An Illinois Rebel At Gettysburg, Part 2

My last post contained Part 1 of the diary of Charles E. Hutchinson, which covered the period from June 15, 1863, to July 10, 1863. This posting will cover the balance of Hutchinson’s diary, and also includes letters written by the sergeant during the campaign that were published in the April 11 & 13, 1896, issues of the Vicksburg Evening Post.


July 11 – Moved about 8 o’clock on the road leading to the Potomac – nine miles distant –

Major General Lafayette McLaws – Library of Congress

McLawes’ division fought the enemy yesterday – with what success I do not know. Moved up to within one mile of the enemy and commenced throwing up rifle pits. Finished them, and orders came for us to move to the right and rear, marched out and found pits made of logs and leaves. We went to work to make them right, worked until 11 o’clock at night. Picket firing all day on the right.

[Note: Major General Lafayette McLaws was a division commander in the 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia]

July 12 -Opened still and cloudy, Sixteenth [Mississippi Infantry] went foraging and made a big haul; am sorry to see it – it will not make friends for us, I think it entirely wrong. My family have been robbed, but I cannot bring myself to do the same. Picket firing along the lines in front. Have heard today of the fall of Vicksburg; is hard to believe it, and I trust it may not be true. If true, it is a sad blow to the South. It will surely prolong the war. In the meantime what will become of our wives and little children? It makes me sick at heart to think of the suffering they will have to endure. I fear my little ones will be hungry many times before the war ends. God hasten the end. If Vicksburg has fallen I fear there has been foul play. Gen. Pemberton has done his duty nobly; the blame must attach to some one else. Heavy firing on our left. We had a nice rain today.

Vicksburg woman praying during the siege of the city – Illustration by Adalbert Volck – Library of Congress

July 13 – Tolerably quiet all along the lines today. Occasional picket firing. Has been cloudy all day with a little rain.

July 14 – Last night at dark we had orders to pack up and fall back. We marched all night

Brigadier General James J. Pettigrew – North Carolina Museum of History

over the worst roads in Maryland. Raining all night, mud knee deep. Crossed the Potomac about 10 o’clock today on a pontoon at “Falling Water.” I fear the enemy have taken some of our men, as they were at our heels when we crossed. We are now camped near the river to rest and get rations. Yankee cavalry charged one of our brigades today and we killed and captured all but eight or ten (didn’t make much) – Gen. Pettigrew was killed in the charge. He was a fine general.

[Note: Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew commanded a brigade in Major General Henry Heth’s division, of the 3rd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia]

July 15 – Started out pretty early today, passed through Martinsburg, eight miles from the Potomac. Very fine marching, being on the Pike. Passed through Bunker Hill and camped one mile beyond, having marched eighteen miles. Had a nice lot of dewberries that some of the boys brought in. Have today heard that Vicksburg has certainly fallen. It is a sad blow to us, I am disheartened. God only knows what will become of my wife and little children, the enemy have taken everything from them I suppose.

July 16 – We will stay here today to rest. I went out and gathered a fine lot of berries today. Have heard today Port Hudson had fallen. “It never rains but it pours,” all our reverses come at once, expect now to hear of the fall of Mobile next. Some cannonading in our rear today.

July 17 – Still in camp. It rained very nearly all day. Wrote to Calvin Young today.

[Note: Private Calvin Young served in Company H, 48th Mississippi Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862. Young was permanently disabled by the wound and detailed to the commissary department in Alabama]

July 18 – All quiet in camp. List of clothing made out for company today.

July 19 – Still in camp, all quiet, had preaching in our brigade today, and was honored by the presence of ladies, Lee, Longstreet, Anderson, Hill, and Posey. Drew a pair of shoes today.

July 20 – Still in camp. Beautiful weather. Something is the matter with the commissary; short of rations. Have orders this evening to be ready to move at daylight tomorrow morning. Tried some boiled wheat today, it was very good.

July 21 – Commenced march about 12 0’clock. Very good roads marched about 14 miles today. Passed through Winchester and camped on the road leading to Staunton, 2 miles from Winchester. Dick Weeman and Joe Hamett (doubtfully) came in today. The day has been beautiful.

[Note: 4th Sergeant Richard E. Weeman was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. In April 1864 he transferred to the Confederate Navy. Joseph H. Hammett was a private in the 48th Mississippi. Both men served in Company H of the regiment]

Wartime illustration of Front Royal, Virginia

July 22 – This is my birthday. I am 31 years old, and what profit have I been to myself or country? I have gained some experience and will turn it to profit if I live. I believe I am a better man than I was two years ago. We left our camp, turned off to the left and struck the pike for Fort Royal. I don’t feel very well today. Crossed the Shenandoah on pontoons and camped half a mile from Fort [Front] Royal. Marched 18 miles.

July 23 – Left camp early, marching very fast. Heard that Longstreet had a “brush” with the Yankees in the Pass. Camped early in our old camp near Flint Hill. I gathered a nice lot of dewberries today, the finest I ever saw. Marched 12 miles today.

July 24 – Left camp early. Passed through Flint Hill. Some of our division had a skirmish in the mountains today. We drove the Yankees across Hazel River. Very warm. Crossed Hazel River and camped.

July 25 – Left early and marched very fast. Camped about 10 o’clock near Culpeper in our old camp.

July 26 – There has been preaching in camp today. Had a nice rain last night. Had brigade inspection today. Briggs came to us today.

[Note: Private Eugene Briggs of Company H, 48th Mississippi, was listed as sick in Richmond on the muster roll for April 30 – July 31, 1863. He was wounded on August 24, 1864, and later returned to the regiment and served until the surrender in 1865]

July 27 – Still in camp. Had some rain today.

July 28 – Orders issued today, having “Roll Call” four times a day. Hear that Wright’s Brigade lost heavily in the mountains. Had one of the hardest rains I think I ever saw. I got quite wet. Cannot hear from home.

July 29 – Have orders to get ready for picket duty at 8 o’clock. The duty will not be very arduous, for there are no Yankees within 10 miles of us. Today has been cloudy and damp. Hear rumors of compromise and of intervention. Well, when it comes, I am ready for it.

July 30 – Had a very pleasant night on picket. I slept well. Expect our company will stay here some time. For the first time since I have been in the camp I went to a house and got my supper. We had a fair meal for these hard times. Our “chat” with the young ladies was very pleasant. Had some rain today.

July 31 – Still on picket, but will be relieved this evening. Today has been very pleasant, and without rain for the first time in several days. Myself and Jeff Laughlin were sent to guard a house 3 1/2 miles from camp. It is the first good thing we have had, and I hope we will keep it for some time.

[Note: Jefferson D. Laughlin was a private in Company H, 48th Mississippi]

August 1 – Very warm. No air stirring. Have heard that our brigade has marching orders, and that Longstreet’s corps has left. Cavalry are falling back from Hazel River, and I hear cannonading. Expect we will have to leave our good position as guards. We were relieved as I feared. We have had a very hard march to overtake the regiment. The Yankee cavalry had drawn over to within two miles of Culpeper. When our division formed in line and advanced the Yankees “got further.” We ran them about four miles, when night came on and we had to stop. Don’t know what loss we have sustained. The nineteenth [Mississippi Infantry] lost some. This has been a very hot day.

Wartime photo of Culpeper, Virginia

August 2 – We lay in the woods all day waiting for the enemy, but they took “second thought” and went back. Yesterday and today have been very warm. Have not heard from home yet.

August 3 – Started about 10 o’clock. Day very hot. Rested frequently, but the men could not stand it, and many gave out. Rested until near night and started again. Camped after dark. Marched ten miles.

August 4 – We were awakened at 3:30 o’clock to start. Got off at daylight and soon crossed Robinson’s river. Three miles further we crossed the Rapidan at Barnett’s Ford. Rested several times during our march, and camped after marching seven miles, near Orange Court House. The day has been very fine for us.

Wartime photograph of a ford on the Rapidan River

August 5 – Have written home today by “Flag of Truce.” We have a very pretty camp ground. No rumors. All quiet.

August 6 – All quiet in camp.

August 7 – Read a letter from C.M. Kain. No rumors in camp for a wonder. Had rain today.

August 8 – All quiet in camp. Rollison and Blackburn came in camp yesterday. Answered Kain’s letter, but did not get it ready in time. Camp taking a general wash today. Rain again today, green corn “jubilee” has commenced. Had a fine _____ today.

[Note: Private William M. Rollinson served in Company H, 48th Mississippi. He was listed as sick on the muster roll from April 30 – July 31, 1863. He was captured on May 12, 1864, and spent the remainder of the war at Fort Delaware prisoner of war camp. Private Jeff L. Blackburn also served in Company H. He was listed as sick in Culpeper, Virginia, on the muster roll from April 30 – July 31, 1863. He died of Typhoid fever on October 28, 1864]

August 9 – Had preaching in camp. Make a breakfast on green corn today. Sent my letter to Kain with description roll and ten dollars from Captain Folks. Weather fine.

[Note: Captain Thomas M. Folkes was the regimental quartermaster of the 48th Mississippi Infantry]

August 10 – All quiet, nor rumors. Commenced drilling today.

August 11 – Went to Orange Courthouse. It is a miserable place of about one thousand people. Every thing very high. We were paid off today.

August 12 – All quiet in camp. Uriah Clarke of Vicksburg, and of our company paid us a visit today.

[Note: Private Uriah Clark of Company H, 48th Mississippi, had his right hand mangled by a shell fragment at the 2nd Battle of Manassas on August 30, 1862. Afterwards he was detailed to the quartermaster’s department in Vicksburg. He was returned to the regiment in December 1864 and served until the surrender.]

August 13 – On picket today. All quiet. Our posts are three miles from camp on the Rapidan.

August 14 – All quiet today. I went across the Rapidan and bought some corn and potatoes. Our relief did not arrive until 10 o’clock at night. Went back to camp on the 15th.

August 15 – All quiet in camp. “Grapevine” dispatches today. Read a letter from Kain.

August 16 – Had preaching today at 10 o’clock by our regular pastor and at 3 o’clock by Rev. Mr. Lacy. He is a splendid speaker and a good man. I wish we could hear him often. All quiet today. I have almost given up all hopes of hearing from home.

August 17 – Nothing of importance to note. We have company and battalion drill every day.

August 18 – All quiet in camp. An order granting furloughs to two men out of one hundred has been issued. There is no chance for me.

August 19 – Nothing new in camp. Jim Crump was the lucky man for the furlough. He will take letters for me.

[Note: 2nd Sergeant James M. Crump served in Company H, 48th Mississippi. He was killed in action on May 12, 1864.]

August 20 – The weather is very fine. We are having preaching in camp every night and “Mass” was said this morning at Gen. Posey’s quarters. I have heard that twenty men from the 9th Alabama regiment deserted last night. No other rumors in camp.

August 21 – This a day of feasting and prayer, and it has been observed generally in camp. Had services in camp today, weather is fine. No rumors.

August 22 – All quiet. Weather beautiful.

August 23 – Had preaching in camp, several were baptized.

August 24 – Had “Division Review” today by Gen. A.P. Hill. Had some rain in the evening.

August 26 – Our furloughed men left today. I sent two letters, one by Crump, and one by Dan Herring. Cloudy weather, some rain. M.L. Stevenson came out today.

[Note: “Dan Herring” was probably David Herren of Company F, 48th Mississippi, from Cayuga, Mississippi. He was wounded in action on May 12, 1864. Private M.L. Stevenson of Company H was listed as sick in the hospital at Danville, Virginia, on the muster roll for April 30 – July 31, 1863. He was killed in action on May 6, 1864]

August 28 – Lieut. Catchings went home today. I sent a letter by him. Preaching in camp, every day and night.

[Note: Lieutenant William W. Catchings served in Company H, 48th Mississippi]

August 29 – Some rain. Finished “Rolls” today.

September 13 – Had orders to get ready to move. Left at 9 o’clock and went down to Rapidan bridge. The Yankees had driven Stewart five miles this side of Culpeper.

September 14 – Skirmishing all day in sight. Yankees advanced several times but were driven back by Stewart. We emptied some of their saddles. We had none killed.

September 15 – Slight skirmishing today. Went on picket.

September 16 – All of our regiment were out, but Company H. We were throwing up redoubts.

September 17 – We were relieved last night, and recrossed the river. All quiet.

September 23 – Have orders to cook rations, and go on picket. Were relieved on the 24th.

September 25 – We were awakened two hours before day. Enemy had tried to surprise our pickets. Were driven back, but succeeded in burning a house which caused an alarm. Two Yanks captured.

October 31 – I received a letter from home today, the first since last April.


The October 31, 1863, entry was the last that Hutchinson recorded in his diary, but the version published in the Post also included copies of some letters written by him during the war. Several of these letters were written during the Gettysburg campaign and are worth quoting at some length. The first was dated August 22, 1863, from Orange Court House, Virginia, to his wife Eleanor:

“I am taking all the chances to get a letter to you. Another of my regiment is going as near as Cayuga, and it is probable you may get this one I send by him. I have written often by mail and have sent two letters by ‘Flag of Truce,’ the first directed to J.S. Acuff, and the other to T.H. Jett at Vicksburg (both this month) and will continue to write you. If you can get your answer to Dave Herring at Cayuga, I will get it. I am almost crazy to hear from you and our children, God bless them. I wrote also by James Crump of my company. I am in good health and have been through all the marches, and have been in all the fights – without a scratch. Charlie Kain (poor fellow) lost his arm at Gettysburg, but is getting well and has gone to Alabama to see his brother. Dave Gibson and Wiley, slightly wounded, and now with the company. McRaven was wounded in the ankle, it was a terrible fight. All quiet here now, but there will be an awful fight within the next two months, which will end the war, I think. I have not heard from you since the battle of Chancellorsville, I then received two letters. Orders granting furloughs to two men out of one hundred have been issued. It does not look much like a fight, but each side are concentrating their forces for one terrible battle. If we are victorious and I live, I will see you soon. Speak to our children of me, so they will not forget me. State to all enquiring that all our boys from lower end of Warren [County] are well and in good spirits. I suppose you have heard that Tom Clarke was killed (shot in bowels.) I am very uneasy on your account. That God may bless and bring you safely through all your troubles is my constant prayer. The best of our lives are passing swiftly from us, but I hope there are blessings in store for us yet, let us trust in Him who doeth all things for the best.”

On September 22, 1863, Sergeant Hutchinson wrote another letter to his wife from Rapidan Station, and told her:

“We were moved ten days ago from our camp at Orange Court House down on Rapidan River to check the enemy who were driving Stewart and have been here ever since. Skirmishing almost every day and throwing up works. I don’t think we will have a fight here. I have just heard that Bragg has whipped Rosencrans, that is good news. I suppose you have heard particulars of Gettysburg fight; it was a terrible affair. You have had a hard time I know; and you are drawing rations from the enemy. I feel for you deeply, if I could get to you I would try for a furlough. I hear a great many are taking the oath. ‘Sink or swim’ with the cause – I am in it. It is very hard to be away from you and the children, but it must be borne.”

Sergeant Hutchinson was true to his word – he served the Confederacy faithfully and was promoted to first sergeant of the Vicksburg Volunteers. In early 1865 he took sick and was granted a medical furlough to return to Mississippi to recuperate. On February 8, 1865, Hutchinson was admitted to Way Hospital in Meridian. By the time he had recovered from his illness, the war was almost over. With the collapse of the Confederacy imminent, Hutchinson was unable to rejoin the 48th Mississippi in Virginia. He was therefore assigned to a detachment of men such as himself who were cut off from their commands and attached to Brigadier General Matthew Ector’s brigade for the defense of Mobile, Alabama. Sergeant Hutchinson was with this command when the department commander, Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, surrendered.

With the war over, Hutchinson went home to his beloved wife and children. He died on

The Memorial Stone for Charles E. Hutchinson at Redbone Methodist Church Cemetery in Warren County, Mississippi

October 29, 1887, of cancer at the age of 55. He was initially buried in an unmarked grave at the Redbone Church Cemetery in southern Warren County. On October 14, 1999, the author and Gordon Cotton placed a memorial marker in Redbone Cemetery honoring the life of Charles E. Hutchinson.


An Illinois Rebel at Gettysburg, Part 1

Charles E. Hutchinson, a member of the “Vicksburg Volunteers,” Company H, 48th Mississippi Infantry, had the story of his Civil War service published long after his death. It was entitled “A Confederate Soldier’s History of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1863,” and it detailed Hutchinson’s participation in one of the most important campaigns of the Civil War: Gettysburg.

At the time the diary was first published in 1896, Hutchinson had been dead for several years; many of his comrades in the Vicksburg Volunteers, however, were still alive, and they were the intended audience for this work, as the Post stated in its introduction to the diary: “Those of this command who are living today, will no doubt take some interest in their old comrade’s notes, and in memory, go over again the long, hard marches, and fight the fierce battles, and stand the dreary picket that they shared with him thirty-three years ago.”

It has been 116 years since Sergeant Hutchinson’s diary was first published, and the sentiments expressed by the Post are just as valid today as they were a century ago. The diary does not reveal any startling new information about the Battle of Gettysburg, but it does illustrate how one Mississippi sergeant of the rank and file viewed the battle.

Unlike most of his fellow soldiers in the Vicksburg Volunteers who were native Southerners, Hutchinson was from the prairie state, having been born in Illinois on July 22, 1832. He moved south in the early 1850s, and the first record of him in Mississippi  is from March 5, 1856, when he married a widow, Mrs. Eleanor Calkins. By 1860 Charles and Eleanor, both 27 years old, were living in the town of Warrenton, seven miles south of Vicksburg. The couple operated a hotel in the town where they lived with their three children.

With the outbreak of war in 1861, Charles linked his fortune with his adopted state and joined the Vicksburg Volunteers on March 5, 1862. The company left Vicksburg in late April 1862, and was ordered to Virginia where they were made part of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Battalion. The 2nd Mississippi was a veteran unit that had been in Virginia since the summer of 1861 and had already been blooded in several battles.

[Editor’s note: In early 1863, the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Battalion was increased to regimental size by adding several new companies. The unit was renamed the 48th Mississippi Infantry, and went by this designation for the remainder of the war.]

The 2nd Mississippi Infantry Battalion belonged to the Department of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Joseph E. Johnston. Under his command, Sergeant Hutchinson first saw combat with the 2nd Mississippi at the battle of Seven Pines, Virginia, on May 31 – June 1, 1862. General Johnston was wounded in this engagement, and command of the army passed to General Robert E. Lee. Soon after taking over, Lee renamed his new command the Army of Northern Virginia, a name that grew to almost legendary status as they won victory after victory over the larger and better equipped Army of the Potomac.

The Battle of Seven Pines

Hutchinson participated in some of the most famous battles of the war while serving in the 2nd Mississippi: The Seven Days’, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, are just some of the battles in which he fought. He survived all of these bloody engagements, and by the time of the Gettysburg Campaign he had been promoted from 5th sergeant to 3rd sergeant.

When Sergeant Hutchinson began his diary on June 15, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia was already in motion, moving toward Pennsylvania in its second invasion of the north. General Lee planned to defeat the Army of the Potomac on Northern soil and force a negotiated end to the war. Such grand strategy meant little to Hutchinson, who had more pressing concerns, such as surviving the next battle, and worrying about the safety of his wife and children, who were caught up in the other great campaign that summer of 1863: Vicksburg.

The Diary of Charles E. Hutchinson

June 15, 1863 – Camped 1 mile from Chancellorsville. Marched 15 miles. Most of the day very hot. Forty of our brigade fainted; one died. Gave out myself.

[Editor’s note: The 48th Mississippi was part of a brigade commanded by Brigadier General Carnot Posey of Wilkinson County. Posey’s Brigade consisted of the following regiments: 12th Mississippi, 16th Mississippi, 19th Mississippi, and 48th Mississippi.]

Brigadier General Carnot Posey was the 48th Mississippi’s brigade commander

June 16 – Marched 12 miles and camped to cook. Feel very unwell. Have heard nothing from home; dread the worst.

[Editor’s note: Hutchinson had good reason to be worried about the welfare of his family. When the Union navy approached Vicksburg in May 1862, his wife Eleanor took her children and fled to the Methodist Church in Redbone, 10 miles south of Vicksburg. After living in the church with other refugees for a time, she moved her family into Vicksburg, and thus the family was in the hill city during the 1863 siege.] 

Bethel Methodist Church at Redbone, Mississippi, where Eleanor Hutchinson sought shelter with her children. – Millsaps College Collections

June 17 – Very hot. A great many men falling out. Camped yesterday two miles from Culpepper. Rested a great many times. Crossed Hazel River at sundown and camped. Took a good bath in the river.

This picture of Culpeper, Virginia, was taken in 1862 – Library of Congress

June 18 – Started early. Very hot and sultry. A great many men falling out. Stopped at 11 o’clock to rest, cloudy – had a hard rain. Marched at 2 o’clock and camped 1 and a half miles from Flint Hill.

June 19 – Started early. Very good marching. Have heard splendid news from General Ewell. Stopped for a while 1 mile from Fort Royal. Crossed Southern Shenandoah that evening during the rain, and camped for the night. Raining very hard. Passed very unpleasant night.

Editor’s note: Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell was commander of the 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. On June 14, 1863, he defeated Union General Robert Milroy at the Battle of Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley.]

Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell – Library of Congress

June 20 – Moved early, 2 miles and stopped to cook. Rained very hard this evening. Marched about 10 miles and camped in a very nice place.

June 21 – Marched about 8 miles today and are now camped near Berryville. For the last three days have been marching through the finest country I ever saw. Have heard “bully” news from Mississippi, if it is true. Cannot hear from home. Am in hopes that letters may soon come through.

June 22 – Have written home today. Hope the letter will get there. Started very late. Marched 9 miles and camped. The country is the finest I have ever seen. The scenery is beautiful. Passed several small towns and camped at sundown in a nice grove.

June 23 – Started early today, cool and pleasant. Passed through Charlestown. We were greeted with cheers, the waving of flags and handkerchiefs. There are a great many ladies, and all true Southerners. Hurrah! for Charlestown. If I get sick, I want to go back there. Marched about 10 miles and camped to cook. Left Harpers Ferry on the right, free of Yankees.

This illustration of Charlestown, Virginia, was made in 1862 – Library of Congress

June 24 – Started early and crossed the Potomac at 10 o’clock. Stopped to rest in sight of Sharpsburg. We are now fairly started into Maryland. Hope we will be more fortunate than before. Passed through Sharpsburg. Houses are closed. No Southern feeling here. At Keidersville Ditch, through which we passed, a son of General Wright was taken prisoner just ahead of our troops today. We are camped near Boonsboro.

[Editor’s note: At the Battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862, the 2nd Mississippi Battalion had 5 men killed and 55 wounded.]

June 25 – Started very early, passed through Boonsboro – All Union. We captured several spies in town yesterday. We are marching through a fine country and are within ten miles of Pennsylvania. Passed through Franktown; a good many Southerners in it. We are camped in sight of Hagerstown.

This illustration of Hagerstown, Maryland, is from HARPER’S WEEKLY, July 20, 1861

June 26 – Passed through Hagerstown. All Union. Did not see but one Southerner – but she gave us a wave. Middletown, through which we passed, is on the Pennsylvania line. Two or three small specimens of Confederate flags were exhibited – A very pretty town. All rabid Union. Some very pretty girls – but they looked very black at us. Marched twelve miles and camped at 12 o’clock. Raining very hard all day. Miserable souls since we left the Pike in Maryland. There has been some “pressing.” It looks hard but the Army must live. I hope there will be no ladies insulted. Expect a fight in a day or two.

June 27 – Wrote home. Left camp about 8 o’clock. Marching in rear of division. Passed through Marion, a small village. Saw General Longstreet today for the first time on march. He rode into Chambersburg at the head of our brigade. The “Burg” is a very nice place of about ten thousand inhabitants. All Yankees and full of young men. Some of our boys haven’t acted right, are in hopes it will be stopped. Strict orders have been issued in regard to it. We are camped near the mountains.

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

[Editor’s note: Lieutenant General James Longstreet was the commander of the 1st Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.]

June 28 – Remained in camp all day. We had preaching in camp, two young ladies were present. Foraging party sent out this morning, and returned with chickens, eggs, honey, butter and onions, for which they paid in Confederate money.

June 29 – Have orders to be ready to move at 7:30 o’clock. Orders countermanded. Good news from the brave old state of Mississippi. Grant has been repulsed again with great loss; reported at ten thousand. Hurrah! for Mississippi. Have had some rain today. Expect we will move in the morning.

June 30 – Still in camp. Have had some rain today. Have heard we are the “Reserve Division.” Some of our battalion came in today, that had been left behind sick. They report Yankees at Hagerstown.

July 1 – Left camp near Chambersburg early. Passed through Fayetteville and were soon climbing the mountains; and when at the top heard cannons ahead of us. Marched on, and found a fight progressing near the town of Gettysburg. A good many coming out wounded, and a large lot of prisoners. Hear that Hooker has been superseded by Meade, and that we have killed Gen. Reynolds. We have driven them some distance today. Have heard that we took six thousand prisoners.

[Editor’s note: Major General Joseph Hooker was relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac three days before the Battle of Gettysburg and replaced with Major General George G. Meade. Major General John F. Reynolds was commander of the 1st Corps, Army of the Potomac. He was killed on July 1 at Gettysburg.]

July 2 – We have moved to the front to support battery. Sent out skirmishers and threw up temporary rifle pits for our protection. In the evening our battalion was sent forward to support skirmishers, who were driving the foe. Advanced to within three hundred yards of battery, and could have taken it, if we had been supported, I think. Stayed out until dark and came back to pits. Our adjutant was killed. Loss to our company – (wounded) – Kain, shot in hand; McRaven, shot in ankle; Gibson, in the head, and Wiley, slightly in the hand. It seems impossible for men to advance in such a storm of shot and no more be killed. The shelling was terrific.

Marker for Posey’s brigade at Gettysburg

[Editors note: Posey’s Brigade was supporting Major William J. Pegram’s Battalion of Artillery, which was just in front of their position. The adjutant that Hutchinson mentions being killed was Martin R. Campbell, who had been appointed to the position on May 16, 1863. Private Charles M. Kain was wounded in action on July 2; he was permanently disabled and detailed to provost marshal duty in Georgia. Private D.J. McRaven was wounded in the ankle on July 2; he was permanently disabled and was never able to return to the regiment. Private David D. Gibson was wounded on July 2; after a short hospital stay he returned to the regiment and served until the surrender at Appomattox. Private John C. Wiley was wounded on July 2, and by the end of September he had recovered and was back with the regiment.

July 3 – We were awakened this morning by the picket firing, and soon after the cannon opened up, and then we had a lively time of it. About twelve lines of battle were formed, and advanced about 2 o’clock, but the enemy was too strongly posted. Before our lines advanced, our cannon opened, and were replied to by the enemy; and such a rattling of shell I never heard before. It was one continued roar for about two hours. I thought I had been under shell at Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Fredericksburg, but I never saw shelling until today. A great many horses of our battalion were killed. Do not know our loss in front. Expect it was heavy.

[Editor’s note: the 48th Mississippi had 6 men killed and 24 wounded in the fighting at Gettysburg.

July 4 – Heavy skirmishing today all along the lines. We were moved further to the right, and again threw up temporary rifle pits with bayonets and tin plates. Heavy rain most of the day. We will fall back tonight, and it will fall to our battalion to go on picket tonight.

July 5 – We relieved the 16th [Mississippi] pickets last evening and the artillery were withdrawn, and in an hour, all the troops in our front were gone. I did not like to be left but the night passed very quietly, with occasional picket firing. Rained hard all night. At the break of day, the order was given to fall back, and we went at a double quick to the rear and formed. Here had the hardest march I remember. Passing through Fairfield we soon struck the mountains 8 miles from Barnett’s Ford. Raining all the time and the roads knee deep in mud. After we got to the mountains, the narrow road was blocked with wagons, and such a march [I] have never seen. Our brigade was ahead of us, and we were trying to get up to it. We passed over and through the mountains and camped at night 1 mile from the Gap, and near a little town – Waterloo. Our wagons were not up, and we will have to forage some. We have marched between 20 and 22 miles. The enemy have made some captures from us in the mountains.

July 6 – Lay in camp until all the army had passed, and we were rear guard. marched all night. A private in the 12th was shot and killed by Sergeant Gregory of the 19th. He was drunk and will die for it. Marched until 8 o’clock and stopped to cook. All as hungry as wolves.

Editor’s note: Hutchinson had his facts mixed up; 1st Lieutenant Frank R. Gregory of Company B, 19th Mississippi Infantry, was killed by Private Richard G. Wilson of Company K, 12th Mississippi Infantry during the retreat from Gettysburg. Private Wilson was arrested and sent to Castle Thunder prison in Richmond. While in prison Wilson volunteered to serve in the Winder Legion for the defense of Richmond from Sheridan’s Raid in 1864. For his actions he was pardoned by Jefferson Davis and returned to his regiment. Private Wilson was captured at Petersburg on April 2, 1865.]

July 7 – In camp near Hagerstown cooking.

July 8 – Still in camp near Hagerstown. Rained very hard last night. Our tent fell down and we got very wet. Still raining. There have been but two or three days it did not rain since we crossed the Potomac.

July 9 – Still in camp. Today has been beautiful. Have heard all kinds of rumors today. Heard “that we had possession of New Orleans,” “that Grant is surrounded and his supplies cut off,” that “the enemy lost forty-two thousand men at Gettysburg,” and that “we have possession of Maryland Heights.” God grant it may all be true. The enemy came near getting our wagons today, but was driven off by our cavalry. I am in hopes that peace may soon be declared, and that we may be sent to our homes all right. Wise counsel must prevail; fighting will not make peace. Sent letter home today, and think it will go through this time.

July 10 – Pleasant day. Fighting in the direction of Franktown; we moved at 3 o’clock. Sent out foraging party for battalion. King went from our company. We passed through Hagerstown today. Have changed my opinion in regard to the place. There are a great many Southerners there, and some very pretty girls. We are now camped, I suppose near Franktown. Expect a fight tomorrow. “God defend the right.”

[Editor’s note: This ends Part 1 of “An Illinois Rebel at Gettysburg – I will post Part 2 very soon!]

A Rebel’s Wish

The passions of Mississippians who fought for the South during the Civil War didn’t die with the Confederacy in 1865. For some, their hatred of all things Northern was deep and abiding. A good example of the anger that many felt is found in this poem, which was published in the Natchez Weekly Democrat on September 12, 1868. Entitled “A Rebel’s Wish,” the poem opened with this statement:

[The following tremendous “wish” seems hardly in accordance with the Divine command “Forgive your enemies.” But evidently an “honest hater,” as Dr. Johnson would have said, wrote it; and let us respect honesty. – Ex]

A Rebel’s Wish

Oh, may each dastard Yankee float

On Polar seas, in open boat –

On icebergs driven, tempest-tossed,

Their water out, their rations lost.

A sky that’s deaf to supplication,

All round a scene of desolation –

No peace on earth, no hope in heaven,

To shame and want forever given,

Until the fates adjudging well,

Consign them to the lowest Hell.

And while they roast, and burn and stew,

Lamenting what they can’t undo,

See in cool Heaven, above their heads,

Angelick squadrons of Confeds,

Wandering by streams, whose liquid flow,

Maddens the scorching crowds below

Who’d take ten years of added ill

For one cool drop those careless spill;

But find repentance came too late –

Sealed and unchangeable their fate.


[Suggested by reading the passage of the military bill]