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.

Diary

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.

Letters

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.

 

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