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6th Virginia Cavalry & Jeff Davis Legion

Item CON-101
October 22, 1861 William W. Gordon
Price: $485.00


8 pages, original Civil War Confederate letter written in period pencil and war dated.

Letter is written by Lieutenant William W. Gordon. Gordon first served with the Georgia Hussars, a militia unit from Savannah, GA. This unit became part of the Jeff Davis Legion of Cavalry signed to the 6th Virginia Cavalry.

William W. Gordon was father to Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Gordon also served as a general in the US Army during the Spanish-American War.

October 22nd 1861

Here we are at last my own darling Nell and I snatch a moment to write you a few lines. It rained very hard all the afternoon we left Richmond and we arrived about 8 p.m. at Ashland and having to get quarters, forage, etc. It was about midnight before we got to bed and supperless at that. We all slept on the in the stands in the cattle shed and our horses in some dilapidated arbors, over ankle deep in clay, mud and filth, formerly occupied by the cavalry of Cobb’s Legion. The next day was clear and we made 18 miles to a farm house. Here we did very well. Officers and 8 or 10 men getting a good supper and breakfast and all sleeping on the ground except Fred and myself, who slept in a wagon. At the halt at midday, however, I put my saddle blanket on an old fence and got some of my enemies, the red bugs, on me.

The next day was clear and we made 25 miles to Fredericksburg arriving again after night and again having a miserable time getting the horses picketed and fed. That night, I again slept with Fred in a wagon. The net day I spent mostly with Mac & Parker Nicoll and the Herndons and had a very pleasant time. I asked Parker to drop you a line which I presume she did informing you of our safe arrival there. The troops passed through town about 2 p.m. having been detained to cook 3 days rations. We dined with the H’s and galloped after the troop and met them a few miles where one wagon ad broken down. Both wheels on one side having smashed to pieces. This one we had to leave with 2 men. Such roads you never saw. Up one hill and then another. Here tremendous rocks and then still clay. The wagons went so slowly we left a guard with them and pushed on to Stafford Court House but found no forage as had been promised and had to go on in the dark mile after mile. Stumbling over stones until after a second disappointment and losing our road. We reached head of tide water on Aquia Creek where we found some damaged hay. It had turned quite cold and we were high up in the hills. The wagons with the food and blankets were on the road all night and reached us about daylight – until when we lay on the ground around the fires. I had my overcoat on and so kept my body warm but so soon as I fell asleep, my shoes (being close to the fire for warmth to my feet) would commence to smoke – or my nose and ears would get so cold it would wake me up. This happened I believe every 10 or 15 minutes until about 4 a.m. when overcome, I slept until 6 a.m. A dip in the Aquia, however, and a hearty breakfast of fried bacon and cornbread with bacon grease for butter made me feel like myself again. Yesterday we made 15 miles all the time getting higher and never being more than 4 to 10 miles from the Potomac. All the afternoon we heard the cannon at Evansport and towards evening they fired a good many times very quickly. At night, we turned off the road into the woods and slept on the ground. About 2 a.m. it commenced raining. My enameled cloth was under me and I was too sleepy to get up and change it. My cap wouldn’t stay on my head at night. So I drew the blankets over my head to keep the water out of my ears and off my face and “let her rip”. When reveille sounded, my blankets were soaked through and on on each side of me was a small puddle of water which soaked my feet as I stepped off of my blankets to get my shoes which I had taken off, not anticipating rain. However, a hot fire, coffee, bacon and cornbread warmed in spite of the rain soon set me up for the journey. It has rained all day and is raining now. But we have a tent overhead tonight and have had our blankets hanging on sticks before the fire since we arrived here about midday.

We are camped on the old ground of Hampton’s Legion, just out of sight of the tents of several regiments around the rail road track. General Johnson proved to be at Centreville 7 miles beyond us. So Captain W. rode over to report to him. We join today Colonel Fields Regiment—the 6th –which is in the advance 2 miles beyond Centreville. Reporting ourselves to General Smith as we pass through Centreville. So we are not under little Remy. General Stuart has command of all the cavalry hereabouts. We leave most of our baggage here, so that one wagon will accommodate us.

And now my dearest Nell, I have given the details of the march. It reads to me very much like Xenophon’s account of the retreat of the 10,000. Viz. Such a day marched so many miles, to many Paragons and halted such and such a place, etc.

I only wish I were able to and had the time to fill in the skeleton with the many incidents, the jokes, the songs, which enlivened the way and kept everyone spirits up all the time. But I must save them for some other time.

How are you my darling? I trust your neck is long since quite well and that you are well in every way. My thoughts were with you often and often and as often a silent prayer went up that God might preserve us to meet again and give us strength and to bear the present troubles. We must not shrink from duties because dangerous or unpleasant but endeavor to perform them like men and leave the result in his hands.

Kiss the little ones for me over and over again and tell them or tell Nell that Papa is quite well and Dr. Waring too. That she must be a good girl and take care of Mama and Daisy for Papa until he comes back.

God bless you my dearest darling wife. I love you with all my life and strength. Rest assured I will take good care of myself. Imagine yourself being kissed a thousand times for I could almost devour you with kisses were I with you now.

Goodbye and God bless you and the little ones again and again.

Your devoted Husband,

W. W. Gordon

Please forward the enclosed note to Mother and give any particulars from mine you think worthy of mention.

When you write, I expect you had better direct to Centreville, care of Colonel Fields of the 6th Regular Cavalry.