Harrison wrote this letter from the battlefield. Combat has ceased but the soldiers are so close that they can hear the enemy forces talking. Harrison acknowledges that the Confederate forces held the field, that is, won the battle. He reports on the heavy losses the 13th Michigan has suffered, although he himself was not wounded.
His description of the wounded soldiers forced to spend the night on the battlefield untreated, their agonizing screams of pain so loud that they could be heard for miles. At first, he claims the Confederates would not allow the Union forces to recover the wounded, but eventually the two armies allowed each other time to collect their wounded. Within a day the Confederate forces have taken the Union’s field hospital and re-captured some of those same wounded men.
The Union Army has been forced to retreat to Chattanooga and here they will make a stand for several months with their supply lines cut. Dewater tells Ann that Uncle Joseph Dewater is now in Chattanooga, although he has not seen him.
Finally, as the exhibit Remember Me: Civil War Portraits illustrates, Harrison promises to send his picture to Ann and asks for hers as well as his sister Alice’s photograph. One photograph of Dewater, an ambrotype, is on display in the exhibit. Several images of Ann survived the war, too, and are posted earlier on this blogsite.
Miss Ann Dewaters
give this pocketbook to Elmer
& tell him to keep it till
i come home [written upside down]
October 3rd 1863
Camp of 13th Mich Infty
at Chattanooga Tennessee
Wal Sister Ann your letter of the 16th was received yestardy & i was glad to hear from you to know that all of you was alive & that mother has got well & all of the rest of them that was sick for as you said health was the Best thing that was to be had in this World i till you i wated very Patient to hear from you for the last that i heard from home as far as that way Mother was sick wall I supose you would like to hear how the Army is Situated wal as i said in them few lines that i wrote to Alise we are so close to them that we talk to them & exchang Papers you will hear the Paticulas in the Papers about the Fight but as luck would have it i got out alive we — lost ½ of our Co in the Battle we have only 100 Guns in our Regiment what th[e]y will do we dont no for they cant call us a Regiment but i suppse thy will keep us in the Front the Rebs held the Field & took all of the Wonded but thy let our men get them our men — went to their lines & they took the Ambulances & brought them out some of the Wonded laid on the Field 4 days so some of them say it was very cold thy suffered the first night that we laid on the Field you could heard them scream 2 miles in but they are in a place that thy will be taken better car[e] of but not as good care as thy ought to have but the d. d. Rebs have not got them we have heard of all of our Co but 2 our Lieutenant Perley & Corpoel Germond them we cant hear nothign of but think thy must be taken Prisoner Wall about Unkle Joseph he is at Chattanga but i havenot seen him about the men that was Wonded an laid on the field & sufferd you may think that they could have bin took care of but they was between our lines & their so if we went to Pick them up thy would Shoot at us but we got up the most of them but the next day thy took the Hospital & the Wonded fell in their hands wal about some thing Els you said you wanted i Should Send you my picture Wall Ann i will send it to you if i can get & if you & Alice get your send them to me Wal Ann i am very sory to hear the news of Aunt July Death but so the World gos i have written to Unkle Orville 3 or 4 times but have received no answer when you write tell me the Diretions & also to Aunt mandy so i must close so good by th[i]s from Harisson Dewater
tell mother to write & all of the rest so good By