Will Fisher to his mother
Bridgeport, Alabama
November 3, 1863

To my dear Mother,

Again an opportunity is offered to write, so I will improve it, although I have not received no answer to the last one that I wrote. I had one letter from you while at Decherd, Tenn. with four P. stamps in it. I forget the date. It was the one you spoke of Nancy & George Hastings being married. I suppose there are others on the way for me, but we have had only three miles since we came out west. We have been on the move most all the time since we came here, but when it is not attended with much danger we do not mind it much.
Well, I will give you a history of our travels since we came here. When I wrote before we were at this place which is in the northwest corner of the state of Ala. It is 28 miles from Chattanooga & 122 miles from Nashville. It is the present terminus of the railroad from the latter place. I will explain further, afterwards.
We remained here one day after I wrote my letter (I don’t know as you got it) when we took the cars & went back to Decherd, 40 miles and stayed one day. While here the Rebel Gen. Wheeler’s Cavalry were making their great raid and bridge burning tour, & the night we were there they burned a bridge a few miles above near the station of Wartrace.
So, about 5 o’clock, we got on the cars & arrived at the burning ruins in the night some time, & laid down till morning, & started off for Shelbyville, 9 miles & in fact, took two heavy days march on half rations. (That’s all we get in this country.) & at the end of 6 days, found ourselves back to Decherd & had orders to build winter quarters, and at the end of a week, we had the best quarters we ever built, but the very night we got them done we got orders to move the next morning at 4.
We were coming down about half way between here & there to take a regt.’s place that were guarding some small bridges, but when we got there, “telegraph” orders came to go on to Bridgeport, which is 20 miles.
Most of the regt. rode, by getting on to a freight train, but I with nine others of the co. I slept till morning & then took it afoot down the track, regardless of guerrillas, for Stevenson thinking to get on some train there. We had a splendid time, took our time to it, & lived on fresh meat and poultry.
We went to one old farmer who had been a capt. in the Rebel service, he acknowledged it, & told him we should have to confiscate a small percentage of his property for subsistence as we were out of bread & meat. (We had hid our haversacks in the bushes.)
When we told the old woman she would have to bake us some bread her eyes flashed fire & she said she would die before she would bake for anyone who was fighting to put the nigger on a level with the white.
So, as we did not wish to be severe with our fun, we did not insist further, but took our seats around the dinner table which was just ready & went to helping ourselves & made out one of the best dinners I have eat in a long time.
The young ones tried to set the dogs on to us & called us Yankees “Abolishions” & everything else they could think of.
Well, after dinner, we went out & dressed a nice pig (skinned it) took the hind quarters & gave him the rest, & got a nice rooster & left him chewing his wrath.
We got to Stevenson that night, got a nigger to cook for us, had chicken for supper & pork steak for breakfast “ahem” high living. We thought we would rather walk, so did not take the cars. We arrived that night all safe & sound much pleased with our journey.
I tell you, marching is not much like going off on a tramp & taking your own gait. I don’t wonder John & Jim Smart had fun on their march. The heavy load is what makes it hard. It makes your shoulders sore & then 50 lb weight on your legs does not make your feet any the less liable to get blistered.
I often think, if I was home, I would not think much of starting off to walk a 100 miles without having to carry all I possessed & provisions on my back. I tell you the folks at home don’t know nothing about blessings. They don’t know how much we would give for the privilege of stopping to a farm house & paying 25 ct for a bowl of bread & milk, such as goes into the swill pail to Uncle Zina’s or any other farmer’s at home.
All the soldiers that ever goes home cannot give anyone, who has never seen for himself, any idea of war. But I am as patriotic as ever.
Comforts & pleasures cannot draw my attention from this all absorbing question. A question whether we shall have a home when we shall have crushed treason or never have one at all except it be tread by the ruthless step of rebel invaders or southern chivalry. Such chivalry as invaded Penn. last summer &, in several cases, got the men folks locked up in the barn & went into the house & with the assistance of the fiends from lowest Hell perpetrated deeds of all descriptions, ravished females in the very presence of their helpless mother and grandmother, take all food, clothes & money.
Now if insults of such magnitude as these are not sufficient to arouse the ambition & indignation of any American citizen he isn’t fit to live, & yet men in our own fair county, worth $50,000, will swear before their God that they are dependent on their son for support, to evade coming out here to avenge such insults as these & save their country from ruin. I have reference to Thomas Snell of Easton. I hear he is under bonds for it. I hope he will lose every cent of his property for it.
Oh! New York, for shame! You are the worst state in the whole Union. It makes me boil to see the way they act, but I can’t help it. As for me, I will earn myself a home in this country or I will die in the attempt.
But I have deviated a long way from my history. When we got back here to Bridgeport, the 11th Corp. & our 2nd Div. started on an expedition, so we are left sole possessors of the town. We have to guard the large bridge they are building here across the Tennessee River & guard the railroad depot here with stores.
There is two steamboats runs from here part way up to Chattanooga. The 11th Corps & our other Division has gone under command of Gen. Hooker to try & clear the Rebels off of Lookout Mountain. The Rebs have held this place & it prevents our folks from running the railroad up to Chattanooga.
We expect old Joe will clear them off in a short time. He has had some hard fighting already & has been very successful so far. I see there is quite a number of wounded coming in. Gen. Geary’s son who was a lieut. of a battery was killed. His body came in yesterday. The old Gen. will feel badly & he is wounded a little himself. He was attacked in the night about 11 o’clock. They first drove in his pickets just as the men had laid down to rest. When Geary rode along the line crying “to arms” & by the time they had got their guns they were fired into from both rear & front. So the rear rank just about faced & they fought both ways & whipped them.
I do not see much difference in the weather here, although we are considerable further south. The cold weather reminds me of a pair of gloves & the wet & mud of a pair of boots. If you think best you may fit up a box and send it along. I guess Mr. Culver better have a good pair of boots made of some of that nice soft calfskin & made to the best of his ability with steel plates on the heels, double soled & taped, legs good length, but don’t make the legs small, & be sure & have them broader on the bottom. I want them good sized 7s, remember, large 7s, & broad. Have a good pair, half stub toes, & not square toes.
The gloves you can knit, or buy the buckskin ones. They want to be light & not lined so as to be handy to handle a gun. Be particular about that. I suppose I need a vest of some kind. I don’t believe but you had better have Nobles make me a military vest, buttons clear up to the neck, made of black corduroy or military cloth with US buttons on.
This is taking considerable, considering the great pile of money I sent home last pay day. But I don’t think I will have to pay for another gun, for we expect Lieut. Beadle back soon & he don’t allow such things.
The capt. will likely resign before long & I think I will get promoted in the course of time, which will add $4 per month to my pay. I have acted as sergeant ever since the battle of Chancellorsville. I think I deserve it.
Lem wants their folks to fill an oyster keg with butter & send it, also a pair of socks & some tea.
I should think as none of our folks had to pay $300 for the draft, that, if you could find a small oyster keg, they could afford to fill it with butter for me. Give them an invitation. I don’t want any tea. This year I have got a cold water fit on, don’t drink hardly any coffee. I should like a handful of chestnuts if there is any this year & anything else you may see fit. Let Jack Robertson put in what they want to for Hover, and he will pay half of the express. I don’t know how much express is so far, but it will be cheaper than to think of buying it here.
I will write a note for Ann which you will give to Charlotte & she to Robertson’s folks as soon as possible.
Now, finally, I want something which I suppose you will not like, but above all things I calculate to pay for out of my $3 spending money. That is a couple of dollars worth of tobacco. Have Alex go to John Taylor’s & get it, or, if you can’t do that, get Shields & Adams to Henry Achley’s. If he gets it to Taylor’s get tin foil. Now this wants to be done as quick as possible & directed as a letter to 12th Corps via Nashville, Tennessee.
Things want to be marked & I will send you back Hover’s share of the express money, & I will try to repay you for all of it sometime, if I can. Remember all the directions & tell Charlotte so there will be no delay on their part.
How does Aunt Sarah do? Hope she improved. L. sends love to you & her. Tell her, if her boys are drafted, to send them along. I have not heard from John yet. I owe Jimmy Sherman a letter. He wrote me from Albany.
I am well & have got to go on picket tonight, so, will have to close till morning, when I will write the other note & mail this. I like to forgot that I want some paper and envelopes, put good heavy goods & so you can’t see through them. Love to every body.

Write soon to your boy,
Will Fisher

Nov. 4th
Mother, I closed last night to go on picket, but instead of going on picket I had to take my detail and guard a squad of Rebel prisoners. There was 70 of them come down on the boat. They acknowledge their cause to be hopeless but are resolved to give all the trouble they can in their dying struggles.
About the paper I spoke of yesterday. I wish you would be particular about the quality. Get very heavy note paper & smooth finish, same with the envelopes so you can’t read through them. Send 1 doz. sheets of heavy fools cap, for, if we stay here, I shall want to write some lengthy discourses to you. I don’t want any pants buttons for we get them off the worn pants, ½ doz. shirts, 1 row of pins, 2 needles, hank of thread. This is plenty to send at once.