Letter written just before the Battle of Shiloh, describing how Confederates were preparing for battle. Written at Corinth on 26 March 1862, briefly stating, "our blacksmiths are engaged in making pikes".
My Affectionate Wife,
I am once more permitted to hold communication with you, the idol of my heart. This Mattie is the most pleasing task that your absent husband can perform. All is now quiet around me except the whistling of a locomotive of the groans and sighs of the poor sick soldiers, who are lying all around & about me, as I drop you a few lines by the light of a dim and flickering taper, and my lovely Mattie, it is a sad sight to behold these poor fellows lying here upon the floor. Some are resting on a little tick of straw and some few on mattresses of cotton & shuck whilts others of them are subjected to the floor, hard as it is, with nothing but a blanket under their bodies, and a knapsack under their heads. Some of them are delirious and have to be constantly watched to keep them from destroying themselves by falling downstairs or from a window. Some of them are calling for friends which are distant from them. Others asking for water to cool their parched lips and quench the morbid thirst of a diseased and burning stomach – and many times they speak of home (that Eden of earth). Whilst the tears of hope are seen to trickle down their pale emaciated faces which speaks much more than their parched tongues could utter. I have in my charge 50 some odd of these poor fellows, many of them have typhoid pneumonia produced from exposure such as being in the rain and lying on damp cold ground. It has rained a great deal here and spit snow part of the time during the most disagreeable weather we have had. We were ordered to cook 5 days rations and to pack up all our bedding and wearing apparel that we could not tote upon our backs – haul it to town and pack it away in a house. Consequently we suffered very much from cold sometimes we would go to bed in a dry place and wake before day with the water running all through our tents and our beds had to stay wet for days at a time.
27th – Kind Mattie, I hear this morning that our letters are not allowed to reach home by mail for fear that we will let out important items in regard to war matters.
I understand that Clase’s company were mustered out a day or two ago and I expected to send this letter by Charles but am fearful that I shall not get to see him. Our regiment is 6 miles from this place on picket duty for a week, and he will go out to it I expect to find me and there is so many hospitals here that I fear he would not trouble himself to find me. Mattie it would be a great sight to you to behold our army here. At night you can see these camp fires in every direction and hear drums and fifes and bands of music. I went out a mile from town day before yesterday to see Lieut. King and Dr. James Mathews hoping to hear from you by letter, but was more than sadly disappointed. In going this short distance, I found thousands of soldiers – passed through camp after camp, they were mostly Arkansas and Alabama troops. The 7ths regt. has refused to reenlist. I am sorry, truly sorry that they should refuse at such a time as this – when we are being pressed upon before and behind. Our pickets have seen the enemies and citizens say that 80,000 of the enemy are crossing the swamps out towards the river in order to get out with their artillery and Buell intending to march upon us from Nashville if he can, with a force of 60,000 and the drilled soldier refusing to reenlist. Their excuse is they want to go home and see the folks and then they will reenlist. When it is apparent to all eyes that if we don’t fight now we need not fight at all – that even 30 days furlough at this time for all 12 months troops will prolong this war perhaps one year if it does not cause our being overrun with the foe. MB we are expecting a great battle to commence in less than 10 days there will probably be 2 or 3 hundred
thousand men engaged and if we should have to give up this place and allow them this railroad we are overrun. If men won’t fight under these circumstances they certainly are willing to be vassals for an Abolition President. General Pillow has it is thought proved to be a traitor and is now under arrest. He surrendered Fort Donelson and 5,000 men, arms, ammunition and everything pertaining to our army at that point, and not only so but went off without trying to save our men at all. They gave up at 2 o’clock at night nearly all of our men could have been got out by 8 o’clock next morning – men that escaped on next day say that the way up the river was not closed until 8 or 9 o’clock on the same day. Forrest came out and find out the rest have been saved.
Beauregard is here, Johnson and Major General Polk are also here, so you may know that we are expecting something at this point and that pretty soon. I am much discouraged at the way our officers are doing up business. We have lost provisions and arms until I fear that we in course of time, that is before we can make another crop will fall short of provisions. You know we are already short of firearms but our Blacksmiths are engaged in making pikes which I think will be valuable to us. General B. (Beauregard) is gathering up all the church bells he can get to make cannons and I am glad to learn that the churches are sending them in with all the feelings of patriotism that can prompt a true Southerner – they say by these actions I had rather die than live a vassal to Abe Linkhorn.
As for my part, I had rather see the land drenched with my own blood than polluted by the fiends that are now trying to subdue. If they should surrender upon any other terms than those that are honorable and just to the south, some other land will be the abiding place of your now absent husband for I never will live under northern rule. Mattie I am anxious to hear from you and our sweet ones but I have looked for letters from you until I have almost given out getting of them only by mere chance. I did get one by Charles and it was strange to me that I can’t get your letters as well as Choles can. Now Mattie I must close this lengthy epistle. I hope you will kiss our little ones often and think of me who loves you as himself. Give my kindest regards to the family.
E. W. Treadwell
P.S. Paper is worth $2 a guise and envelopes 5 cents apiece. I see here at one sight as many as 50 wagons in one train and early of a morning they stand over two or three acres of ground. I have just been in company with part of Droper’s company they have been mustered out of service. There has been fighting at Dasport for two days between our battlers and the enemies’ gun boats – none of our men hurt.