Special Collections. train going over bridge on hucklebery trail from Imagebase image number NWALIFF0005

W. G. Buck

Letter, 1863, 0.1 cu. ft., Ms2003-014

Near Chattanooga, Tenn. Dec. 2nd 1863

Dear Friend and Cousin, I Recvd yours of 25th Oct on the 18th ult and was glad to hear from you. I am in Better health than I have Been for the Last four Months. we have had a hard Time since I wrote to you from glendale. we have Marched about 250 miles through Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia to get To this place. we Left Duncans Station on the Memphis and Charleston Rail Road the 29th of Oct. Marched Twenty Miles to Chickisaw a Little Town on the Tennessee River where we Crossed on the 31st. we then started and Marched about Eight Miles after Night. we Continued our March through a hilly Country to Flowrence Alabama a very pretty Town of 5 or 6 hundred Inhabitants. it had several Churches and a Large Beautiful Colledge Builden. some of the land there is Rich good farming Land with a pleasant Climate and good water. there was some delightful farming Land through which we passed. In Tennessee the country was hilly a good deal sutch a Looking country as where you used To live in Indiana with fine Timber of Oak Ash poplar Chesnut Maple & Beech. in fact Most all kind of Timber that grows with plenty of stones and the purest of water gushing out of the hills and By the Road side. in fact it is as healthy and fine a farming country as I Could wish to live in if everything Else was suitable. But the people are Ignorant and Indolent. their farming is done in a Carless and slovenly Manner, their fences and Buildings in a Tumble down order, their orchards are seedling Trees stuck in among the stones, with no Care or order. in fact a fair sample of what I have seen wherever I have Traveled in this Southern slave Ridden country. we foraged through the Country to Winchester. we got plenty of Fat Hogs Turkeys geese chickens and sweet potatoes. we Lived high. Beside the persimmons & Beach Nuts which could Be scraped up By handfuls along the Road there was thousands of Bushels of persimmons where we marched through the Country. the Men got tired of Eating them. we was out Nineteen days and Rested only two up to Winchester where we found a Large Force of our Army and from there here the Country was Foraged Bare and we had to Come down to the Regular hard Tack and sow Belly with plenty Sugar & Coffee. But we did not Loose mutch of our fighting weight on that. we Marched 3 or 4 miles to Dechard a Station on the Nashville and Chattanooga Rail Road. 6 or 7 miles further on we struck the Cumberland Mountains where the R.R. passes in a Tunnell through the Mountain. we commenced Climbing the Mountain the 17th of Nov in a heavy Rain. it was an awful Job getting the Artillery and waggon Train up the side on Big smoothe stones. some places the Horses and Mules would fall and the waggons would have to Be Lifted over by the Men. we got about half way over and Camped for the Night in heavy Timber in which the Mountain is Covered. the Next Morning at Daylight we started and about 12 oclock went Tumbling off the Mountain on this side. we got over without serious accident to anything. we had some verry Rough up to this place Travling through the valleys and along the foot of the Mountains. we got to Bridgeport on the Tennessee River twenty two miles from this place on the 17th ult. we Rested one day there then crossed the Tennessee on a pontoon Bridge that was throwed across Close Below the Rail Road Bridge. probbaly you have seen a pontoon Bridge But I will Try and describe one to you. they have Boats 12 or 15 feet Long high at each End about 4 feet wite and 3 deep. they anchor them up and down the stream about Eight feet a part. they then Lay stringers across the Boats then plank like an ordinary Bridge then lay stringers on each End of the plank and Tie them down with Ropes to hold the plank in place. it Makes one of the prettiest Bridges that I ever Crossed on. they have waggons made on purpose to haul them on. they fix them verry fast. I saw them put one accrost the Tenn (which is 2/3 as Big as the Ohio) and had the Atillery and heavy ammunition Train Crossing in four hours. well we Crossed at Bridgeport to the south side and Took up our line of March until we got along side of Lookout Mountain. when to Reach Chattanooga we had to again Cross the River as the Rebles held the Mountain and amused themselves By plungin shot & shells from a hight of twenty seven hundred Feet at the Blue coats passing up through the valley Toward Chattanooga so we crossed about two Miles Belowe just at daylight the 20ist and camped on the side of a high hill about two Miles North of Chattanooga on the opposite side of the River our present Camp. about Midnight of the 23rd we started for the River four Miles above Chattanooga where was ferried over in pontoon Boats just Before daylight. the first the Rebles pickets New of our Being on the south Bank they was prisoners in our hand. we threw up Rifle pits and Breastworks so as to hold our position until the Bridge Could be laid and our Artillery Crossed which occupied the forenoon of the 27th. we then advanced in order of Battle through a swamp and thick Brush about two Miles to Missionary Ridge which the Rebles had fortified But after some sharp skirmishing with our advance they abandoned the Ridge. our Brigade fell Back about a Mile and Camped in the Brush for the Night. the Next day 25th we was drawn up in Battle order about Noon and started around the south end of Missionary Ridge under one of the hottest fire of shells from the Rebles Batteries on the opposite hills that I ever saw. they tore up the ground and made the Rock fly all around and amongst us which knocked over several Men. we soon Reached the foot of Tunnell hill which sheltered us from their Batteries. we then commenced to Climb Tunnel hill through a Cornfield to the support of our third Brigade who was fighting like fury within fifty yards of the Top where the Rebles Lay Behind their Breast works. we got to within fifty yards of the third when we was ordered to Lay down behind the fence. the Bullets was Comeing Like hail. one Man was shot through the head Laying at my feet. we Lay there a few Minutes when part of the 33rd Ill. of the third Brigade gave way and Came tearing down upon our Redgiment. when we was ordered to pitch in and up the hill we went. we had not Been up Long Before the Rebles dashed around Eight Men deep on our Right Flank and if there ever was a hail storm of Lead it was then. our Redgiment & the 80th Ohio on our left gave way with the third Brigade. then there was some tall Running done down that hill with Men falling at Every step. the 10th Missouri & 56th Ill. of our Brigade and our support Lay at the foot of the hill. Now poured in a deadly fire on the Rebs which Checked them for a while. But they Being outflanked had To give away. we lost Nine killed two out of our Company with forty or fifty wounded. they Took some of our Men prisoner. they killed our Color Bearer. But we saved our Colors. our Lieut Col was wounded and taken prisoner. the 5th Iowa Lost their Colors with two [companies?]. I saw the Col of the [9?]3rd Ill shot dead. I tell you Candidly I don�t want to Be in any more sutch fights. there is no fun in it although I Escaped without a scratch. the Rebles Left that Night after three days hard fighting. a Better account you will get in the papers than I Can give you in this sheet of the fighting. we followed the two fowlowing days down the Chicamaugua valley about 15 miles into Georgia. the 28th we turned Back and Reached our old camp about 9 oclock the Morning of the 29th hungry Muddy and Tired. the Talk is we move Camp tomorrow to Either to Chatanooga or Bridgeport. the weather is Cold here with heavy frost Every Night and as our Tents was left at Bridgeport you Can Imagine the fun of Laying out of doors By a Logheap. it is a hard Life to soldier in sutch active campaigns through wet & dry cold and hot Exposed at all times Marching through Rain and Mud and sleeping on the wet Cold ground. But sutch is the suffering of the Men that have Left in Most Cases Comfortable homes and Loved Families to put down this accurst Rebellion and To Restore our Beloved Country To its former prosperity. thousands are Leaving their weary bones all over this Rebellious Country. others are Contracting Diseases By Exposure that will make them miserable the Balance of their Lives. this government Can Never do too mutch for the Brave Men that is fighting her Battles. yesterday our Division was Inspected and Reviewed By Major Genls Hunter Grant & Logan. it was a fine sight. I met Robert the 25th. his Redg Came along and stacked arms Close By ours and I had a Long talk with him. he is [?] Big fellow hearty as a Bear and will weigh about a 170 or 80 pounds. Soldiering agrees with him. he Told me that he had not had to attend surgeons [Call?] since he had Been out. he Expects a Commission in a Negro Regiment in a few days. I have had letters from home up to the 15th ult. they was all well. I met some old acquaintance in the 83rd Ind, among them Capt Ben North Bill Smith from Rising Sun one of the Hutchinsons from old Switzerland County alls Amelias Nephew Joshua Crouch, Mary Best son. it was quite pleasant to meet old friends so far from home. to Conclude I think we have Crushed the Backbone of this Rebellion and Braggs Army got a Terrible whipping in the section of Country. the [Scoundery?]Rebles stripped our Dead and wounded of their Coats and Boots. some of the wounded Lay all Night on the field in the Cold Frost that was stript By them. some have since died By Exposure. But I hope and Believe that this Rebellion will soon Close and we Be again at home with our Beloved Families and Friends where we Can Talk over our Trials and Escapes By our peaceful firesides where wars alarms no more disturbs us. may God hasten the time. Eccept my Best wishes for yourself and family and my apology For not writing sooner. I remain your Friend & Cousin

W. G. Buck

My Respects To all Friends

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