Elisha Franklin Paxton – Letters from camp and field while an officer in the Confederate Army

Frederick, Md., Sunday, September 7,1862. Your two last letters came to hand yesterday, and I was indeed very happy to hear from you. The date of my letter will surprise you. You would have thought it hardly possible that the fortunes of war should have so turned in our favor that this quiet Sabbath would [...]

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August 3, 1862. For some days I have been expecting that every mail would bring me a letter from home, but have been disappointed. I am sure a letter is on the way, and that you would not suffer two weeks to pass without writing to me. I wrote to you some ten days ago, [...]

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Camp near Gordonsville, July 23, 1862. I reached here on yesterday, and now hold the place which I had when I left—volunteer aide to Gen. Jackson. The position is very agreeable, and the only objection to it is that I draw no pay and pay my own expenses. I feel quite at home, and am [...]

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McDowell, May 9, 1862. Before this reaches you, you will have heard alarming rumors of the fight on yesterday, and feel, I know, much anxiety for my safety. I was not hurt, for the reason that I was not in the fight. No part of our brigade was engaged, the enemy being whipped off the [...]

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Bivouac near Woodstock, April 1, 1862. Last Thursday I received an order from Gen. Jackson to take charge of four companies and report to Col. Ashby for duty on the advance-guard. I go down occasionally to take a view of the enemy's pickets, but most of the time have been lying idle. The enemy are [...]

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Strasburg, March 13, 1862. I doubt not you have heard of many bloody battles, actual and anticipated, about Winchester for the last few days, and, if you credited every flying rumor, have been somewhat apprehensive of my safety. You will then, I doubt not, be surprised to hear that we have had no fight; none [...]

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Winchester, March 6, 1862. Your first letter since I left home reached me on yesterday, bringing the welcome intelligence that you were all well, and the intelligence, not less gratifying, that you would not have me stay at home whilst the country has such pressing need for the service of every citizen in the field. [...]

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Winchester, February 28, 1862. I reached here day before yesterday, and expected to devote yesterday evening to a letter home; but so soon as I got pen and paper ready to commence we had an order to change our camp. My ride here was as pleasant as I could expect. The first night I stayed [...]

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Winchester, January 26, 1862. We left Romney on Thursday, and after three days we reached, on yesterday evening, our present encampment, two miles from Winchester. To-day I received your grumbling letter of 21st, in which you were bitter over my bad usage in being refused a furlough. The only matter of surprise with me is [...]

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Romney, January 19, 1862. We left Unger's Monday morning and reached here on Wednesday, after three days' hard march on roads as bad as rain, sleet and snow could make them. For some time since we reached here it has been raining, and the whole country is flooded with water. Since we left Winchester three [...]

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Unger's Store, January 12, 1862. Gov. John Letcher, Richmond, Va. Dear Sir: My resignation, forwarded through the regular channel, will reach you in a few days. When it comes to hand you will treat it as withdrawn. I feel much aggrieved by my inability to get a furlough, and by an unjust discrimination made against [...]

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Unger's Store, January 12, 1862. I was much disappointed in not getting a furlough a few days ago. I could not help but think that as the condition of the weather and the roads had made the expedition from which we had just returned a failure, it was full time to stop active operations, and [...]

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Morgan Co., January 8, 1862. An opportunity of sending to Winchester enables me to write that I am here in the woods, all hands froze up and waiting for the weather to move. I take it for granted the General will come to the conclusion from this experiment that a winter campaign won't pay, and [...]

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Winchester, December 29, 1861. The weather opened this morning cloudy and showing signs of snow, but, much to my disappointment, the clouds have passed off leaving a clear sky and pleasant day. It is not often I wish for bad weather, but when it opens a way for me of getting home for a little [...]

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Winchester, December 22, 1861. We left here, on an expedition to the Potomac, on last Monday morning at seven o'clock, and returned again this evening. We lost one man, Joshua Parks, killed by the enemy; and his body, I suppose, has by this time reached his friends in Lexington to whom it was sent for [...]

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Winchester, December 15, 1861. Life in camp is generally dull with me, and I feel especially dull to-day. I have sometimes had a job, such as road-making at Centreville or my late excursion to the Potomac, which kept me busy enough; but these only happen now and then, and but for them my life would [...]

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Winchester, December 12, 1861. Last Monday night I returned to our camp here, where I had the pleasure of reading the letters of Mary and Helen informing me that your troubles were all over, that we had another little boy in the crib, and that his mamma, as Mary happily expressed it, "Was doing as [...]

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Martinsburg, December 9, 1861. I did not write my accustomed Sunday letter to you on yesterday. I was otherwise busy until 9.30 o'clock last night, when I reached here. Then I was so sleepy and tired, I could hardly stand upon my feet, having been awake all the night before, and hard at work most [...]

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