Letter Describing Florida Brigade's Retreat from Gettysburg, 1863

From: Bryan, Council A., Papers, 1862-1902, Collection M87-35


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Enroute near Winchester
July 22/63

My dear Wife
I hasten to drop you a line to let you see I am still alive & well. Yesterdy took up line of march & arrived two miles South of Winchester, camped & are now all ready to move again.

Some suppose we are bound for Richmond some that we will stop at Staunton. I have a leaning to the former opinion - just as we got hear orders came to move and I'll continue this as I go along until I have a chance to send it

Marched hard all day - arriving at

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Front Royal 21 miles a little before Sundown - crossed the Shenandoah at the junction of the the [sic] Rivers, on a pontoon bridge - Had a good laugh on the Stragglers who took a "near cut" as they supposed and waded the two Rivers good for them!

Longstreets corps ahead skirmishing with Yankee Cavalry. Aleck & McQueen not up yet left us two miles beyond Winchester to visit some old acquaintances. All the Privates up except Jack Morgan. LeRoy in com- mand of Co. C and says

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they are a hard set to manage.

July 23rd Started at 6 oclk. our Division the advance of the Corps ascended the mountain till 11 oclk when the descent began, a clear cold mountain branch marks the turning point.

Brother Joe gave out & I gave him my horse - His feet are badly blistered from new Shoes. Left Isaac Red sick in Front Royal to come on with Ewell's Corps. a hard days march though we only marched 10 miles but these mountain roads are awful camped at our old ground

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near Flint Hill - Two days rations flour & beef to cook Some of the boys at their old games "pressed" enough Whiskey to get gloriously tight - I captured a Canteen of it & treated Co C.-Heard three report of cannon & heavy Skirmishing about midnight.

July 24th Roused up at break of day & took up line [of] march at 5 oclk travelled over worst kind of road got in half mile of Eastham [?] River. Heaths Division pitching into two Divisions of Yankee Cavalry 4 or 5 Rebels Killed Yanks

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about thirty [?] Killed Some wounded, and 10 or 15 prison ers. Yanks fell back crossed unmolested - marched about two miles & crossed Hazel River about half mile & camped boys tired out myself ditto. Sleep from 2 hours before night till daylight

- July 25th Started at daylight our Division ahead Wilcox's Brigade in advance ours next. Marched rapidly and arrived at our old camp ing ground in one mile of Culpeper. Rode into town to get my horse shod. bought twist of Tobacco $4.00 Candy $1.00 for two sticks. Eat the Candy

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except small piece - which I saved for Bro Joe

- Found plenty of dry goods in the place & would have brought you lots if I had any chance to send them to you- Everything is cheaper in Florida than here

- Tomorrow we expect our mail and then we will all be in a better humor and more able to give you a more interesting letter- Our mail closes at 3 oclk and I must hurry up - It is supposed by some that the next battle will be fought near this place - Tho' our mail being ordered to Orange

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Court House

I think it will come off nearer Richmond our troops are in good fighting order and we are ready for the Blue bellies any time - Ewells Corps has not yet joined us - it came a different route by Manas- sas Gap - (We came through Chestnut Gap) and will probably reach here tomorrow

I see the Richmond papers give all the credit of the hard fighting in the Centre to Picketts Division of Virginians. a more cowardly Set of fellows never disgraced our uniform than the 2d & 3rd Lines of that

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Division that went in Battle on the 3rd of July - and Wilcox Alabamians and the Floridians alone saved the centre from being broken. Gen Lee himself tried to rally Picketts Division & could not.

When the Secret history of the war is Known - then we will get justice I hope - The men say that no matter how bravely they act they get no credit for it at home or abroad and I think they are more than half right. The wear & tear of this Campaign has made us reckless and if they continue to make our

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Brigade of 250 men do the work of a full Brigade of 4000 It strikes me that their will Soon be none left. I feel just like I would not turn on my heel to save the Western Hemisphere so the infernal Yankees were destroyed first.

Bro Joe is well but his feet are almost a solid blister LeRoy is well but tired down he is in command of Co C. McQueen & Aleck left us Six miles the other side of Winchester and I havnt seen them since. They were both well I believe I know Aleck

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was. Little Joe & Joe Allen Fairbanks, Bob Gorman Howell, D C Isler, Jenkins D. Levy, Morgan, J J Page Roberts Hardy Smith, Scott I Tipton - Silas Smith, are all well - Nick Eppes was quite Sick at Winchester and I think was Sent round by Staunton - Isaac Red was left sick at Front Royal Jas Oliver, Mrs. Saxon's Son has fever every day but is up with us.

These are all thats left of Co. C that started on the Pennsylvania trip numbering forty five when we started - I am disgusted

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[with] this State of affairs - I would not give one of my Brave boys for the Souls of all the Pennsylvania Dutch

- The Yankees told the women that our soldiers would Subject them to every indignity - some were badly frightened, but the majority waited "to see the fun." one begged one of the boys not to "harm" her, he told her he would cut his throat before he would insult a woman she kept on & eventually begged if he staid all night not to "Trouble" her - he told [her] he had no idea of staying all night still less of troubling her & to prove it he left - I think

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She was something like one that was talking to another of our men _______ [?] around and wanted to know when the "ravishing" would commence - These are the tales the boys report. I employed myself eating chicken I seriously do not think the set [?] of chickens was left in the part through which we passed.

Love to all the folks - Kiss Hain [?] Amanda & Mother for me - God bless you my dear wife. I am tired out - so you must excuse this. God bless you - Good bye

Your husband