Rooms of the Christian Commission, Culpeper, Virginia: February . Unbound. Eight-page letter. Undated, but written while the Union Army was in winter quarters at Culpeper following General Meade’s Bristoe Campaign that drove General Lee’s army south over the Rapidan River from their Rappahannock Station bridgehead. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided.
In this letter Davis explains to his former students that he is ministering to Union soldiers and has seen
“a great many things which seem odd indeed. Some things are very pleasant & some are very sad. I see a great many soldiers who are very good men & some are very wicked. I hear a great deal of profanity & find many men who seem to have no regard at all for the Sabbath day. In fact, if you were here you would hardly know when the Sabbath day comes.”
He reports that on one occasion
“just as we had assembled in church, an order came for everyone to be packed & ready to leave at a moment’s warning. There was fighting a few miles off & we could hear the roar of the cannons. It was thought the rebels might come in upon us & that we should have to run to get out of their way. They did not come however & in the evening the streets were full of our soldiers who were coming back from the fight. They said they made the rebels run back over the river a little faster than they came. It was an interesting sight to see thousands of soldiers going & coming, some on foot, some on horse, & large guns drawn by six or eight horses.”
As part of his duties, Davis ministered to soldiers at
“Pony Mountain [and] Signal Hill [where] from the top . . . I could see numerous rebel encampments. . . . with the naked eye & with the glass, which an officer kindly lent me, I could see them very clearly and the men & horses around them. It was an imposing sight. For miles around the country was dotted with tents. On our side were Union troops and the other side rebel, & the Rapidan river ran between them. The next day I . . . I saw eleven rebel deserters who had come over the previous night. I had a long talk with them & they told me the plans they had formed to get away.”
And, he also notes that
“A part of my duty here is to visit the Hospitals where the sick soldiers are. Some of them have been very sick & several have died. The Hospital is a poor place to be sick in. I am sure you would think so if you could go with me through the wards. Several cases here have interested me very much. One was a Drummer boy from Maryland. He was only 13 years old & had flaxen hair & light blue eyes. He was taken sick & had to be brought to the hospital. He said he was tired of war & wished he could go home. . . .. He wanted a pair of stockings & . . . how his eyes sparkled when I carried them to him.”.
Very good. Item #009562 An excellent firsthand account of the Civil War in Virginia from an unusual source.
Public records show that Davis served with the Christian Commission—a volunteer Protestant organization that provided support to the very small Army Chaplain’s Corps—as early as 1863.
An excellent firsthand account of the Civil War in Virginia from an unusual source.