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Battle of Bristow Station.

After marching a mile we overtook heavy skirmishing sharpshooters, and were soon exposed to shot and shell. Were under fire all the morning and larger part of the afternoon, and were marching and countermarching through fields and woods, and across hills and valleys. Ever and anon a bullet would strike some one and the victim would be hurriedly carried to the rear. Several were wounded. Crossed Cedar run and marched on towards Manassas. Slept peacefully on Virginia soil near Bristow Station at night. Dear old mother Virginia has often, so often, furnished us with restful beds on her generous, hospitable bosom!

Several hundred Yankee prisoners were under guard near us, and much trading in knives, canteens, tents, biscuits, tobacco, etc., was carried on. The prisoners were very filthy, inferior looking men, mostly Germans.

Battle's brigade, and indeed most of Ewell's corps, were busily engaged tearing up crossties and railroad iron, burning the former and crooking the latter, all during a very heavy rain. Although wet to the skin, no man uttered a word of complaint, but all worked [251] and talked in excellent humor. The irrepressible spirit, the wit and jollity of a Southern soldier cannot be overcome by any discomfort, neither heat nor cold, bleak winds nor scorching sunshine, sickness nor sorrow. After finishing our share of the work we dried our dripping, wet clothes, erected the Yankee tents, which we had captured, and slept soundly and comfortably on the bare, cold, wet ground until morning. We were two and a half miles from Catlett's Station, on A. & R. R. R.

Major Proskauer, of the Twelfth Alabama, with half of each company, six commissioned and several non-commissioned officers, was sent down the railroad towards Warrenton Junction to destroy more of the road. Late in the afternoon the rest of the regiment joined us.

At 4 o'clock resumed our march, the Twelfth Alabama in front of the brigade, and Company F in front of the regiment. Soon passed Bealton, which the enemy had destroyed by fire. What a cruel sight, chimneys standing as lone sentinels, and blackened ashes around them, indicating reckless wantonness and cowardly vengeance upon helpless women and children. Even war, savage war, should be conducted upon more humane principles. Sword and musket and cannon are more tolerable, more courageous. Fire is the weapon of cowards of the most cruel and most beastly nature and the stealthy instrument of the inhuman. The place had been a Yankee depot of supplies. Bivouacked near Rappahannock Station, cold and frosty, but slept soundly. The surrounding country is deserted by its former inhabitants. I saw a splendid mansion without an occupant and in very dilapidated condition. The Yankee generals had used many of these mansions for their headquarters without any thought of paying for them.

Bugle call at 3 o'clock A. M., October 19th, and in half an hour we started for the river. We were soon overtaken by a very heavy fall of rain, hail and sleet, accompanied by a fierce driving wind, which blew off hats and almost changed one's course in walking. We crossed the Rappahannock on a pontoon bridge, and marched through mud and slush and rain towards Kelly's Ford, and halted in an old field.

The brigade was suddenly ordered to cross river and protect from cavalry raids our wagons, which were hauling railroad iron. Marched eight miles, rested until sundown, and returned to quarters after dark. [252]

The 12th and 26th Alabama, on October 27th, went on picket duty to Kelly's Ford, the former relieving the 14th North Carolina. I walked several miles around Kellysville, once the scene of a severe cavalry engagement, on a tour of observation. The country around about resembled Fauquier county, being one vast field of destruction and devastation. Where once elegant, happy homes stood, bare chimneys rear their tall forms, sentries over this cruel waste, halls that once resounded to the merry laughter of happy children, now re-echo to the mournful whistling of the autumn winds. Everything we see is a memento of the relentless cruelty of our invaders.

Some North Carolina troops relieved us from picket duty and returned to the building of our winter quarters on the 30th. Our Christian Association met and resolved to forbid playing cards for pastime or amusement. New officers for next two months, President, Rev. H. D. Moore; V. P., Capt. J. J. Nicholson, of Company I; Secretary, Wat. P. Zachry, of Company F.

November i. Sunday. Chaplain Moore preached two able sermons. Subject of one at night was ‘Repentance,’ and he explained that conviction, contrition, or sorrow, confession and reformation constitute repentance.

November 2. Major H. A. Whiting, of General Rodes' staff, and Lieutenant Dan Partridge, of General Battle's, inspected our brigade. I drew five splendid English overcoats and three blankets for Company F. How can I fairly issue or divide so few articles, so much needed this cold weather? These uncomplaining men are patriotic indeed. Sutler Sam Brewer arrived with a load of goods which he speedily sold out to clamoring, eager purchasers. He demandsand gets $1.00 a pound for salt, $2.00 per dozen for common sized apples, $5.00 per pound for soda, $1.00 per quart for ground peas or ‘goobers,’ $3.00 a pound for lard, $6.00 a quart for syrup made of Chinese sugar cane, $1.00 for three porous ginger cakes, $1.00 per dozen for small, tough sugar cakes, $1.00 for a pound bale of Confederate coffee, made of rye. Those who use tobacco pay $4.00 a pound for it. This depreication in our currency is trying to men who get $11.00 per month only. One dollar formerly bought more than eleven will now.

Several of my company asssited me in building to the end of my tent a chimney of small, unskinned pine poles, which they covered pretty well with mud. Then they floored my tent, and I am comfortable [253] and proud of my quarters. Very few of the men can procure plank for flooring, and their tents are surrounded by ditches to keep out rain and snow, and straw and hay are substituted for plank.

November 6. Suffered from neuralgia in my face, which has swollen considerable. Late in the day a terrible cannonading towards Kelly's Ford and Rappahannock Station surprised us, and our brigade, under Colonel O'Neal, of the Twenty-sixth Alabama, was marched rapidly to the Ford. Though in great pain, I commanded my company, and we were soon in line of battle and under a heavy shelling. This we had to endure for some time. Two North Carolina companies were captured by the Yankees in their rapid movement. At the station Hay's Louisiana, and Hoke's North Carolina brigades lost heavily in prisoners. The attack seems to have completely surprised our generals. Were in line of battle until 12 o'clock at night, then marched by the right flank across Mountain Run at Stone's Mill. Passed through Stephensburg, and went within two miles of Culpepper C. H. There halted and formed line of battle, Battle's brigade extending from top of a lofty hill, towards Brandy Station, and joined by Early's division. We began to throw up breastworks as a protection against shells in case of attack, in two different places, using our tin cups, plates and bayonets in place of spades and picks, of which we had none. How many earthworks have been quickly built in old Virginia by these simple implements! Orders came to stop our work and move to Raccoon Ford, which we reached at 9 o'clock at night, and crossed in great darkness. Colonel Pickens kindly gave me a seat on his horse behind him to cross Mountain Run and Rapidan river, and I was enabled to keep dry. After Rode's division waded the river, we were marched down to Morton's ,Ford, arriving at half past 10 o'clock and halting at the old camp ground we occupied before our tramp to Bristow Station, after General Meade in October. Just one month from the time we left we returned. As sleep had been a stranger to me for two nights, I enjoyed it, and all neuralgic pains left me, and never returned.

Nov. 9th to 18th. On picket duty and annoyed by constant alarms. On last day were suddenly aroused by rapid succession of shells in our midst, warning us of the dangerous proximity of our foes. The 6th Alabama had three men wounded on outpost. The 12th [254] Alabama relieved them. Completed our rude fortifications and are ready to welcome Meade and his cohorts to hospitable graves.

Nov. 24th. Expected President Davis to review the corps to-day but the rain prevented. Our great leader must be sorely tried these gloomy days, and is evidently the ‘right man in the right place.’

At 1 o'clock A. M., Nov. 26th, we were suddenly aroused and hurried towards Jacob's Ford where Meade had crossed part of his army.

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