This is the second letter written by “Phoenix,” an unidentified member of the “Vicksburg Sharpshooters,” Company G, 12th Mississippi. Infantry. The letter was published in The Vicksburg Weekly Citizen, June 10, 1861:
Letter from the Sharpshooters
Camp Clark, Near Corinth, Miss. May 27th, 1861
Dear Citizen: Since my last writing there have been but few occurrences here that are not already known throughout the State. The principal event so far has been the election of officers for this regiment, the result of which you have already learned. We are still awaiting orders to march, and came very near making a start last Sunday morning. Orders had been received here to that effect, and we were to start at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning, and everything was ready by our men for the move when the order was countermanded. This disappointed our boys very much, as they thought that in a few days they should have a chance to show how the boys of old Warren could handle their guns.
In my last letter to you I stated that there had been some trouble in the Natchez Fencibles
about the guns they were to use, and that they had been split up on account of it, and that the report was current that their Captain had treated them not as men but as dogs. Since that time I have been glad to see and learn that the reports about the Captain were put out by some of the men when in the heat of passion, and that they now have not only taken the guns which the State has provided for them, but that they praise their Captain for his nobleness and kindness; and I can assure you now, having made the Captain’s acquaintance since, that a more noble, generous, brave and kind hearted Captain never commanded a volunteer company than Captain Blackburn, and I am sure that wherever he will lead them they will be led where they can show what kind of boys the Bluff City has produced, and that their gallant Captain will put them through in the most approved and correct manner.
There have been two deaths in our regiment since my last – the first was a sergeant of the Sardis Blues, and the other a private in the Natchez Fencibles. There is some sickness in the regiment at present – caused by the drinking of spring water and the change of diet incident to camp life – the sickness being chiefly diarhoea. There are daily accessions to the companies here, and I believe that there are at present about 3,000 troops here. Yesterday an Alabama regiment arrived here on their way to the scene of action. They are encamped some distance from us.
This place at present I think has more inhabitants than it ever had at one time before – there is nothing to be seen but soldiers wherever you may look or go. The camp fires at night look like a section of woods on fire, and it is very picturesque in the moon light.
Yesterday afternoon our regiment was put through some field exercises by Gen. Charles
Clarke, Capt. Miller acting Adjutant. It was a scene to be witnessed, as they went through the evolutions in honor to themselves and the commanding officers. They were admired by large numbers of ladies and gentlemen, who witnessed them.
Our regiment is composed of the following companies to wit:
Charles Clark Rifles, Capt. J.J. McLean; Natchez Fencibles, Capt. E.M. Blackburn; Satartia Rifles, Captain Gale; Sharpshooters, Capt. H.H. Miller; Claiborne Guards, H. Hughes; Durant Rifles, Captain Caton; Sardis Blues, Captain Crump; Pettus Relief, Capt. _____; Lawrence Rifles, Capt. Boen. I thought that I would be able to give you a full list of all the companies that were in camp here but it is not in my power to do so.
Our second lieutenant Richardson went to Vicksburg a few days ago and returned with ten more men for our company – among them we have another dangerous name, and the man that bears it will show, if he gets the chance that the name is no more so than the owner. I allude to Alonzo Swords – this the second soldier of that name that has come with the Sharpshooters.
Although there has been a little sickness amongst us, all our men are able to do duty and eager to proceed to the seat of war. Every man is dead bent on killing at least six abolitionists. We have been looking for the Volunteer Southrons of your city here every day, and on last Friday our company went to the depot to meet them but were disappointed. Capt. Harris’ company from your city passed by here yesterday (Sunday) en route for Virginia. For want of anything further of interest I shall bring this to a close.
In the June 10, 1861 edition of the Weekly Citizen, there was a brief update on the Sharpshooters:
From the Sharpshooters
From a private letter from one of the Sharpshooters we learn that they are now encamped at Camp Miller, near Union City in Tennessee. He gives an account of the journey from Corinth. At a little place called Bethel Station, the people were all at the depot – had the secession flag up and were having a gay old time to the tune of Dixie’s Land. One of the men asked them for the flag when the ladies shouted out to the man who was holding it, ‘give it to them, we’ll make another,” when he gracefully presented it to the soldiers, and they received it with three cheers. At Jackson, Tenn., the citizens had provided four or five barrels of ice water for our refreshment. The day being war and the men fatigued, this cooling beverage was joyfully received. At this place one of the Sharpshooters met two of his sisters whom he had not seen for eleven years, but had only ten minutes time to talk to them. The boys are all well and wish to be remembered to all our friends.
In another column of the paper was a little more information on the Sharpshooters:
Mr. H.H. Harvey of the Sharpshooters, has returned to town on official business connected with the company. Among the few items which we hurriedly gleaned from, we learn that the Sharpshooters are in camp at Union City, Tenn.; that there are two Mississippi and four four Tennessee regiments in camp at that place: four Mississippi and two Alabama regiments are at Corinth, and eight regiments are at Jackson, Tennessee, making in the aggregate about twenty thousand men in this division of the army.