Bristol, Sullivan County, Tennessee
July 27th, 1861.
Dear Wife and Children-
I again embrace the pleasure of writing to you & as Ink is scares amongst us, you will pardon me for making this impression with pencil.
I can inform you, that I am in excellent health, as well as the other boys from your neighborhood.
We left Camp Trousdale on Sunday the 21st. Inst. and arrived her on Thursday the 25, making 4 days and nights travel by Railroad, passing through Nash- ville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Greenville, Jonesboro, and other places of minor importance.
Crossing the Tennessee and other smaller Rivers on Bridges, passing the Cum- berland Mountains through a gap and tunnel and running under the Frowning brow of the Iron Mountains hundreds of Miles amid the most delightful and Majestic like Cenery, the Eye of Man ever beheld, in spring the beholder with a deep reverence for the Infinite wisdom of him that made us and everything. Could it have been that our thoughts had not occasionally strayed from the cen- ery around us and found a resting place, The Hearth at Home, where our wives and Children, with their sweet and lovely Faces, and the many items of Interest that bound us to them.
Had it not been for a thought of the Blood, Death, and carnage before us, of which I will write on another page, the trip would have been delightful.
No accident of a serious nature occurred until we were leaving Knoxville, when one of our Company, a son of Joseph Law, by the name of Don. F. in attempting to jump the Train, fell under the Train, cutting his leg smooth into, just below the left knee. We carried him into the warehouse where the Seargant cut it off again just above the knee. I carried his foot and leg in my hand from the Railroad to the Warehouse with a shoe and a sock and a part of the Breeches leg on it-We left him there and his brother to wait on him, but learned this Morning that he has since died.
We are within a half mile of the Virginia line, connecting with Washington County sick, in that State, where the State line crosses the Railroad-There is two Flagpoles, one in Virginia, and one on the Tennessee line, and since the decision of Tennessee the two Flags have been tied together.
While I am writing, Colonel Newman’s Regiment, among which is the Granville Company, has arrived here from old Camp Trousdale, and while they March through our Camps with Marshal Music, [they] had a Warlike appear- ance. I stopped to shake hands and to help the other boys to Holow. They were mighty glad to see us again.
Yesterday we received order to move to Lynchburg, Virginia, and as there was a scarcity of Cars there was only Seven Companies that got off, and we, with two other Companies was left-after they got up 15 Miles into Virginia, They got a Telgraph dispatch to come back, and as they are just getting into Camps again I must stop again, to tell the Howdy Do -We were as glad to see them as if they had been gone a week.
Last Night Five of our Boys caught up with us, Bill among them-They looked like they could stand the Fight first rate.
As I promised to write more about the Big Fight Manassas I will now give you all the news as we have it. I have just been down to Town (Woodrow, Virginia), and red the Richmond Examiner, and give it to you. The Southerners had 30,000 men Commanded by Beauregard, Davis and Johnston. The Yankees had 65,000 men Commanded by Scott, McDowell and Patterson. Fight com- menced at 8 O’clock-Morning (Sunday) about the hour we left Camp Trousdale and lasted all day. The Southerners lost 500 killed and 1,500 wounded-Then the Northern Men lost 21,000 killed and lost 1,000 prisoners-Our side took 63 Cannons 1,000 Stands of Arms, Horses and provisions and etc. worth a Million of Dollars -Enough to Furnish the Southern Army for 12 Months. From the General detail of the battle it was the greatest Battle fought since the Memera- ble Battle of Waterloo-If Jeff Davis had of had Ten Thousand Men more, who was Fresh and not exhausted, he says he could have taken Washington City in 10 Hours after the battle-Our side run them within a few mile of the Potomac River-Got old Scott’s Carriage, and his walking stick and he run 40 miles, got 2 members of the Yanks Congressmen as prisoners, and in fact, whipped them shamefully—For full particulars I refer you to the News Paper.
I do not know where we will go from here. It is rumored that we will go to the Cumberland Gap, some say to Missouri. Governor Jackson of Missouri was here Yesterday in Company with Senator Atchinson-They both spoke-Jackson says that he can whip out the Yankees in Missouri if he had Guns-He has gone to Richmond to see Davis. The impression here is that he has gone there to get some of the Guns we got from the Yankees.
I cannot say now, my Dear Family, when I will see you again, if ever, but should it be the will of God to cut me off from you, rest assured that you shall never be disgraced by any Conduct on my part in this War, for you and my Country; I am willing to do Battle, and if Fate be against me, let it be so. Be curageous and let not private feelings have sway with you, for I believe it is for the Best, and but performing the Providence of God that this War is upon us, in other words, it is a Righteous War.
Take good care of your health, our sweet little Children raise them up as though they should go, and although the example heretofore set by me to them has not been of that Moral Character they should have been, Yet I trust that their superior intelligence will enable them to observe and avoid my errors.
Since writing the above, we have orders to leave immediately for Richmond, and Boys are bundeling up to start.
You need not write me until I write again. Give my love to your Mother, and all the Black Folks, and to your Friends.
Should Faith preserve me, I will see you in May next, if not sooner. May Heaven will it so.
Farewell, R. J. C. Gailbreath
W. P. A. Civil War Records, Vol. 3, pp. 64-65.