I’m Still Alive and Well

In late November, Harrison writes to Ann again, this time to let her know that reports that he had been wounded are false. He was distressed that Dr. Foster Pratt had included his name in a list of those wounded in the crucial battle of Mission Ridge (or Chattanooga) that was fought on November 26, 1863. The Union victory secures Chattanooga and opens the route into Georgia.

He does admit that at one point, he and some of his comrades found themselves in a very precarious situation, so close to enemy lines that he debated whether to surrender. He and others chose, instead, to try to run back to Union lines. As they did so, he can hear bullets flying and comrades falling at his side. Each step may be his last. But he made it back to safety. Harrison assures his sister that he will let her know if he is wounded.

He says if he is ever wounded, he’ll try to get home. In any case, he writes, his enlistment will be up in early 1864 and he will come home then. But he’s considering re-enlisting. The Army is offering a big bonus for soldiers to re-enlist. Given all of the concern Harrison has expressed over his wheat crop, the pay he sends home, in short, his financial situation, one can imagine that a large bonus would interest him.

After the battle, Dewaters notes that the 13th Michigan has been combined with several other units into a brigade of engineers who are responsible for building and repairing bridges. The regiment has suffered significant casualties, something Harrison has noted in earlier letters. Now a reserve unit, the men are building warehouses and engaged in picket duty.

On January 17th, 1864, 173 members of the 13th Michigan will re-enlist and on February 12th arrive back in Kalamazoo for a 30 day furlough. Was Harrison one of those who re-enlisted?


Chattanooga Tennessee

November 27th 1863

                                                                                                         Camp 13th Mich Infantry Co H

                                                                                                                  Well Sister Annie

This pontoon bridge in Virginia is the type that DeWaters’ regiment was building in Tennessee. Photo by Matthew Brady.

your letter was received & was glad to hear from you it found me well but was Surprised to hear you say that Docter Prat in his letter that he Sent home my name was in it, Wonded    it is a Sad Mistake for i am Still alive & well   you said it was in the Papers   just tell them that Tip is Still a live & charge the same to me i have heard of it a number times that i was Wonded they all thought i was killed but still i come around   Wal to tell the truth about it i was in a pretty flat place So close that i didnot no what to do give my Self up as a Prisiners or try my speed   Wall i thought i would try my speed so i lit of[f]  like a Small dog about 4 Minutes to the Mile  you can bet the Grass didnot grow under my Feet more then 6 Inches every time i took a step i thought every step was my last my fellow Soldier falling on every side of me but as good luck would have it my Life was spared for some other time when that time i cant tell   So Annie you can tell from what i have told you that i am still alive & if that wont do i can tell you myself for i am just as well as ever i was my heath is ben first best hoping i may feel as good as i do now while i am in the War & if i get Wonded i will let you no all about it for if i get Wonded i will try to come Home & if i dont get sick nor Wonded in 1 year i will come home anyhow unless i Inlist agane i have ben thinking some about it th[e]y offer a pretty big Pay for Soldiers now but thy may not want them much longer for they ar Fighting & our men have drive them so that as soon as the Railroad is fixed thy can run the Cars up hear   they run the Boats up th River now So i think we will get enough to eat   now the report is that we have taken 50 Pieces of Artilery from them how true it is   i didnt no but thy have don well when thy get through i will tell you all 

about it thy are Fighting Hard now for i can hear them   we Put the Pontons down for some of our men to go acrost in the night went crost the Tennessee River up on their Flank one night when thy didnt no it & took their Pickets & then run a lot more acrost & then took them on surprise i tell you the Yankees are doing it now we are in the Engineers Brigade so we dont hafto go in the Battle unless we are needed we dont hafto Stand Picket but we hafto Work most every day A Building Bridges & making Roads & doing all kinds of work but if we [are]needed we can go in for we have don it a number of times   so i must close so you must write all of the news when you write & tell Father to send me them stamps that i sent for for i have not got aney but  remember that Tip is well tell Father to send them Boots as soon as he can give my respects to all & tell them to write & about your Picture i think it will come & as soon as come & as soon as i can get mine taken i will send it to you i have ben 3 or 4 times to get mine taken but i never could get it so i must close tell Albert not to Inlist tell Mother that she must write give my respects to all of the children tell Elmer that he must take good care of that Pocket Book that i sent him for i got that on the Battle Field of Chattanooga so good

most respectfully  
your Brother          
Harrison Dewaters
his Sister Annie   

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