Tuesday, 30 November 2010

John Stewart Walker's First Letter

This weekend I retyped the first of Maj. John Stewart Walker's letters home to his family. Most of the letter is a confused discussion of a sermon he had recently read, but I have extracted a piece below that I think might be of more general interest to students of the war.


Camp Davis, near Young Mill,
5th January, 1861

Since my last, we have had one or two alarms of the advancing enemy, and the night of the rain and sleet were ordered to march at 4 o’clock the next morning, but the order was countermanded, fortunately for us. The enemy seem to be getting bolder. A day or two ago about 500 of their cavalry came up as high as Bethel (we have no troops stationed there now) and set fire to the Church in four places, but our men came up and put the fire out, so the church was not destroyed. Since then our forces have been sent to Bethel and the cowards will likely remain in their strongholds. Should they come to give us battle, my trust for victory is in the God of battles.


As near as I can determine, Camp Davis is just outside of Lynchburg where J. S. Walker lived. These days it is hard to imagine sending a letter to someone in the same town, but I supose it was the only way he had to communicate at the time.

Note the date - it is early in 1861 and still months from the first actual battle of the war, but already we get reports of a raid.

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