Skip to main content

Letter to Ellen B. Stanard (Taliaferro), 1863 December 23

Letter to Ellen B. Stanard (Taliaferro), 1863 December 23
Letter to Ellen B. Stanard (Taliaferro), 1863 December 23
Written from VMI, Lexington, Virginia. Letter regards march to Camp Staunton, Virginia and family matters.


  • 1863 December 23


From the File: 8 items (Folder 1)


Virginia Military Institute
December 23rd 1863

My dear Mother
I wrote you a few days ago, on my return from our Goshen tramp and promised I would write again so soon as I reached here once more. Well dear Mother we reached our journeys end Monday evening and nar’e Yankee did we kill or see after marching us all over this plagued mountainous country and ruining our feet we being badly shod at the time. But thank gracious, there were none seriously hurt by the trip, and now since they have had a little rest would be willing to start out on another, provided they were carried in some other direction than that of Goshen & Covington, for both of these routs every boy seems disgusted with. And it is a enough to despair anyone for you look upon nothing but huge mountains of rocks the whole way. Once in every ten miles by accident we would pass an old dilapidated looking building. I believe I mentioned in my other letter what a wet time we had of it while at Camp Staunton near Goshen. Although we were so near drowned, yet there was no grumbling, quite the contrary the boys were hollering & singing the whole time. I wish you could have heard us when a train came up to Goshen whistling & the bell ringing. I believe every boy joined in a thundering shout which reached throughout the surrounding mountains. It reminded us all so much of home & especially those who had been here so long without having a furlough that I do believe if the Yankees had been near and we been ordered to keep quiet we could not have resisted the temptation to give vent to our joy at such a pleasant sound. When we left here we thought we were going to Staunton. I took some collars along in case we should, and when I heard this train I could not but help thinking it was coming to take us there and I had made up my mind if we were got that near home I would work my [?] so as to go the whole hog. But alas! There was no such good luck for poor me. I was doomed to be disappointed. The train only came to bring a bearer of dispatches. We laid in our mud puddles until evening when the tap of the drum bid us prepare for marching. There were all sorts of rumors a float before we left camp, some said the Yankees were near Lex. and we had to march there that night a distance of 22 miles. Others said we were going to Covin. but we were all surprised when Col. Ship [Shipp] marched us up to Cool Sulphur Springs to quarter us in the cabins there for the night. Before we reached there we had to wade through mud & water a foot deep for near ten miles. We managed to build us up a little fire and dry our blankets. There was a still house at this place and every boy got enough to drink to make him sleep and to keep him from taking cold. In fact the majority of the boys were quite merry. I took a little swig Though not enough to make me feel the effects of it. Stanard Buffington had his canteen full and was looking all about for me. Expect if he had found me I should have been tipsy also for I did not think it any [harm] that night. Buffington is a splendid boy. On the next morning we set out for Lex. it had ceased raining and we had a beautiful day before us for marching, but the roads were so bad and the streams we had to pass over so swollen that we did not go more than 12 miles to Wilson Spring before we stopped over again for the night, and slept in some old darkey cabins. Although it was very [quite struck out] cold I had a very good night’s rest. While were here Col. Ship received a dispatch from Old Spex (who said in his order before we left he would [?]over [?]) who was then at Lex enjoying the pleasures of home comforts) ordering us hurry back as quick as possible. We had to go in the direction of Buchanan. So we left next morning early & reach here at 11 ½ although the roads were so bad we marched 4 ¼ miles in one hour. We had orders after reached here. Mother I send with my coat a pair of pants for Henry. I wore them on the last march you will observe that they have seen hard times after mending the seat they will be made a good pair pants by having them turned. I send also a shirt which I could find no owner for and it is too large for me. You can dispose of it as you like. What do you think of the bill in reference to currency. I hope it may prove of some good for money seems to be worthless. Confederate I meant. Suppose Emma Chapman will be married soon. I would like to be present to get some of the good things. Of course they will have a big wedding. Is cousin Vic going down South to see Annie. I heard she was. I was down at Capt. Bull’s yesterday. He read me a letter he had just gotten from Mary. You have no idea what a good letter she writes. It would really surprise you to read one. I hope she may pay them a visit here this spring. I would like to see her. Mrs. Powers has gotten back. I promised to kill her some birds, so if it does not rain, shall go out tomorrow. The weather has moderated a good deal today and I am truly glad of it for it was so very cold two or three days ago that I like to have frozen. Well dear Mother, I have written you quite a long letter, and I think all the news, so I must again bid you goodbye or good night rather.

P.S. Make some of the family write me soon & often. You will find in my coat a rough sketch of Charleston & Vicinity which I drew for amusement. It has been laying up in my drawer so long the plagued mice destroyed it and commenced eating the edges.

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450