Fixing the Railroad

Harrison’s poor grammar and spelling make it difficult to follow his train of thought. He makes several points in this letter home. He first informs his parents that the 13th Michigan has been engaged in rebuilding the railroad that runs east from Corinth to Alabama. Confederate forces had sabotaged the railroad during their retreat. They have been in Alabama but seem to be back on the Mississippi side of the state line when he wrote this letter. He also describes what the unit found in Corinth after the Confederate forces withdrew.

Harrison then mentions several letters he has received and the health of his uncle (Joseph DeWaters) who is also in the same unit. Finally he turns to some personal matters, telling his father to harvest his wheat crop, promising to send home some of his pay when he feels it is safe, and asks again for some postage stamps.

June the
/9 /62

Albert DeWaters was 18 at the time Harrison wrote this letter encouraging him to stay home and not join the Union forces. Albert would have been the oldest boy at home and was most likely needed to keep the farm up and running.

Camp dont no whare but not far from the state line about 5 miles from Alabama   we have ben in Alabama to helpe fix the Railrhode   when the Rebels was leaving Corinth Genral Michel burnt  some bridges and stoped them  he burnt three of them that i have seen th[e]y say that he has burnt some more we got a number of Engines   we have got to fix them briges before we can run over them but that will soon be don   we was wating for the Rebels to pitch on us when we was laying out in our intrenchments one morning about daylight we heard a noys that sounded like a cannon but come to finde out it was the bursting of some Magariens [i.e., magazines] they was burning up the town they burnt most of the importance bildings that was worth much and then they left in such a hurry they left most everything we went in thare the next day and found lots of every thing but could not get eney of it but we got nuf to eat when we was thare   we stayed thare all night and return to our camp the next morning and then moved here   we don’t no how long we shal stay here but i am well and hope these few lines will find you the all the same   Unkle joseph is pretty well he sends his best respects to you all and i the same   tell Melissa to write i have written two letters to hur and have received none i received 5 letters last night we didnot get eney letters for 2 weeks till last night i got one from albert and was glad to hear from him tell him that he had better stay whare he is and not to Inlist for he cant stand it   i am as fleasey [i.e., infested with fleas] as i was when i left Kalam[azoo] we got our money the other day but thought i would not send it home quite yet for there is so many sending it home that i would wate till they got through   i want you to harvist my wheat when it gets ripe for i shal not be home but hope i shal be home in a few months   tell Mother she must not werry to much for they think that we will not have eney fiting to do and think it will soon be over with so that we can get home   i can get paper and envelops but i cant get any Postage stamps i have got out and i want you to send me $1 dollar worth of them rite soon   so good Bey OH Dewaters Direct to the same place so good bey

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