“We will go into the city of Vicksburgh after awhile…”

Nothing quite like a letter to explain what the situation was really like for the common soldier, and here’s a good one from the Siege of Vicksburg. The spelling and punctuation is original.

In Camp, Siege of Vicksburg, June 9, 1863

Dear wife,

We are still tunneling away at the rebel works around the city and in the same position as we were when I last wrote to you, with a fair prospect of remaining so for several days to come, but we will go into the city of Vicksburgh after awhile, that is shure, for we can live outside of their works longer than they can inside of them, that is certain, for we can get everything we want, and they can get nothing atall. We hear all kinds of rumors of how they are suffering fro want of water and provision, but we can’t tell which tale is the true one, and so we let them pass for what they will fitch.

The only thing we have here that we can rely on for certain is the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry, but we have been taking it perfectly cook and easely since the day of the charge. If you were here some time you would not think that we were face to face with an enemy, the men whistling and singing, sutlers selling their wares, and everything looks as if we were in camp for a big rest instead of besieging a rebell city.

The worst thing here is the water does not agree with the men. A good many of them are complaining with the diareah. Jacob Shut, Emanuel Sawers, and Levi Snyder are here in our hospt. They are trying to get Shut and Sawer furloughs for twenty days, but I don’t know how they will succeed, but I hope they will get them as they ought to have them.

The weather for the last three days has been most intolerably hot. It looks a litle like rain to day. I hope that it will as we need it. Tom Eaton, Charly Bannes, and the rest of the boys that we left back at the river sick have got well and are here with the regiment. I believe that the boys are all well but the three that we have here in the Hospt.

the boys are verey mutch put out with Captain Eaton. They saw that he promised to write to the most of them but he’s never wrote a word to the company attall. We all hope that he is doing well. Letters from home are a scarce thing here now. We get the news from the cincinnati, st. Louis, memphis, and Chicago papers every few days, but this is all. We got a mail the other day that had three letters in it for the 67th Reg. And that was all. Three letters in three weeks for three hundred and fifty men is a heavy mail I think.

I am not verey well and don’t expect to be untill I get away from this watter. I have written this makes seven letters since I have one from any person, but I reckon the next mail will be full of them. I hoope that we will be in Vicksburgh before I have to write again. Give my love to all. Tell them I eat as many ripe blackberreys as I wanted on day before yesterday. Write soon.

From your Afect Husband

Wm. Winters

Notes for primary source context:

  • Sergeant William Winters enlisted in the 67th Indiana Infantry in 1862 and had been in army service less than a year by the Siege of Vicksburg.
  • At the time of this letter, the 67th Indiana was in General McClernand’s XIII Corps.

Source:

William Winters to Harriet Winters, June 9, 1863; printed in The Civil War: The Third As Told By Those Who Lived It; edited by Brooks D. Simpson

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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3 Responses to “We will go into the city of Vicksburgh after awhile…”

  1. Alan Peterson says:

    Interesting letter. Did William survive the war?

  2. rarerootbeer says:

    Being how my ancestor was only a short stroll from this man, I find it extra interesting for me. My ancestor would have written his letter in German. He also later died of disease caused by the “bad” water.

  3. mark harnitchek says:

    thanks Sarah…that’s a good one…those soldiers (both sides) were tough as boiled owls.

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