MISC, A&F 8/12/1863

August 12th, 1863
Dearest Jennie 
   I suppose you have received my telegram letting you know I was not hurt by the run off on the Rail Road. I last wrote you from Pollard where we were stopped for some time for want of an engine etc. Well we left at last on Monday morning at 11/2 O’ck - at that time I was lying asleep on a pile of baggage, trunks, trace chains, harnes leather etc. [as quartermaster he was responsible for all equipment] suddenly awakened by the jumping of the cars, in the next instant I found myself thrown by the turning over of the car against the opposite side, my ears filled with the noise of crashing timber, falling baggage etc for a moment I was stunned. On coming to consciousness, I looked around & out of eight persons in the car with me (Major [Robert] Pagan, Capt Fassyoux [Fayssoux, C.B. 23rd Regiment, South Carolina Infantry] two Messr Fassyoux, Capt Moore, Jenkins [WGV’s personal orderly], Mr. Harvey and the brakeman) there were but two up with me, looking down one of the Mr. Fs and Harvey, apparently dead, Maj Pagan, the brakeman & Jenkins unable to move. I went to work, ordering the men outside to brake in the door & come in - took the various articles off Mr. Harvey, & clearing away the baggage - finally got all out, opened my trunk, got out my Brandy & gave to all the wounded, had all the wounded laid in the shade & ministered to. Meanwhile the Locomotive went off with the balance of the train to bring surgeons etc. Now the wreck must be cleared & our articles moved out to be ready for the returning train, the men were excited hot & tired up & down the track, here & there - I had to pull them out & make them work, & it was excessively hot too - I must have looked like a man out of a row - in my shirt sleeves, face smashed, no time to wash it, perspiration & sun burning it, full of dust, one boot & one slipper (for I am still sore from my ankle being inflamed) there I was from one end to the other, down came the cars, the wounded are put on board & I am pushing on the baggage, almost all on & Robert [I believe that Robert was his slave] is not here. I find he is gone after my shawl etc. - see him coming - hurry up & at last drag him on by the hand.
   We reach Greenville [AL] three miles from the scene of our disaster {therefore, the wreck was on the Alabama & Florida (of Alabama) RR}, there we have to leave Mr. Harvey who is very badly injured - Jenkins bruised on the shoulders, Major Pagan bruised badly - all somewhat bruised, my forehead, nose, cheekbone, eyebrow, knee, got all bruised, my face handsomely scarred.
   At Greenville the conductor says he must go on in 20 minutes, I ask if he has a car for our baggage & selves - no sir - Well, said I, you don’t go from here without me, men & baggage. Can’t get a car sir. Must have it - take one off of …[following part of page is missing:]
Well he could see if the conductor …
I must see him too & off I go to …
time he is found - I ask can he …
way of coupling on the car…
by our collision - I suggested one…
last one is practicable if he …
one , well one is not enough …
I send a man to get the chains …
my baggage out in the car & …
to be routed out & sharpened up & …
to see how my chain business is coming …
The conductor says I cant carry this with one chain …
have another. My men say Captain there is not another, don’t tell me so I roar at them. There is another - come here - I make a rush to where some of our wagons are, what’s that? Fastened, captain, to a single tree [ a wooden harness piece] . . . knock it off quick. Done. back we go & again they are to work - back I rush to see how my baggage gets on - don’t move fast enough - hurry up - hurrah! Back I get into car & there behold some citizens safely ensconced for a ride to Montgomery “get out gentlemen, you can’t ride here & they must go” & at last out they go, one man swears he will hold on. Says I, I’ll have you put out - After a while he sends a note that he is on public business

[another piece is missing:]

… him off, he will regard it as a

… I send for Capt Jones to come to

… none, states his business - Why

… at first. Instead of insisting

… to go? Well he was irritated - Now

… on public business. You may go

… your threat - Certainly he would

… a threat - he was irritated etc To that

… family underway after a time &

… day at 3 A.M. - I got off my mules

… morrow my wagon - All of my pots

… smashed up, my housekeeping arrange

… pen up - two of my ambulances broken up

… mals all uninjured - Our car was the only one that turned over & tis a merciful Providence all were not killed, for my kit ware, trunks, boxes & all manner of baggage was there - Some men were thrown from the other cars & injured, in all I suppose about 15 men injured.

   We must my darling wife render special thanks to God for so mercifully preserving our lives, especially my life under such immanent danger. Such a complete wreck of matter I never saw, road all torn up & rails torn off - You may depend I feel bruised & sore enough , tired and worn out, & will be glad when we get to our journey’s end. [He probably knew he was headed to help defend Charleston, his home town.] All this attending to Bryan’s business. [Major Bryan, Brigade Quartermaster was a slacker, leaving many of his duties to WGV] never mind it is for the good of all -
   God bless you dearest & my little ones. Love to Mother & all I expect to leave here on tomorrow. My best love for you - Your own loving Hubby WGV
As promised I am posting the letter that Linda's great great grandfather who was a major in the Quartermasters wrote after he was involved in a second accident in August of 1863. Unfortunately part of the letter is torn. He does not mention casualties from other units, but does detail the accident that occurred in 1863 as his regiment was traveling from Mississippi after the fall of Vicksburg in July 1863.
Ron Skellie

Posted Thursday, 30 June 2011, 2:23 pm at http://history-sites.com/ on the Mississippi in the Civil War Message Board