter from you. I know you would like to know something of Ewing. I wrote to him as soon as I got out of the Yankees [sic] reach, which was on the 18th of November. I received a letter from Capt. Bishop from Sweetwater informing me that Ewing was wounded in the Battle of Chickamauga and was in the hospital in Marietta[,] Georgia. He states that my letter came to the Company and he lifted it and answered it and then closed it and sent it to Ewing. He says that his wound is a flesh wound and through the thigh -- he hears from him every day or two and he is doing well. His letter was dated the 4th of November and that he has been on crutches for a month. He stated that he could get a furlough if he had any place to go -- I though that when he learned I was here he would come. I wrote to him to do so. Bishops [sic] letter was short and unsatisfactory from the fact that while he was writing they received orders to march back to Chattanooga. Said that he would write again as soon as he was stationed. He did not say a word about any of his company except Ewing. I have not been able to learn anything about Isaac. I wrote you and enclosed Bishops [sic] letter and sent it by Squire Gillenwaters -- I doubt whether you received it or not. I would have gone to see Ewing if I had been able to ride so far but I would have to travel 1500 [sic] miles and my back is so very weak I was afraid I would break down on the road and then I did not know but what I might miss him. I thought that as he was doing well I could wait and see it he did not come to write to me. When I left Lee County I went to Russell to Brother Thads from the fact that the Yankees were in Washington and Sullivan Counties. I found Joseph there and in about two weeks W. Thomas and James Bishop came. Soon after that Joe and I left for Sullivan. Joe stayed two weeks and went back to Russell. I stayed on in order to see if I could not get more news from Ewing or meet him if he came through. Here it is over a month since I received Bishops [sic] letter and nothing since. I wrote Ewing -- Bishop -- John Barb and Fleenor, that if they knew anything about Isaac to write me. I wrote Ewing to write two letters to me as soon as he received my letter, to direct one to Bristol and one to Mulberry Gap so that if I got home I could hear [from him]. I thought then that I could go home in a short time but at this time the prospect is gloomy. I fear that the darkest day since the war commenced was when Bragg was whipped back from Chattanooga with heavy losses. I think Longstreet will have to abandon the siege of Knoxville for the news here is that Grant has sent heavy reinforcements to relieve Burnsides. [sic] If that is true we may expect trouble in our country soon. I fear our country is to be ruined entirely -- for if the Federals hold Cumberland Gap and Knoxville I'm sure that we will have nothing left to eat or wear. I would be glad if it were so that I could be at home and share the suffering with you and the children if the Yankees do rob us of everything. If they will only leave you enough to eat and clothes to wear to keep you comfortable and we could have peace and I could come home and be able to work and we could live.
But no human can tell what the result of this unholy war is to be or when it may end. I hope it will not be long, for if it is, our army will starve for grain and meat is very scarce here. Flour is selling for $20.00 at Bristol -- corn $2.00 per bushel -- pork $1.25 per pound -- apples from $9 to $10 per barrel -- Eggs from $1.00 to $3.00 per dozen.

I was at Uncle Johnson's the other day and saw a young lady from Abingdon who is teaching school there. She told me that o'possums [sic] were selling at $8.00 apiece. Squirrels from $1.00 to $1.50 apiece and everything else in proportion. So you may guess the persons who live in town have their troubles in these war times. $5.00 is a common bill in the country for staying all night and from $6.00 to $10.00 in town.
I learned from Mr. Gibson that Bishop has been in and that Billy lost both of his eyes in the Chickamauga fight. It has been though to be the heaviest since the war began. I am sorry that you have to be exposed to the worries of the bushwhackers and be insulted by them though we cannot help it.
I would be very glad to know how things are going on at home. If you have a chance to write, do so. Perhaps you may have a chance to sent a line by one of our scouts. A line from [you] would give me great pleasure. You will have to do the best you can. If I am able to run -- I will come down as far as I can in order to hear a word if possible.

WPA Civil War Records, Vol. I, p. 62-63.

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