Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

More Letters From Wheat's Battalion

Tiger Rifles painted by Don Troiani
(Courtesy of Historical Art Prints)

Here are three more letters from the Camp Moore Newsletter, provided by Wayne Cosby. I have simply copied and pasted his piece below:

Wheat's Tigers - Letters of Drury P. Gibson

In this issue we continue with some letters sent from Drury P. Gibson, who had joined the Catahoula Guerillas in Trinity, LA. He was a 22-year old physician but enlisted as a private early on. It would be a short time, however, before his skills as a physician would be better utilized. These letters were originally published in the North Louisiana Historical Association newsletter in 1979. The first letter was written from Centreville, VA shortly after the battle of First Manassas and exudes the confidence of the writer in his army and in the cause.

We are at present encamped at Centreville, Va., a little town about half-way between Manassas and Washington City.

We will in all probability remain here some time, without we should have another fight. Judging from the movement of our troops, I don't think we will directly attack Arlington Heights or Washington City but that we will cross the Potomac above and below those places and surround the city. We fellows will have a fine time wintering it up here. Some of the men think that we will suffer from cold weather, but I have no fears. I think that I can stand it very well. I am perfectly satisfied and contented to stay here as long as it is necessary.

When the war first commenced I made up my mind to shoulder my knapsack and musket and go forth and defend the rights of my country, let the consequences be what they would.

There is no telling when this unholy war will cease, there is one thing certain however and that is the Yankees never have whipped us nor never will. They may fight us ten years but they never will defeat us in a regular battle like Manassas and Springfield.

They are fighting for plunder and pay but we are fighting for our very existence, consequently justice is on our side and we will succeed in the end.

I have an easy time of it now I am acting as assistant surgeon and I stay in the Hospital. We have converted one of the churches in Centreville into a Hospital which makes a very good one. When we are out in the country where we cannot get a house for a Hospital we have to use a large tent for that purpose. The men are generally in tolerable good health at present, but there is still several cases sick even in our own company.

- D. P. Gibson


The next letter in this series was written on October 13th, 1861. In this letter, he exudes the same confidence in the army but he seems to also be impatient, as we have seen in so many other letters of the time.

We have yet had no fight but expecting one every day. The Yanks are too cowardly to advance on us, and our Generals deem it inexpedient to attack them just at this time. We have a world of men here, it really looks like we could march on the enemy and carry every thing before us. Camp fires can be seen burning at night in every direction. Marshall Music resounds throughout the plains of Manassas from early morn till dreary eve. The men are all eager for a fight but the Generals are laying waiting for something no one knows what.

When our men fell back from Manassas Hill in order to draw the Yankees in they kicked up a terrible rukus about it. They told Gen. Beauregard that falling back had played out, that we did not come up here to fall back. He told them to be quiet that he would soon lead them in a victory that would astound the world. It had the desired effect and allayed all demurring in his command. Every one has the utmost confidence in Gen Beauregard but the whole army wants to fight the Yankees.

I begin to think now, that we will have no fight here for some time.

The army has almost ruined this portion of Virginia. The whole country is laid in waiste by the two armies marching to and fro. There is not a fence rail, cow, hog, horse, or anything else to be seen without it is in some way connected with the service.

War is an awful thing to say the least of it. The weather is becoming cold but our men seem to stand it pretty well.

If there is no fighting by the first of next month, we in all probability will go into winter months, we can soon build crude log cabins and daub them with mud and make them warm and comfortable winter quarters.

- D. P. Gibson


The next letter was written on February 12th, 1862. He has, discovered a different attitude about living in the colder weather.

As Capt. Buhoup is going home recruiting, and I have an opportunity of writing to you, I have concluded to write you a few lines although I am hardly able to do so, as I have been very sick for the last two weeks and have not entirely recovered my health.

It is an awful thing to be sick in camp -- one has to worry about it the best he can. I came very near freezing to death, it has been very cold ever since I returned and it continues to be so.

When I was in bed sick, my mess mates would put blankets on me until they would be oppressive and still I was cold.

A well man can stand it pretty well out here, but a sick man suffers, the wind seems to go through one.

I am up and about and think that I will improve rapidly.

- D. P. Gibson

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Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375