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Re: [TalkAntietam] Last Letter of Confederate Officer, MW/KIA at Sunken Road (Long)

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  • robert blama
    great letter makes you feel part of the story ... From: G E Mayers To: Talk Antietam Sent: Sunday,
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 11, 2007
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      great letter makes you feel part of the story
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "G E Mayers" <gerry1952@...>
      To: "Talk Antietam" <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Sunday, June 10, 2007 9:32 PM
      Subject: [TalkAntietam] Last Letter of Confederate Officer, MW/KIA at Sunken
      Road (Long)


      > Gang,
      >
      > Thanks to Teej Smith who kindly transcribed a copy of a letter
      > written by Captain William T. Marsh, Company H, Fourth Regiment
      > Infantry, North Carolina State Troops, I would like to present
      > Marsh's letter for the group to read and discuss.
      >
      > A copy of the original letter is on file in the library of the
      > Antietam National Battlefield Park; the library is now located in
      > the ranchette to one's right as one enters the driveway to the
      > Pry House Museum (Mac's HQ during the battle and now a satellite
      > site of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in nearby
      > Frederick).
      >
      > We do not know to whom Marsh was writing, except the addressee
      > was female and considerably younger than himself. According to
      > some information Teej has, it appears our Captain Marsh was about
      > 30 years of age, making him middle aged for the time.
      >
      > Captain Marsh, apparently the senior captain by rank in the
      > regiment, took over command of the regiment after its commander,
      > Col. Bryan Grimes, had to be sent to the rear following the
      > fighting at Fox's Gap...suffering from exhaustion and pain in a
      > leg from his horse kicking him while he and the regiment crossed
      > the Potomac into Maryland as part of G. B. Anderson's North
      > Carolina brigade.
      >
      > Sadly, this letter below is the last letter Marsh would
      > write.....in a characteristic display of bravado, during the
      > heavy fighting at the Sunken Road during the Battle of
      > Sharpsburg, he mounted the northern embankment of the lane to
      > show his contempt for the attacking Federals and was mortally
      > wounded in the head, expiring probably instantly.
      >
      > I offer it here as it not only talks about the regiment and its
      > marches as part of D. H. Hill's division but also gives a quaint
      > insight into Marsh himself and his own character. He even
      > mentions something about Pennsylvania, so maybe it was not a
      > "hidden" secret of the ultimate destination of Lee's Army??
      > (Perhaps some food for thought, IMHO.)
      >
      > (Letter below my signature for easier snipping for discussion;
      > your thoughts and comments welcomed.)
      >
      > Yr. Obt. Svt.
      > G E "Gerry" Mayers
      >
      > To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
      > on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
      > Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
      > the Almighty God. --Anonymous
      >
      > ++++++++++++++++
      >
      > CAPT. W.T. MARSH, 4TH N.C. INFANTRY
      >
      >
      >
      > Camp 4th N C S Troops
      >
      > Near Potomac River Leesburg
      >
      > Sept 4th 1862
      >
      >
      >
      > My Dear Cousin,
      >
      > Your welcome letter of the 21st reached me a few days since
      > whilst we were on a forced march to join the erratic Stonewall
      > Jackson, having been forwarded from Richmond. I was glad to hear
      > from you as I always am.
      >
      > Since I last wrote I have experienced some of the hardest
      > marching of the war &c in Summer dust—hard roads—long toilsome
      > days marches & scarcity of water and thirst. We have now been
      > marching tend days—eight of which without rest except a few hours
      > at night. Within the ten days we have march an estimated distance
      > of 187 miles. Within the eight successive days of march without a
      > day of rest we marched 168 miles—an average of 21 miles per day
      > many days upon only one meal per day and some without any. This
      > force march was made to unite our forces with those of Jackson
      > who was driving the enemy before him from the Rapidan towards
      > Warrenton and thence towards Fairfax & Washington. We were unable
      > to overtake Jackson & Longstreet before the battles of last
      > Saturday and Sunday on Bull Run. We were one day behind and as we
      > passed over the fields of strife extending from Gainesville to
      > Bull Run for mile we were compelled to witness the awful
      > disgusting and revolting spectacle of a battle field the day
      > after battle. The bodies of the dead and wounded lay strewn and
      > in heaps around us on all sides. So far as I could judge from
      > appearances the carnage was greater than in any of the battles
      > around Richmond especially of the enemy. I should think there was
      > at least twenty dead bodies of the enemy to one of ours. It is
      > estimated that their dead and wounded amounted to not less than
      > eight thousand. The Second day’s battle was upon the old battle
      > ground of the 21st of July 1861. They there again met with a most
      > signal rout—we followed them to the fortifications near
      > Washington between Alexandria and Arlington Heights. Our Division
      > and some others were then dispatched to this point we arrived
      > here last night late in the night and are allowed a portion of us
      > (Andersons Brigade) to rest and prepare rations to day—to morrow
      > we expect to follow into Maryland. A portion of Hills Division
      > left us this morning to cross over at Balls Bluff or Edwards
      > Ferry. We expect to leave early in the morning—our present course
      > for the opposite shore. Perhaps when we get into Maryland we may
      > not have facilities of writing or sending letters to our friends
      > at home. I therefore embrace this the earliest as well as latest
      > opportunity to reply to our letter. From late letters received by
      > members of my Company the Yankees have been committing more
      > depredations upon the citizens of Beaufort County than
      > heretofore. I hear they have taken possession of one of our farms
      > and are cultivating the (unclear in copy of copy) with a number
      > of runaway negroes and have a lot of troops there to protect
      > them. I suppose they will destroy my stock fencing &c If we could
      > only get into Pennsylvania I should take pleasure in retaliating.
      >
      > You have been misinformed in reference to my reported prospect of
      > marriage with Miss Palmer. I have no such intention nor have I
      > ever had. Miss Palmer’s whole family was very kind to me when I
      > was sick there last fall and again this spring. I am under many
      > obligations to them and shall ever entertain a grateful
      > remembrance of their many acts of kindness—beyond this I have no
      > aspirations. In this disclaimer I am candid and sincere and hope
      > you will not doubt me. I am too old to joke upon such a subject
      > and care too little for what the public may say to attempt
      > concealment. Perhaps I may never marry. I shall certainly never
      > marry any one I would be ashamed of even beforehand. So that
      > whenever I become engaged if you have curiosity enough to enquire
      > I will not deny you the information unless otherwise requested
      > and of that—would be candid. Will you make a bargain with me to
      > tell me your love secrets in return for my own or would I be an
      > unfair one. You are so young and I so far advanced in years. You
      > just in the bloom of loves springtime, I in the autumn.
      >
      > As I have said we are about to enter Maryland and what opposition
      > we may meet I cannot say. If we go to Washington of course we
      > shall have much fighting to do. So far a kind protecting
      > providence has held me in his hand and shielded me from all
      > danger. It may still be my good fortune to be preserved. May be
      > the Angel of Death may mark me as a victim. Many of my best
      > friends in the army—among them the noblest and most
      > patriotic—have fallen. Every part of our land has to mourn the
      > loss of some of these—every instance of which tending more and
      > more to alienate the two sections of country and render the
      > separation more sure and permanent.
      >
      > I see by the papers that my friend Maj. Gedtis [not sure of the
      > spelling here] of Hertford Co. has been appointed solicitor. I
      > suppose he will resign his place in the army. The Maj is so
      > [unsure of wording here] a gentleman the 31st Regt will be the
      > looser thereby.
      >
      > I shall expect to hear from you soon and often as you are my only
      > female correspondent except A[rest unclear]. It is cheering and
      > refreshing to get a letter from you.
      >
      > Give my kind regards to your sisters. Yours sincerely
      >
      > W.T. Marsh
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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