Item Description: Letter dated 27 September 1863, from John Fuller Coghill to his sister Mildred Coghill, describing movements and counter-movements of the 23rd Regiment N.C. troops, as well as his encounter with “Yankee” pickets.
Camp 23rd Regt. N.C. Troops
Sept. the 27 1863
I received your most welcome letter dated the 21, and I can assure you that its contents was rec’d with great delight. I was glad to hear that Pappy was mending for I was very uneasy about him as I couldn’t hear from him. This leaves me well and hearty. I have no interesting news to write this morning as I know but very little of what it going on for our Brigade is about ten miles from our army. We were sent here to ga[u]rd this ford.
Know I will try to give you the particular points of our travels since we left Orange CH. We left there on the (?) and marched to Raccoon Ford or at least in two miles of it and took up camp. There we expected to have a battle as the cannons were roaring like Thunder, but the yankees did not advance so we staid there until the 18 and then we were ordered off to leave and go to Wortham’s Ford. When we arrived at the place, we formed a line of battle and I was ordered to the front [with] The Sharp Shooters. Then went on the margin of the river. That was on Friday and I staid there until Saturday night then I was relieved.
The Division had in that time a very good breastworks. That was on the 19 and on the 20 which was Sunday. We remained behind them and on Monday we moved out and took up camp in about two hundred yards of the breastworks. So we staid there until Wednesday and at night we received orders to come to this place and at the dawn of day the next morning we commenced our march about 10 miles to the Chemanak Ford on the Rapidan River and when we arrived where our Regt. were sent out on picket and we are still out from the Brigade: the rest of the brigade are throwing up breastworks. We are very fortified, the [w]hole line from Orange C.H. to Fredericksburg:
While we were on picket we would talk with the Yankees and would swap news papers and we would go down to the river to wash our face and hands. The Yankees would come and wash theirs on the other side about 30 yards wide so we were very friendly it seemed like, but if they were to come across they would certainly find a warm reception. We have been living very high on corn for the last 4 days. It looks like somebody has been feeding hogs for a [w]hole winter just to look at the corn cobs that (?) we eaten the corn off: I have written enough about the corn and the expected battle: so I was proud to hear that you all had such a glad meeting at the Old School House, the place that I love but if I cannot come and see you all.
I can meditate upon the past gone by days and think of the joys and pleasure that I have seen but alas it has gone never more to return. It would be almost unspeakable joy to me to know that peace was made and I could return home again and I am in hopes that, that time is not far distant when peace shall prevail over and through our land and more. So, I must bring my letter to a close as I have not lines enought to write any more so I remain as ever
Your affectionate Brother
J. F. Coghill