University of Notre Dame
Rare Books and Special Collections
Return Home
Topical Collections
Personal and Family Papers
Military Records
Letters and Correspondences
Anderson-Reavis Correspondence
Cicero R. Barker
Mary Bettle
Caley Family Correspondence
William Combs
Mary Crowell
Henry S. Figures
M. A. Harvey
Ora W. Harvey
John M. Jackson
James B. Jordan
Henry H. Maley
Christopher C. McKinney
Meek Family Correspondence
morgan Family Correspondence
James Parkison
Peed Family Letters
G. Julian Pratt
John Pugh
Harrison E. Randall
Read Family Correspondence
Samuel T. Reeves
Harrison E. savage
Shriver Family Correspondence
Shriver Family Correspondence
Sillers-Holmes Family Correspondence
Taylor Family Correspondence
Thomas Family Correspondence
Herbert Benezet Tyson
Isaac Ira White
Diaries and Journals
Miscellaneous Manuscripts

  (transcriptions only)

Technical Details
Manuscripts of the American Civil War
Sillers-Holmes Family Correspondence

< previous letter |  index  | next letter >

Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: William W. Sillers
Date: November 15, 1862
Place: Camp near Strasburg, Virginia
To: Frances Sillers Holmes

Physical Description: Ink on lined paper; 4 pages (24 x 20 cm) on 1 folded sheet

Number: MSN/CW 5025-03

Transcribed by: Paul Patterson and George Rugg, 2004-06

(Please click on our Technical Details button at left
for more information on transcription conventions,
image scanning conventions, etc.)

Page 1      Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

Bivouac near Strasburg, Shenandoah Co., Va.,
November 15th, 1862. —

My dear Sister:

     This is a Saturday-evening—just cool enough to make a fire pleasant to one who lives in the open air—away up here in the famous Virginia Valley, one of the loveliest regions it has ever been my lot to tabernacle in. We are now eighteen miles above Winchester—twenty-eight miles nearer Staunton than when I last wrote you,—but we marched at lest sixty or seventy-five miles, by a circuitous route—to reach here. The last letter I wrote you was dated Oct'r 15th; but I never had an opportunity to mail it. I became quite sick about that time—our Surgeon pronouncing it a threatened attack of billious Fever. I never left Camp; but was with the Regiment all the time. We have been marching constantly for a month—first advancing to meet the enemy—then retiring before the advance,—then to tear up and destroy Rail Roads, etc. We had a considerable fall of snow on the 7th inst., while in bivouac near Front Royal. The enemy had been advancing slowly on us for several days—we meantime retreating from beyond the Blue Ridge by Ashby's gap into the valley. We fell back to Front Royal in Warren County, and there going into Bivouac, quietly awaited his approach. On the 6th inst we had heavy skirmishing with Artillery in the mountains—the enemy driving us back. The skirmishing was with the pickets. I was out in command of One picket station—where the Manassas Gap Rail Road enters the Blue Ridge—,but was ordered to fall back before the enemy

Page 2      Images (pages 2 & 3): 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

reached my station—the road upon which the main advance was being made entering Front Royal three miles in my rear. I was in danger of being cut off from the main body of our troops. I fell back with Artillery and Infantry in time to go into line of battle with the remainder of the troops. This was about three O clock. We remained in line of battle until after dark, when we were ordered to fall back across the Shenandoah River. It was very cold, and I was suffering with Neuralgia in my teeth. The poor men had to wade the river. I was left behind in charge of the picket. We crossed after every one else had gone over about eleven or twelve o'clock at night. We picketed the river banks, and the next morning it began snowing, and snowed briskly all that day, and part of the night. Just before night I was relieved. The fun of it was that the same night we retreated the Yankees themselves fell back four miles. Our cavalry, sent out to reconnoiter the next day, could find nothing of them. We abandoned the region about Front Royal, and retired twelve miles to Strasburg, and here we are now resting quietly, but for how long no mortal is unable to say—especially as we are under command of Lieut.-Gen'l T. J. Jackson. It would break the hearts of the ladies of our county who are far away from the desolate and bloody battle-fields of Northern Virginia and who are unaccustomed to seeing the hardships and privations which a Soldier in an active campaign has to bear, to see the destitution of this part of our army. It is not one or two who are without shoes and half-clad; but it is the greater part of every company in our regiment who are in this condition.

Page 3      Images (pages 2 & 3): 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

I have become almost hardened to the sight; but sometimes my heart is deeply touched by the fortitude and cheerfulness with which on some of our long marches the barefooted men bear up with a song or a laugh upon their lips. It is inexpressibly saddening. It brings one down, down, in such a way, as I had never wished proud, spirited men humiliated. I sometimes wish I were away from these heart breaking sights; and think I will try to get relieved of them; but then duty, duty, duty. Dear Sister, I do not like to write anything tending to make you unhappy in your quiet, peaceful home; but I know you wish to be acquainted with the real condition of the soldiers, and it is right that their condition should be known. I hope that the Government, before the extreme severity of Winter sets in, may be enabled to furnish more shoes and clothes to men, who have been without them for months, and know what the want of them means.
I was very sorry to hear from your last letter of Sallie's conduct. I wish I were at home to investigate this matter. I wouldn't have Sallie ruined for treble her money-value. I do sincerely wish, Sister, I could relieve you of such unpleasant difficulties in connection with my business; for I know you have enough of your own to keep you employed.
I cannot give you any idea of when I can be at home. A furlough in this army is something unheard of, unless in case of sickness or detached service. So you needn't look for me home until you see me. You know I will come, if I can; and just

Page 4      Images: 150 DPI100 DPI72 DPI

as soon as it is possible.

Tell Uncle Moses I am well and wish to be remembered to him; and that when cold weather comes, I want him to have good shelters made for my cows and calves and sheep and hogs, and that he may buy 1500 cypress boards, so that he can make his shelters strong and water-proof — to have the mare and colt turned into an open field for at least two hours every fair day to take exercise — to have the shuck-pins well covered, and to save plenty of peas to feed my cows and calves.
Tell Hagar that Ransom is well.
Well, Sister, it is getting too dark to write, and you know we don't burn candles, even when we have them, in the open air.
Give my love to all the family and to Dr., when you write to him and to the dear children with many Kisses. I was exceedingly glad to hear they were doing so well. God bless and preserve you all!

Your affectionate Brother,
W. W. Sillers

Transcription last modified: 28 Feb 2007 at 05:04 PM EST

< previous letter |  index  | next letter >

  Related Collections:   Colonial & Revolutionary America Early National & Antebellum America American Civil War Modern America Sports

Rare Books and Special Collections

University of Notre Dame
Copyright © 2006, 2009, 2011

Dept. of Special Collections
University of Notre Dame
102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Telephone: 574-631-0290
Fax: 574-631-6308
E-Mail: rarebook @