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Augusta County: Thomas M. Smiley to His Aunt, May 12, 1863

Description of the authors experience at the Battle of Chancellorsville.


May 12th /63

Camp near Hamilton's Crossing

Dear Aunt

I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well with the exception of being very tired from the effects of the late terrible suffering we have passed through We lay in line of battle for nearly three days and nights besides the hard fight of May 3 On Tuesday evening May fifth it commenced raining and did not stop until friday The whole of which time we were compeled to lay out or be marching through the mud. This last battle is one among the most terrible that we have had lately. a great many of the wounded Yankees being burnt to death. The large brick house at Chancellorsville took fire and burnt up with about two hundred wounded yankees who were so badly hurt that they could not move and their own soldiers did not help them any. Later in the day the woods took fire and a great many more helpless men perished. I seen some of these buried and it was truly sickening to see their burnt and charred bodies

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and their burial was not much better as there was so many that our men could not dig graves for them but just threw a few shovelfulls of dirt over them and passed on to the next remarking as they did so that if they had staid at home as they should have done they might probably have gotten a decent burial I seen some of their dead who had been buried in gutters with the clay all washed off of them and they almost as black as charcoal from exposure to the air. I suppose you have heard of the death of Lieut Charles Calhoun he died sunday morning from the effects of amputation of his leg his father came down sunday evening he had heard of his being wounded but did not know that he was dead he seems to be very much distressed. Cyrus strong was wounded badly we heard sunday that he was not expected to live but have heard nothing since Last Sunday was appointed by General Lee as a day of Thanksgiving it was prety generaly observed through our part of the army. Our preacher made a very good sermon from the (20) & (21) verses of the (26) twenty sixth. Chapter of Isaiah. As my paper is nearly out I will close by asking you to excuse all mistakes bad writing &c Give my love to all enquiring friends & relations; Aunt Ann, & Uncle James,s, family, in particular.

and receive a due share yourself from your affectionate nephew

Thomas M. Smiley

Ps (Please write soon & direct to Hamiltons Crossing)

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