Valley Personal Papers

Return to Browse | Return to Search

Bibliographic Information | Modern-Spelling Version

Augusta County: Thomas M. Smiley to Mary A. Smiley, May 9, [1863]

Describes battle of Chancellorsville in which he participated in and was slightly wounded. Mentions Stonewall Jackson's loss of arm.

[page ]

Miss Mary A. Smiley
Moffetts Creek
Augusta Co
Va Mary A. Smiley

May 9th

Camp near Hamiltons Crossing

Dear Sister

You have no doubt heard of the battle of Chancellorsville before this and you may feel uneasy about me I will now try to quiet that uneasiness by writing a few lines to you for the purpose of letting you know that I am safe with no broken bones. but I made a very narrow escape indeed. There was a shell exploded a few yards from me one of the pieces of which struck in the ground by my side throwing the dirt and gravels over me my eyes were blackened and bruised up and my right hand was struck bruising and swelling it so that I could not do duty for a couple of days but I am thankful that I was permitted to escape from any worse wound. I am now in the company but my hand is still right sore. The last letter I wrote I stated that every thing was quiet so far as I was able to judge but the next morning the cannon began to roar near Fredericsburg we were ordered out and got to the old battle ground that evening. we lay

[page 2]

at the same place on Thursday and on Friday we started and marched to within a couple of mile of Chancellors. There was a prety heavy skirmish that evening but we were not engaged. on Saturday our division and Genl A P Hills division started around the enemys right and came out above them at the junction of the Culpeper & Orange & Fredericksburg turnpike roads. Hills division and the third brigade of our division were sent on in front and attacked the enemy driving them out of their position and entrenchments which were well chosen & strengthened considerably Saturday night was spent in maneuvering and occasional skirmishing in one of these skirmishes General Jackson lost his arm which we all feel to be a sore bereavement to us Sunday morning found us fronting the enemy they being sheltered by breast works which they had thrown up during the night nothing daunted however we charged them they breaking and running like frightened sheep we charged them thus out of two diferent works the last one being a very strong work it was here that we lost the most men as our reinforcements did not come up in time they planted a battery and graped us driving us back

[page 3]

a short distance but our support coming up at this time we drove them from every part of the field and all that kept their defeat from becoming an utter route was the difficulty of getting through the thick growth of bushes between that and the river. On Sunday night both armies formed another line of battle and commenced fortifying. Monday & Tuesday was spent in working on breast works. & Wednesday we received the joyful news that the enemy had crossed the river. We then started for camp with light hearts, yet, still greiving for the loss of many brave & good men Among them I will mention the name of our General. Paxton from Lexington. in our brigade the loss was over six hundred about fifty of these were killed dead others will die of their wounds. In our company Sergt J B. McCutchan was wounded in the head Lieut Carson in wrist Corporal Cochran in ankle severly James T Beard in foot Robt Wiseman in hand M Smith in hand J Runkle in leg Joseph Black and Sam Hite and several others slightly the list will be in the newspapers of Staunton soon as it was sent this morning Cyrus Strong was wounded severely it is

[page 4]

thought doubtful by some whether he will get over it or not Hugh Beard was wounded and Jim Reece is wounded again. Lieut Charles Calhoun had his leg taken off, and many others are wounded but I will not name them We captured about ten thousand prisoners took a good many peices of cannon fifteen thousand stand of small arms and many other things such as knapsacks [unclear: Gum] cloths, &c. they also left five hospitals in our possession containing near a thousand patients the most of them very badly wounded. but I will close for this time by asking you to write soon. Excuse all mistakes as this was hastily written. Give my love and best respects to all enquiring friends and relations and receive a due share yourself

from your affectionate Brother

Thomas M Smiley

P.S When you write let me know whether you have got the blanket I left in staunton or not and anything else of interest. I suppose that the same directions will answer for letters sent to us now, we are nearer hamiltons crossing than Guinea but I do not know that there is a post office at Hamiltons
Write Soon
Thomas M Smiley

Return to Full Valley Archive