Group Title: Maxwell, David E. to his Mother - Near Martinsburg, Va. - July 12, 1863
Title: Maxwell, David E. to his Mother - Near Martinsburg, Va. - July 12, 1863 - Transcript
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Title: Maxwell, David E. to his Mother - Near Martinsburg, Va. - July 12, 1863 - Transcript
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: Maxwell, David E.
Publication Date: July 12, 1863
Copyright Date: 1863
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Bibliographic ID: UF00093598
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Camp near Martinsburg, Virginia, July 12th, 1863

Dear Mother,
You will see by this that we are once more on Virginia Soil, and I do sincerely hope that
we will never cross the Potomac again, unless we have transportation sufficient to keep
us supplied with ammunition-for it was the scarcity of it that prevented General Lee
from following the retreating columns of the enemy and made it necessary for him to fall
back to Hagerstown and await patiently the advance of the enemy. We remained there a
week, when it was found out that we could not subsist on the enemy's country, and that it
was impossible to obtain subsistence from across the river, which by the frequent heavy
rains has swollen to a greater depth than it has done for several years. The fords opposite
Williamsport which are generally not more than knee deep, swam horses three days ago,
and yesterday when we crossed, it swam a great many mules and damaged some
ammunition. Several small mules were drowned by the wagons striking large rocks,
while they (the smaller mules) were in swimming water and they were so exhausted
before they could be gotten out of the harness that the current, which was very rapid,
swept them down stream. Several wagon bodies floated away also. These I suppose will
bring up against our pontoon bridge which is four miles below Williamsport. Most of our
troops crossed the bridge last night, the rest are crossing this morning. I see in our papers
extracts taken from Northern Journals claiming a great victory at Gettysburg and also
giving an account of that disorder and confusion attending our precipitate retreat. Their
right to claim a victory I will dispute below, and will only say that so far from our
movement being conducted in the manner stated by them, that we took our time,
marching forty miles in ten days, that we brought away some four or five thousand of our
wounded, also forty-five hundred prisoners including one Brigadier General, and a great
many field and staff officers. We paroled about the same number, but these refused to be,
as they preferred taking their chances of getting away. I hope they will have a pleasant
time marching to Richmond. We brought off a great many horses and beef cattle. We lost
some twenty or thirty wagons that were destroyed by their cavalry. Our line of battle in
the three days fight fronted South-east and on Friday night and Saturday Gen. Lee
changed his line so as to front north. To do this he withdrew the left wing of his army and
advanced the right, by this move the left wing which heretofore extended through the out
skirts and north-east of town, now extended a half mile south of town and consequently
threw our wounded that were in town in the enemy line. Their papers state that they
occupied the town by twelve o'clock Friday night. This I know to be false for I was at our
Division hospital all night, leaving there some time after day light. There was no fighting
on Saturday and on Sunday our army was in motion. Alex Bull [Alexander L. Bull, 5th
Florida], who was on picket Saturday night, says that there were no enemy to be seen on
Sunday morning. We have had no fighting since Friday with the exception of several
cavalry engagements in one of which General Wade Hampton of South Carolina received
three sabre cuts across the head. I have just seen a Richmond paper of the 10th inst.
confirming the report of the capture of our "gallant little city of the Hill." It is certainly a
very severe blow to us, for in all probability our communication with the West will be
certainly cut off by the evacuation of Port Hudson. This will also cause the greater part of
Mississippi and Alabama to be evacuated by our forces. Its fall at this time was very
unexpected, for we have had such encouraging news from there, and some from officers

high in command that there was a supply of provisions sufficient to last until October,
that we were sanguine as to the result. The only benefit they will receive from its fall will
be the moral effect, as it will have a tendency to encourage their administration and
pacify the Northwest. This will only be for a short time as they will see that nothing can
navigate the Mississippi with any safety but their ironclad gunboats. The operations of
our forces in the west have been but a series of disasters with a few exceptions. Taking
away the operations of the army of Northern Virginia and our Record will be dull indeed.
If they had performed their part as well as we have ours, there would now be a bright
prospect for peace, but as it is, there is none whatever. I am very anxious to get my
commission but doubt very much if I get it for several weeks. When we passed through
Charleston on our march from Front Royal to the Potomac, I stopped and saw Gov.
Brown's family. They were very kind and insisted upon my coming to see them, and gave
me an urgent invitation to stay with them if I got wounded or was taken sick. They
wanted me to stay all night with them but I could not. Mrs. Brown gave me a lot of coffee
and sugar to take with me for our Brigade numbers from 250 to 300 men for duty. We
have lost heavier than any other. The Northern papers speak of the desperate charge of
our center on Thursday and Friday. They think that Longstreet's forces were in the centre.
I suppose that you are now enjoying fine watermelons-if so -eat an extra piece for me
every day. Tell Sal that she must eat an extra saucer of curd and charge it to me. Give my
love to all the young ladies, Mrs. Ames' family, Mrs. Croom's family, and tell Hardy to
write me. Tell Cousin Mary Footman that George was slightly wounded in the foot. He
was with me at the wagons until Friday night when all the wounded were ordered to be
sent into the hospital. I wanted him to remain with me, and if they had permitted him to
do so, he would not have been taken prisoner, and in all probability would be [ready] for
duty. George says that this fight sacrifices him. Alex was uneasy all the time we were in
the enemies' country. It was impossible for me to get him two hundred yards from the
road. He is more delighted the farther South we go. I will now, close] with love to all
friends and relations. Accept the same from

Your affectionate son,
D.E. Maxwell

Transcribed by Christopher A. Baker, University of Florida, 2008.

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