Civil War Letters of the Christie Family

Author: Thomas D. Christie
Date: June 28, 1863
Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Addressee: Sarah J. Christie
Description: In the midst of extremely heavy fighting, Thomas explains his personal attitude towards the War.

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Before Vicksburg June 28/63

My Dear Sister,

Under any other circumstances than those under which I am situated I would consider myself bound to offer some excuses for the delay in answering your letter of the 8th, but as it is I will have to depend on your own good sense to exonerate me from blame. When you consider that we are fighting every day and very often the greater part of the night, and when not in action employing our time in preparing for it by mending the embrasures, making plank floor to traverse the trail on, carrying ammunition from the magazine up to the high hill on which we are in position, and doing so much work that we have no time to go to our meals sometimes, you will see that I have not much opportunity for recreation: if letter writing can be called recreation.

However, as we have not so much to do today as usual, (our ammunition being short) I will drive myself to think enough to fill this sheet: for you should know that when a person has most to do he feels the least like letter writing. Notwithstanding the heat, and the labor, and the excitement of the past 10 weeks, I still retain my health and strength, although I am thinner than I have been for some time, about like what I was after my last harvesting. Do not suppose from this that I am in any danger of yielding either to sickness or despondency: I have seen hard times before, enough to know how much a determination never to give up will do for a man. You see I take credit to myself for having a good deal of the old "no surrender" element in my composition and that very quality (which you used to call "mulishness" ) is the only thing that has carried me through while men, in the company to whom I would not have been a fleabite when we entered the service have allowed themselves to sink beneath the hardships and harassments of Campaigns either into the grave or Discharge for disability, and this from a want of fortitude to resist the first insidious attacks of disease.

Our Gunner has been sick for some days and I have acted in his stead, but he is getting better now and I will soon have it easier. William is tough and hearty as ever, and is always on hand when there is anything to do, being counted one of the best Cannoniers in the Detachment.

I do not very well know what to write you, for although there is plenty of what you might consider interesting occurring around me, of the Blood and Gunpowder style, yet I see so much of it that I do not care to write about it—you can see all that we see by reading the correspondence in the Tribune or some other paper. You will probably see some account of the blowing up of the fort opposite Logan, and the fighting of the 45th Ills. and other Regiments on the occasion, and it may be interesting to you to know that we are within 400 yards of the fort and saw the whole performance, and opened on the rear of the work to cut up the Rebel reinforcements as they hurried them up. Some other time I may give you a description of the assault.

There is a Rebel gun (20 Pdr. Parrott) in a work on our right, and some 700 yards distant and just this side of it are rifle pits from which the Rebel Sharpshooters annoyed our men (the Brigade Sharpshooters) much. From our position we could see the Rebels in these trenches quite plainly, as they did not take any pains to conceal themselves from us, not apprehending any danger from this quarter. We borrowed an Enfield apiece from the company supporting us (Co. "A," 124th Ills.) and some of the cannoniers who considered themselves good shots opened a well directed fire on the Rebs whenever they showed themselves, and as we could see the dust raise every time we fired and could regulate our elevation accordingly, we soon made it too hot for the scamps and forced them to keep out of those portions of the pits which were raked lengthwise by our shots. During the firing some of the Infantry men came up and tried their hand, but we could beat them easily, and I doubt if there could be found much better sharpshooters in any Regiment than can be seen in our Company.

Hoping that you will answer this more promptly than I have your last I remain

Your hopeful Brother, T.D. Christie

[Postscript at top of page four] You ought to see me eat my applesauce for supper. None of your crystal serviceplates for me. I take a paper cup that came in a box of shell as cover for one of the pound and a quarter cartridges, slap in about a pint of unsweetened unspiced sauce from the great black mess-kettle in which it has been cooked. Then I take my jackknife and whittle a flat piece of wood from the lid of an ammunition box, which I use for a spoon, as plates, knives and forks are all played out as we say. Then as I eat my sauce ( a rare dainty with this primitive spoon) I think of how you would laugh to see me. There is one consolation, I have new dishes at every meal.

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