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Letter from D.J. Hill to Rufus Dawes 1893

Rufus Dawes completed his war memoir, Service with the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, in 1890.
At that time, he began a series of correspondence with his old comrades and with the officers of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry, which the 6th Wisconsin had engaged at the unfinished railroad cut at Gettysburg the morning of July 1, 1863. He was interested in trying to identify a color bearer of that regiment he had found wounded on the field of Pickett’s Charge on July 4, 1863. In his search, his letter was often printed in Southern newspapers. One of those letters produced the following reply which is in the Rufus R. Dawes Papers at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at Madison.

Blue Mountain, Miss.
September 12, 1893
Gen. R. R. Dawes
Marietta, O.
Dear Sir,

The accompanying is clipped from the Southern Sentinel, a paper published at Ripley, Miss., July 27th 1893. It did me good to read your letter and I trust you will excuse me from troubling you with this scrawl. I was a private in the 2nd Miss. Regt. And will give you such information as I can in regard to Christopher Columbus Davis, the wounded color bearer whom you found on the field on the 4th. He recovered from his wounds and survived the war, came home and having a good education, engaged in teaching for a short time, but finally from some course put an end to his own life a year or two after the war. He was one of five brothers that were raised orphans, their parents having died when the boys were very young. One brother was a cadet at West Point at the outbreak of the war and enlisted in a N.Y. Calvary regt. and was killed at Brandy Station, Va., while in command of his regt.

Three other brothers in the Confederate service were killed at different times and places. C. C. Davis was the only one of the brothers left living at close of war. He was regarded by his comrades as being a very brave man, even to recklessness. It is presumed that grief at the loss of all his brothers and brooding over the result of the war may have unsettled his reason and suicide was the result.

I gather this information from comrades belonging to the same company with him, and who knew him well. I was a member of a different company and knew but little of him personally.

I will now tell you and your brave boys how I “played off” on you in that R.R. cut. I was in it and soon found to my dismay that I was in a tight place, saw no chance of escape, was disgusted with the idea of surrendering and in fact became very much demoralized. I saw a bloody, muddy blanket lying on the ground also two wounded men lying near me. I tumbled down by them and covered myself with the blanket. I then went to practicing all the manners and moaning that I thought would become a badly wounded and suffering man.

Some of your boys eyed me pretty closely but no one spoke to me or interrupted me in any way. The result was you left me there as sound and well as I ever was in my left. I tell this not that I think it a sharp or brave trick but that it is true and may go for what it is worth.

I got out as soon as I thought it safe to do so, and the first man I met was a federal soldier wandering about as if dazed or lost and not knowing what to do. I saw that all of one side of his lower jaw was torn off. I got him to a shade and fixed him down with his oil cloth, blanket and knapsack, then brought him a canteen of water and how pitiful to see him trying to drink by pushing the mouth of the canteen through the wound into the throat. I could do nothing more for him. He couldn’t talk so I did not learn his name nor what command he was of. I suppose the poor fellow died, but if living I would be glad, very glad to hear from him.

The high compliments you express in regard to the bravery of the 2nd Miss. Regt., whether strictly due us or not, are gratefully received and highly appreciated and we respectfully send our greetings to yourself and your brave and gallant comrades who are yet alive.
Most of ours have gone to their account, but a few of us remain but are now in the “sore and yellow leaf” and I am proud to say that there are no more peaceable, honest, lawabiding citizens here than the old Confederate soldiers.

They seem to have long ago forgotten all the animosities engendered by the war, and the federal soldiers would hardly find better friends anywhere among the veteran Johnnies that followed Lee and Jackson in 1861 to 1865.

Yours most respectfully,

D. J. Hill
 

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MSGenWeb Tishomingo Co. Coordinator: Jeff Kemp