For: [Letter] 1863 March 8, State of VA, Camp [Hays es?] Brigade [to] Louisa [Miss Elizabeth Bickham], Louisiana / William T. Bickham.
State of the Camp Hays is Brigade March the 8th 1863,
I take this opportunity of wrighting [sic] you a fiew[sic] lines to let you know that I have not forgotten you this bears me well to gather with the ballance [sic] of Co I the health of the army is very good I have not heard of a death in out regiment since the battle of Fredericks Burg only a man that was killed by the falling of a tree in the 8th[?]. I have not much news to write to you though I feel as if it was my duty to send you a few lines since it has pleased the good and wise ruler of all things to I all our beloved Francis from the hardships of their cruel war he was a good soldier and one that was beloved by all the company. I never heard a man speak of him in any way than to say that he was a perfect gentlemen though he fell bravely and at his poast [sic] his loss was much regretted by all the company and we sympathize with his friends whose bonds of nature hold him dear to them and though we give him up we still retain and hope that he is now high up in heaven. I have had several relations in this wicked war and they have nearly all part away in this early day. I had a brother and a brother in law killed in Tennessee. I have been a witness to death in all its horrors since I have been a soldier in this troublesome war. I have been on the battle field and have seen men fall on my right and left I have heard the prayer of the wounded and dying I heard them call for help and beg for water at midnights gloomy hours and even than assistance to them was impossible by their unhappy hearers.
There is many things that makes war unpleasant Death in its natural state has no horrors but in battle there is no certainty in the fate or doom of any person there a man may be shot all to pieces by the murderers shells or he may be slightly wounded and then be sent to a hospital and there he falls into the hands of those that cares not wheather [sic] he lives or dies. There he is neglected and left to bare his sufferings when there is no kind friend near to soothe his fevered brain or drive away the gloom that rushes over his sinking spirit and threatens to sink him beneath the waves of existence hundreds of our brave soldiers have part from this life mearly [sic] for want of attention. I had a brother who was wounded at the battle of Inka in Tennessee he fell into the hands of the enemy and died there is no one that knew the torture of ... bed though well might I suppose it was horrible. It has pleased the divine ruler that I be spared to the present time though my time now may be growing short and now for ought I know is near to an end but as all other soldiers I have a hope that I may see the end of this wicked war and to again see our country in peace and prosperity. Times are very hard here about now we get very Scant rashons [sic] only ¼ pound of bacon and ½ pound of flower to the man per day but still I never hear a man grumble we are all content and are now resigned to the fate of this war the men are all in fine spirits. Some have a hope that the war is now almost at an end but as for myself the night is as dark now as it ever has been since the ... of our happy country. (?) went down
There is great rumors of a desolution in the west. Some Still looks for foreign intervention but I think that we have got our bark to Stear alone the north threatens us with overwhelming forces and say they will subjugate us in 6 months in spite of foreign intervention but I have long bin [sic] accustom to yankey [sic] threats and boasting it does not allarm [sic] me in the least it is posable [sic] for them to drive us from every point and greatly increase our oppression but when they Say that they will subjugate us they know not what they Say for that is a matter of imposability they may exterminate us but they never will conquer well Lizzie I fear you may think that I am trying to make a display of my oretoriele powers but I hope you will pardon me for ... [?] I am fond of lengthly Letters my self when I wright [sic] to a friend I always hate for them to open my letters and expect to hear or see something and then bee [sic] disappointed so I try to tell them something in my broken and stamering [sic] way. I recon you have heard of our position this winter we have had a very moderate season except a fiew [sic] very boald [sic] days and some snow storms there has bin [sic] ice here this winter thick enough for men to Seate [sic] upon and I witnessed the first seating in my history this winter and it was quite a novel to me the snow fell about ½ feet day we have moved two times Since the winter Set in we are now at the third camp that we have build very inferior winterquarters at and just as we would get them So that we were comfortable in them we would have to brake up and move to another camp we have bin [sic] poorly provided for this winter ... the way of blankets.
I do not see but what we get a long just as well as we did when the commisary [sic] Stood open for every men just to go and help his self and each man had from 5 to 8 blankets now we have no tents and only 2 or 3 blankets to the man we can gather up everything we have on our Shoulder and bee [sic] ready to march at 15 minutes notice we are now encamped on the Rapahannok River near Fredericksburg the yankeys [sic] are on the east side and we are on the west side and when we go on picket gard [sic] we can See them very plainly and we can see their encampments from where we are now I recon you will bee [sic] wary with this uninteresting Scrabble of mine So I will close give my love to all the family and to Cousin ... give my respects also to ... arrolls family tell Louisa that I would gladly receive letter from here as a friend and a relation if She does not think herself a love writhing to a poor soldier I would wright [sic] to here if I knowed her address please excuse all bad wrighting [sic] and mistakes and believe me to bee your constant friend
Wm T. Bickham
Wright to me as soon as this comes to hand Lizza
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