Item #7499 [Autograph letter by a Sergeant in the 5th Texas Infantry, Gen. Hood’s Texas Brigade.]. Campbell, illiam, ose.
[Autograph letter by a Sergeant in the 5th Texas Infantry, Gen. Hood’s Texas Brigade.]

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

[Autograph letter by a Sergeant in the 5th Texas Infantry, Gen. Hood’s Texas Brigade.]

Dumfries, Virginia, 22 Feb. 1862. 8vo (8” x 6.25”), 4 pp., in ink, on ruled white paper. CONDITION: Very good, old folds.

A rich letter by a Sergeant in an important Texas regiment expressing rebel and Texan pride and determination, written shortly after Gen. Grant’s major victory at The Battle of Fort Donelson and exploring the politics of surrender very early in the war.

The Battle of Fort Donelson (11–16 Feb. 1862) was one of the Union’s first major victories. A week after capturing Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, Brig. Gen. Ulysses Grant began his assault on Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, an important gateway to the Confederacy. On 16 Feb., after rebel forces under Brig. Gen. John Floyd failed to penetrate Grant’s lines, the rebels ceded the fort—meeting Grant’s terms of “unconditional and immediate surrender.” Grant’s victory ensured that Kentucky stayed in the Union and helped open up Tennessee to future Union advances. The decisive capture of forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee were major victories for Grant, pushing him into the national spotlight. He received a promotion to Major General and earned the nom de guerre “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”

Sergt. William Bose Campbell served in Company D—the "Waverly Confederates”—of the 5th Texas Volunteer Infantry in General John Bell Hood's famous Texas Brigade. Campbell fought until November of 1863 when he was forced to surrender near Knoxville, Tennessee when the 5th Texas was attached to Gen. Longstreet's Corps. He was imprisoned at the Federal Prison at Rock Island, Illinois and remained there until he was paroled on 23 May 1865. Writing his “Aunt Wood,” Campbell notes recently receiving her letter. Expressing rebel pride immediately, he notes that “Today begins a new and I hope permanent existence for our government.” However, he admits that “the events that have taken place in the last few weeks seem to indicate that its existence will be stormy and anything but a pleasant one, but it is to be hoped that something will soon take place to dispel the clouds that now hang so threatening around us, and again let the sun shine out upon our army as a victorious one.” He leans in, expressing his unbreakable resolve: “The defeats that we have received seem only to strengthen the Texas Regiments in their determination to fight until death, and never say surrender. Many were the bitter curses sent forth when the news arrived of the surrender of a portion of our army at Fort Donelson” (which had occurred only a week prior).

He reports being camped “at our old place” (Dumfries, VA) and having “no prospect of leaving here soon,” their patience being “entirely exhausted at leading a life of such inactivity. We neither hear or see any thing new,” the regiment currently suffering from gloom and low spirits. He notes reading papers that give accounts of the battles fought in Tennessee, and comments that “the health of our Regiment has improved some little. We have no severe cases in our company. We will never have a healthy regiment as long as they feed us nothing but beef; and even that occasionally without salt.” He echoes one Col. Robertson, who says the men “don't take exercise enough” and has begun to drill the regiment twice a day “just as a remedy.” He reports that Gen. Windfall has resigned his position as Brigadier General and that the regiment is currently without one. However, “it is generally believed that one Gen. Waul will be appointed over us.”

He then touches on one Mr. Warren, an individual who “might be called a hard case”: “He heard from home that his wife was very anxious to come on to Richmond as a nurse. He commenced complaining at once and is now trying his best to be sent to a hospital in Richmond. He says that he will never get well here. He thinks that if he once gets to Richmond that his wife will join him there. But the poor fellow is bound to be disappointed as orders have been given to allow no one to leave camp without it is actually necessary. I don't know that I ought to write so about Warren as I am about as much home sick as he is.” He writes at length of his own disappointing failed attempts to return home in the company of one Mr. Hill which were stymied by a higher-ranking man named Mike who deems him more useful where he is currently situated. He nevertheless defers to Mike, who is currently in Richmond, and thinks his dissatisfaction with his current position will pass away “as soon as we get into a fight.” He reports on the sickness of one Campbell—potentially a relative of his—whose illness appears to be allayed by his frequent wishes “for a fight to take place…He seems to feel confident that he will distinguish himself.” He closes the letter on a more positive note by commenting on one Stanton who is “the life of our mess… He is regimental carpenter and is off during the day but he returns at night full of news and laughs heartily at us for believing things made up by him to suit the occasion.” He signs off, noting “I have to stop now to fix my gun to go on guard.”

A revealing letter by a Texan reflecting the rebel response to the early Union victory at Battle of Fort Donelson.

REFERENCES: Battle of Fort Donelson at; Fort Donelson at

Item #7499


See all items in Autographs & Manuscripts
See all items by , ,