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Eyewitness Accounts - Private William H. Rees, 1st Kentucky Infantry, CSA

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(From the Civil War Letters from William Rees, 1st Kentucky Infantry, CSA)


Dear Mary:

After an absence from Burnsville of one week and a considrable march from Friday night until Sunday morning, at which time we struck the battle field, fought all day and about one hour by sun in the evening.  We were in possession of all the enemy's encampments and in reach of their gun boats from which we were shelled with small loss.  We fell back one mile, camped in their camps.  Monday morning we were attached again with the same force and Buels also, and fought them nearly all day, both armies contesting every inch.  About 3 o'clock both seemed willing to stop and fell back about one mile and camped for the night.  The Federals I suppose fell back also for we still camped in their tents.  We are still in three miles of their encampments living on Lincoln rashions.  The Federals have sustained a heavy loss in their encampments.  Our boys have a great many little tricks.  We cannot hold their camps for they are in reach of their gun-goats; they can shell us all the time.  This, I suppose, has been the biggest battle of the war, such fighting is no small thing.  We started into the fight with some 65.  Some gave out early while others fought all the time.  It required nerve to fight on Sunday.  Our loss was heaviest Sunday and Monday.  Our loss was 4 killed and twelve or thirteen wounded.  Killed:  James Howard, Mr. Clark, James Warren (poor James) I was by his side when he fell.  I turned him over to give him some assistance but he seemed to have been shot dead.  Of all the battles, leaving him was the worst, he fought all the time like a hero, and was a good boy.  I hope his soul is in heaven."

"Our wounded are Capt. Bright, Lieut. Moore, William Womac, A. Forester, James Bedford, John Allen, J. T. Moore, George Perry, John Hoots and some others that I do not remember for I have not seen any of them since the battle.  They were all sent back to Corinth.  I suppose they are not seriously hurt.  Our boys did mostly well.  The name of the battle field has no name yet, as I know of, but I tell you there is many a one gone from that field to his long home.  The field is ten miles long and six or seven wide and fought all over and in places the dead thick.  I saw at least five Federals killed to one Confederate."

"The amount of prisoners we got I do not know.  I saw twenty-five hundred (said to be) myself.  It is said the amount will be from 6 to 10 thousand.  I cannot tell, tho, we have done well.  No doubt A. S. Johnson was killed.  My health is good.  I thank God I went through the battle both days and did not get hurt, though one was killed by my side each day.  James Howard on Sunday.  He was a good soldier."

(W. H. Rees survived the war to return home to Mulberry, TN to his wife and children.)

Submitted by The Manassas Belle

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